By Heidi Cho
Arts & Entertainment Editor
The College’s i-Tunes A Cappella invited three groups from other colleges to perform on Friday, April 6, for Blends with Benefits. Together the four groups covered songs and delivered performances of pitch-perfect proportions.
Spectators, friends and family members of the singers filled Mayo Concert Hall for an evening that had the audience and performers alike having fun. The high energy between the singers on stage carried through to the lively impromptu reception that followed.
The i-Tunes began the night full of powerful vocalists and emotionally charged performances with their rendition of “Shut Up and Dance” by Walk the Moon. The beatboxing provided a strong foundation for soloist Amanda DeStefano, a freshman English major, to set the tone for the night.
Destefano commanded the stage with a grin, even shimmying on the spot, as behind her, members of i-Tunes were grinning, tapping their feet and pointing finger guns at one another. It was an enthusiastic start for an equally energetic performance.
Next, 4GotteN Suitcase from Ramapo College invited the audience to clap along to their first cover, “House Party,” by Sam Hunt.
Soloist Jesse Hann stepped forward to sing first, followed by Kiara Liwag, whose high voice provided contrast to Hann’s deep tones.
The two soloists executed the polyphonic song with practiced ease, as the arrangement by Meghan Richline and vocal percussionist Jake Bookbinder captured the close atmosphere of a house party.
Next, “Go Down Smooth” by Lake Street Drive featured soloist Victoria Suarez with powerful vocals comparable to Adele’s. Suarez was more than capable of holding notes so long that some audience members whooped.
The soft background allowed the vocalist to shine throughout and carry the song to its end. The full accompaniment was well executed and as smooth as the title promised.
Afterward, “Lights” by Journey slowed down the tempo as soloist Morgan Graham took the audience down to “when the lights, go down, in the city.” Behind Graham, members of 4GotteN Suitcase swayed back and forth, adding a soothing visual element to the ballad.
The next rendition, “September,” by Earth, Wind and Fire had an upbeat vibe. The members providing the accompaniment had the shooby doo-wop sound popularized by ’50s girl groups downpat.
Soloists Meghan Richline and Lejla Hoxha’s voices complemented each other well until the song’s end.
Between each group, the i-Tunes performed a song that helped keep the energy going for the next group.
i-Tunes’ rendition of “Fire Rides” by MØ transcended function, as every member of the group played a role into making it a showstopper.
Although it began soft, the voice of soloist Mallory Ilves, the treasurer of i-Tunes and a junior special education and women’s, gender and sexuality double major, was soon joined by many others. Seamlessly, the symphony of instrumentation created by the group would pick up where Ives’s voice left off in a back-and-forth that swelled as the song went on.
Then, the group stopped the heavenly church choir-like accompaniment to sing with Ives.
Next, Drew University’s All of the Above performed “Work Song” by Hozier. Soloist Liam Ryan carried the piece with a deep, dulcet voice only elevated by the church choir-like background.
Soloist Grace Viveiros gave the next cover, “The Mother We Share,” by CHVRCHES a delicate and heartfelt quality. Between Viveiros and the accompaniment, the group successfully grounded a piece that heavily relies on synthesized noises.
Minor Problem, the next featured group from Villanova University, performed audience member Nick Borezina’s favorite song of the night — “Bad Together” by Dua Lipa.
“It sounded really good, the singing too – the soloist and everyone in the background,” Borezina said.
The audience cheered when soloist Jeffrey Lieto burst out and started rapping after fellow soloist Natalie Clendening’s high vocals.
The rapping and singing duo held the crowd in high spirits that continued into the i-Tunes’s rendition of “Don’t Stop Believing” by Journey.
Soloist Ian Gray, a sophomore English and special education double major, replaced the electric guitar solo with fun vocalizations and a falsetto scream that could have made members of Metallica jealous.
Audience member Darshini Patel thought the song “got the crowd moving. (i-Tunes’s) energy as a group as a whole was really good.”
Members of i-Tunes even broke out into the Macarena, and the audience started clapping along — unprompted.
During the next crowd pleaser, “Drumming Song” by Florence + The Machine, the cheers of the audience upstaged the i-Tunes, who had to pause before continuing onto the finale.
Soloists Asa Sams, a freshman secondary education and English double major, and Lauren Agho, a senior psychology major and the president of i-Tunes, charged the crowd with “Electric Lady” by Janelle Monae ft. Solange.
Agho brought the house down with her powerful vocals, as Sams rapped his verse with enthusiasm and seamless execution.
Eunice Olugbile, a member of i-Tunes and a freshman communications studies major, enjoyed being a part of what she thought was the group’s best performance so far.
“‘Electric Lady’ had a really fun beat and doing the song was awesome,” Olugbile said.
Each group was on the same frequency, and it showed through in the way that they acted on stage.
“We are a family. We love having fun on stage,” said Adam Blais, a member of Minor Problem.
The year of planning behind the event came to fruition in a night enjoyed by many. As Agho put it, the event was “aca-mazing.”