Elements of success
UW-Eau Claire all-student a cappella group Fifth Element recently took second place in a national competition to open for singer Andy Grammer. The group lost to Six Appeal, a professional a cappella group from Minnesota.
A member of Fifth Element for two years, junior AJ Vanden Heuvel said the group didn’t expect to advance as far as they did.
“There were groups in our bracket that have been doing this for a lot longer than we have that were professional groups,” Vanden Heuvel said. “‘On The Rocks’ was in our bracket, they won ‘The Sing Off’ two years ago.”
The tournament started with 53 groups, including the Innocent Men. Groups uploaded videos, and the group with the most fan votes moved on to the next round. The Innocent Men made it to the final 16 groups.
Dr. Gary Schwartzhoff is the director of choral activities in the department of music, and he said Fifth Element’s and the Innocent Men’s success in the competition is a testament to their initiative.
“This is a good laboratory for these students to practice their craft,” Schwartzhoff said. “To take it to a national level such as this speaks highly of the skill of their performance and the talent within these groups.”
Vanden Heuvel said one of the benefits of the competition was it showed the group the power social media can have for promotion.
“We’re going to start doing a lot more promotional stuff … kind of like contests using social media to try to increase the fanbase and get people more excited and energized when we have a concert coming up,” Vanden Heuvel said.
Ella Maloney, a junior at Eau Claire, said she was happy Fifth Element made it all the way to the finals, but still thinks they should have won.
“I thought it was amazing that they got that far, but thought it was kind of too bad that they didn’t make it, because I think the other group was almost professional, so it was kind of strange,” Maloney said.
Fifth Element’s character and style is what Maloney said draws her to them.
“I just think … they’re very talented and they’re growing a lot as a group, and I think it’s awesome for them,” Maloney said. “They’re going to go pretty far.”
Senior Koryna Flores said her favorite thing about Fifth Element is their stage presence and their ability to put on a good show.
“So, you have six guys on stage who are just having a really good time,” she said, “And you can tell they have fun with each other.”
Vanden Heuvel said the group’s tight bond sets Fifth Element apart from other a cappella groups.
“We are literally like six brothers, and I mean that in every way possible,” he said. “We fight like we’re brothers, and we love each other like we’re brothers.”