A cappella has taken the world by storm recently. Between the Pitch Perfect franchise and top-selling groups like Pentatonix and Straight No Chaser, we can’t escape a cappella.
Despite the recent craze, the instrument-free music isn’t a brand new phenomenon. Church choirs originated the genre in early history, as barbershop quartets and collegiate vocal groups then brought more versatility to the style. The modern incorporation of beatboxing breathes new life into a cappella, making the once old-style music ready for mainstream radio.
It looks like it is here to stay for one simple reason: it’s refreshing. Popular music has been drowning in overproduced beats and auto tune, and live performances have become busy spectacles where it seems the more backup dancers and special effects there are, the less the music matters. A cappella takes this trend and flips it on its head, producing some of the most organic, real music.
Take a group like Pentatonix, for instance. Comprised of only five vocalists—Scott Hoying, Avi Kaplan, Mitchell Grassi, Kevin Olusola and Kirstin Maldonado—they manage to blend their voices together to create music equivalent to an entire recording studio of computers and instruments playing the same notes. And people have noticed. Since their breakout win on NBC’s a cappella competition “The Sing Off,” Pentatonix has gone on to release four studio albums, including the chart-topping holiday album That’s Christmas to Me, perform two headlining tours, reach over 10.5 million YouTube subscribers, and win two Grammys. The group also made a cameo in Pitch Perfect 2, which has helped mainstream a cappella in its own right.
The world will continue to have its Britney’s, Katy’s, Rhianna’s and more, but when music lovers are craving a change of tune, a cappella will be waiting in the wings, which is pretty aca-awesome.