Photo: Ariana Cho

An uncommon experience for BC's Common Tones

A brush with TikTok virality led to a new video for the student a cappella group

Since late 2022, the student a cappella group Common Tones of Boston College has been posting content on TikTok that features the music they’re working on and highlights their upcoming shows. So no one in the group thought much of posting a cover of “Carol of the Bells” this past December—that is, until the video got more than 70 million views in a matter of weeks.

Inspired by the many people clamoring to hear more from them, the Common Tones continued posting videos to the 300,000-plus followers they quickly accumulated; as members recalled, it seemed that thousands more supporters would appear as soon as they refreshed their account page.

The group had just adjusted to this new-found virality when the Grammy Awards TikTok account commented on their “Carol of the Bells” video, asking them if they could create and sing a mashup of the songs nominated for Song of the Year. The dream in which they found themselves had just gotten better.

Immediately, the students got to work on an arrangement. The Tones collaborated with the Office of University Communications to shoot the video accompanying their mashup during a lengthy session in Bapst Library.

Director of Creative Video Services John Walsh and Senior Digital Content Producer Ariana Cho said they enjoyed coming together with this talented group of students for a memorable project. "Everyone on the cast and crew played a key role in the production and helped to create a fun and collaborative environment in Bapst that evening. We’ll always find it inspiring to see talented, passionate people come together around a shared goal.”

Video by University Communications | Director: Ariana Cho; Producer, Director of Photography, Editor: John Walsh; B-Cam: Alex Orav; Audio Production: Paul Dagnello. For full credits and song list, view on YouTube.

While the Grammys did not end up sharing the video, the group is in no way discouraged. For these students, spending time together making music, whether on campus or at children’s hospitals and women’s centers around Boston, is all the reward they need.

Common Tones President Ella O’Kelly-Lynch ’24 said she is grateful not only for the exposure her group has gotten but for those around her who helped create an environment where the arts could be appreciated. “The Grammy video was a very cool experience to be a part of and the culmination of two weeks of intense work. Our student arrangers put together a great eight-song mashup, and it was wonderful to collaborate with the University Communications team to produce the final product. We appreciate the opportunity to share our music with a wider audience.”

For O’Kelly-Lynch, the group’s service component is her favorite part of the Common Tones experience: “There is something so special about sharing our love of music with the Boston community, and bringing joy into the lives of so many going through tough times.”

Lucy Liu ’27 said the video project deepened her love for the Tones. “We were spending so much time together to complete the video by the deadline, and I would still leave rehearsal looking forward to the next time I’d see everyone.”

Meghan Keefe is a senior in BC's Morrissey College of Arts and Sciences