One of my favorite songs of last year was Imagine Dragons, “Radioactive”. The song has a slow, gentle beginning that bursts into a sweeping and epic crescendo. It has been subsequently used in a number of movies and TV shows and even as a walkout song for a UFC fighter. One of our readers turned me on to a cover of “Radioactive” by Lindsey Stirling and Pentatonix.
For those of you who don’t know (and I didn’t know before this), Lindsey Stirling is a brilliant rock violinist with a huge online following who mixes distinct and interesting cover versions of popular songs with her own original music. She plays with technique and aggression and she is almost as interesting to watch as she is to listen to. Pentatonix is a fantastic a cappella group that I recognized from their impressive run on the NBC show, The Sing-Off. Pentatonix specializes in taking up-tempo contemporary pop music and reworking it with just their voices, creating really rich and layered sounds that are sometimes even better than the original.
The combination of Pentatonix’s vocal dexterity and Stirling’s artistry made their version of “Radioactive” feel like a brand new song. It was a little softer and a little smoother and it didn’t have the almost military rhythm of the original, but I enjoyed the changes they made tremendously. This assignment sent me down a YouTube rabbit hole where I watched Lindsey Stirling and Pentatonix videos for almost two hours before I wrote this because I always wanted to see what other creative and fun things they had done.
Imagine Dragons original version of this song still remains my favorite, but only by a small fraction. If considered separately, I would say that they were both terrific pieces of music, but the driving, pounding drums of the Imagine Dragons original is what takes the song from very good to great.
Imagine Dragons: A. Lindsey Stirling and Pentatonix: A-.