DCappella feels like the kind of act you would expect to find at Walt Disney World performing in venues like the American Gardens Theater in between Epcot festivals or as at the Theater of the Stars before select performances of Beauty and the Beast. Had it not been for Pitch Perfect and the successful a cappella group that came in its wake, DCappella’s self titled debut album would have far more limited appeal than it does. Similar to how the A*Teens started life as an ABBA cover act, DCappella takes its name from the combination of Disney and a cappella. Their self-titled debut album is now available from Walt Disney Records after over 6-months of promotion in advance of their 2019 national tour.
The first two tracks are each just over 30-seconds, with a warm-up followed by “The World es mi Familia” from Coco, songs from which bookend the album if you ignore the unnecessary “Tune Up.” They then dive into eleven fully realized tracks that cover thirteen songs, with two tracks becoming mashups. All of the tracks come from Disney and Pixar animated features, with the exception of one song from Mary Poppins.
The debut single when the group was first announced last spring is included on the album, a cover of Fall Out Boy’s “Immortals” from Big Hero 6. Two other pre-release singles are also included, “How Far I’ll Go” from Moana and “Trashin’ the Camp” from Tarzan. Like Coco, Tarzan also gets two tracks with the balled “You’ll Be in My Heart” becoming one of the album’s strongest covers.
While a significant number of tracks are from recent Disney films, including a mash-up of two songs from Frozen (“Let It Go/Do You Wanna Build a Snowman?”), a little over half of the album draws on music from more than a decade ago. This includes “Friend Like Me” from Aladdin, “I Wanna Be Like You” from The Jungle Book, “When Somebody Loved Me” from Toy Story 2, and a mashup of “Part of Your World/A Whole New World” from The Little Mermaid and Aladdin, which favors the first song and does a great disservice to the second.
My favorite rendition on the album is “You’ll Be in My Heart,” while the most offensive is “Step In Time.” It has a painful intro and also adds a vocal effect reminiscent of Imogen Heap that you don’t want or expect from an a cappella group. This one track loses most of the favor that they may have gained with listeners thus far. If any of this interests you, do yourself a favor and skip “Step In Time,” which really should’ve been cut from the album completely (I hope they don’t perform it like this on the tour).
The final track is “Remember Me” and D Cappella is hoping that you do, and buy tickets to their tour that was on sale before you even knew who they were. It’s a slow rendition that is too somber and bland to be memorable, which is obviously ironic. A real curiosity is the lack of one of Disney’s most synonymous ballads, either “When You Wish Upon a Star” or “A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes.”
This debut album from DCappella is one of the most bizarre entries in the Disney music catalogue. At times, it makes an effort to be as original and satisfying as the Disney Theatrical recording, On the Record. But more often then not, it abandons what makes these songs work in favor of being edgy or different, producing an album that is mostly dissatisfying and too heavily favors a few properties in the vast vault of Disney content. By all accounts, it should have been much better than this. From strange song choices to some bad arrangements, DCappella’s debut album struggles to cater to the sensibilities of Disney’s biggest fans.
Alex has been blogging about Disney films since 2009 after a lifetime of fandom. He joined the Laughing Place team in 2014 and covers films across all of Disney’s brands, including Star Wars, Marvel, and Fox, in addition to books, music, toys, consumer products, and food. You can hear his voice as a member of the Laughing Place Podcast and his face can be seen on Laughing Place’s YouTube channel where he unboxes stuff.