Why Pentatonix is Making A Capella Popular Again

Courtesy of Brandon Lyon
Courtesy of Brandon Lyon

What do three high school friends with exceptional voices, a prodigy bass singer with great hair, and a Yale grad best known for “celloboxing” have in common? They comprise a very unique a capella group called Pentatonix. If you had your thumb on the pulse of the a capella world back in 2011, you may recognize the group from their big win on NBC’s The Sing-Off. The show catapulted them from a group of strangers who were learning to sing together to a world-wide phenomenon who sell out shows and have begun writing their own original music while also making great covers.

The Sing-Off helped a capella music become cool again. On YouTube, you can find a ton of groups that sing covers of songs in a capella mode. All voices, no instruments. When Pentatonix joined the cast of The Sing-Off in 2011, they’d never really sung together before. The group had only started rehearsing as a unit about 24 hours before the very first episode. They went on to win it all with their knack for rearranging melodies and making songs sound fresh and new.

Their vocal talent didn’t hurt, either. Leading the vocal pack is Scott Hoying, a blonde-haired vocal wonder with a ton of swagger to boot. Two of his high school friends are also on lead vocals—Kirstie Maldonado, the sole female of the group who knows how to hold her own, and Mitch Grassi, a guy with a voice so clear and smooth he could make you weep. The bass section belongs to Avi Kaplan. His voice can reach depths deeper than the ocean and he’s a whiz at keeping the rhythm section going. Helping him out with the beats is the last member, Kevin Olusola. His beatboxing skills kept the group on point, and all of these voices together blended the group into one fierce, creative unit.

Some of Pentatonix’s best music comes from their cover songs. They aren’t afraid to take some risks and collaborate with different artists to get a unique sound. If you’ve never heard any of Penatonix’s vocal magic before, take a look back through their episodes on The Sing-Off. That alone will blow you away. And for those looking to get a taste of their vocal acrobatics, start with their original video called “Evolution of Music.” They take you on a whirlwind journey through musical stylings over the years. It really highlights their range as musicians and shows you exactly what they’re made of.