Episode 358: We Must Love the Imperfections In The Pitch

The Overthinkers tackle college a cappella and give a (spoiler-free!) preview of Pitch Perfect 2.

otip-logo-podcastonePeter Fenzel, Mark Lee, and Matthew Wrather overthink college a cappella singing groups (and all manner of extracurricular activities), and anticipate the coming of Pitch Perfect 2 (spoiler-free!).


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12 Comments on “Episode 358: We Must Love the Imperfections In The Pitch”

  1. Ben Adams OTI Staff #

    I couldn’t make this podcast, but for the record: if I had done the “regional accent” thing, it would just be my regular voice, except saying “pop” instead of “soda.” I’m from Ohio – supposedly it’s the region where they teach TV actors (and telemarketers) to sound like they are from.


  2. Tom D #

    I’ve been working on the necessary components of a bad acapella song, and it’s much harder that you made it look (kind of similar to your discussion earlier in the year about “the median movie”).

    A driven acapella group can probably take most songs and make them work if there is the appropriate level of earnestness in the song. Likewise, if the song is sexy or rough in a way that doesn’t “fit” with the image of acapella, the group can turn into the tailspin and really PERFORM the song thusly, to great affect.

    The trick is that you need a simple song (one that doesn’t have enough texture to it to make it interesting for a singer), that isn’t earnest, and is either folksy or self aggrandizing in a manner that is dependent on the original singer’s voice.

    My suggestion:
    Shawn Micheals – WWF Entrance Music, Sexy Boy
    This is perhaps the hammy-est song I’ve ever heard. You might try to PERFORM this song is some way that points to how ridiculous it is, but I think there is already someone who has performed the most ridiculous version of this song, and that person is Shawn Michaels. If you cannot out-camp Shawn Michaels, you must do something novel by relying on technical prowess, but the song doesn’t give you enough headroom to do that. The lyrics can’t be re-purposed, the song just doesn’t have enough going for it to last in any medium outside of a wrestling ring.

    Great podcast guys!


    • Josie M. #

      I would have said “Don’t Stop Believin” because it’s a cliche.


      • Tom D #

        I guess I feel like if they can make a musical about it (Rock of Ages) they can probably find a way to turn the guitar part into vocals. But I think you’re right to say that the key isn’t to go dark, it’s to go simple, but fundamentally adjacent to seven people in sweaters on a stage…


    • fenzel OTI Staff #

      Wrestling songs are a great idea! Just as you said – because it is so hard for them to live outside their original contexts.

      The Shawn Michaels song is a super example of this. As would be the Eddie Guerrero song, “Viva La Rasa,” which is, out of context, incredibly offensive. And even in context it’s offensive, but there was something about the esteem and tenure of Eddie Guerrero that made the song feel more forgivable.

      Like a heel professional wrestler who is utterly secure in his career is the only guy who can afford being associated with a song like that. PbuH.


  3. lemur #

    Every time you guys talk about college I feel a thrill – will they be able to manage this whole conversation without revealing the Great Secret of which university they attended? Or will someone accidentally let it slip this time? Of course you are all consummate masters and, though you let the tension build, you always pull it off. Well done!


    • lemur #

      Oops, second round took me by surprise. Mark Leeeee!


    • Matthew Wrather OTI Staff #

      We all met at Yale. Was that a secret? Boola Boola! Go Bulldogs.


  4. Stokes OTI Staff #

    Worst acapella songs? I could do this all day! In no particular order:

    1) “Detachable Penis,” by King Missile, because it’s a spoken word piece. Spoken word pieces in general are going to make for awful acapella.

    2) “Pet Sematary,” by the Ramones. A big hit like Blitzkrieg Bop could be a good acapella song in a “ha ha I can’t believe they’re doing that” kind of way but any punk rock deep cut is going to suuuuck.

    3) “Mammy,” by Al Jolson. For reasons that I think are obvious.

    4) “One Love,” by Bob Marley. Admit it, you would chew your own leg off to get away from this.


    • fenzel OTI Staff #

      The only way I’d tolerate “One Love” a capella would be if it were literally a show funded by the Jamaica board of tourism, and they used the alternative words from their TV commercials, and it was like a nice thing at an otherwise really boring time share presentation that I was required to sit in on in order to get a free weekend in Jamaica.

      That or if it were all these things happening in a comedy sketch.


  5. Anna #

    Rush: La Villa Strangiato (most Rush, actually), although it would almost be worth it just to hear someone try to mouth drum that.


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