Pentopoly: How One Group is Dominating the Genre

Glenn Rohrbacker

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Ten years ago, acapella music wasn’t even heard of. It existed, but you had to look deep into college campuses and maybe catch a few guys harmonizing under a lamp post at night to hear it.

Pentatonix, an acapella group, is dominating the genre (AP photo)

Pentatonix, an acapella group, is dominating the genre
(AP photo)

Acapella today is one of the most well-known and emerging genres of the music industry. With the release of Pitch Perfect, a movie that was underground at first, and then slowly built itself up to be a national phenomenon, we saw acapella music enter the spotlight.

People were making music using only their mouths, and it sounded incredible. The ironically unique aspect about acapella is that it follows where the rest of the industry leads.

Whether it be the latest Adele ballad or a head-banging Skrillex track, groups all over the world come together to cover these chart-topping hits, using only their voices.

NBC jumped on the acapella bandwagon by creating the 2009 singing competition, The Sing-Off. This was a singing competition for acapella groups specifically, big or small, boy or girl, college or independent. Season three of The Sing-Off spawned one of the most popular groups in the industry today, Pentatonix. The quintet took home the title for season three, and the rest is history.

Pentatonix is the most popular acapella group in the world today, and is practically controlling the genre itself. The group gained popularity mainly via YouTube, where they have posted popular videos like “Daft Punk,” “The Evolution of Music,” “Cheerleader,” and many more. They are the 44 most subscribed to channel on YouTube, collecting over a billion views overall. The group has released four self-titled albums as well as two Christmas albums since 2011. Their most recent release, Pentatonix, is an album of original music written by the group.

In late December, Scott Hoying stated on his YouTube channel that for 2015, “Pentatonix is transitioning towards original music.” This transition was truly seamless, having already released a few original songs on their previous albums.

Pentatonix is changing the way people listen to music, but it has nothing to do with technology. Their vocal skills are second to none, and they are always surprising fans. Their arrangements are limited in the sense that they have five members to cover five vocal parts (including percussion and lead vocal). This restricts them to only being able to sing certain notes and chords necessary for the song.

And if a song is more complicated beyond those five parts, they have to find a way to make it work for them. Not only do they do it, but they do it better than groups with ten or 15 people.

This strength in creativity is the reason they are on the top of the charts in a genre that was virtually unknown to common consumers. Scott, Mitch, Kirstie, Avi and Kevin, five singers from Texas, are raising the bar for not only acapella groups around the world, but musicians and bands as well.

Glenn Rohrbacker, Editor-in-Chief

Glenn Rohrbacker is a junior at the University of New Haven studying communications with a concentration in journalism and minors in Political Science...

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Pentopoly: How One Group is Dominating the Genre