What do Cool Whip and a capella music have in common?
The answer is Ball in the House.
Gaining notice in 2001 for writing and recording the Cool Whip commercial jingles, this Massachusetts-based a capella group has been taking the musical world by storm.
Appearing on “The Today Show” and performing with artists such as The Jonas Brothers, Jessica Simpson, KC and the Sunshine Band, Blondie and many other artists, this no-instrument-nonsense band has been amazing audience members with their talented vocal stylings for years.
Made possible by its Activities Program Boards, Shippensburg University recently hosted one of Ball in the House’s 250 plus yearly performances.
On Thursday, March 9, at 9 p.m., Ball in the House was the third guest to perform in the Ceddia Union Building’s newly opened Red Zone.
The casual atmosphere of the performance area with its plain walls, dim lighting and its assortment of small couches was a good choice of space for the event.
The group performed in close proximity to the audience members, giving the show a casual, relaxing air.
Ball in the House consists of five members: John J. Ryan and Ryan Chappelle make up the “vocal percussion” section of the band with John J.’s talented use of beatboxing and Ryan’s astoundingly low vocal baselines.
Patrick McCarthy, Nels Urtel, and Dave Guisti take turns in the roles of lead singer and back-up harmonizers, opting not to define a single person as the band’s front man.
Ball in the House’s selection consisted of original work and covers by well-known artists. They incorporated oldies-but-goodies such as Stevie Wonder’s “Superstition,” KC and the Sunshine Band’s “That’s the Way (I Like It),” and “One More Chance” by The Jackson 5.
They also performed more recent songs such as King’s of Leon’s “Use Somebody,” B.O.B.’s “Nothin’ On You,” Gavin DeGraw’s “I Don’t Wanna Be,” and Bruno Mars’ “Just the Way You Are.”
Hearing these well-known songs a capella gives audience members a fresh take on them, while also showcasing the singers’ talent.
One song in particular that received positive feedback from the audience was their cover of Montell Jordan’s “This is How We Do It.” The No. 1 song on the Billboard for seven weeks in 1995, this mid-90s anthem was greeted by a warm response from the SU students, many of whom remember it from their childhoods.
The five group members utilize polyphony throughout most of the song, but come together homophonically to declare “this is how we do it.”
Such use of homophony blends well with the delightfully cheesey feel of the ’90s apparent in the song, and the presence of the multiple group members adds that boy band nostalgia kids of the ’90s can relate to.
Another highly appreciated part of Ball in the House’s performance was the incredible beatboxing solo by John J. Ryan.
Ryan started out the solo by mimicking the sound of a train chug-chugging along down the tracks, then built on this rhythm to showcase his masterful beatboxing skills, which the audience enjoyed.
He fluctuated the rhythm throughout the solo, but kept the beat of the varying tempos consistent by tapping his foot.
The solo’s tempo ranged from very fast to very slow; the slower tempo being the more impressive because it showed the amazing consistency and accuracy of Ryan’s beats. Throughout the duration of this solo, I was struck by how amazing it was that so many sounds could simultaneously be made by a single person.
Ryan’s beatbox solo was so complex that, if I had not seen him perform it directly in front of me, I would have thought that at least three people were utilized to make such sounds. Needless to say, Ryan’s solo astounded the audience, and remains one of the most memorable parts of Ball in the House’s performance.
Ball in the House is a great group for anyone to see. With songs from varying eras and genres, there is something for everyone in their performances.
No matter what kind of music you like, you are sure to have a ball with Ball in the House.