by Elizabeth Miller ‘15, A&E Editor
Last year, a quintet of talented artists amazed viewers as they single-handedly won the popular NBC show, the Sing-Off. Going up against huge college groups and professional singers, Pentatonix took on a big challenge, being such a small group and having only worked together as a group for a few short months. The group was made up of three recent high school graduates who had been singing together for years: Kirstie Maldonado, Mitch Grassi, and Scott Hoying, along with their bass, Avi Kaplan, and their beat-boxer, Kevin Olusola. They took a cappella to a whole new level, transforming their voices into electronic music devices to create songs that could pass off as normal pop music.
Since their win on the Sing-Off, Pentatonix has been busy. They’ve toured across the country performing for huge audiences. In June, they released their first EP, PTX Volume 1, receiving outstanding feedback. Now, they’re at it again with their Christmas album, PTXmas.
On PTXmas, Pentatonix takes five holiday classics, plus a newer one, and put their own spin on them. The EP begins with “Angels We Have Heard on High”, which starts of sounding like a pretty normal Christmas song, with Mitch’s clear high tenor voice singing the lead over harmonizing hums. But that doesn’t last for long, when Kevin starts beat-boxing and Avi begins his bass line. In some ways, the song is unrecognizable, but at the same time, it’s still the old classic it’s always been.
“O Come, O Come Emmanuel” highlights the original members of the group, as Scott sings the lead with a beautiful,deeper tenor voice and Mitch and Kirstie sing high harmonies in the background. It is followed by the biggest hit off of the EP, “Carol of the Bells”, for which Pentatonix released a music video. “Carol” is traditionally an a cappella song, but being the musical rogues that they are, Pentatonix refused to stick with a standard version. The song starts off with a strong base line and beat. Rather than employing the usual “ding-dong-ding-dong” background vocals, Kirstie and Scott softly echo Mitch.
My favorite song on the EP is “Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire.” Pentatonix shows off their jazzy side, especially the talents of their bass. The song has a very distinct “doo wop” feel to it, which displays the amazing versatility of the group. Kevin takes a break from beat-boxing for most of the song in order to back up the singers with a convincing trumpet impression.
“O Holy Night” is the most similar to traditional a cappella music. Kirstie takes her place in the spotlight, leading the boys with her soprano voice in a beautiful rendition of the classic song. For the end of the EP, Pentatonix shows off their R&B and contemporary sides in “This Christmas.”
If you haven’t previously heard of Pentatonix, give them a shot, because it’s worth it. PTXmas is not only an amazing EP, it is also a great introduction to their amazing music and each member’s unique vocal talents.