by Beth Keating
May 31, 2020
This week, Disney dropped an enormous info bomb on us. It has taken hours to sort through the fallout from all of their announcements, and there’s still more to come. If your head hurts from contemplating all of those changes, and you need to take a brain break, head on over to Peter Hollens’ YouTube channel.
I’ve been a longtime fan of Peter Hollens, a classically trained vocal artist from Eugene, Oregon, who specializes in a cappella music. Peter has done some amazing collaborations with other artists you may have heard of (Hunter Hayes, Lindsey Stirling, David Archuleta, The Piano Guys, Home Free, Jason Mraz, and Brian Wilson, just to name drop a few), but he excels at putting his own spin on Disney tunes. I’ll throw on his playlist when I’m prepping for a Disney trip, or just for fun. If you aren’t familiar with a cappella, it’s music that is produced simply with the human voice, without instruments. It’s amazing! And I’m not the only one to think so. Peter has 2.5 million subscribers on his Youtube channel.
Peter has a collection of several dozen Disney tunes. If you asked me which of his Disney pieces is my favorite, I’d be hard pressed to decide. Perhaps one of his medleys such as the “Epic Disney Medley” with Alex G (which also appears on the Disney Classics CD).
For laughs, go to the “Princesses vs Princes Epic Disney Battle” or his “Epic Disney Villains Medley with Whitney Avalon.”
The “Ultimate Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean Medley” is also a favorite. Remember as you are watching that these songs are produced only with multi-tracked human voices, sometimes using over a hundred different tracks!
Peter isn’t just focused on Disney music, however. He has an assortment of pop, Broadway, folk and movie themed songs as well. There’s even a medley from Hamilton (does that count as a Disney song now?), as well as Games of Thrones, The Greatest Showman, Wicked, The Hobbit, The Witcher, and Star Wars (sorry, guess that’s Disney again, huh?). I dare you not to find yourself in tears when you watch “Homeward Bound” with the 300+ kids in the accompanying high school choir. Watch the Phantom of the Opera medley with Peter and his wife, Evynne, and you’ll get a true feel for Peter’s strength and range.
Evynne also has a companion YouTube channel where she not only belts out some amazing Disney tunes herself, but offers up teaching videos that will help you become your best singing Disney princess self. There are also some lovely collaboration videos with her husband, especially the “Beauty and the Beast” one with elaborate costuming, filmed at the Elsinore Theatre in Salem, Oregon. Absolutely gorgeous!
If you are in the mood for a less polished but equally entertaining video, Peter recently joined up with Brian Hull for “The Disney Genre Challenge,” this time on Brian’s YouTube channel. (Brian enjoys doing impressions - Pity the poor folks at the fast food drive thrus when Brian is around, but his medleys in the voices of Disney characters are a hoot. Check out his version of the Disney and Pixar characters singing “This is Me” from The Greatest Showman. Brian is performing all 24 characters and the backgrounds himself.)
Brian and Peter have collaborated on several Disney medley videos in the past. Released late this week (May 29th), “The Disney Genre Challenge” is a bit like goofing around in your basement on a Friday night with a bunch of friends. The guys select a random Disney song from a bowl, and match it with an equally random musical genre and have to perform it on the spot. It’s silly and fun. It also seems like a perfectly normal way to spend a quarantine evening these days. Perhaps your family can give it a shot one night. Until then, enjoy Peter and his friends.
“PRESS CLUB C Podcast with Ray Keating – Episode #10: Streaming Fueling the Nerd, Including the Disney Nerd”
Beth Keating is a regular contributor to DisneyBizJournal.