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The GW Hatchet


The GW Hatchet

Serving the GW Community since 1904

The GW Hatchet

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GW a cappella groups sing familiar tunes

“I’m sorry for GW for financing us to be a bunch of jackasses.”

So says an anonymous member of GW’s Emocappella group.

At their CD release concert last month, members apologized for everything from back hair to giving a girlfriend’s father a hand job. Each outlandish confession was used to introduce tracks from their recently released debut album, I’m Sorry.

In case you missed its introduction in 2001, Emocappella sets itself apart with a repertoire consisting primarily of songs caught under the umbrella genre of emo, which is short for “emotional punk.” While the singers don’t travel too far beyond the realm of traditional a cappella with anything extremely hardcore, they have generated a good deal of attention by featuring the pop side of emo and emocore in a new way.

The new album fits well within the unique niche that Emocappella has carved out, with covers of such bands as Taking Back Sunday and the Alkaline Trio, but the group makes sure that its self-defined genre is not too exclusive. I’m Sorry also includes a cappella versions of comedic songs like Tenacious D’s “Fuck Her Gently” and “Even Hitler Had a Girlfriend,” by the Mr. T Experience, as well as the group’s somewhat peculiar rendition of Biz Markie’s “Just a Friend.”

I’m Sorry also features Emocappella’s first original song, an impromptu studio track titled “Cannon in DD,” which pays homage to “sweater meat” – breasts – by adding lyrics to the classic 17th century classical tune “Canon in D.” Surely composer Johann Pachelbel would be pleased that someone finally made the connection.

Though its work has already garnered attention in the national media, Emocappella members’ under-inflated opinions of themselves have not changed. Their formula for success combines a self-effacing, all-nonsense attitude with dynamic energy.

“We’re not very good. We put a unique spin on a cappella by getting out there, jumping around and screaming,” says Eric Denman, the GW senior who founded the group.

This approach has given Emocappella some leeway as it undertakes a fairly ambitious endeavor into uncharted musical territory. Its tongue-and-cheek image allows the group to thwart criticism of its singers’ lack of musical talent and, more importantly, allows listeners with no expectations to say, “Hey, wait a minute, this is kind of good,” as Denman puts it.

And though the singers may be the first to deny it, the truth is, their music is “kind of good.” Go to one of their shows and you’ll see how Emocappella owns the stage. The guys appear to enjoy what they do as much as the audience enjoys watching.

Between jokes, Emocappella takes on each song with ease and confidence. The members’ camaraderie is apparent and seems to aid the tonality of guys who Denman says “are not people with strong musical backgrounds.”

The harmonies are tight, with each member aware of others’ changes in pace while still projecting his own independent stage presence. Emocappella amasses the sum of 13 upbeat characters to form a cohesive vocal powerhouse.

A new all-female group shared the stage with Emocappella at its December CD release concert. In their debut performance, the GW Sirens greeted an already warmed-up crowd with a short but sweet interlude. Clad in various shades of magenta, the 12 women took the stage while singing the Cardigan’s “Lovefool,” during which soloist Leslie Vaeth captured every perky vocal inflection.

The Sirens, who came together last October, were not shy about showing off their talents. Their eclectic range was apparent as they shifted gears from the subdued ballad “Song for a Winter’s Night” to the feisty modern version of “Lady Marmalade.”

“The image that we want to be portrayed is one of fun-loving and carefree girls who all share in the same passion for music,” says co-founder Annie Mallan.

Both groups say they intend to keep working this semester. The Sirens plan to have their own full show on campus, while Emocappella will announce East Coast tour dates in the next few weeks.

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