Acapella

Album: Pulses (2013)
Charted: 72
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Songfacts®:

  • Acapella is really spelled "a cappella," but that doesn't read well, since it looks like a reference to something called a "cappella." The term means "without instrumental accompaniment," and comes from an Italian phrase that literally translates to "in the manner of a choir." Kellis released a song of the same title in 2010, and also used the "acapella" spelling.

    The metaphor is apt in this song if the guy is considered the musical accompaniment. Note that "a cappella" doesn't mean "solo," but a group of singers could perform in that style. Of course, ever since Rihanna's "Umbrella," pop singers have been seeking "-ella" words, as they sing well and have some intriguing rhymes that can lead a storyline (fella, Cinderella...).
  • The 2012 movie Pitch Perfect sent a cappella music trending and was an influence on this song. In a Songfacts interview with Amy from Karmin (she had married her musical partner, Nick, by this point and became Amy Noonan), she explained: "They were talking about a cappella groups, and I was like, 'Wait, being a cappella is kind of dope because you're saying I can do this without a backup band or without music. I can sing this on my own.'

    So there is a very empowering message in it, and it was sort of the birth of that side of me, where I could say almost comedic wordplay stuff in the verses and then have this empowering chorus."
  • In 2011, Karmin got a lot of attention when they posted cover songs on YouTube - watching their singer/rapper Amy Heidemann keep pace on Chris Brown's "Look At Me Now" was captivating. Epic Records signed them that year and released their EP Hello in 2012. Amy and her Karmin partner Nick Noonan met at the Berklee College of Music in Boston, and as demonstrated in their YouTube clips, could take on songwriting and production on their own. But under the eye of Epic, they were teamed with hitmaking producers and songwriters.

    "Acapella" was the first single from Pulses, their first full-length album, and their last with Epic - they left the label after it was released and went independent (they got married in 2016). Amy and Nick wrote "Acapella" with Sam Hollander (Big Time Rush's "Big Night," One Direction's "Rock Me") and Boys Like Girls frontman Martin Johnson. The track was premiered on June 10, 2013 on Z100's Elvis Duran Show and was released on iTunes June 25, 2013.

    Talking about writing the song, Amy told Songfacts: "We came up with the melody first, like we always do. Melody is for some reason the easiest thing for me - it comes quickly and then I try to build a concept around it. Back then, I didn't value concepts the way I do now, so I'm pretty sure it was Sam who was like, "We need this to be a concept and then we can write these really distinct verses about the concept." And one of the gibberish vowels that I sang over the initial melody sounded like the word 'acapella,' and we were like, 'Oh wow!'"
  • The song is an ode to independence after Amy Heidemann realizes her rich lover is a total dud. The duo flipped the meaning of a cappella from singing without instruments to "I can do it by myself"' or "I don't need a rich boyfriend."

    "Actually, 90% of the track was done a cappella," Noonan told Billboard magazine. "We went back there and made all kinds of weird sounds and chopped it up and put it in the computer."
  • The video was directed by Matt Stawski and was inspired by '90s music videos the duo grew up watching. It uses a monochromatic color palette as the Karmin perform choreographed moves, which is something they'd never done before on camera. "I actually enjoyed it," Nick Noonan told MTV News regarding his footwork. "I was a little hesitant in the beginning... You don't put a square into a round hole."

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