1. Starships (Nicki Minaj cover)
2. The Baddest Girl
3. Somebody That I Used to Know (Gotye cover)
4. Aha! (Imogen Heap cover)
5. Show You How To Love
6. Love You Long Time (Jazmine Sullivan cover)
Pentatonix, a five member Acapella group that won the third season of The Sing-Off is making waves in throughout the entire music community. They are certainly not your dad’s barber-shop quartet. These five kids (all under the age of 25) can make more music, and better music, than many experienced artists and their teams of sound technicians. Maybe I am a little biased, having been in an Acapella group for the last four years. I might have a certain appreciation for this sort of music. But, when I heard a Pentatonix cover of “Somebody that I Used to Know” come on the radio, I knew that this was more than just a personal thrill. So, before you write this album off as “choir music” check it out. Play their cover of Nicki Minaj’s “Starships” and decide for yourself. If hip-hop covers are not your style, check out some of their original songs, which caught me by surprise. These were a new step for the group and an amazing one at that.
Pentatonix brings so much energy into their music along with intense talent and creativity. Their sound is a little futuristic while staying firmly rooted in modern pop rock. A byproduct of the nature of an Acapella group is how dynamic each song is. Scott Hoying, Mitch Grassi, Kirstie Maldonado , Avi Kaplan, and Kevin Olusola have mastered (and I do not use that term lightly) control over their voices, which is a spectacular feat considering the female voice only begins to settle in the early to mid-twenties while the male voice does not fully settle until the age of 30 or 35. Every breath is perfectly timed. Every note resonates fully. Here, we need to take a moment to appreciate the amazing vocal work of Avi Kaplan (the bass) and Kevin Olusola (the beat-boxer). If an Acapella group is a football team, the bass and beatboxer are the linemen. Rarely glorified but incredibly necessary. Avi’s range is insane. Some of the low notes he hits, and considering he’s only in his early twenties and that his voice will continue to bottom out, are barely audible, not for lack of support, but because the human ear, or at least my ear, can’t hear notes that low. I had to go back and re-listen to the album to make sure that everything really was all vocal because some of the noises Kevin can make are unbelievable.
Building off of the incredible foundation of Avi and Kevin’s voices, you have Scott and Kirstie who take a majority of the melodies and run away with them. They do not need auto-tune. They do not need back-up singers. They just need a microphone and an audience. And, topping off this amazing combination of vocal talent, Mitch comes in with an almost angelic voice, taking high notes in a way that very few men can. Together, this band is putting out better music, both covers and originals, than a majority of the industry. Take a chance to broaden your musical horizons and check out their new EP, PTX: Vol. 1. My only complaint was that there were only six tracks. So, if those are not enough for you, google some of their past performances from the Sing-Off and have your mind blown.