Lets face it, a capella music is, even when it is done very well, something most of us can listen to only for so long. One notable exception is a five piece act from Texas, who have used the cover-songs-on-YouTube recipe to near perfection and keep wowing fans around the world with their vocal versions of in-demand pop songs. We are, of course, talking about Kirstie Maldonado, Avi Kaplan, Kevin Olusola, Scott Hoying and Mitch Grassi aka Pentatonix. How does (almost) 95 million views on a single video (a Daft Pank medley) sound? Pretty good, eh? After that, it may be a steep drop from their most popular video to the second most popular, but with over 45 million views on no.2 (the very clever Evolution of Music), that fall is cushioned quite comfortably. The third most popular video? The cover that introduced me personally to Lorde’s Royals – at the time of writing 41 million views. And while one of my Pentatonix favourites and the first of their videos to be featured on NeverMindTheBuzzkills was still firmly in the single digit millions when I posted it here, it has more than quadrupled its view count since then. And, yes, ‘only’ single digit millions is something the majority of artists can only dream of. And the 31 million views the Somebody That I Used To Know cover has now is way out of reach for most musicians on YouTube.
Macklemore (Thrift Shop and Can’t Hold Us Down), Fun (We Are Young), Pharrell Williams (Happy), Nicki Minaj (Starships), Imagine Dragons (Radioactive, with Lindsey Stirling) – Pentatonix certainly know how to pick which artists to cover. More importantly, though, they know how to take pop songs and turn them into something special. And somehow they avoid becoming repetitive and dreary, as most a capella groups become sooner or later for most listeners who are not dedicated a capella fanatics. That being said, it isn’t all that surprising that they have yet to spin the massive success of their brilliantly done a capella covers into the same level of success for their original music. Then again, 13 million views on the video to their own song Love Again is nothing to scoff at. Neither are sold out concerts all over the world. Also, why would you try to force the original music if you have fun and success with the covers? Others have tried … and failed. In all fairness, others have tried and succeeded, too (you’ll find examples on NMTB), but there simply is nothing wrong about the type and level of success Pentatonix have reached and manage to keep up. And as long as they keep putting out videos like this, I don’t see their streak breaking anythime soon: