Alternotive A Cappella

Walk up and down the Royal Mile and, should your legs not buckle and splinter beneath the glut of flyers somehow in your hand, chances are you walked past two or three a cappella groups doing their best Glee impressions. Within this plenitude, which addresses a need you perhaps did not know you had, how do you distinguish which is the best?The Oxford Alternotives do all the requisite things you would expect of them. They rearrange pop, rock, funk and soul classics into versions where the instrumentation is provided by their voices. They’re all dressed the same: all black with a splash of colour, ties for the boys, ribbons and belts for the girls. They’re not choreographers, but they have a go at enlivening the songs with a bit of movement and dance. They all have those big, slightly discomfiting grins. The teeth say fun and laughs and here’s the keys to your own rollercoaster and a cheeky pet monkey to go with it, but the dead eyes above betray the knowledge that the monkey will eat your face. Beware of forced smiles.So far, so average as these groups go. The Alternotives are pretty solid musically and the arrangements, if not inspired, are faithful and exploit the acoustic medium of a cappella well. As with many a cappella groups, sometimes the voices are a little too evening-service-on-Sunday-at-the-College-Chapel, but on the whole, they fit well. The sentence ‘Elton John’s ‘Your Song’ was a highlight’ might not usually be a common one, but of all their arrangements this really stood out as approaching something you could call beautiful.Where the Alternotives have the potential for excitement, however, is in their improvised mash-ups. Getting the audience to pick cards resulted in a Jazz-style ‘Dance Wiv Me’ by Dizzee Rascal and a classical period arrangement of Destiny’s Child’s ‘Independent Woman’, which by anybody’s standards is impressive. There should have been more of that impressive stuff. It would’ve helped them be a cut above those others.

Since you’re here…

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Mama Biashara
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The Blurb

Oxford's crazily cool award-winning a cappella group returns! Bringing you an electric mix of pop, funk, soul and r'n'b, the group are back bigger and better than ever! 'I was smiling from start to finish’ ****(Broadwaybaby.com), 'Breathtaking' (Cherwell.org).

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