Being on stage is difficult enough for even the best musicians. You're raw and vulnerable with countless eyes on you, waiting for you to blow them away. There is no better way to do this than with an arrangement of a currently popular song, a beloved favorite, or a mash-up.
Each of these categories should be in every all-female a cappella group's repertoire. There is increasing access to great arrangements with professional's making their music fit a collegiate group's budget and taste. These professionals are typically former a cappella collegiates themselves and can bring new ideas to a stagnant group.
Florida State University's AcaBelles make the most of their ICCA/SoJam sets and CD tracks by arranging a song that would normally be in the "NEVER make a cappella" category. For instance, my personal favorite from their latest album Seamless:
The AcaBelles are never intimidated by songs originally sung by males - or rappers in this case. It's a fairly prevalent misconception that female groups should sing female songs. Cue the Alicia Keys medleys. But it's always more interesting and far more creative to do songs that shouldn't be sung by a girl. So just try and beat Gold Digger, because I honestly don't know how to make a more creative arrangement than that.
Oldies are the crowd-pleasers in your concerts. These are the songs that appeal to your grandma, your little brother and the frat guy in your chem class. They are universally appreciated and you won't have the problem of a popular summer hit that goes flat by mid-November. Rutgers University's Shockwave took an "oldie" (we're not going to full commit to the idea of '90s music being oldies just yet) and completely upended everything you thought the song was. I'm sure even Alanis Morissette would be surprised - and impressed - by their ingenuity.
Interested in taking your group's arrangements to the next level? An investment of a professional arrangement might be the best option. The University of Florida's The Sedoctaves fundraised for several weeks to fund the handful of arrangements they were interested in purchasing. It's always fascinating to see what professionals interpret your group dynamic to be and where they want to stretch you musically.
Lo Barreiro, one of the members of Musae, does custom arrangements through Acalosophy. She is one of many former all-female a cappella-ists on the professional side of the fence.