The Best of British 2012 is our unofficial countdown of the top ten UK a cappella tracks of the past year. Over the next few weeks leading up to the Christmas period, we will be counting down, from ten to one, what we believe have been the best tracks on show this year, ranging from awesome arrangements, sensational solos, marvellous mash-ups, punny parodies and everything in between.
In order to determine which tracks were to be considered for this accolade, we decided to restrict our selections to songs that fell under ONE or BOTH of the following categories:
a) A song that made its live debut in 2012
b) A song that was featured on a 2012 album
For example, although all of the tracks featured on The Accidentals‘ EP made their debuts at the 2011 Voice Festival, because the album was released in 2012, all of the tracks on the album were considered. Also, several tracks were considered that were not released on albums, for example songs by The Oxford Belles or The Sons of Pitches from their 2012 repertoire.
We made a list of all the eligible songs from all the eligible groups, and then picked the top three tracks from each group, where possible. We then narrowed this shortlist down to 25, before picking our 10 favourite tracks. Opinions were divided, scores were combined, and in the end there was only one winner. But who will it be?
The countdown continues here:
7. The Accidentals – Rolling In The Deep
Awards: ‘Outstanding Soloist’ – Voice Festival UK 2011, St Andrews Regional
Rolling in at number seven (see what I did there?) is a feisty cover of Adele’s classic from the girls up at the University of St Andrews, Rolling In The Deep by The Accidentals. Having made its debut at the St Andrews Regional of the Voice Festival back in 2011, it made its way back into our hearts as part of a 4-track EP that the girls released shortly before their Edinburgh Fringe debut, as a way of raising money for said Fringe run. The song has become an Accidentals classic, and with award-winning lead vocals from the powerful Anna McDonald, it’s easy to see why.
McDonald claims the success of the song, and indeed their Voice Festival successes that year, wasn’t all down to her terrific solo: “The arrangement itself is just so cool! I was pretty proud of our whole set that year, I thought it balanced and suited us really well.” Anna sees the group as somewhat trendsetters too: “The stamp-clap breakdown hadn’t really been done before, at least in St Andrews, as far as I am aware, and since then we’ve seen it start to creep in a bit with different groups, both from St Andrews and the wider a cappella community. It’s nice to think we started that trend!”
Having said that, we certainly believe the success of the song is in part down to the magnificent vocals, although some credit must go to Adele herself. “It’s quite a memorable song regardless,” continued McDonald, “I still hear it on the radio a lot.” Ellie Mason, last year’s Musical Director, added, “It’s sad and angry but also full of hope and strength, about overcoming hard times and coming out of a dark place.” We echo these sentiments, and are inclined to suggest that Adele’s fiercely emotional character was a welcome fit for the feistiness of this particular all-girl group.
The song remains a favourite of the group, even a couple of years down the line. It was a staple of their set at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, and Anna is even recognised as the singer of it around the small university town. “I loved singing it that first time in Younger Hall and even though I can’t count the number of times I have sung it now, and the number of people I meet that sing it to me, I still love to sing it!” And we still love to hear it.
The hard-hitting solo and the rest of the arrangement can be heard on the group’s EP, available for listen and purchase here.