The Phillipian Playlist: A Cappella Edition



Lighting up the stage of nearly every important performance on campus, the a cappella groups at Andover have long been an integral part of the school’s culture and tradition. From the all gender a cappella groups, Keynotes and Downbeat, to the all-tenor and base group Yorkies and all-soprano and alto group Azure, each of these student-led groups rehearses weekly, exploring a wide range of repertoire as they build long-lasting friendships. Without further ado, enjoy this thoughtfully-curated playlist of favorite a cappella songs from the co-heads and members of these groups.

Sean Meng ’22, Co-Head of Yorkies — “Pompeii” by Bastille

“[This] is one of Yorkies’ most iconic songs, [and] we sing it at every practice [as] a tradition that was started by the 2015 Yorkies. We split into different vocal groups and we’ll just sort of sing the song as we know it and figure out the harmonies as we go. It’s also sort of special as a song because it’s repetitive, [so] it leaves you a lot of flexibility and a lot of room to add your interpretation to it. As you keep going, you find different ways to branch off of each other. I think [this song] is a really nice way to come together [and] sound like one unit instead of different people singing, which is one of the most important aspects of a cappella”

Troy Keller ’22, Co-Head of Yorkies — “Sunday Morning” by Maroon 5

“I remember singing [this] song [at] A Cappella Night of my freshman year, [and] we’ve been getting ready to perform [it again]. It’s an old arrangement from previous years and one I’ve always been fond of. It’s fun, light, and warm. It’s a strong mix of low background vocals. The high pitch of the soloists part is something I love about the arrangement. I hope we’ll be able to perform to some part of the school this year when spring is at its peak, as I feel that’s when the song should be heard.”

Jane Park ’22, Co-Head of Keynotes — “If I Ever Fall in Love” by Pentatonix ft. Jason Derulo

“There’s a fullness in the song that makes you doubt whether the song is actually a cappella or not. It’s this magical moment when you witness how a human voice can transform into a vessel of music. When you imagine Pentatonix, it can be hard to envision another additional singer just because there are already so many amazing voices in the group. Pentatonix, in other words, is complete in and of itself. Yet, Derulo’s addition adds a sense of wholeness and character to the piece. This song would be missing without him.”

Sebastian Altomare ’23, Co-Head of Keynotes — “Daft Punk” by Pentatonix

“[This song] is a seamlessly blended medley of some of Daft Punk’s most popular tunes. One element of the composition is Pentatonix’s display of their vocal range. There is a section in the tune where they sing in drastically different octaves, and still manage to piece together a melodic line. And that’s not to mention the beatboxing, which sounds robotic (for the Daft Punk vibe) and employs the use of audible outward breath sounds mixed in with the percussion.”

Lauren Mahoney ’23, Co-Head of Azure — “Valerie” by Amy Winehouse

“Our SSAA (soprano 1, soprano 2, alto 1, alto 2)  group had so much fun figuring out the percussive background vocals and channeling the rasp of [Winehouse’s] voice [in this song]. The rhythm of the song always gets our group moving and we are actually performing it at A Cappella Night. [As] for the composition, I really think it highlights our wonderful bases in the sense that they carry the prominent drum beat throughout the piece. It is truly special how the harmonies overlay in the call and response aspects from the soprano part as they echo the soloist in the verses.”

Marie Faugeres ’23, Member of Azure — “Lollipop” by the Chordettes

“I’m a big fan of old-sounding songs, and [this song has] a very basic composition for a cappella but it’s a classic sound and very nostalgic. It’s still very unique compared to [songs] nowadays and reminds me of how much history music and a cappella has, especially considering it’s from an all-female a cappella group like the one I am in right now. I just really enjoy how old music quality from the 1950s sounded and how simple yet satisfying the harmonies are.”

Kate Horton ’22, Co-Head of Downbeat — “Let the Road” by Rixton

“[This song] is about letting life bring you back home, and it doesn’t necessarily need to have religious connotations, but more so trusting your path and making decisions and knowing that at the end of the day, you will get to come back home and be with those who you love that with which you love. [It’s] gots some great harmonization in it that is beautiful, [and] I think structurally, it’s very moving. It has a great arc to it. I like the lyrics, ‘If you don’t belong and the world feels too strong / And you’re scared of the darkness to come/… hold on cause love will show all the ways.’ It just gives the ‘coming back home’ and that you are loved no matter what kind of feeling.”

Han Chin Toh ’22, Co-Head of Downbeat — “715-CR∑∑KS” by The Nor’easters

“[This song was] originally written and performed by Bon Iver, but later on arranged by Elliot Von Wendt and sung a cappella by the Nor’easters. I love how it took Bon Iver’s electronic sound and reimagined it, which is what makes a cappella and arranging so exciting for me. I’ve taken a look at the sheet music online and it’s full of small details so that every time I listen to it, I feel like I’m hearing something new in the song. There’s also lots of dynamics and contrast between space and dense chords, fluid movement and sudden bursts. It’s an arrangement that I keep learning from and looking to for inspiration.”

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