In Measure for Measure, an A Cappella Blog contributor takes a look at both sides of a controversial issue in collegiate a cappella.
This edition’s topic: Collegiate a cappella groups should stop covering Coldplay.
True: Coldplay is a good band. I like them—I really do. But if I have to hear one more group take on “Viva La Vida,” “Clocks,” or “The Scientist” I really might lose it. When you notice that everyone around you is covering these songs, it is not time to jump on the bandwagon—on the contrary, it’s time turn your head and start looking elsewhere. On top of all of this, the band’s original sound, and, in particular, frontman Chris Martin’s voice is distinctive enough that most cover artists come across as poor imitators. It’s in everyone’s best interests to leave the Coldplay catalog alone for a while.
False: There’s a reason why so many groups are covering Coldplay—the band is that good. There are few contemporary music acts with as widespread appeal as this one, and the band’s songs sound different enough that they offer plenty of material worth covering. Good, recognizable songs are the cornerstone of the music most fans enjoy best in collegiate a cappella, and so it’s in a group’s best interests to play to these preferences. What’s more, originality and individuality need not come from song selection alone—just look at The ACB Viva La Vida Contest from 2009—eight groups performing eight very different renderings of the same song. Groups should not shy away from covering a popular artist, but rather embrace the material and make it their own.