With the popularity of shows like “Glee” and the unexpected box-office success of “Pitch Perfect,” the day of a capella music has finally arrived. (Really, who could have predicted that actress Anna Kendrick’s catchy solo “Cups” would take off and become a chart topper?) Luckily for you, we’ve been shamelessly listening to a capella music year round and present you with three albums featuring college students across the country that you should add to your playlist this summer. And while live college a capella shows can be hit or miss (given each group’s constantly changing roster of talent), you can’t fault these young’uns creativity and passion for music. Bollywood, take note.
Name: “Best of CollegeDesis A Capella”
Group: Features seven talented college desi acapella groups from around the country including Stanford University’s Raagapella, University of Illinois’s Chai Town and University of Michigan’s Maize Mirchi. This album provides a good introduction to some of the country’s most talented desi a capella groups. Noobs, think of it as your Desi A Capella 101.
Release Date: December 2012
Must Listen: South Indian songs have always been wanting on desi a capella albums, so Raagapella’s cover of the catchy Tamil song “Oru Maalai” is a refreshing note. Fair warning, prepare to be addicted.
Random: According to Mehul Kar, founder of CollegeDesis, “The album was a collaborative effort among the almost 50 South Asian a cappella teams that are in the country. Proceeds go towards sponsoring competitions, showcases, and other a cappella oriented events.” So go ahead, support the desi a capella movement. And buy a few extras to give away as Christmas presents.
Group: Penn Masala
About: “Kaavish” is Penn Masala’s eighth and newest album. The word “kaavish” means struggle in Urdu. According to the album description, “Kaavish” features multi-layered arrangements, dramatic climaxes and powerful solos. Its cultural influences span the Subcontinent — from Sufi to Carnatic.
Release Date: March 2013
Must Listen: “Fix You/ Ishq Bina,” “Sun Zara/U Got It Bad,” and “Mad/Pee Loon.”
Random: We asked Chetan Khanna, one of Penn Masala’s members about the story behind the group’s powerful music video, “Fix You/Ishq Bina,” which released yesterday. The video was filmed while the group toured Mumbai in January. “This song is very powerful for us. We felt that it would be great to portray its message and the emotions it evokes through a music video,” he told The Aerogram via email.
He adds, “The themes of light and water are meant to evoke hope and freedom,against the barriers that monotony (shown through the passing of the days and cars) can create. Similarly, the children depicted, though living a tough life, are hopeful of something better. As the song builds so too does the story — their journey to a better life. At the end we realize, that it is, only a dream, a hope. And though that is sad, this hope is still powerful enough to get them through the days ahead.”
Group: Brown Sugar
About: “Zamaane” is the fourth studio album from Brown Sugar, Northwestern University’s nationally-recognized co-ed South Asian a cappella group.
Release Date: April 2013
Must Listen: The album’s debut single “Halo/Shukran Allah,” “Paradise,” and “Lagaan Medley.”