Arts & Culture

Brown Derbies out-sing competition to win first place

The a cappella group will move on to compete in the Northeast region semifinal next month

Senior Staff Writer
Wednesday, February 20, 2013

The Brown Derbies placed first on Saturday night in the quarterfinals of the International Championship of Collegiate A Cappella.

The Brown Derbies took home first place in a quarterfinal round for the International Championship of Collegiate A Cappella, held at Salomon 101 Saturday night. The top two groups from each of five quarterfinals will move to the Northeast region semifinal round to be held March 23 at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

The Girls Next Door, an all-female a cappella group from The College of Saint Rose in Albany, New York will join the Derbies in the next round.

The Derbies filled their 12-minute time slot with a Rihanna medley of “Where Have You Been All My Life?” and “SOS,”  Mumford and Sons’  “Hopeless Wanderer” and Ed Sheeran’s “Give Me Love.” The crowd broke into applause when the singers rushed on stage in their signature brown vests and bowler derby hats, jumping around on stage as they made their way to their places.

The Girls Next Door were greeted by howling cheers from family and friends who made the trip to support them. In black shirts, denim jeans and hot pink tennis shoes, the group performed “Fire” by Ingrid Michaelson, “Keep On Bringing Me Down” by Forever the Sickest Kids and “I Won’t Let Go” by Rascal Flatts.

The panel of five judges awarded Elizabeth Corey of The Girls Next Door the individual award for “Outstanding Vocal Percussion.” After all groups had performed, the vocal percussionists from each group performed individual beat-boxing segments. Before Corey’s performance, she said she had only started learning how to beatbox last summer.

The judges awarded “Outstanding Soloist” to Mabelly Guerrero of The Blue Notes, an all-female a cappella group from Wellesley College. The group, dressed in black and navy, performed “Shake It Out” by Florence and the Machine, “Motherless Child” by John Legend and “Shark in the Water” by VV Brown — the last being the one for which Guerrero won her award.

The BosTones from Boston University, dressed completely in black, came in third place. The 13-member co-ed a cappella group performed “Swim Good” by Frank Ocean, “It’s a Man’s Man’s Man’s World” by James Brown and “Nude” by Radiohead.

Brown Derby Josh Linden ’14 said the Derbies have not competed in the ICCA since the late 1990s, when they won the Northeast semifinals and went on to compete in the finals at Carnegie Hall in New York City.

“This was a nice step to push ourselves to try and compete,” Linden said.

The Derbies submitted a video to Varsity Vocals, the organization that coordinates the competition, and were told in mid-November they would be competing in the quarterfinal round this February.

Linden said he was thrilled the Derbies won.

“We pretty much just started hugging each other and jumping around,” he said. “We were hoping to even just contend and were shocked and humbled to have won.”

Linden said the Derbies will “take a little breather” to recover from the rush of the past couple of weeks before starting rehearsals  for semifinals.

“We might be tweaking our set. There’s a possibility there’s going to be a changing of the songs,” he said. “We’re going to go back in, work hard and fix up the things we felt weren’t necessarily to our highest standards.”

Brown’s all-male “all-suspendered” a cappella group, The Bear Necessities, hosted the event, though the group did not compete. Ben Freeman ’13, a member of the group, acted as the master of ceremonies for the competition which he called “the Olympics of a cappella.” He used this role to liven up the event, sharing anecdotes — including a story of an encounter with a police officer and his thoughts on Beyonce — between performances.

“Beyonce could start a revolution,” he said. “People would take up arms.”

The Bear Necessities concluded the competition with a six-song performance, including a medley of songs from Disney’s “Hercules” and “Ignition (Remix)” by R Kelly.


ICCA Northeast Region Quarterfinals Particiapnts

Brown Derbies, Brown University

Night Owls, Westfield State University

Serendipity, State University of New York at Albany

Starving Artists, Brandeis University

The Blue Notes, Wellesley College

The BosTones, Boston University

The Girls Next Door, The College of Saint Rose

Victory Eights, Mount Holyoke College