Pentatonix’s ‘Vol. 2’ provides further proof of group’s range and depth


Photo: Jazzmine Brown

Pentatonix perfoms for the Fairmont audience on Friday, Nov. 8, 2013 as part of the Kettering National High School A Cappella Festival. They wow the guests with their talent and energy.

Music fans know that many modern bands like to electronically produce sounds and beats, but some groups would rather just sing all of the noises. This is a form of music known as a cappella, a style of music where sound is produced only by the singers’ voices. Kettering has two talented a cappella groups, Fusion and Eleventh Hour, which performed on NBC’s The Sing-Off Season 2. Although they didn’t win, a cappella groups have used this show as a platform to gain publicity and grow as vocalists.

The winners of Season 3 in particular are, by far, one of the best a cappella groups ever. Pentatonix began in Arlington, Texas, as a trio of three high school students: Scott Hoying, Mitch Grassi and Kirstie Maldonado. The three gained fame through a performance of Lady Gaga’s Telephone that went viral on YouTube.

While attending the University of Northern California, Hoying decided to audition for The Sing-Off. The show requires that a cappella groups have more than four members, so Hoying called up his old friends Grassi and Maldonado and then began searching for more members. The trio discovered Avi Kaplan, an extremely talented bassist, in Southern California, and the final member, Kevin Olusola, joined after they discovered him via his YouTube videos, which feature him “celloboxing,” playing cello and beatboxing simultaneously.

The quintet derived their name from a music scale of five notes – the pentatonic scale – versus the traditional 8-note scale. After winning The Sing-Off Season 3, Pentatonix recorded and released their first album, PTX Vol. 1, which included covers of popular tunes such as Nicki Minaj’s Starships, Gotye’s Somebody That I Used to Know and Fun.’s We Are Young. Their newest album, PTX Vol. 2, was released on Nov. 5, 2013.

PTX Vol. 2 includes fantastic renditions of popular tunes, including I Need Your Love, the Calvin Harris song that features Ellie Goulding; Can’t Hold Us by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis; and their incredibly popular original tune, Run to You. The group’s music has an incredible range, including everything from rap to radio tunes and original medleys – a combination of several songs, often all by the same artist. My favorite medley is Daft Punk, which combines the electronic band’s most popular hits: Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger; One More Time; Get Lucky; Technologic; Digital Love; Television Rules the Nation; and Around the World.  

The most captivating part of any PTX song is the depth that the group achieves. Despite being just five talented singers, the group can create the level of intensity of a large choir. Olusola and Kaplan cover the bass, while Hoying, Grassi and Maldonado cover the tenor, alto and soprano parts. Olusola’s beatboxing often provides exceptional rhythm underneath the lyrics of the song, which the group sings with true passion.

PTX is an extraordinary a cappella group because their voices all blend together perfectly. Not only that, but the songs they perform fit the group and showcase all of their talents equally. While songs like Starships feature Grassi’s soprano range, songs such as their cover of Imagine Dragons’ Radioactive (featuring Lindsay Sterling) showcase fantastic feats of celloboxing by Olusola.

Not only do their voices fit together well, the songs they record are always unbelievably catchy. The intricate beatboxing and smooth lyrics would make any listeners tap their feet and move their head back and forth to the beat. Whether it’s a slower song like Lorde’s hit Royals or a faster one, such as their modern take on Ray Charles’ Hit the Road Jack, it’s almost impossible not to get addicted to their music.

Pentatonix is currently touring the United States. The group is performing throughout America until about mid-April, when they will embark on a European tour. Almost all of their shows are sold out, even the VIP ticket packages, which only goes to show the group’s immense popularity.

For information regarding Pentatonix, concert dates and ticket availability, visit