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In the world of contemporary a cappella, covers often attain a more elevated status, something more akin to the role of covers in jazz. While jazz audiences revel in the jazzers individual transformation of classics like Route 66 or It Had to Be You, contemporary a cappella audiences are often captivated by the transformative nature of the a cappella cover, beloved classic or otherwise.  

The timbral differences between a song with instruments and one performed without them is so significant that audiences perceive the difference in instrumentation as novel in and of itself, even when the a cappella groups demonstrable artistic goal is to actually come as close as possible to an identical reproduction of the original.

The covering a cappella group is then faced with a double-edged sword: audiences initially react very positively to what is basically imitative, yet the group is seen not so much for their artistry, not for their creation of the expressive, but as a kind of magician performing a parlor trick. Howd they do that? becomes the dominant element of the experience. The group is in danger of being relegated to the status of novelty act.

This shouldnt trouble groups whose overarching goal is to just to entertain. But where the goal is to actually create art and not merely perform with artistry, groups face an uphill battle.