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4 YouTube bands that deserve a top spot on your playlist | The Express Tribune



My core memory from the ’90s is lustily eyeing the Backstreet Boys Millennium cassette tape in HMV, embroiled in a worrying internal debate over whether or not I dared ask my parents to splurge on such an unspeakable luxury.

I decided I did not dare. I had already foolishly splurged on a Boyzone AND Celine Dion tape earlier in the month. I could not ask for a third tape without the very real possibility of being banned from the music store. A music store embargo would mean resorting to sitting by the radio in the vain hopes that the stars would align and I Want It That Way would come on air once more. Life in the ’90s was strewn with trials of this unscalable magnitude.

How fortunate we are to be alive in a world with YouTube, a generous data package and wireless headphones! And to have musical tastes that have graduated beyond BSB and Boyzone! If you find yourself in this esteemed subset but are sick of everything you hear on the radio in the car, look no further. Here are four musical acts YouTube will give you for nothing. Brace yourselves, for you are soon to be blown away.


If heaven could be personified by music, no one would be able to do it better than Voctave, an acapella group coveting a sublime soprano whose clear-as-a-bell vocals could not be more pitch-perfect if she spent a thousand years trying.

I never went looking for Voctave; Voctave found me. The very first time I heard them, I was doing one of the most loathsome tasks known to humankind: mopping. YouTube was playing in my ears via the wireless headphones. My phone was somewhere under a random cushion. My beloved YouTube, ever so thoughtful and attuned to its mistress’s heart, moved on to Voctave’s movie medley. As their soprano started singing the opening notes of the Harry Potter theme, each note as high as a piccolo can reach, I stopped, mop hovering mid-air, exactly like the Road Runner moments before he plummets off a cliff. Tossing the mop aside, I fished out my phone and spent the next hour going through the Voctave playlist. You will never know the depth of emotion a human voice can convey until you hear Voctave’s rendition of Somewhere In My Memory from Home Alone. There is no way you are not collapsing into a pool of tears the first time you hear it. And if you are a Disney fan, Voctave has a series on Disney classics that will make you ponder the very real question of why Disney has not yet kidnapped them to retain them for as long as they live.


Keeping in line with the acapella theme, I have been informed by the offspring that everyone in the known universe knows who Pentatonix are. If you are not one of the twenty million who have rushed to subscribe to this crew who can sing anything they put their minds to, then you cannot go wrong with the Pentatonix version of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah. Where Voctave relies on the sheer power of harmonies, Pentatonix adds an element of voice-based percussion to its numbers. If pressed, one of them will even oblige you with a vocal electric guitar solo (hello, Bohemian Rhapsody). With Pentatonix videos becoming increasingly polished as their popularity has skyrocketed over the years, there is an undeniable charm in trawling through their earlier embryonic videos and stumbling upon their recorded-in-one-take-on-a-sofa rendition of Fun’s Tonight We Are Young. Put it on. I defy you to not start harmonising along with them during the all-important ‘na na na na’ segment. This was twelve years ago where they would end each video begging their viewers to subscribe. With twenty million fans (not counting the ones who don’t know how to subscribe), their days of begging are long past them.

Postmodern Jukebox (PMJ)

My personal journey with this sublime cover band began when I – inexplicably, in the grips of nostalgia – searched up My Heart Will Go On. (My 30s self has progressed, music-wise, from my teenage self, but occasionally still indulges in a little nostalgia, although there isn’t a force in the known universe powerful enough to go all the way back to the BSB days.) I tapped on the wrong video, which ended up being the happy fifties-style PMJ version of the epic Titanic number, and there was no turning back. PMJ and I have been locked together ever since. A cover band who can turn every bad song ever recorded into a rarified jazzy number you will listen to time and again, PMJ has something for everyone. Fan of the nineties? PMJ have you covered. Do your tastes veer towards Pinky and the Brain instead? PMJ has a sultry jazz version ready for you to devour. Don’t understand the fascination behind Lady Gaga? Look up PMJ’s Bad Romance and try to stop your feet tapping in time. You will not succeed.


If you have ever wanted to pretend to like classical music without putting in the effort of actually learning anything about it, these are the guys for you. 2Cellos consists of Luka Šulić and Stjepan Hauser, two Croatian cellists who have the power to make their instruments sing. You may (like me) heap disdain upon music trends and ignore them out of spite. One look at the 2Cellos version of Michael Jackson’s Smooth Criminal will quickly set you straight. With their arms sawing in furious staccato urgency across their strings, here is a duo whose music will grab you from the get-go and never let go. If fail to be stunned by this, then I invite you to consider their attempt at the Pirates of the Caribbean theme, where they spiral up and down chromatic scales with such passion that their poor bows are on the verge of disintegration. If you are still unamused, then we need to revisit your musical tastes at a later date to see where you have gone wrong.

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