Remember back in the early-teens when the world couldn’t get enough of acapella music, shows like Glee & The Sing-Off catapulting your local college’s choral groups to unreasonably high status with vocal-only renditions of your favourite songs? This ravenous consumption of soothing choir voices helped acts like Pentatonix achieve incredible success, consistently topping the Pop 100 charts with their enthralling mixture of tender vocals & cool beatbox sounds, but in the mid-teens this fascination quickly fell off, leaving the group directionless as yet-another trendy Pop group with a niche gimmick. The last successful song they managed to release was their harrowing rendition of “Hallelujah,” part of their 2016 holiday album that saw them covering every Christmas song under the sun, but this would prove to be the end of the road as far as their continued presence in mainstream media was concerned – Originally written & performed by music legend Leonard Cohen, this song told a story about finding your way in life through a wholehearted devotion to something you hold near & dear, whether this be a loving relationship, a firmly held moral obligation or simply a respect for humanity & a desire to be the best person you can possibly be. Due to its focal point being the word ‘hallelujah,’ many believe this song to be a tale of faith-based origin, praising spirituality & claiming that religion is the path to enlightenment within a person’s soul, but Cohen himself denied these claims, positing that faith doesn’t have to be a strictly-religious experience, rather that anything you value can be a driving force in your quest to improve as a human being & should be held with reverence as to give you the best experience in life – Regardless of which interpretation you subscribe to, it has become a staple in modern media as one of the most passionate tales of self-reflection in music, a mesmerizing tune many have tried their hand at covering out of respect for the source material.
With Pentatonix being an acapella group, their rendition naturally delivers nothing but powerful, uplifting vocals layered upon each other in a way that recreates the instrumentation of the original with varying manipulations of vocal chords; Instead of an arpeggiated guitar, we get serene tenor voices singing in a weighty, emotional fashion, the booming bassline replaced with rich, deep-toned baritone voices with a creamy tonality, punching out each note in a pleasant “dum-dum-dah-dum” cadence that rocks you into a state of bliss with each passing moment. The composition does a wonderful job of recreating Cohen’s fully-instrumented arrangement, taking care to ebb & flow with a heartwarming radiance as the song goes on, delivering a wonderfully inspiring composition you can easily switch out when you want to spice up your holiday playlists – As is typical of nearly every song Pentatonix releases, this comes accompanied by an overly-serious music video of the group out on what looks like the sun-scorched sands of Utah’s Salt Lake, shot with sweeping camera angles & a subdued, muted colour palate that matches the understated nature of the song; Even so, it’s a bit too solemn to bare, the group clearly trying to seem as spiritual & stoic as possible, making for an awkward video in which you’re compelled to look away for fear of becoming another basic follower in the mainstream Pop machine, a leading factor in why the group lost their spark – In all honesty, it’s a spectacular song, but it doesn’t hold a candle to Rufus Wainwrights incredible recreation from 2001, easily the best version of “Hallelujah” to have ever existed.
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"Hallelujah" is a song written by Canadian singer Leonard Cohen, originally released on his album Various Positions (1984). Achieving little initial success, the song found greater popular acclaim through a recording by John Cale, which inspired a recording by Jeff Buckley. It is considered as the "baseline" of secular hymns.