A capella has come to mean vocal music without instrumental accompaniment. It originally was this, but the actual meaning is “in the manner of the chapel” – only voices were allowed to make music there.
There was some fantastic music made in this style. Time is a powerful filter and has weeded out the fluff and crap leaving us with the deep, moving, and beautiful. Music that is written to be in the service of an idea (think music you hear at anti-war rallies or modern religious pop music), or music that is simply light and shallow doesn’t make the cut.
Today’s a capella usually focuses on pop music, music that has the distinction of high sales or number one status on some pop chart. Music like this doesn’t usually make it through history’s filter.
When pop is rendered a capella, the instruments are replaced with vocal bum-bum-bums, do-do-dos, and waaaaas. This almost always makes a bad situation worse. Thanks to Glee, Pitch Perfect, and other crap, a large number of misguided people actually like this kind of a capella, despite the fact that it’s everything that’s bad about music and represents everything that’s wrong with the world.
A singer I know through social media is one of those people. He has a group that takes pop songs and makes them more grating with hums and do dos and super swell positive attitudes. It’s an all male group so they call it Mangelic Voices… They all have hipster beards and wear suspenders and bow ties. I can’t imagine this being worse.
If I died today, since I will probably be going downstairs, one of satan’s minions would surely place me in a front row seat at one of Mangelic Voices’ concerts for eternity.