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Pitch Perfect: The Quest for Collegiate A Cappella Glory Paperback – Bargain Price, April 7, 2009


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Gotham; Reprint edition (April 7, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1592404634
  • ASIN: B003156CKI
  • Product Dimensions: 7.9 x 5.2 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (41 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,529,640 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

According to GQ senior editor Rapkin, today's lively collegiate a cappella groups boast hip-hop repertory, professional vocal arrangements, competitions at Lincoln Center and a world shrunk by the Internet. During the 2006–2007 college season, Rapkin, an alum of a Cornell all-male singing club, followed three a cappella powerhouses: Divisi, an all-girl group from the University of Oregon, the testosterone-driven Hullabahoos of the University of Virginia, and Beelzebubs, from Tufts. Each is a collective with a score to settle, a tradition to honor. Robbed of a championship in 2005, Divisi wants payback; the Hullabahoos want respect without forfeiting their frat-boy charm; and the controversial Bubs want to hone their edge. Throughout, Rapkin engages with celebrity trivia (Heroes' Masi Oka sang a cappella at Brown) and music criticism. He profiles the cottage recording industry built from college a cappella. Most notably, he riffs through signature events and crisis moments with a snarky humor (onstage Divisi looks like the women in that Robert Palmer video) that turns each chapter into a picaresque progression toward graduation. (June)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Designating unaccompanied singing, a cappella literally means “like the chapel,” appropriately since the form, Rapkin says, began with Gregorian chant. In the prologue, Rapkin cheerfully clambers through a cappella’s roots and varied branches, from shape-note singing and call-and-response singing to barbershop and the folk-pop hit “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” and gospel classics by the Soul Stirrers with Sam Cooke. Yet a cappella has come fully to life on college campuses. While the phenomenon’s “gold standard” remains the Whiffenpoofs, founded in 1909 at Yale, there are now more than 1,200 collegiate a cappella groups in the U.S. A cappella is the opposite of cool, Rapkin concedes, yet such now-famous folk as Diane Sawyer, Art Garfunkel, and Osama bin Laden (!) once sang in a cappella groups. The bulk of the book examines three current groups—the University of Oregon’s all-female Divisi, the Tufts Beelzebubs of Tufts University, and the University of Virginia’s Hullabahoos—as they compete against one another in a scenario that makes American Idol look rather tame. A fascinating, behind-the-scenes look at an underappreciated musical subculture. --June Sawyers --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

This book was a fun and nerdy read.
Ayana Wright
After reading, I you tubed every performance that I could find, posted on the behalf of the A cappella groups.
J. Lara
This book was very confusing and misleading.
Alex Doty

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By J. Withers on May 31, 2008
Format: Hardcover
After reading about it in Rolling Stone and USA Today on the same day, I decided to buy it. AND IT'S GREAT. It reads so well and is so funny, kinda like the movie Bring It On, but this is about college singers. I had no idea that this whole world existed and I didn't even go to college that long ago. It didn't matter that I didn't know about a cappella, though, because the author gives you all the background you need, while also keeping the story going. Apparently, Mickey Rapkin's an editor at GQ; I'll have to look out for him.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By ThreeLionsGarage on June 28, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I sang in my college and graduate school a cappella groups, so I was very excited to hear about this book and eager to read it hoping to relive the many unique and hard-to-describe experiences and emotions that I experienced during my years in the two cappella groups. While I think Mr. Rapkin does a good job relating some of the novel situations and inside stories of some of the best groups in Collegiate a cappella, once I finished the book (and even several times while reading it), the stories and anecdotes never sufficiently grabbed my interest. At the heart of it, that may be the biggest hurdle to overcome in relating these experiences--what happens to the members of an a cappella group is fundamentally only really interesting for those same members. The events just aren't as entertaining in the narrative as they must have been for the subjects as they occurred. Furthermore, the characters featured in the book show themselves through numerous examples to be so self-absorbed and self-aggrandizing that once I finished it, the book seemed to me to be a squandered reading opportunity--I wish I had read something else.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Carol C. VINE VOICE on September 8, 2008
Format: Hardcover
I often wondered what became of some of the guys in my college's a cappella group -- they seemed to be so consumed by the activity, allowing it to dominate & define their entire college experience, oblivious to classes and grades and similar trivialities. How I underestimated the commitment -- for the members of the three groups featured in this book -- the Tufts Beelzebubs, the UVA Hullabahoos, and the University of Oregon Divisi, coursework and academic activities are an afterthought to their core collegiate experience -- a cappella. The groups travel extensively, train, communicate internally with special language, perform, recruit -- it's pretty all- consuming. The other thing that is particularly striking is how the a cappella experience endures -- seems like many of the alum don't want their experience to end and find some way of continuing to keep their finger in the pot -- through arranging music, participating in alumni singing activities, donations -- rather than finding a grown-up job.

This is non-fiction that reads like fiction -- the characters are well developed and the conflict is ongoing. What I liked best about this book: you really get to know the members of the three featured groups -- their goofy antics, their personality conflicts, the stars & the not-so-stellar performers, all the dirty laundry -- and (assuming you're reading this in 2008), you can go to the groups' websites and see bios of many of the individual singers featured in the book. It's like the epilogue to a movie that features "where they are now". Kind of fun. The book also reveals the quirkiness and cleverness of the a cappella crowd -- the group names are priceless.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Jeffrey N. Massie on September 1, 2010
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I've been a fan of a cappella groups since before most of the people in this book were born, so I had good reason to think this would be an interesting read.

The book traces the ups and downs of three college groups over the course of a year, although there are many "side trips" to include stories from other years. The two male groups, the Beelzebubs from Tufts and the Hullabahoos from the University of Virginia, are so similar that it was difficult for me to remember which group I was reading about, especially with all the attention paid to "college hijinks" (i.e. drinking and irresponsible behavior, especially in the one scene in which the two groups meet and almost get into a fight). If I wanted to read about this kind of thing I'd read the screenplay for "Animal House" ;)

The one group whose story piqued my interest was the "token" female group, Divisi from the University of Oregon. They seem to be in a different universe, concentrating upon their ongoing frustrations with a national collegiate a cappella competition and with problems in their lives that make the East Coast boys seem even more shallow by comparison. (The books' subtitle implies that it's going to concentrate on this competition, but in fact Divisi seems to be only one of the three that's participating.)

For a book that's supposed to be about singing, not much time is spent showing the groups actually doing that, or on any meaningful analysis or criticism about how they do it. Fortunately there's a lot on online recorded material of the three groups, YouTubes as well as material on their websites, otherwise the book would have given me little idea of just how well they sang.
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