Pentatonix ‘Hallelujah’ Song Review

Gosh you’re flogging a dead horse covering this track aren’t you? So here we are, Pentatonix are back with the most over-used and over-covered track of all time ‘Hallelujah’. Now do I dislike the original track? No, in fact far from it, it’s probably one of the top ten tracks ever made. I also like three versions of the track, Leonard Cohen’s original, John Cale’s re-imagining and Jeff Buckley’s interpretation. So where does the Pentatonix cover lie? Probably in the lower to middle category. Here is why…

This track isn’t a sad track, nor is it a Christmas track, nor is it a depressing track, it’s just a song that describes what it’s like to make a song, that’s it! So why have we been given 93204832 interpretations of it as a bleak ballad? It could be such a fun, uplifting track, but everyone concentrates on the downer side of it. The only person with a right to claim this hauntingly-styled version is Jeff Buckley. He took the track, made it grungy and gloomy and saw the track as much more bitter sweet than it’s original version. That takes song writing ability. The problem I have with Pentatonix here, is that they aren’t even the first vocal harmony group to sing this track; it’s been sung by church choirs much more significantly for years now. So my major problem with the track, is that it’s pointless and destined to fade away into obscurity by this time next week.

Production wise the song is solid, but in parts I find it’s too good. What do I mean by that? Well if you slap too many pitch correctives, too many EQ’s, too many Gates and too many general effects onto a vocal track, it’s stops sounding like vocals; it sounds like synths. I felt that the whole track became more and more pointless as the song continued because of this. The bass singer had so many effects on him that you might as well of used sub bass and no one would of noticed. The textures were so watery and over-produced that you might as well of used many synths. The whole point of a vocal harmony group, is to recreate songs using just vocal harmonies, but here those harmonies are so ironed out that you could of just used instruments (they would of sounded more distinct anyway). The production threw away all the timbres and tones we could of identified throughout the track, basically removing all the fun of a vocal harmony sequence away.

The vocal performances are great, don’t get me wrong, Pentatonix have some of the most talented members of a vocal group I’ve heard in a long time. Coming from the new Little Mix track to this, proved my philosophy that I prior mentioned (read that review to find out what that is). But they came across so bland here. Each member had allocated slots where they gave it their all, but the source material didn’t feel valid. When a track has no substance and you don’t believe in what you are hearing, then you often find yourself bored listening to it and I had that feeling here.

All in all, the performances were great but the song choice was terrible. I feel bad slating such a talented group but you just have to be wiser with what tracks you pick to cover. Stop making temporary tracks to capitalise off of the popularity of others, and instead make tracks that will define your legacy, because you are more than capable to do it.

5/10 – Just another Hallelujah cover in my opinion.

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6 thoughts on “Pentatonix ‘Hallelujah’ Song Review

  1. Um, there whole thing is that their voices can blend so well it can sound like auto tune. It’s a technique they have perfected, so I understand how someone might think they were over processed, They can do the same thing live in concert, both on and off mic. Check out their Daft Punk Medley, both the official video and the private performance off mic version. You can see just how much is processed and how much is really their voices and talent.

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    1. Hello Lisa, yeah I’m not denying their talent and I’ve previously heard their Daft Punk medley before and hence I’ve praised them for it, but having production experience myself, I can tell how much processing has been done here. The severe noise gating has left the vocals with a chorus like effect which when are combined with other similar textures, become very unnatural. The timbre’s/vocal tones were missing here because the recording is too-clean; in order to notice individuality, that individual has to have an imperfection/characteristic that is noticeable, whereas here everyone just sounded the same but in different pitches due to the ironing out of issues.

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      1. You will be able to hear them sing Hallelujah live on the Pentatonix Christmas Special Dec. 14th on NBC. I’m not sure there is quite as much production on it as you think, but the only way to compare is to hear the live version.

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  2. I think the major problem with critics in general, and music critics in particular, is that they forget the most salient point of music. Yes, Hallelujah has been sung to death, and mostly as a ballad; but that’s because it is how people hear it. Read the lyrics, this is not a light hearted romp through candy land. and it may be about writing a song, but since that is relatable to approximately 0.02% of the world’s population, people attach themselves to the core of the song, which is the angst of trying and failing; striving and being brought low only to rise and try again. I bet that means more to people than whatever the original artist was thinking when he wrote it.

    Most critics, be it music, movies, video games, sports or anything else have the nasty habit of being so caught up in the technicalities and histories that they often miss what is so great about the final product. I can’t say I like the original version of this song any more than I like “Layla” as a balls to the wall rock and roll piece (as it was originally written and performed); and considering nobody really remembered that song until Mr. Slow Hand himself turned it into a ballad, I think my point has some credence.

    Besides, in the end a critic is just a person who critiques stuff. They are no better, more intelligent, or less fallible than anyone else. Sometimes they forget that, too.

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    1. Hello Thomas,

      This whole site is based off of a subjective approach to music, we have reviews on here from guest critics that not even we agree with, but we use their opinion to understand why we don’t like it, for this song in particular, we just felt that it wasn’t particularly memorable on the scale of covers the original track has, other people may disagree but that’s the whole point of music, if a song expresses how you feel, you’ll tend to like it, if it doesn’t, then you won’t connect and hence you probably won’t like it. We just didn’t connect here and because of it, we mentioned the flaws, in our eyes, that made us have this disconnect. We don’t put ourselves on a pedestal, we know we are just average Joe’s here, but if you’re coming to this site for this teams opinion, then this teams opinion is whats going to be said.

      – The String Buzz Editing Team

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