An A Cappella Rendition of Lorde's 'Royals' Will Renew Your Hope in Pop Culture (Video)

Sunday, November 24, 2013 - 6:27am
An A Cappella Rendition of Lorde's 'Royals' Will Renew Your Hope in Pop Culture (Video)

Pop culture makes meaning. Enter the Florida State University AcaBelles' a cappella rendition of Lorde's "Royals" to make the point.

Commentary by:
Trent Gilliss (@TrentGilliss),  Head of Content / Executive Editor for On Being
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Pop culture matters. Pop culture makes meaning.

A few weeks ago in New York's Upper West Side, I had the honor of observing a dinner party/salon with a group of leading public intellectuals, a dozen or so in number, whom I personally hold in high regard. The conversation was lively and smart, measured and thoughtful. Then it took a turn. References to television and movies and "the Internet" were made with a certain naive condescension by some. There was an almost apologetic tone, as if these artistic media sources are leading to the downfall of civilization in the U.S.

The thing is, I knew they cared deeply about the subject at hand — about the state of our democracy and the life of the mind of our citizenry, especially our youth. And I think they genuinely feared that our country's popular culture was leading to our downfall. At first, I was a bit annoyed with the conversation, then I became sad. I won't go so far as to say I pitied them, but I wished they could see all the joy and happiness and comaraderie it builds among friends and families — and even my colleagues at work.

If I could loan them my eyes, they'd see my wife and two boys singing hip-hop with glee and repeating lines from movies with an indescribable authority. At this moment in my household, there are two things being played and replayed by my immediate family: on the television, the movie Pitch Perfect, and in the car, Lorde's catchy hit song "Royals."

Enter Florida State University's AcaBelles to beautifully merge these two spheres. The video is nearing five million views on YouTube now and is worth posting, if only to hear a flesh-and-bone a cappella group rival those Barden Bellas. It's a gorgeous rendition that just might compel you to loop it a few times this morning — and in the process smile, groove, and contemplate the message of the song.

Let's hope those dinner party attendees see this too. I'm convinced they'll find renewed hope in the state of our society through the creativity, fun, and interpretation of messages being put out there via the larger popular culture.

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Trent Gilliss is the driving editorial and creative force behind On Being. He received a Peabody Award in 2007 for his work on "The Ecstatic Faith of Rumi" and garnered two Webby Awards (in 2005, and again in 2008). The Online News Association nominated his journalistic work multiple times in the general excellence and outstanding specialty journalism categories. Trent's reported and produced stories from Turkey to rural Alabama, from Israel and the West Bank to Cambridge, England.

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27Reflections

Don't watch them. Listen to them. If you want to really hear something you must close your eyes.

Pop culture.... most harmful thing in the world next to religion.

Hey Trent,

Hope you didn't take that selfie while the car was moving.

We LOVE Pitch Perfect in our house. Totally underrated.

Great video. But could have done without the self-congratulatory bloviating from Trent Gilliss. Trent, we don't care about your wife and kids or the fact that you go to UWS dinner parties with "leading public intellectuals". Puke!

The human spirit seems always to conquer all else. Is the glass half empty or half full? Thanks, Krista for affirming the beauty - always alive and doing well. Please continue to teach and inspire.

I just listened to this, then the original on youtube - got to say I like this version way better. Good luck to all these girls. The lead voice is amazing!!

Pretty singing by the AcaBelles, nice blend and pitch. Do the Lordes also not bother with consonants in their version? I have no idea what this lovely song is about.

Wow very nice I love the harmony of this song you girls sang, very well done.

This really got my attention...i am not up on pop music, so I watched Lorde's video and read the backstory on lyrics in Royals...very enlightening! I love in Florida and my husband was on FSU's first football team. The young women are very talented.

Another reason to like On Being!

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