14 of the Best New Pop Choir Arrangements

14 of the Best New Pop Choir Arrangements

This blog comes courtesy of Hal Leonard's Pop Choral Editor, Luke Talen

Pop music tastes go in an out with the times. The "doo-wop" days of the 50s gave way to rock, followed by soul & disco, with synth and grunge surfacing alongside rap & electronic music. But interwoven in these tides are generational waves of nostalgia, bringing into focus renewed attention on old favorites, starting the cycle of popular relevancy all over again (for example: just look at the recent mega-resurgence of Kate Bush - psst, stay tuned for choral news soon regarding Ms. Bush!).

In many ways, pop music is an art form that is consumed and experienced very personally. We plop on a pair of headphones at some point in our busy lives and we marvel at the sonic production hitting out eardrums and then—it becomes the actual soundtrack to our lives. Your wedding song, your cleanup song, the song that played when you met someone for the first time, the song that played at your grandparents funeral. We form deep connections to the music and lyrics contained within popular music, and it's not hard to see why.

These songs are, at their most fundamental level, expressions from an artist (or a group of artists) that shared their musical thoughts with you. What joy it is, then, to be able to share that joy with others through the power of the choir: "You know this song, too?", "Oh my goodness, I sung this song at my graduation!", "I had posters from this band plastered ALL over my room as a kid". And then suddenly, magically, a group of individuals on a stage have taken something personal and made it into something more: a shared experience incorporating different eras in time, all melting together, breaking the generational barrier that can sometimes divide us, and joining us together in a transformative musical moment.

With the worst of the pandemic behind us, we looked to this publishing year with a focus on optimism and positivity against the odds—could there really have been any other option?



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Balancing the Scales (from The Unofficial Bridgerton Musical)

Barlow & Bear (arr. Mac Huff)

SATB | SAB | SSA | Instrumental Pak | Choir Audio

Abigail Barlow & Emily Bear are the young musical duo behind the TikTok musical phenomenon The Unofficial Bridgerton Musical, scooping up a Grammy Award in 2022 for best Musical Theater Album for their efforts. After watching the series they posited verbatim, "OK but what if Bridgerton was a musical?" Moved by the gossipy yet relatable dialogue and intriguing drama, they wrote songs for the characters they know knew so well, and it doing so, they elevated their work into an affecting album of songs, of which the character of Violet sings this beautiful song about letting go.




Levitating

Dua Lipa (arr. Mark Brymer)

SATB | SSA | 3-Part Mixed

Born in London of Kosovan and Albanian descent, Dua Lipa's rise to stardom seems inevitable in retrospect. Working as a model and waitress, she started uploading covers to YouTube and SoundCloud around 2008 and her obvious talent led to a record deal. Since then, Dua has been at the forefront the modern Pop movement, with her signature disco-pop sound garnering awards, airplay, and a huge social following. "Levitating" was inescapable in the months since its release (and in the courts, too), but this crowd-pleaser will remain a welcome addition to any choral program!




Circles

Post Malone (arr. Jack Zaino)

SATB | SAB | Instrumental Pak | Choir Audio

Genre-blending artist Post Malone recently set the record for most weeks (39) in the Billboard Hot 100 top ten with "Circles", a moderate rock song with a unique bossa nova-like rhythmic groove. The message is simply stated: Who can't relate to the "circles" present in everyday life? Your age, social/financial standing, relationships, etc.? What makes this song stand out is the churning and agreeable musical accompaniment, which seems to make the journey through those circles in life just a little bit more bearable and comfortable.




Easy On Me

Adele (arr. Mac Huff)

SATB | SAB | SSA | Instrumental Pak | Choir Audio

When "Adele 100" inevitably comes out in 2088, our future ancestors will marvel at how lucky we've been to have been witness to four extraordinary albums in a row from Adele, all while she weathered breakups, reconciliations, vocal surgery and more. Aptly labelled a "vocal goddess", Adele's compositions and collaborations are filled with power and crackle. Her most recent album 30 is no exception with the leadoff single "Easy On Me" an emotional plea for kindness in the face of familial struggles.




Grace Kelly

Mika (arr. Mark Brymer)

SATB | SSA | 3-Part Mixed | Choir Audio

When "Grace Kelly" came out in 2007, and you first heard that soaring, I-can't-believe-its-still-going-higher chorus on the radio (or at T in the Park), you'd be forgiven for thinking it was the ghost of Freddy Mercury incarnated. Given a long-overdue burst back into the spotlight thanks to (you guessed it) TikTok, Mark's arrangement of this Mika masterpiece keeps the vocal-stacking flavor of the challenge present, all while preserving the piano power-pop feel of this debut smash hit!




30/90 (from tick, tick…BOOM!)

Jonathan Larson (arr. Roger Emerson)

SATB | SAB | Instrumental Pak | Choir Audio

Jonathan Larson's untimely passing before the premiere of Rent will forever be one of the most tragic stories in the history of musical theater. But Larson's compositions haven’t aged a single, solitary day. Larson's posthumous "meta" work tick, tick... BOOM! (written before Rent) was given a full, filmed 2021 adaptation courtesy of director Lin-Manuel Miranda and the results: award nominations, and a brand-new audience keenly delving into 90s musical trends that are still wholly relevant today.




Run

OneRepublic (arr. Jacob Narverud)

SATB | SAB | TBB | Instrumental Pak | Choir Audio

Ryan Tedder, the lead vocalist for the pop rock band OneRepublic, has made a living out of being a musician, TV personality, songwriter, and record producer for some of the hottest names in popular music. This energetic, propulsive song directly mirrors Ryan's thirst for the hustle and the never-ending search for optimism and drive in unprecedented times. Jake Narverud's spot-on arrangement follows in the steps of his previous pop arrangements, with a careful focus on style and articulation to give the song just that extra bit of flavor!




Dos Oruguitas (from Disney's Encanto)

Lin-Manuel Miranda (arr. Audrey Snyder)

SATB | SAB | 2-Part | Instrumental Pak | Choir Audio

The emotional crux of the film Encanto stems from the difficulty family matriarch Abuela suffered in her youth against her current-day perceived failure of keeping her household "perfect", no matter the cost. Themes of loss, love and forgiveness are explored in this beautiful, tender and lyrically delicate song. While "Bruno" may occupy the spot of the most popular song from the film, Audrey's arrangement presents Encanto's most important song to you in two languages, stemmed for both English and Spanish languages, making this piece a cultural teaching tool as well.




This Christmas

Donny Hathaway (arr. Roger Emerson)

SATB | SAB | SSA | Instrumental Pak

The joy of spending the holidays with friends and family is the spirit of the song by the late, great Donny Hathaway. The happy and upbeat message is accompanied by an equally happy and well-produced musical accompaniment track. We don't say it often enough, but Hal Leonard is extremely thankful to work with some of the best session musicians in the business today. Consistently, these individuals and studios turn out fantastic reproductions of songs like "This Christmas", with all of the pristine horns and percussion that you'd expect to hear from the originals themselves.




Sunrise, Sunset (from Fiddler on the Roof)

Bock & Harnick (arr. John Leavitt)

SATB | SAB | SSA | Instrumental Pak | Choir Audio

When you really listen to the text for "Sunrise, Sunset" (and subsequently get confused by the many different versions available), you realize that it's really just a series of questions for the newlyweds in Fiddler on the Roof in which no answers are guaranteed. But the seeds were laid, like in any generational relationship: You grew, you learned, you failed, you succeeded, and all along the way, the seasons passed. And because of the love afforded to youths' upbringing, one can't help but feel as if the answer is one of strength and happiness.




How We Change (from Schmigadoon!)

Cinco Paul (arr. Roger Emerson)

SATB | SAB | SSA | 2-Part

Ironic, satirical and hilariously self-aware, Apple TV+'s Schmigadoon! includes everything you could want from a sendup of classic golden-age musicals. "How We Change" occurs near the end of this award-winning series' run, and to say that this arrangement could work for graduation ceremonies would be a gross understatement. This sweet and earnest song hits all the right nostalgic-laden notes with a sincere text and a celebratory flair!




The Beatles: Rewind

The Beatles (arr. Mark Brymer)

SATB | SAB | 2-Part | Choir Audio

A Fab Four Medley with 18 classic songs in just four minutes!? As Brian Wilson once said, "There's no outdoing The Beatles". Mark Brymer (who already has conquered the two-bar chorus medley mountain with the "Axis of Awesome"-inspired 4 Chords Choral Medley, a perennial best-seller) includes in this logistical and musical feat: "All You Need Is Love", "Blackbird", "Come Together", "Eight Days a Week", "Eleanor Rigby", "A Hard Day's Night", "Here Comes the Sun", "Hey Jude", "I Want to Hold Your Hand", "In My Life", "Let It Be", "Love Me Do", "Penny Lane", "Strawberry Fields Forever", "We Can Work it Out", "With a Little Help from My Friends" and "Hello, Goodbye".




People (from Funny Girl)

Jule Styne & Bob Merrill (arr. Mac Huff)

SATB | SSAA

For all of the (mild) backstage drama appearing in the news behind the 2022 Broadway revival of Funny Girl, it's easy to forget just how good the music from Jule Style and Bob Merrill truly is. It is exciting to know that these iconic melodies will be discovered by a new generation's Barbara Streisand. Perhaps the most well-known song from the show is "People" and this new arrangement from Concert Pop arranger Mac Huff is a thrill, capturing the emotion of this great song as well as the style.




Someone You Loved

Lewis Capaldi (arr. Philip Lawson)

SATB

Philip Lawson knows his way around an effective, elegant choral arrangement. As a member of the King's Singers for 18 years (and the group's principal arranger at that), it's easy to see why. Scottish singer-songwriter Lewis Capaldi created a ballad that makes the absolute most out of the four-chord formula that provides the basis for many a pop song. But Lawson's arrangement takes what makes the original so great and catapults it into the stratosphere!






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