Don't Start Now - Single (2020)
Review By Kyle Yampiro
December 30, 2020
If an a cappella cover endeavors to hold so true to its source material that it reads almost entirely like a transcription, it will pale in comparison to the original almost every time. While it is quite tuneful, bouncy, and even innovative at times, The AcaLounge's cover of Don't Start Now is held back only by its strict adherence to the sounds of Dua Lipa's version.
Granted, there is a great deal of respect to dole out. The AcaLounge is a collaboration project with minimal membership, and as such, Jan Weigang's production work to fill out the majority of the background to sound like a full group is no small feat. Jacky Hoeger's lead vocals are powerful and present throughout and she blends brilliantly with her own harmony tracks, showing her prowess in the pop-singing sphere. The arrangement features a few moments that delightfully flesh out chords with expert voicing, such as in the second pre-chorus on the line, "I'm not where you left me at all." You won't have to find it; it will find you. And the track itself is fully consonant, driving, and groovy throughout.
The only trouble is, especially in the beginning, there is a such a devotion to textures and instrumental features in the original that it starts sparsely. Sure, the sounds fill in, but there are later moments of relative emptiness that could be filled in with more original choices based on the all-vocal medium. These quibbles might even be forgivable where excellence is concerned, but the biggest detractor has to be the monochromatic dynamic level: it's got in-your-face intensity for three minutes with little variation other than voices entering and leaving. While Dua Lipa's original isn't exactly bustling with dynamic and harmonic contrast, the different sections of the song are more stark in their dynamic quality. This breaks up what could become an incessantly loud push forward without a breath which, in The AcaLounge's cover to an extent, happens.
If you've got an a cappella workout playlist, The AcaLounge's Don't Start Now certainly belongs on it: check it out for the strong vocals, studio magic, delightful tunefulness, and the solid beat.