Acapella is a well-known and ancient technique of singing without the use of any backing music. It has been around since the invention of singing and is still performed today. There are some really well-known hits out there that sound good acapella, so this article is going to unpack some of the best acapella songs to sing, including the best acapella Christian song, and wedding songs.
There are not many singers out there who have never sung acapella. Not only is it fun, but also a very good challenge and an indication of their vocal skills. If one can sing well acapella, you can sing accompanied! It is often utilized by bands and artists to showcase a particularly intimate or beautiful song in their set. It also breaks up a set of songs very nicely and is popular with audiences around the world. There are so many songs that sound good acapella, and we have put together a list!
For those that have ever seen the Lion King, ‘The Lion Sleeps Tonight’ will be very familiar with it. Written in 1920, ‘The Lion Sleeps Tonight’ was originally in Zulu and helped to form a unique style in South African music called Mbube. it became a staple for South African tribal singers before a couple of writers added English lyrics to it in 1961 and it became a number 1 hit for The Tokens. Since then it has been recorded countless times by an array of different artists, and of course, utilized by Disney in one of their biggest hit films. For adults and children all over the world, this song is one that everyone holds dear and continues to be one of the best acapella songs to sing into the 21st Century.
In 1986, Paul Simon teamed up with Ladysmith Black Mambazo to record ‘Homeless’. Simon was at a low point in his career when he heard some South African township music whilst onboard a plane. When he got home, he penned ‘Homeless’ and it went on to form an integral part of his legendary Grammy-winning album Graceland, with Ladysmith adding their acapella vocals to a number of tracks on the record including this classic. Listeners can hear the influence of South African music in a lot of Simon’s work, and this one is powerfully beautiful.
This song became a bit of an anthem of the ’80s, and is still one of the most ‘feel good’ hits around! The lyrics alone endear listeners when they need a bit of a pick me up, and the stripped-down acapella arrangement works very well in this context; so well in fact that it could barely be imagined with instrumentation. Another interesting fact about this song is that it was part of the soundtrack to Tom Cruise’s hit movie Cocktail, also won a Grammy for song of the year in 1988.
This one is a bit of a left-field selection – but also a very popular choice. It is actually a whole album of 11th-century chants, and it made the top of the Billboard pop charts in 1994 – quite a feat for a Monks’ chant album! They even made appearances on Good Morning America and This Morning, singing their work!
A very popular entry in modern-day pop culture is Anna Kendrick’s ‘ Cups’ from the film Pitch Perfect. Not 100% strictly acapella, as she uses cups in the form of percussion, but it is a very sweet version. Kendrick later went into the studio and recorded the song with instruments, but the acapella version still stands out as the most well-known, and in many people’s eyes – the best. Fans of this cult classic film would almost certainly agree that this entry simply has must be in the top acapella songs.
French dance and pop crossover artists Daft Punk are not known for creating acapella music (in fact, quite the opposite!), but this mix by Pentatonix is up there as one of the best acapella songs! With over 200 million views on YouTube, there is no doubt in the popularity of this track named ‘Daft Punk Medley’. It won a Grammy for its acapella arrangement! Pentatonix are known worldwide for their acapella work, and this is undoubtedly their best composition.
Undeniably a wedding classic is ‘Ave Maria’. Quite possibly one of the most beautiful songs that have ever been written, it has been sung by people all over the world at live events for many years. Credited to Franz Schubert in 1825, it has been covered by many singers over the years, including Pavarotti and most recently, Beyoncé.
‘Ode To Joy’ was written by German poet and playwright Friedrich Schiller, and also credited in many countries to Beethoven. Again, this is one of those wedding songs that you are bound to have heard if you have ever been to a wedding and is definitely one of the best acapella songs to sing at a ceremony. A beautiful song that has been covered by hundreds of artists over the years, including classical crossover acts such as Andre Rieu.
It would not be right to leave this next song out of a list of wedding songs! Aptly titled ‘The Wedding Song’, this is another favorite to sing acapella. Paul Stookey wrote it for the wedding of ex-Peter Paul & Mary bandmate Peter Yarrow, and partner Marybeth McCarthy. The song was released in 1971, and to this day is still performed at wedding ceremonies across America. It has been covered most notably by Petula Clark.
‘Love Will Be Our Home’ by Sandi Patty is another love song that has a fair few outings at weddings across the world. It is regarded as one of, if not, the best acapella Christian song. Sandi Patti, dubbed ‘The Voice’, is one of the most prominent female Christian music singers. She also often performed acapella versions of the American national anthem for major events, and her own material. Patty made ‘Love Will Be Our Home’ famous as one of the best songs to sing acapella in 1989.
‘The Prayer’ by David Foster is a classic Christian acapella song. Its name alone tells a story and has officially become known as the musical prayer for wedding ceremonies around the US, and beyond. So popular is this song that it was covered by Celine Dion and Andrea Bocelli in 1998. It has been described as emotive, spine-tingling, and heart-warming, even making it onto radio, which for a song of this nature is quite unusual!
‘The Lord’s Prayer’ is the central prayer in Christian teaching, featuring heavily in the old testament. Everyone has probably sung this in a school assembly when they were young, so there is no doubting its universal appeal and usage. There is no version we have specifically pulled out, but it has been sung by congregations and individual singers for thousands of years, so it deserves its’ place in this for that fact alone!
This list could go on and on, but here are some honorable mentions for the best acapella songs that exist:
There are thousands of other acapella songs that could have been included because on a basic level, anything can be adapted into an acapella version. We think these songs have helped shape the history of acapella and made a real impact on music and popular culture. From Gregorian chants to wedding songs, musicians have proved that anything can be a song that sounds good acapella!
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