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Buck hard: People singing praises of OSU a capella group

Courtesy of D.W. Routte

Decked out in matching track jackets and their signature red Converse shoes, Buck That!, Ohio State’s all-male a cappella group, has enjoyed success on the stage.

The group took first place at the International Championship of Collegiate A Cappella quarterfinals in Kettering, Ohio, Feb. 25.

The competition draws a cappella groups from across the nation and D.W. Routte, president and founder of Buck That! and graduate student in city and regional planning, said the group was honored to be accepted to the competition.

“The fact that we even made the event was an accomplishment in our eyes,” Routte said. “We’ve never done this before so this is all new territory.”

The group was started in October 2010 and with only a year-and-a-half under their belts, Routte said Buck That! was by far the youngest group at the competition.

Despite their freshman status, the group took home first place, earning them a spot in the semifinal competition at Washington University in St. Louis March 24.

The group also received awards for best musical arrangement and best choreography.

As newcomers to the ICCA competition scene, Jon Coale, group member and third-year in business, said they wanted to be original.

“We tried to keep our style as close to our identity as possible … and kind of bring something new to the a cappella table,” Coale said.

Buck That! performed “It’s Gonna Be Me” by ‘N Sync, complete with identical dance moves of the 1990s boy band. Routte said the performance was a crowd-pleaser.

“We were certainly the most choreographed group there, by far,” Routte said.

Routte and choreographer Grant “Buddy” Gannon, a third-year in journalism, draw from their experiences in high school show choir to spice up their performances.

“When we envision a show and the choreography that goes along with it, it’s a little more involved,” Routte said. “Our show is a lot more energetic than a lot of the other groups.”

Coale said the addition of choreography adds dynamic and depth to their performances.

“If we can keep looking for those new ways to kind of shock our audience or catch people on their toes, that’s what we’re striving for,” Coale said.

Doug Brunner, a second-year in music and musical director, is the only music major in the group of 17 singers.

In addition to helping the group learn the music, Brunner also arranges songs for four or five voice parts for the group to sing.

Though the group felt prepared for the competition, Brunner said they didn’t know what to expect.

“I think there was a little bit of doubt in everybody’s minds,” Brunner said. “We didn’t know how we stood up against (the other groups).”

The moment they were announced as the winner, Brunner said the group was ecstatic.

“There’s pictures of our faces just in disbelief. … It turned out to be an amazing moment,” Brunner said.

Winning the ICCA competition wasn’t the only amazing moment of the day for Buck That!

Their day started in Columbus at an audition for the producers of “America’s Got Talent.”

“It was a really busy day,” Brunner said.

The group didn’t originally seek out the audition and was contacted by a talent producer.

Even though they were nervous, Brunner said the audition went well and they are hoping to move on to the next auditions in front of the judges on the show.

Buck That! has faced challenges as a young group, especially in building their repertoire of songs in preparation for the competition, Routte said.

“It comes with some frustration, because you’re only working on a handful of songs,” he said. “You’ve got to really fine-tune that focus of the group.”

The a cappella scene has blossomed at OSU over the last few years, but Buck That! is set apart from the rest, Brunner said.

“We have a completely different sound from all of the mixed a cappella groups,” he said.

When Routte reflected back to the group’s beginning, he said he couldn’t believe how far they have come.

“We started out with a handful of guys around the piano and morphed it into ICCA quarterfinal winners,” Routte said. “It’s been quite the experience and transformation.”

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