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Harvard-Radcliffe Veritones

Harvard University

Pretty Hurts - Single (2014)


January 7, 2015

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Kimberly Raschka Sailor

The Harvard-Radcliffe Veritones offer a pleasantly-voiced but garden-variety take on Beyonce's Pretty Hurts.

The blend here is soothing and enveloping. The vocal percussion is just right (I rarely say this). The understated solo by Sandy Uwimana serves the mood. And though the opening seventeen seconds are a mesmerizing delight, the rest of Pretty Hurts fails to garner the excitement we feel after the enticing beginning. I was waiting for the song to really open up and bust apart at the seams, but it never reaches that level, shying away from a good-old-fashioned ballad vocal explosion. The arrangement is perhaps just too mild for the potential Beyonce impact. The song certainly grows louder, but that's ultimately not enough. 

I also find the balance a bit curious. The gentlemen of the Veritones are pretty buried in this mix. It's not that the presentation is treble-heavy (the growling bass says otherwise), it's that the men don't get any real vocal moments, any true showcased lines. I'd even take one little male descant — something to counter all of the individual female lines that are popped in the mix. Perhaps this was intentional to stay closer to Beyonce's stylings, but I say turn up the men and have your recording be all the more unique.  

The Veritones have a warm and gentle single with Pretty Hurts. Adding more sonic impact to the arrangement through layering, plus a sprinkle of exposed tenor and bari, wouldn't be so bad. 

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