Straight No Chaser is one of the highest profile a cappella groups in the world—certainly the best-known group to rise to prominence in the 2000s without ever appearing on The Sing-Off. All of this success arose from an unlikely story—an alumnus of a college a cappella group posted a decade-old video of his group on YouTube. Fifteen million views later, Atlantic Records came calling. The group released a pair of holiday albums, then a collection of pop covers in 2010 under the title With a Twist.
In Under the Influence, Straight No Chaser has taken on a whole new project. Not just an a cappella album, but one peppered with guest solos from some of the biggest names in modern music—legends the likes of Elton John, Phil Collins, Stevie Wonder, and Dolly Parton, alongside big names like Sara Bareilles, Rob Thomas, Jason Mraz, and Seal. The resulting album may very well be the most commercially viable a cappella album of all time, and certainly a CD that’s easy on the ears. That said, given the talent involved in recording this album, it’s only natural to raise the question, is this one of the greatest a cappella albums ever recorded? Unfortunately, it’s on that particular front that I feel the album falls short of what some listeners might be hoping for.