The a cappella realness you never knew your life needed

Codi Mohr, Executive Editor

You’ve probably heard one of their YouTube covers. With 5.8 million collective views on their videos, both covers and original music, it’s fairly unlikely that you have never heard a song by a cappella super group Pentatonix, intentionally or not.

The five-person a cappella group won the third season of NBC’s The Sing-Off in 2011, but their real claim to fame has been their ever-growing online following.

They have more subscribers than Beyoncé and have released two studio albums, four EPs, eight singles and 20 music videos in two years. Their most recognizable songs include “Daft Punk,” “Evolution of Music” and a cover of Lorde’s “Royals,” each with more 40 million views, or more recently they have released infectious covers of Ariana Grande’s “Problem” and “La La Latch,” a mashup of “La La La” by Naughty Boy feat. Sam Smith and “Latch” by Disclosure feat. Sam Smith.

But they are more than a group of five people singing without music. Pentatonix represents the future of true artistry. I never mention that they sing a cappella when I talk to people about them. To me, they are a band, just like any other group of musicians. Their exclusive instruments just happen to be their voices. But they are a band that is taking on the music industry from a unique angle, focusing almost exclusively on talent.

As a person who can appreciate nearly any genre of music for its uniqueness, I truly enjoy an intricately produced pop song with layered vocals and sampled tracks. But this stripped down form of musicianship makes the listener really hone in on what is happening instrumentally, or in the case of Pentatonix, vocally.

It helps that all five members of the group — Scott Hoying, Mitch Grassi, Kirstie Maldonado, Avi Kaplan and Kevin Olusola — are unbelievable vocalists. Every time they rework a song it becomes a different entity with different emphasis on various parts of the song and intricacies only noticeable in the third or fourth listen.

Their most recent EP, PTX Vol. III, was released Sept. 23, and made its largest sales debut (46,000), landing it the No. 5 spot on the Billboard 200, and rightfully so. The process of finding and developing a cohesive, impactful a cappella sound is never easy, but Pentatonix has found a way to play off of each member’s individual talents. As they grow, so will their audience. Big things are coming for this group, and I don’t think anyone is ready to take on the full force of what they can do.

Codi Mohr can be contacted at [email protected].