Monday, October 07, 2013

COVER WARS: Pentatonix, Straight No Chaser, Neon Hitch & Vanquish

I haven't done one of these in awhile and there's no better time than the present. Oh, the glory of YouTube and it's penchant for underrated artists offering up alternate versions of mainstream faves... 

PENTATONIX - "Royals" (Lorde Cover)
Acapella fivepiece Pentatonix (Get it? Five sides like a pentagon?) gained mainstream focus after winning the third season of NBC's The Sing-Off. To say their win was well deserved would be a total understatement. Their YouTube account is chock full of gorgeous revamps -- their version of Justin Timberlake's "Pusher Love Girl" may just be the reason why I really warmed up to the song -- and I was tempted to offer up their collaboration with the also fabulous Todrick Hall via the 'Wizard of Oz'-inspired musical mashup "The Wizard of Ahhhs". However, after spying their most recent cover of Lorde's "Royals", it was truly hard to pass up. While the original is beautiful for its simplicity, Pentatonix somehow manages to fully capture the original and fully flesh out so the scope of the song itself feels so much thicker (because it is) and more dense. The five separate parts work equally in tandem to make such a grower of a song somehow even more memorable.

STRAIGHT NO CHASER - "If I Should Fall In Love Again" (SHAI Cover)
My love affair with Straight No Chaser continues to grow as the days go by. The ten-man acapella troupe make their living from singing others' songs, often in the form of brilliant mashup ideas ("Billie Jean/Poison", anyone?). At a recent performance in Las Vegas, the group reached far back into their catalog with the 1992 Shai hit "If I Should Fall In Love Again" -- a song the group used as a staple during their college performances in the late 90's/early 00's. It features their three main soloists in Mike Luginbill, Jerome Collins (complete with in-the-audience serenading) and Steve Morgan, as well as a shockingly on point falcetto bit by baritone(!) and occasional soloist Seggie Isho. Good stuff.

NEON HITCH - "We Can't Stop" (Miley Cyrus cover)
A lot of ya'll have been asking for my opinion on the media onslaught regarding Miley Cyrus and to be quite honest, my feelings echo my uncomfortable reactions to Ke$ha after her initial debut. If this is the real Miley, then good for her. But I could do without the embarrassing, increasingly more desperate attempts to appear adult (and, of course, the mention of her name every three seconds). "We Can't Stop" is good for what it is, I suppose -- a Rihanna castaway. But I can't help but feel that all of this posturing feels so inauthentic that it just seems pointless. Enter Neon Hitch, who's alternate take on the now infamous twerk jam comes off fresh and decidedly not indulgent. Rather than being a questionable anthem about poppin' Molly, Neon's gypsy mystique takes center stage and it's hard not to groove.

VANIQUISH - "You're Nobody Till Somebody Loves You" (James Arthur cover)
Those of us Stateside are less familiar with this bluesy jam by recent UK X-Factor winner James Arthur, but that's okay (get ready for the onslaught -- its set for a worldwide release in a few weeks). Brit four-piece Vanquish does girl groups around the world a serious solid in their cover version, performed acoustically with a simple guitar accompaniment. It's melismas and sass galore and you know I am all. about. it. These girls need to be gigantic, world famous popstars right now, please. Unfortunately, embedding has been disabled, but you can check out the cover here.

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