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:
10. The Other Guys – St Andrews Girls
9. The Sons of Pitches – Club Medley 2
8. The Oxford Gargoyles – Fields of Gold
7. The Accidentals – Rolling in The Deep
6. The Oxford Gargoyles – Dancing in the Moonlight
5. The Oxford Belles – Jar of Hearts
Awards: ‘Outstanding Soloist’ – Voice Festival 2012, Oxford Regional Round
In at number five is our highest placed track that hasn’t been released on a recording this year, the powerful rendition of Christina Perri’s Jar of Hearts by The Oxford Belles. We certainly hope the song might be forthcoming on an album soon, but as it is, this was one of our favourite live performances of the year.
Surprisingly, the girls themselves were expecting a slightly different reaction when the song debuted at the Oxford Regional of the Voice Festival back in February. “We were actually expecting our standout song to be our TV Medley,” said Alicia Gayle, current MD of the group. “I thought Jar of Hearts was a good arrangement, but other than that I wasn’t expecting a prize for it,” added the ever modest Sophie Giles, who took the lead vocals on the number. The arrangement itself wasn’t actually one done by a member of the group, but by someone else in the a cappella world. “The song was arranged by Lauren Barreiro, who is a part of fellow all-female group Musae,” mentioned Gayle.
Regardless of who arranged the song, the girls really took it by the scruff of the neck and continued to perform the song for the remainder of the academic year, including at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in August, where it was also highly praised, being described as “the best a cappella solo […] all year,” alongside mentions of being a “standout solo performance” by audience members and reviewers alike. The girls feel it’s not suitable for every occasion though: “I do like the song, but there are other songs I really enjoy performing,” said Giles, before adding: “I think that it is a great song for certain occasions, but for some gigs it’s just not appropriate.”
As far as I’m concerned, though, I want to hear it whenever and wherever they sing. As the girls suggest, everyone in the group really commits to song when it’s being performed and are able to convey the necessary emotion in both their voices and their expressions as they sing the number. “It’s quite a powerful song in itself,” concluded Gayle, and we are inclined to more than agree. We definitely hope to hear this one again.
You can watch the award-winning rendition of Jar of Hearts right here.