One of my favorite parts of 2016, aside from the guys themselves, has been the friendships that I've gotten to make because of them. I'm slowly getting to know more VoicePlayas and I know I've said it before, but this is a wonderful group to be a part of. We might be different in many ways, but we can bond over a love for a group. This love is always supportive and fun and it doesn't just extend to the guys, but also to anyone who considers themselves a fan.
That's one of the reasons why VoicePlay became my favorites. In a perfect world, it would only be about the content, but there's other things that play a part. Likeability is one. I've said it many times, but liking a singer (or group) as a person (or people) makes it all so much better. If you like your fellow fans too? That's the best. I'm sad to say that there's some acts that I've been put off from due to the ridiculous drama that exists within the fandom. It shouldn't play a factor, but it does. This is not a problem I have with VoicePlayas. Not at all.
You know, earlier this year I decided that I wanted to write about how VoicePlay helps me deal with my rheumatoid arthritis. Only to come thisclose to not actually posting it because it ended up being super personal. The most personal thing I've ever shared publicly. You know what? As of this moment, it is my most viewed VoicePlay post to date. I even got a few really sweet comments from a few of my fellow VoicePlayas that took me completely by surprise and touched my heart. This is the kind of group that you want to be in. You can find that post here, if you're interested.
Suffice to say, while 2016 was a really hard year in some ways, these guys helped make it better. They, and their fans, were a bright light even when things seemed pretty dark. Especially then. So, it shouldn't surprise anyone that I would save them for last.
Not only that, but being VoicePlay, I decided to change things up a bit. See, with my lists of my favorite Hollens Family videos (found here) and my favorite Home Free videos (found here) from 2016, I picked a few of their videos from the year and listed them in the order in which they were released. But with VoicePlay? All of their videos are represented in some fashion. Well, assuming that I didn't miss any by accident. What's more? I decided to rank them. You could argue that this is kind of like my take on an ACA-top 10. Sort of. In a way. Although, some got lumped together. You'll see what I mean. Okay...so I might have cheated a little.
Before we start, let me make something clear: I really like all of these videos. I definitely have my favorites, but that's because I just love them more. Not because I don't like the others. We'll start at #10 and work our way down. If it was one of the videos I wrote about this year, the link to the write-up will be included (with the video in question in it). Let's do this.
10) Twenty One Pilots mashup with Kurt Hugo Schneider. This mashup came out on November 2nd and lives over on Kurt's YouTube channel - I have his links listed underneath the video. It's a great concept and they pulled it off so well. To the point where it's a little creepy, but in an entertaining way. Check it out.
Where to find Kurt Hugo Schneider:
9) "Grim Grinning Ghosts". This came out on October 11th and you can find the video spotlight on it here. I love that they gave us an official video for this, though I do love the live version on their channel from a few years ago as well. They went all out for this one and it's great.
8) The ACA Tops 10s. We got two of these this year and, yes, I'm putting them together. There was the Bro-Country one that came out on July 5th (write-up here) and the Old School Rap one that came out on May 27th. I'm still so happy that they did a country ACA-top 10! I might have swapped out a couple of the songs, but then again, beggars can't be choosers. I love them so much for doing it at all! Especially because this countdown features some of Geoff's best vocals of the year. I personally think his voice was made for country music. He shines in this. Plus, his "cupography" during "Red Solo Cup" makes me chuckle.
In a bizarre twist of fate, however, I actually like the rap one more. I know, I know. I'm a diehard country fan who rarely listens to rap. How could I possibly prefer the rap one?! Well, for starters, we get to hear Tony in the rap one. Tony rapping is something I never knew I needed in my life until this happened. It's fantastic. Ah 2016. The year we learned that the Tony can apparently do all of the creative things. That's right. All of them. Seriously, I can't handle how insanely talented that man is. Because I can't let 2016 end without saying this again: Tony flippin' Wakim, y'all!
Anyway, the Tony isn't the only reason why the rap ACA-Top 10 beat out the bro country one. I mean, have you seen the Old School Rap ACA-Top 10?! It's one of the more ridiculous things they've done and I kind of completely adore it. I always end up with the giggles when I watch. Too many moments to list, though I will say that I can't look at Earl while he has those silly glasses on. Even just thinking about him wearing those makes me laugh. He reminds me of someone I know when he's wearing them and the thought of that person rapping is, frankly, hilarious. This video is a treasure trove, all the way around. Although, I still think that they should've let Geoff do "Ice Ice Baby".
The Partwork series. Yes, the entire series. Hey, I did say that I may have cheated a bit. There's been six so far. The series started with "Love Yourself" on March 9th (write-up here). "Everywhere You Look", released on April 15th, was next (write-up here). The most recent one was "O Little Town of Bethlehem", released on December 15th (write-up here). The other three are included below. I love this series; it's been a way for us to get more content and you gotta love that. Plus, it's fun hearing how different each configuration sounds compared to the others and the group as a whole. Out of the remaining three, here's how I'd rank them.
7) "Still Alive". This came out on August 30th and is one of two Partworks that features 4/5 of the group. This is also the Partwork that features apron Geoff. Let's be real: dancing Geoff was one of the many gifts the men of VoicePlay bestowed upon us this year. It's great. My favorite parts? The dirty look apron Geoff shoots the others from the cupboards after "I'm not even angry" and the looks the others give him while he's drumming on the bowl. Prepare to be amused.
6) "Ride". We've had two quartets and four duos, but this is the only trio featured in Partwork to date. It came out on June 24th. I had never heard this song before, but I really like it. They gave it a cool feel and we got to hear Eli rap a bit. Fact: Eli rapping is another gift given to us this year. I'm not gonna lie, the fact that you can understand everything he's saying is impressive. It's so clean. One of Eli's best of the year, I'd say.
5) "The Death of a Bachelor". In which we have the highest voice in the group (Earl) and the lowest (Geoff) singing together. This was released on July 29th and wow. This is easily one of Earl's best vocals of the year, in my opinion. I'd place it in his top two. Geoff, to his credit, has some absurdly low notes in this. I love the way their voices sound together.
4) 1 Minute Musicals. You guessed it. All three of them! I loved this series. I don't know if we'll ever get more or not, but how I would love if we did. It's such a wonderful concept! We had "Stuck in Traffic" (write-up here) that came out on February 25th. Then, there was "Lightbulb" (write-up here) on March 25th and, finally, "Miley Cyrus" (write-up here) on August 29th. It was so hard to pick a favorite, but I had to go with "Stuck in Traffic". Tony's best vocal of the year.
3) "My Shot" from Hamilton. This came out on June 1st and I thought it would end up being my favorite video of theirs this year. As you may have noticed, it's come in 3rd instead. The other two videos only beat it by a hair or two, though. I love this cover so much. For one thing, you can't go wrong with VoicePlay doing Broadway. You just can't. I'd say that this is one of Layne's best arrangements; not just from 2016, but in general. It's so wonderful and they all sound so great.
2) "I Love Me". Released on September 28th (write-up here), "I Love Me" had one very important advantage right off the bat. It featured the incredible Emoni. When these six people get together, it always results in musical magic. They complement each other so well! Add in that this song is super catchy and the video is super fun and it's a shoo-in for the top three. What ultimately pushed it above "My Shot" though? Emoni's beautiful heartfelt message at the end. Still makes me tear up.
Sidenote: this is a message that everyone needs to hear, but I wanted to address any of you who might struggle during the holidays. I know this is a really tough time for a lot of people. It's tough for me in some ways too. So, if that's you too, I sincerely hope that you listen to what she has to say at the end. Let her words speak to your heart and believe them. Because they're true. You do matter and nothing that has ever happened to you can change that. Nor can anything that will happen to you. Nor can anything you've done change that. There isn't anything in the world that can change that. Don't let anyone ever tell otherwise. You matter and you're loved. Please believe that.
1) "Don't Stop Believin'". The video was filmed back in, what, June and finally came out on November 25th. It was worth the wait! You can find my write-up right here. I tried to express how much I love it and I'm not sure that I succeeded. Music is such a powerful thing and I think the video does a great job of showcasing that. Aside from how terrific they all sound, I think this slightly beats out "The Death of a Bachelor" for Earl's best vocal of the year. As many times as I've listened to this, I still can't get over how good he sounds in it! I love the breakdown near the end so much. I said it in my write-up: things like this are why the heart-eyed emoji was created!
There we have it! Thank you to all of you for reading. If you liked any of these videos and/or posts, please feel free to share them with all of your family and friends. Encourage them to share with theirs as well because I think all of these videos deserve, oh, about a million more views. To start.
Let me close by saying a big thank you to the men of VoicePlay for giving us so much great content this year and every year! You guys are the best and your VoicePlayas love you lots. Never forget that!
Because I know you're going to want to see what they come up with in 2017, here's all of their links: