First campus a cappella riff-off hits right note

Riff-off offers entertaining spin on singing competition

Image by: Yixuan Lin

On Jan. 23, the Queen’s a cappella scene held their first ever riff-off — a showdown for bragging rights between all four a cappella clubs on campus.

As the first riff-off between all of Queen’s a cappella groups, the show managed to blend a variety of genres while making time for each of the performers to reach out to their audience with little preparation. 

“Definitely my favourite part of the night was getting to  watch  — and perform — what all the groups had put together in the given 30 minutes,” Queen’s A Cappella Association president Sam Sosnowski said.  

The rules of the riff-off were relatively simple: four teams were required to draw song titles from a bowl and proceed to rehearse for half an hour. While three of the teams worked backstage on their new song, one team performed three pre-prepared songs on stage for the crowd. 

The four teams competing were All The Queen’s Men, The Caledonia’s,  Momentum Vocal Group and Trillers A Cappella. 

Despite the competition, the teams demonstrated enthusiastic support for both their own teammates and their competitors, applauding and cheering after each performance. 

(Photo by Yixuan Lin)

All The Queen’s Men performed first, setting a high bar for the rest of the groups with their rendition of the Jimmy Fallon Barbershop Quartet version of Justin Timberlake’s ‘Sexy Back.’ 

They closed the set with a mashup of ‘Sunday Morning’ by Maroon 5 and ‘Sunday Candy’ by Chance the Rapper, a crowd-pleaser that had the audience singing and dancing along. Their selected surprise song was ‘Escape (The Pina Colada Song)’ by Rupert Holmes, executed flawlessly considering being put together in only 30 minutes. Additionally, this song featured the impressive vocals of Ben Dinsdale. 

Following All The Queen’s Men was The Caledonia’s, who performed a mashup of Britney Spears’ ‘Toxic’ and Adele’s ‘Rolling in the Deep’. The all-women’s team alternated solos before closing with ‘Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F)’ by Katy Perry. 

The teamwork was evident in the way they harmonized to make up for a lack of instruments.  

Next to perform was Momentum Vocal Group who shook things up with a jazzy performance of Duke Ellington’s ‘It Don’t Mean a Thing If It Ain’t Got That Swing,’ surprising the audience with the first non-contemporary song of the evening. 

Trillers A Cappella followed, becoming the overall winners of the riff-off as made obvious by the audience’s immediate applause. After their three pre-prepared songs, which included Queen’s ‘Don’t Stop Me Now’, they performed their surprise song: Miley Cyrus’ hit ‘Party in the USA’. 

The crowd danced and sang along with the Trillers A Cappella and the performance ended with a member of the group pulling off his shirt and enthusiastically waving it around in the air above his head. 

The event sold out the room to capacity and attracted a supportive audience. A strong initial showing hopefully indicates the return of a cappella competitions to campus in the future. 



A cappella, The Mansion

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