From the humble crooning of barber shop quartets to sold-out global stadium tours, the rise of Girl Groups and Boy Bands over the last century has placed them at the forefront of international pop-culture. Far more than simply the subjects of teen adoration and hysteria, these internationally recognised groups have helped shape the attitudes and trends of their eras, in the process carving their unique and indelible mark on the music industry.
Following the success of their 2022 showcase concert, the QPAC Chamber Choir payed homage to the very best of vocal pop music groups from the early 1900s to now in Girl Groups vs Boy Bands. In a showcase that explores the ever-evolving sound of pop music, the QPAC Chamber Choir celebrated some of the most iconic and influential groups — from The Supremes to Destiny’s Child and The Monkees to BTS.
We spoke to QPAC Choral Director Timothy Sherlock to find out why he chose to celebrate these cultural phenomena and what audiences experienced during the performance.
What inspired the concept of Girl Groups vs Boy Bands?
Following the success of last years' ABBA Evolution, I thought that another great pop music evolution we could explore is the journey that pop vocal groups have taken over the last 100 years or so. From the early recording success of barbershop quartets all the way through to the Glee-inspired success of Pentatonix, we've seen a century of pop vocal evolution. I think a big part of the story is the way the various generations of girl groups and boy bands have emerged as a result of the socio-political and cultural climate of their times.
Do you have a favourite Girl Group or Boy Band? Which is your favourite song and why?
Having sung in choirs since my childhood, I have always loved the harmonies that pop vocal groups can create with their voices. One of my favourites is The Pointer Sisters - four extraordinarily-talented sisters, each with their unique vocal sound but when they harmonise it is magical. And I really like Take That's 'Back For Good' and The Bangles' 'Eternal Flame' - both really well-written pop songs, memorable and fun to sing with all those harmonies!
What is the hallmark of a good Girl Group or Boy Band track? Have you noticed any common threads when preparing for the performance?
For this concert, I have deliberately selected songs where the part-work vocals are a strong feature of the track. I have created many of the arrangements by directly transcribing the vocal parts from the recordings which makes this concept perfect for a choral concert.
"All of the repertoire we will present share a common thread: the human voice in spectacular harmony expressing the gamut of human emotions!"
How does arranging a piece from a Girl Group or Boy Band differ from other contemporary pieces?
Arranging for a choral ensemble is all about working out the function of the different voice types (soprano, alto, tenor and bass) in the arrangement. Even if the original recordings didn't have male or female vocals on it, we can create a choral treatment of that song where every choral voice can contribute. But it is important that the essence of the original track is retained as much as possible and that's where the challenge lies.
What can audiences expect from these performances?
Our audience can expect 90 minutes of pop nostalgia, with music from different eras from the Andrews' Sisters to NSYNC, and from the Spice Girls to Korean boy band BTS. And I hope they enjoy hearing choral versions of the songs they know and love and some they might be discovering for the first time!
Finally...Scary, Sporty, Baby, Posh or Ginger?
Whilst not having a sporty bone in my body, I have always been a fan of Melanie C (Sporty Spice) - for her strong, soulful and versatile voice, her philanthropy and she just seems to be a great human being.
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