Let me make myself very clear. I do not enjoy a cappella, I might even go so far as to say that I hate a cappella. If you don’t know what I’m talking about a cappella is that thing from Pitch Perfect where people sing songs without musical accompaniment, and it’s awful.
Ok ok, let’s back up a little bit. A cappella comes from Italian meaning some thing to the effect of, “in the style of the church”. You know the kinds of hymns and chants that you might find in an old timey church choir. I have no problem with what I would call real a cappella, in fact real a cappella is fucking beautiful.
No what I don’t like is the type of a cappella that everyone keeps trying to jam down my throat. That is covers of famous songs with the backgrounds replaced with vocals á la Pitch Perfect. And the reason is simple, it doesn’t sound good, simple as that. Case and point: the a cappella version of P. Diddy’s hit song Coming Home.
Who thought that would be a good idea. It’s 3 minutes of awkward silence punctuated by the occasional P. Diddy grunt, and capped with the chorus. Someone took out all the good parts of the song and just left P. Diddy. Gross.
Now I realize that song isn’t entirely representative of most a cappella, because in most a cappella they don’t just remove the instrumental pieces they actively replace them with vocals. Which is waaaaaaaaay worse because you’re trying to imitate something that your voice wasn’t meant to imitate. Don’t try to imitate drums, just play some freaking drums. Look here’s a kid who will play them for you!
(You’re welcome for the free plug Rajit)
Now I know some drama people, and I can already hear what they are saying, “oh, but it takes so much skill to sing a cappella, blah blah blah, les miserable!” I’m not say Anna Kendrick can’t sing, in fact all indications are she can, and she’s quite good. All I’m saying is if you’re good at singing, why not sing something that sounds good. And I’m not talking about that god damn cups song!
Really it goes back to my deep seeded distaste for covers in general. When I listen to Straight No Chaser I’m not saying “oh that sounds so nice”, I’m saying, oh look how much it sounds like the original. A cappella isn’t about quality, it’s about novelty, and I’m sorry the novelty has worn off. I’m glad you spent 100 hours recording your a cappella version of Get Lucky, but if I want to listen to Get Lucky, I’m going to listen to the good version.
A cappella doesn’t add anything to pop songs, it doesn’t make them sound better, it doesn’t make them more meaningful, or more emotional, it only makes them sound worse. Don’t try and make a cappella versions of hit singles because the whole time I’m just going to wish I was listening to the real thing. Instruments were made for a reason, so please use them.
It’s far more impressive anyways.