Is it too dramatic to say that on Monday 21st August 2023, my Pitch Perfect dreams finally came true?! I was beyond delighted to be asked to be a judge for this year’s competition, and the performances I got to see were truly second to none. Eight acapella groups competed for the ultimate prize (a very swanky trophy, and of course, bragging rights), and every group brought their all.
First up were the University of Bristol’s Suspensions, whose performance of 'Swan Song' was slick and exciting. They had the whole audience bopping along from the beginning, and were a brilliant, upbeat opener. They were followed by the Illuminations, who brought us a dramatic and sexy rendition of Imagine Dragons’ 'Enemy'. The energy really built throughout the song, and the gritty crescendo was beautifully contrasted by soft, angelic moments of stunning vocals.
Next was The Rolling Tones from Kings College London, who blew us away with their high-energy, empowering version of 'Seize the Power' by YONAKA. They delivered flawless rap, exquisite vocals, and superb beatboxing. Cambridge’s Cadenza then had us all grooving along to their fantastic choreography, and it was clear how much fun all of them were having performing a mash-up of seriously challenging songs (Little Mix’s vocals are not easy!).
The University of Leeds’ Songsmiths drew us in with their sensual performance of 'Good Life' by Sammy Rae. A stunning arrangement that really showed off their vocal prowess, this piece was a masterclass in making something incredibly difficult look extremely easy. Following this, another University of Bristol group, AcadePitch, took us on a whimsically satisfying journey along Rascal Flatts’ 'Life is a Highway'. Killer harmonies were aplenty here!
Steelworks represented the University of Sheffield with what can only be described as a truly epic mash-up that allowed each and every one of their performers to shine. With a stage presence as mighty as a 100-piece orchestra, their vocals and choreography were absolutely on point. Finally, the University of Exeter’s all-male Semi-Toned brought some much-needed TrebleTones realness to the competition, delivering a velvety rendition of Rick Astley’s timeless classic, 'Never Gonna Give You Up'. It was impossible not to dance along to their skilful arrangement and marvellous dance moves.
Every group gave us something different and exciting, and myself, Dan Clews and Mark Fernyhough had a tough time deciding our winners. Illuminations cinched third place with their grit and drama, Songsmiths’ smoothness and suave vocals scored them silver, and The Rolling Tones stormed their way to the win with their powerful and empowering performance. Congratulations to them, and to all of the groups for their amazing work!
It was a genuine pleasure and honour to be a part of the competition. Thank you to theSpaceUK and everybody involved for making it happen.