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The Overtones

James Madison University

Happy - Single (2015)


May 14, 2015

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Kimberly Raschka Sailor

It's often a delight to hear aca Pharrell, but the disconnect between the Overtones' front performers and the background singers makes Happy a bit too lopsided to really get behind.

The Overtones succeed at making this rendition their own. We get a groovy, swingy, half-time intro to set the stage, which draws back the red curtain for soloist Justin Evans to do his thang, and glory, he does it well from start to finish. We also get a preview of the slick percussion for Happy, which features a lot of spunky and wicked fast new drum patterns to add fresh dimensions to the iconic rhythms in Pharrell's work. Percussionist Andrew Levering certainly elevates The Overtones' Happy through his fresh grooves.

However, a third vital component — the background singers — aren't as strong as the lead and drums. Since this is a very repetitive song, we certainly notice. Perhaps they were going for a laid-back, chill vibe, but as it stands, the background singers sound a little too mellow and restrained, calmly chirping their "Because I'm happy" lines over and over again instead of working the "crowd" the way Evans achieves. Also, the mixer or editor left in the background singers giggling and "Oh my God"-ing for a few seconds after the track ends, which I'm sure is fun for the group, but less so for the listeners jammin' to their tune.

There's some strong aspects here, but the differences in performance levels means Happy didn't reach its full potential.


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