Who will win the Voice Festival UK 2014?

Poll: Who will win the Voice Festival UK 2013?

With three weekends of top quality a cappella having whizzed past absurdly quickly, we are all set for a fifth Voice Festival UK University Final this weekend, taking place at the City of London School for Girls on Friday 15 March. With three groups having had experience in finals before, as well as three debutant groups, it really is wide open. Who is your favourite?

All the King’s Men

The reigning champions are in their third final in as many years, and having once again won the tough London Regional, must be feeling confident in their third straight final. The Men are currently the third best collegiate group in the world, having placed 3rd at last April’s ICCA Finals in New York, and will have been honing their VF-UK set while touring the US again this February. Losing their founder and long-time Musical Director Henry Southern will have been a blow, but it appears they have gone from strength to strength and look a good bet to defend their title.

Choral Stimulation

The hugely unfancied Glaswegian group (having only secured 4% of the vote for the St Andrews Regional Round in our previous poll) took everyone by surprise with their phenomenal set in St Andrews, becoming the first group outside of St Andrews to qualify from that particular Regional. This is their fourth year in the competition, which gives them more experience than all but one of the other groups, and they have been on a steady incline of improvement since their debut back in 2010. Will their lack of Final experience count against them though?

The Oxford Alternotives

The Alternotives last qualified for the final back in the first year of the Voice Festival UK, in 2009. That year, they made it through the now-defunct Cambridge Regional, whereas this year they progressed in their hometown in Oxford. The group have picked up several awards in the years they haven’t made the final, demonstrating they have always been there or thereabouts when it comes to qualification, but this is the year to really capitalise on their Final berth. They sounded fantastic at the Edinburgh Fringe over the summer – to what extent will this be continued?

Semi-Toned

Having made a strong debut last year, despite not making the Final, Semi-Toned secured one third of the vote to win the Exeter Regional and proved they had built on last year’s strong foundations with an astonishing set, picking up the majority of the awards at the Regional as well as securing qualification. As one of three all-male groups at the Final, they will need to do well to stand out, and a question marks lies over whether they have quite found their unique personality as a group, but they are definitely on their way to becoming one of the biggest male groups in the country. Can they rubber-stamp that fact with a win on Friday?

The Sons of Pitches

Having arguably been close runners-up in last year’s Final, the Birmingham-based group will feel in a strong position to further challenge for the VF-UK title this year, having picked up no less than three awards at the Birmingham Regional yesterday night. The boys claim that their success at last year’s Festival was a springboard for their spring and summertime successes, so imagine what the boys could achieve were they to win the thing? Praised for their masterful stagecraft and energetic performance in recent years, do the boys have enough musicality to win them the entire competition?

Vive

The wild-card entry (literally) in this year’s final, Vive have taken a leaf out of Pentatonix’ book by being a small, male-dominated group with one exceptional female lead to add the extra-dimension to their numbers. While the group focus on an entirely different repertoire to their American counterparts, the Guildhall-based group inherently have a huge amount of musical proficiency behind them and to qualify ahead of the likes of The Techtonics from the London round is quite an achievement, even if it was through the use of the Ward Swingle Award for Originality. I cannot wait to see these guys live, and see what they can offer. Will their lack of experience hamper their ability to win? Time will tell.

Have Your Say

Our poll is now open. Who do YOU think will win this year’s final?

Voice Festival UK 2013 Preview – Part 5: Birmingham

A couple of weeks before Christmas, we here at the blog were once again provided with a wonderful Christmas present: the announcement of the round allocations for this year’s Voice Festival UK university competition. For the second year running, the competition is bigger than ever, with more groups from more universities competing than ever before in five Regional Rounds: Oxford, St Andrews, London, Birmingham and Exeter.

In this series of blogs, we will be previewing each Regional Round, commenting on each group and their chances of reaching the final, as well as introducing several groups you might not yet have heard of.

In our fifth and final installment, we’re checking out what’s on offer in the Birmingham Regional, taking place for the third time on 9 March 2013.

Potted History

In the two previous years that the Voice Festival has visited Birmingham, two different groups have won the Regional. In 2011, Augmented Seven, a group which disbanded last year, won the inaugural round ahead of three other groups from the University of Birmingham. Last year, with the net cast a little wider, it was all-male group The Sons of Pitches which claimed the victory, ahead of award-winning performances from the likes of Voice Versa and 95 Keys from the University of Leeds.

Newcomer Alert

The Augmentals: One of two new groups this year, The Augmentals hail from Birmingham Conservatoire and are very much an unknown quantity. They were founded in November 2012 and currently consist of 11 members, but aside from that we don’t really know much about them! We look forward to hearing them in the upcoming event. You can find the group on Facebook.

The Treblemakers: The second of the new groups, the Treblemakers become the sixth group from the University of Birmingham to compete in the competition, and the fourth currently. With a name identical to the all-male group in the recent Aca-Film, Pitch Perfect, they will be hoping to have just as much success in competitive a cappella as their namesakes.

Old-Timers

The Songsmiths: The name might not be familiar, but the group certainly will be: Leeds based group The Songsmiths were known last year as 95 Keys, and impressed in their debut performance at this Regional Round, picking up the award for ‘Outstanding Arrangement’. Not many groups manage that upon their debut, and with the entire of Leeds’ student body to choose from, they do have some talented singers in their midst too. Definitely ones to look out for.

The Uptone Girls: Another name you may not be familiar with, but whose members may be recognisable – formerly The Birmingham Songbirds, the all-female group have returned with a much punnier name, and will hope this improve their fortunes on stage too. Having not picked up an award in their two previous competitive efforts, they will be hoping that will change this year. With more experience than the majority of the groups in the competition, they could be in with a shout.

Voice Versa: Back for a second year, the award-winning mixed group (‘Outstanding Musicality’) looked very tight last year, and if they can add a little more spice and originality to their set compared to last year, they too could do well. They showed a spark of invention last year with their Feel Good Medley, as well as a lot of soul during their opening number, so if they play to their strengths they may find themselves through to the final.

The Sons of Pitches: For The Sons of Pitches, life really began after the Voice Festival last year. After they progressed to the final, they began to secure gigs left, right and centre, and their YouTube on-the-spot arrangements were vastly popular, and help them to develop a huge new fanbase. That just shows to show how much of an impact winning a competition like this can have. This year, the all-male group return as clear favourites, and having won awards in both previous years they have competed, as well as ‘Outstanding Stagecraft’ in last year’s final, they have the energy, the know-how and the vocal ability to qualify again. Can any of the other groups defy the odds?

Summary

In a strong turnout in Birmingham, all four groups that competed last year are back, with two newcomers making it one of the most competitive rounds in the competition this year. It’s hard to look past The Sons of Pitches, simply because of their incredible set and success last year – there were some at last year’s final who believed they should have won. However, they must not rest on their laurels, because there are five groups wanting to nick that final spot away from them. The most likely to do so is difficult to pinpoint, though – The Songsmiths had a great debut last year, as did Voice Versa, but The Uptone Girls have more experience and this may work in their favour. Not much is known about newcomers The Treblemakers or The Augmentals, although the latter, coming from a music school, could well provide us with some very tight Musicality, if nothing else. It’s all to play for.

Have Your Say

Voice Festival UK 2013 Preview – Part 4: Exeter

A couple of weeks before Christmas, we here at the blog were once again provided with a wonderful Christmas present: the announcement of the round allocations for this year’s Voice Festival UK university competition. For the second year running, the competition is bigger than ever, with more groups from more universities competing than ever before in five Regional Rounds: Oxford, St Andrews, London, Birmingham and Exeter.

In this series of blogs, we will be previewing each Regional Round, commenting on each group and their chances of reaching the final, as well as introducing several groups you might not yet have heard of.

In our fourth installment, we’ll be heading to the new round of this year’s festival, although most of the names you’ll probably have heard before… it’s in Exeter, taking place on Saturday 2 March.

Potted History

While this is the inaugural Regional round taking place in Exeter, one could argue that it has merely migrated slightly further south from last year’s Bristol Regional, which in turn was the first in the south-west. Last year, groups from Bristol, Exeter and Bath all competed, with HotTUBBS emerging eventual winners and being the only mixed-voice group to make last year’s Voice Festival Final.

Notable Absences

TUBBS: The first notable absentee from the Exeter Regional is the University of Bristol Barbershop Singers. The largest group to have ever competed in the competition, their absence after two years is one which will definitely diminish the variety on offer in Exeter – TUBBS undoubtedly brought something unique and completely different to most other contemporary a cappella groups, and their presence will be missed.

HotTUBBS: Perhaps more surprisingly, HotTUBBS, a sister group to TUBBS, have also withdrawn from the competition, meaning two of last year’s five finalists will not be competing this year. After a very successful debut performance last year, becoming the only non all-male group to reach the final, it will be interesting to see which of this year’s groups will be filling the void left by their departure.

Newcomer Alert

Illuminations: While the Illuminations are new to the Voice Festival UK, they are not new to us here at University A Cappella UK. The mixed group come under the umbrella of the University of Exeter A Cappella Society, and will be counting on the experience they have gained as part of the rapidly growing society to hold them in good stead for this year’s competition. Against only three other groups, who each lack huge amounts of experience, they may well think a debut final is within their reach.

Old-Timers

Semi-Toned: Arguably the most active group coming out of Exeter, the Semi-Toned boys yet again make up the only all-male group in the south-west, and as such have been making quite a name for themselves, hitting almost 750 fans on Facebook. While this is no indication of their musical aptitude, the boys did look solid last year, especially with their mash-up of Travis’ Turn and Coldplay’s Yellow, which won them ‘Outstanding Arrangement’, alongside ‘Outstanding Vocal Percussion’ for Jack Telfer St. Claire. If they can continue in the same vein as last year, they’ll definitely be in with a chance.

The Sweet Nothings: The most experienced, at least competitively, of all the groups in the area, this is the third year of competition for the only all-female group in this Regional. They won ‘Outstanding Performance’ last year but seemed to lack a real sense of direction in their set, and as arguable favourites may have felt disappointed not to qualify. However, this is a new year, and they have been keeping busy, which may well hold them in good stead for the competition.

Aquapella: Aquapella, like Semi-Toned, debuted in the competition last year, but were not quite as successful as the boys, failing to win any awards. However, they will come back stronger after figuring out what it’s all about, and I am excited to see the latest offering from the only group from the University of Bath.

Summary:

I seem to say this every time, but this Regional really is wide open. With no groups having reached the final in previous years, that coveted slot is very much up for grabs. There are some groups that could be seen as being closer to the victory than others though: we have been hearing a great deal from Semi-Toned all year and their wealth of live experience may well mean they’re down as favourites. Add to that the fact they won two awards at last year’s competition, and they could be forgiven for feeling confident. However, The Sweet Nothings, their all-female counterparts, have been just as successful in the past year and have a lot to offer. Aquapella are still a fairly unknown quantity and could bring a couple of surprise with them from Bath, while Illuminations may have been learning from their fellow Exeter groups, and are also in with a chance. Tough one to call.

Have Your Say

Voice Festival UK 2013 Preview – Part 3: London

A couple of weeks before Christmas, we here at the blog were once again provided with a wonderful Christmas present: the announcement of the round allocations for this year’s Voice Festival UK university competition. For the second year running, the competition is bigger than ever, with more groups from more universities competing than ever before in five Regional Rounds: Oxford, St Andrews, London, Birmingham and Exeter.

In this series of blogs, we will be previewing each Regional Round, commenting on each group and their chances of reaching the final, as well as introducing several groups you might not yet have heard of.

In our third installment, we go to the home of the current champions of the Voice Festival, London, one of the fastest growing hubs of a cappella in the UK. The round will be taking place on 9th March 2013, one week before the final, also in London.

Potted History

The London Regional began in 2011, when the competition expand to five Regional Rounds. In that inaugural year, current champions All the King’s Men qualified for the final, and last year they went one step further by winning the entire competition. That considered, the King’s-based group are therefore the only group to have ever represented London in the final, and as the only former Champions left in the competition, they won’t be giving up that title easily.

Notable Absence

Fitz Barbershop: Alongside fellow Cambridge groups The Fitz Sirens and Cadenza, the last remaining contingent from Cambridge have also pulled out of this year’s competition, meaning there will be no representative from the university which once held it’s own Regional from 2009-2011. Fitz Barbershop are also the only group to have ever won the Ward Swingle Award for Originality (in 2010) with their unorthodox style of a cappella (last year, they impressively blended all four of their songs into one another). The individual style of the group will be missed in this year’s competition, but we wish them well for their year ahead.

Newcomer Alert

The Houghtones: The first of three brand new groups competing in this Regional this year, The Houghtones are the sole a cappella group at the London School of Economics. Having been described as ‘the best a cappella band to come out of the UK since the 19th Century’ by one impressed fan of the group, the mixed-voice group will be hoping the enthusiasm created by the excitement at being at their debut Voice Festival will serve them well in the Regional. Having never heard them live myself, they are very much an unknown quantity and it will be fascinating to see how they do. You can find the group on Facebook.

The Scopes: I conducted a short interview a few months back with Justus Schmidt, founder of The Scopes, about his intention to compete in this year’s Voice Festival. Lo and behold, here they are – the fourth group to come out of Imperial College, London, the group have been slowly building their reputation since their foundation in 2011 and will be taking to the stage this year against the best London has to offer. Whether they will match the standards set by returning competitors remains to be seen.

Vive: Having already established themselves as a cappella giants, with performances at the London A Cappella Festival combined with workshop leading, an impressive YouTube video and an six-track debut album, the group from Guildford School of Music and Drama are by far the most developed and experienced of this year’s newcomers. With a Pentatonix-esque make-up (one girl and five boys) and a very unique, professional style, it will be interesting to be what kind of impact the group can make in their debut year. You can find the group on Facebook.

Old-Timers

The Imperielles: I said last year that these girls would be ones to watch in future. As the only all-girl group in this year’s London Regional, they will definitely stand out. Their performance last year in their debut competition was good without being outstanding, and with some strong-looking newcomers as well as last year’s champions in the mix, they will have to raise their game to stand a chance of qualification for the final.

The Techtonics: Despite having never made the final, The Techtonics must be one of the favourites to win the competition this year, after such a successful year since last year’s Festival. The third group from Imperial College in this year’s Regional, they have released a highly acclaimed debut full-length album, with one of the tracks featuring on CASA’s Sing 9 collection, a highly impressive achievement for a UK collegiate group. With such a morale boost behind them, they can build on last year’s award-winning set and really challenge not just for the Regional qualification, but for the entire competition.

All the King’s Men: Let’s not rule out last year’s winners just yet, though. The current champions, who also happen to be the third best group in the world having held their own at the international final in New York, they are the only former champions in this years competition, without Out of the Blue, The Oxford Gargoyles and Cadenza, and this will surely encourage them to push for further success. They have lost a chunk of their group, including founder and all-round musical maestro Henry Southern, so it will be interesting to see how they patch up the holes left from departing members. In such esteemed company, it could be difficult to repeat their success this year.

Summary

On first glance, All the King’s Men are the hot favourites as last year’s winners. However, with such strides being made by fellow all-male group The Techtonics in the past year, they will definitely not be complacently strolling into the final, and will still need on the top of their game in order to progress. Of the newcomers, Vive, as music school students, will undoubtedly bring a higher level of musical professionalism and nuances that regular university students might not have, and this could hold them in good stead. The Imperielles will need to step up in order to challenge for the places, while other newcomers The Scopes and The Houghtones have a big task ahead of them (namely, beating the third best group in the world) to have a successful debut. It’s a tough call, as always, but I have a feeling we might have a surprise winner of this one.

Have Your Say

Voice Festival UK 2013 Preview – Part 2: St Andrews

A couple of weeks before Christmas, we here at the blog were once again provided with a wonderful Christmas present: the announcement of the round allocations for this year’s Voice Festival UK university competition. For the second year running, the competition is bigger than ever, with more groups from more universities competing than ever before in five Regional Rounds: Oxford, St Andrews, London, Birmingham and Exeter.

In this series of blogs, we will be previewing each Regional Round, commenting on each group and their chances of reaching the final, as well as introducing several groups you might not yet have heard of.

In the second blog, we go to the only round aside from Oxford that has been going since the Festival’s inception, that in St Andrews, which also happens to be the only round with the exact same line-up as last year. The round will take place on Saturday 23rd February 2013.

Potted History

Traditionally, this round has been fought out by three groups in the past four years: The Accidentals, The Alleycats and The Other Guys, with each group having qualified for the final twice in four years: The Alleycats in 2009 and 2010, The Accidentals in 2010 and 2011, and The Other Guys in 2009 and 2012. This three-group domination is emphasised by the fact that those three groups scooped all the awards in last year’s Regional; in fact the only other group to have won an award in this round is Choral Stimulation, who won two, in 2010 and 2011. With no group gaining a dominant foothold, this round is always one of the closest to call.

Notable Absence

The Vocal Bandits: The unauditioned group from the University of St Andrews may not have competed in the Festival before, but that didn’t stop talk of them potentially taking part this year. After impressing at the university’s Christmas Concert in November, there was talk that the group would take the number competing in the round to an unprecedented seven, but have instead chosen to remain spectators. We wish the group all the best for the future and hope to see them try their hand in future.

Old-Timers

Aberpella: Competing for the second year in the competition, Aberdeen’s mixed group will be hoping for more success than in their debut season. With a year of experience in the bag, they will have learnt from last year’s outing and will almost certainly be stronger this year. However, in one of the notoriously toughest Regionals, they will have to show significant improvement to beat some of the more established acts. They are still the most inexperienced group in this round, and that could count against them.

The Accidentals: Technically still the UK’s best all-female a cappella group, thanks to their final performance in 2011 and the absence of female groups in last year’s finale, the girls will bring their fierce brand of female feistiness to the Regional as always. Having kept the majority of their members this year, and having recruited three exceptionally talented girls, this continuity could hold them in good stead as they look to reach their third final.

The Alleycats: In my opinion, they were unlucky not to win this Regional last year with what could be considered as their golden generation. One of last year’s competition numbers, Titanium, was selected as the runner-up in our countdown of the best tracks of 2012, and if they put together a similar masterpiece this time around, they will definitely be challengers again. However, having lost a huge number of members and having replaced their entire bass roster, you have to wonder whether this will hamper their chances.

Choral Stimulation: The Glasgow group could arguably be seen as the nearest challengers to the ‘Big Three’, having been the only group outside of St Andrews to have picked up any sort of award in this Regional. Having competed since 2010, they are renowned for bringing a very original brand of a cappella to St Andrews, having sung Lonely Island’s I Just Had Sex at the recent Christmas Concert. They could be ones to watch this year as their group progresses and matures.

The Hummingbirds: Despite having competed since the Festival’s inception in 2009, St Andrews’ newest all-girl group have never reached the final or picked up any awards at the St Andrews Regional. Their style of a cappella is completely different to that of the Accidentals, focusing mainly on cutesy pop numbers, which does add variety to proceedings. I feel good about the group’s chances of ending their barren streak this year, having gained a lot of stage experience since last year’s competition and having recruited a lot of talented members. If they can seize some sort of competitive edge, they might shock a few.

The Other Guys: It cannot be denied that The Other Guys have had a successful few years; in the past year they have run (unsuccessfully) for Christmas Number 1, released a successful Christmas record and have recently announced another EP will be available for Valentine’s Day, just 9 days before the Voice Festival rolls into town. Commercial success does not translate to competitive success, though, and despite reaching the final last year, the group were thought to fall quite short of eventual winners, All the King’s Men. The group has fleshed out a little this year, losing just one member last year, and this continuity could help them reach their third final in five years.

Summary

As always, the St Andrews Regional is one of the hardest to call. It’s difficult to look past the ‘Big Three’, as historically The Alleycats, The Accidentals and The Other Guys have dominated without any of the three qualifying consistently. The last time The Alleycats qualified was in 2010, and they will be desperate to make amends this year, but with solidarity from their main rivals that could be difficult. The other three groups are hardly there to make up the numbers though: Choral Stimulation have improved year on year and were unlucky not to pick up any awards last year. Their originality and fresh take on a cappella will always be admired in this Regional. The Hummingbirds have also been sounding excellent recently, and could break their qualifying duck, while Aberpella will have improved massively since last year. I wouldn’t want to judge this one.

Have Your Say

Voice Festival UK 2013 Preview – Part 1: Oxford

A couple of weeks before Christmas, we here at the blog were once again provided with a wonderful Christmas present: the announcement of the round allocations for this year’s Voice Festival UK university competition. For the second year running, the competition is bigger than ever, with more groups from more universities competing than ever before in five Regional Rounds: Oxford, St Andrews, London, Birmingham and Exeter.

In this series of blogs, we will be previewing each Regional Round, commenting on each group and their chances of reaching the final, as well as introducing several groups you might not yet have heard of.

In the first blog, we kick off at one of the longest running Regional Rounds, that in Oxford, and the line-up looks slightly different this year. The round will take place on Sunday 3rd March 2013.

Potted History

This is the fifth time the Oxford Regional Round has taken place, having started at the inaugural Voice Festival competition back in 2009. In the first two years, Out of the Blue qualified for the final twice, alongisde The Oxford Belles and The Oxford Gargoyles in 2009 and 2010 respectively. Since the introduction of two extra Regionals, Out of the Blue have gone on to qualify alone in 2011 and 2012, meaning they have made the final in every year possible.

Notable Absence

Out of the Blue: The first of two huge absences from this year competition, the boys from Oxford have this year decided to withdraw from the competition in order to focus on other projects. Their departure is a huge loss to the competition and will mean the group relinquish their record of being in every single VF-UK Final. Having proceeded to the ICCA Finals in New York as winners in 2009 and coming second, alongisde huge national exposure on Britain’s Got Talent and having the largest fanbase in the UK, they leave a legacy behind them, while blowing the Regional in Oxford wide open.

The Oxford Gargoyles: The second significant absence from the competition this year is the well-established jazz group. While the group have only ever reached the final once, the year they won the competition in 2010, they are seen as one of the most professional groups in the country, having reached the final of BBC’s Choir of the Year 2012 and appearing on national television as a result. Judging by what I saw of the group at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in August, their departure is another big loss to the competition, and we hope to see the group back in coming years.

Switching Sides

The King’s Chicks: New name, new location. Formerly the King’s Chix, the group have decided to indicate their maturity by stylising their name slightly differently, and have been re-jigged into the Oxford Regional due to the large number of groups popping up in London this year. With this their third year in the competition, having competed in London in the previous two years, now would seem to be the best time to be relocated to this particular round, given the notable absences above. Having seen them at the Edinburgh Fringe briefly in the summer, there was room for improvement, but a New Year and a fresh batch of members could allow the group to thrive in their new surroundings.

Old-Timers

The Oxford Alternotives: Having competed in Cambridge twice and in Oxford twice, it seems with the lack of Cambridge participants at all this year, the Alternotives are back home for good. Having won an award every year they have competed (last year for ‘Outstanding Choreography’), and having reached the final in 2009, their longevity and experience could hold them in good stead this year.

The Oxford Belles: One of three all-female groups in this year’s Oxford Regional, the Belles are one of only three all-female groups to ever reach the final of the competition, and as such will feel confident going into this year’s Regional. The group blew us away last year with an ‘Outstanding Soloist’ during their cover of Jar of Hearts, which was later awarded 5th place in our countdown of the top tracks of 2012. If they can utilise their members to such good effect again this year, they may well be the favourites to qualify – after all, I had them down as a close second last year.

In The Pink: Credit to In The Pink, since last year’s competition they have strived to build on simply gaining experience from the Voice Festival. Having had another successful Fringe run and toured Berlin, they have been picking up experience here, there and everywhere, and have released a solid studio album. Whether this will translate to a live competition remains to be seen, but the girls should not be underestimated.

The Ultrasounds: After a very solid debut last year, claiming award for ‘Outstanding Vocal Percussion’ and ‘Outstanding Performance’. Having since released a debut studio album, the all-male, all-medic group are now the sole male-only group in this Regional, and if they can build on their impressive debut, they could surprise a few.

Summary

With two previous winners no longer competing, this has blown not just this Regional but the entire competition wide open. As the only two previous finalists left in this round, you have to suggest that the favourites are either The Oxford Alternotives or The Oxford Belles, despite neither group having made the final since 2009. Based on recent performances, I would say the Belles are the closest to making it this year. However, experience does not necessarily mean victory, and the strong debut from The Ultrasounds last year is something that, if properly built upon, could stand them in good stead this year. In The Pink have also had a good year since the last competition, and their experience in Germany and in Edinburgh will have undoubtedly strengthened their core sound. That leaves The King’s Chicks, who I am sure will be well received by the new Oxford crowd, and in their third year of competition, they will also be expecting some sort of progress. This one is really tough to call.

Have Your Say

Would You Be Interested In Buying A British A Cappella Compilation CD?

We always like to hear your opinion on the blog, and today is no exception. The question is simple – would a compilation CD of all the best British a cappella tracks of the year be of interest to you? The Americans have BOCA and Voices Only – is it time for the UK to have their own? Have your say below:

Poll: Who will win the Voice Festival UK 2012?

After three weekends of amazing a cappella action and some stiff competition all over the country, the Regional Rounds of the Voice Festival UK are finally over and we have our line-up for the final of the competition, which will take place next Saturday, March 10th, in London.

All The King’s Men

The first group to qualify were our reader’s favourites for the London Regional, All The King’s Men, who immediately embarked on a Tour of the US West Coast after their victory. The boys are competing in their second final in as many years, and after the learning curve on their debut performance last year, they will be hoping to clinch their first title and become the first group to win from outside of Oxbridge to do so.

The Sons of Pitches

First-time finalists The Sons of Pitches qualified from the Birmingham Regional last weekend, and are competing for the second time after making their debut last year. The boys have been making strides in the a cappella world recently, especially through their busking around Birmingham, but will be seen as outsiders for the final. Can they upset the odds?

Out of the Blue

Competing in their fourth straight final, Out of the Blue must be considered the favourites to win the competition. The boys have been second in the ICCAs twice, in 2006 and 2009 (and therefore officially the second best group in the world) and have heaps of experience, from the Edinburgh Fringe, Britain’s Got Talent and several UK and US Tours. They qualified from the hotly contested Oxford Regional and will do well.

HotTUBBS

Very much an unknown quantity, debutants HotTUBBS qualified earlier this evening from the Bristol Regional, in what could be considered a surprise result, given they received little to no backing from our readers in the poll. The group are, however, the only mixed group in the final, and will therefore be aiming to bring something different and fresh to the final. Could this work in their favour?

The Other Guys

The Other Guys were the last group to qualify for the final, making it through the notoriously tough St Andrews Regional earlier this evening. The YouTube stars are in only their second final after a two-year absence, and so may feel a little out of practice, given that only one of the current members of the group have been to the final before. That said, the group do have a lot of support and must be considered a threat.

Have Your Say

Our poll is now open! Who do you think will win the competition? Vote now!

Who will reach the Final of the Voice Festival UK? Poll Results!

For the last month and a half, our readers have been voting on five separate polls, one for each Regional Round, and giving us their opinion on who they think will be competing in the final on 10 March in London. With the first Regional Round taking place tomorrow in London, our polls have finally closed and the results are in.

With a total of 206 votes cast in total, we firstly want to thank everyone for voting and sharing their opinion!

In the Oxford Regional, the overwhelming fan favourites are Out of the Blue, who received almost half of the entire share of votes. The 2009 Champions, who ended up finishing 2nd in the ICCA Final in New York that same year, have never failed to reach a VF-UK final and they must feel confident of maintaining this record, particularly with their success in Britain’s Got Talent in April and another sensational Edinburgh Fringe run in August. The group are really setting the standard for a cappella in the UK, and must be considered one of the favourites for the entire competition. Following them are the The Oxford Gargoyles with one fifth of the vote, and as I commented in my initial preview, are probably Out of the Blue’s main competition. They won the competition more recently than Out of the Blue, in 2010, but were beaten by the boys to the final last year and will be looking to even the score. Their unique style of a cappella will bring something different to the Oxford Round as always, and on their day, they are one of the best collegiate groups in the country and absolutely stand a chance. The Oxford Belles, The Alternotives and new boys The Ultrasounds all finished with a similar number of votes, but with only the Belles having reached the final before, all three groups will need to be on top form to progress in probably the toughest of all the Regionals. In The Pink gained the least amount of votes, and the girls in pink will be hoping their new blood will help them to spring a surprise.

 

According to our readers, the favourites to progress from the St Andrews Regional are The Other Guys, who secured one third of the overall vote. The group will feel confident after recent successes, particularly their viral video, Royal Romance and the resulting album, but the group have not qualified for the final since the inaugural competition in 2009, and therefore must up their game in order to progress. Their main rivals are officially the best all-female group in the UK, The Accidentals, who were the winners of this Regional last year and will feel confident of repeating this success, having now qualified for two years’ running. The Hummingbirds and The Alleycats are similarly favoured, with the Alleycats having qualified twice before. Interestingly, the two non-St Andrews groups, Choral Stimulation and newbies Aberpella, are the least-backed groups, but Choral Stimulation did win ‘Outstanding Performance’ last year and may well have a chance.

 

Last year’s finalists All The King’s Men are the favourites to qualify out of this weekend’s London Regional, managing to acquire over half of the overall vote. With the group set to go on tour to the US a week after the Regional, they will be hoping to go there with the prospect of a final to look forward to upon their return. They do, however, have more competition than this poll suggests. The Techtonics competed in the Vocal Marathon in Croatia last summer, and have also competed in the Voice Festival longer than their King’s College compatriots. They also won ‘Outstanding Performance’ last year and could stand a good chance. The other group who have reached the final before, Fitz Barbershop, will be hoping their migration from the defunct Cambridge Round will carry them to their second final. The King’s Chix and The Imperielles are the two all-female groups (interestingly no mixed groups in this Regional) and will want to defy the odds and impress enough to reach the final themselves.

 

In Birmingham, unlike the other three rounds, the fan favourite is less than obvious, although it does appear to be a two horse race between The Birmingham Songbirds and Sons of Pitches, with both groups claiming all but one vote in the course of the poll. And understandably so – both groups, unlike Voice Versa and 95 Keys, have competed in the competition before, albeit only once, and this experience could be absolutely crucial to their chances. It would be nice to see the Songbirds qualify, as the three favourites so far have been all-male groups, but it’s really a tough one to call. The two newcomer groups will undoubtedly learn from the experience and may even be good enough to make the final… Only time will tell.

 

The final Regional in Bristol also has an all-male group as the favourite – Semi-Toned have been working very hard since their inception, and despite being a relatively new group and first time competitors, are highly favoured, even over previous competitors The Sweet Nothings and The University of Bristol Barbershop Singers, who received the least amount of votes, alongside Bath’s first group Aquapella. Semi-Toned’s biggest competition is the competition-focused HotTUBBS, who seem to be favoured over their parent group, but in this brand new Regional, anything could happen.

 

So, according to our readers, the final on 10 March will consist of four all-male groups and one all-female group: Out of the Blue, The Other Guys, All The King’s Men, Semi-Toned and The Birmingham Songbirds. Surely our mixed groups will have something to say about that? Whatever happens, we wish every group the best of luck in the coming weeks, and look out for our event reviews as we find out our Final line-up!