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A Cappella Gets the Ben Folds Treatment

Thursday, March 26, 2009 - 05:25 PM

Fair warning: In the words of a certain hollerback girl, collegiate a cappella is about to go b-a-n-a-n-a-s.

Atlantic Records signed the Indiana University group Straight No Chaser to a five-album deal. The group sold an impressive 100,000 copies of their Christmas CD over the holidays. Meanwhile, NBC has greenlighted "The Sing-Off," an "American Idol"-style a cappella reality TV show. (The winning a cappella group will receive a contract with Sony.) And author Mickey Rapkin's tell-all book, "Pitch Perfect," has been optioned by actress Elizabeth Banks and Universal Pictures.

Also on the cultural horizon: Alternative rock hero Ben Folds has produced an album of collegiate a cappella covers of his songs. The groups range from Princeton University's Nassoons to Sacramento State's Jazz Singers. Folds contributes two arrangements as well to "Ben Folds Presents: University A Cappella!," which sees a release on April 28. Folds and Rapkin joined Soundcheck today to talk about the rise of a cappella groups around the country. Listen to the interview here.

Folds told us he was inspired to undertake the project when he realized how many collegiate a cappella groups were fans of his music. After putting out a call for submissions, about 250 video entries were posted on YouTube. Fifteen groups made the cut. Folds told Soundcheck he recorded the bands on campus, opting to record them "in their natural habitat" rather than in a studio. After the show, we asked Folds what he learned from the experience, and Rapkin dished about some near fisticuffs in the a cappella world. Watch the video.

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