Down one member but still just as strong, my worst nightmare Pentatonix has returned with an “a cappella” cover of a song that I previously used to enjoy. Is it a cappella if the poor man who never gets to sing but only beatboxes is playing a cello? Probably not—but Pentatonix, with their ripped jeans and their studded collar jackets and their earnest little faces, are here to break the rules, man.
Here is their cover of “Dancing on My Own,” a song by Robyn that you may have listened to and previously enjoyed. What was once jubilant and celebratory is now a strange, somber dirge in the hands of the remaining members of Pentatonix. It becomes slightly more upbeat about halfway through, when the cello player takes on the additional duty of beatboxing while the others really work their head voices in a harmony that is intended to be awe-inspring but instead makes me want to die. Please. Why? Why fuck with something totally fine and good?
That’s what they do! A cappella arrangements aren’t always horrible, but something about the striving thirst of Pentatonix makes every song they cover so much worse. Consider their desecration of “This Christmas,” a holiday song that is perfect and does not deserve the Penatonix treatment.
The fun thing about a cappella is that we’re supposed to ooh and ahh at the fact that only five people are producing what sounds like a studio of musicians and backup singers and the like, but there are some songs that really don’t need all that fuss. “This Christmas” is one of them; Pentatonix’s version is bad and needs to be stopped.
If Donny Hathaway doesn’t move, I’m willing to bet that Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” has at one point in your life. How many emotion tears will you cry when you watch Pentatonix do it?
“Hallelujah” is an easy target; it’s been covered by anyone and everyone you can think of, but what I find most bothersome here is Mitch Grassi’s hat (the wide brim, not the beanie) and the haunting specter of the assembled group standing in the desert at dawn, urging me and anyone listening to bend the knee to their brand of insidiously bland music and singing. What irks so much about Pentatonix is that they clearly lack emotion—technically, they are very good singers, but prefer to emote by squinting their eyes thoughtfully or wrinkling their noses when they hit a high note, as if they were robots who learned what singing looked like by watching old Christina Aguilera performances on YouTube.
They made an Ariana Grande song that I occasionally enjoyed into an aural nightmare and sapped the life out of Shai’s “If I Ever Fall in Love Again” which is a travesty that deserves more attention, if you ask me. What will they ruin next??