Pentatonix (often abbreviated as PTX) is an American a cappella group from Arlington, Texas consisting of five vocalists: Avi Kaplan, Scott Hoying, Kirstin Maldonado, Kevin Olusola, and Mitch Grassi. Their work, which is mostly in the pop style, consists of covers of existing songs, sometimes in the form of medleys, along with their original material. Their music is defined by their own arrangement style, tight vocal harmonies, extensive vocal riffing, deep and steady vocal basslines, and a diverse range of vocal percussion and beatboxing.
Pentatonix formed in 2011 and came to prominence the same year by winning the third season of The Sing-Off on NBC, their victory earning them $200,000 and a recording contract with Sony Music. After being dropped from Epic after The Sing-Off, the group formed their popular YouTube channel and distributed their music through Madison Gate Records, a small independent label owned by Sony Pictures that mainly distributes movie soundtracks. The group also makes effective use of social media to interact with their fan base.
Having now eclipsed 10.5 million subscribers and more than 1.54 billion total views, Pentatonix's official YouTube channel is currently the 13th most subscribed music video channel and the 44th most subscribed channel overall, with their most viewed music video being a tribute to Daft Punk that has accumulated over 200 million views.
Their debut EP PTX, Volume 1 was released in 2012, followed by their holiday release PTXmas the same year, with Pentatonix's third release, PTX, Vol. II, debuting at number 1 on Billboard's Independent Albums chart and number 10 on the Billboard 200 in 2013. In May 2014, Pentatonix signed with RCA Records, a "flagship" label of Sony Music Entertainment, while in the same year, the group released their fourth EP, PTX, Vol. III, and two full-length studio albums; PTX, Vols. 1 & 2, a compilation album released in Japan, Korea and Australia, and their second holiday release, That's Christmas to Me, with the album certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), platinum on December 24, 2014, and double platinum on February 11, 2016, becoming the highest-charting holiday album by a group since 1962, and the fourth-best-selling album in the United States in 2014. The following year, Pentatonix released their eponymous album, their first consisting mostly of original material, which debuted atop the US Billboard 200 chart for the first time in their career.
Pentatonix, together with music producer and arranger Ben Bram, won the Grammy Award for Best Arrangement, Instrumental or A Cappella twice, first in 2015 for "Daft Punk" at the 57th Grammy Awards, and then again in 2016 for "Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy" at the 58th Grammy Awards; they are the only a capella band to have won the award.
Pentatonix began with three friends who grew up together and were schoolmates at Martin High School in Arlington, Texas: Kirstin "Kirstie" Maldonado (born May 16, 1992), Mitch Grassi (born July 24, 1992), and Scott Hoying (born September 17, 1991). Hearing of a local radio show hosting a competition to meet the cast of Glee, they arranged a trio version of "Telephone" and sent it in. Although they did not end up winning the competition, it sparked attention around their school, where the group began performing. After their version of "Telephone" by Lady Gaga gained attention on YouTube, they continued performing.
Hoying and Maldonado both graduated from Martin High School in 2010, Grassi in 2011. Hoying went off to the University of Southern California (USC) to pursue a bachelor's degree in Popular Music, while Maldonado pursued a Musical Theater major at the University of Oklahoma. While at USC, Scott Hoying joined an a cappella group called SoCal VoCals. He found out about The Sing-Off from another member of the group, Ben Bram (also their arranger, producer, and sound engineer) and was encouraged to audition for the show. He persuaded Kirstie Maldonado and Mitch Grassi to join him, but Bram suggested having a bass and beatboxer as well to support the group Hoying met Avriel "Avi" Kaplan (born April 17, 1989), a highly recognized vocal bass in the a cappella community, through a mutual friend. Then the trio found Kevin Olusola (born October 5, 1988) on YouTube, where one of his videos in which he was simultaneously beatboxing and playing the cello (called "celloboxing") had gone viral. Kevin was born in Owensboro, Kentucky and graduated pre-med from Yale University. He speaks fluent Mandarin after spending a year studying in China.
The group met the day before the auditions for the third season of The Sing-Off began. The group successfully auditioned for the show and eventually went on to win the title for 2011 (season three).
Pentatonix, as suggested by Scott Hoying, is named after the pentatonic scale, a musical scale or mode with five notes per octave, representing the five members of the group. They replaced the last letter with an 'x' to make it more appealing. The quintet derives its influences from pop, dubstep, electro, reggae, hip hop, and classical music.
The Sing-Off (2011)
Pentatonix performed the following songs on The Sing Off. The group did not perform in Episode 1 or 3.
|Episode||Theme||Song choice||Original artist|
|2||Signature Songs||"E.T."||Katy Perry|
|4||Current Hits||"Your Love Is My Drug"||Ke$ha|
|1960s Favorites||"Piece of My Heart"||Erma Franklin (credited to Janis Joplin)|
|5||Guilty Pleasures||"Video Killed the Radio Star"||The Buggles|
|6||Hip-Hop||"Love Lockdown"||Kanye West|
|7||Superstar Medleys||Medley of "Oops!... I Did It Again", "Toxic" and "Hold It Against Me"||Britney Spears|
|8||Rock classics||"Born to be Wild"||Steppenwolf|
|Country hits||"Stuck Like Glue"||Sugarland|
|9||R&B||"OMG"||Usher (featuring will.i.am)|
|"Let's Get It On"||Marvin Gaye|
|10||Mastermix Medleys||"Forget You" / "Since U Been Gone"||Cee Lo Green / Kelly Clarkson|
|Judges' Choice||"Dog Days Are Over"||Florence and the Machine|
|11 (Finale)||First performance||"Without You"||David Guetta (feat. Usher)|
|Second performance||"Give Me Just One Night (Una Noche)"||98 Degrees (sung with host Nick Lachey)|
|Victory song||"Eye of the Tiger"||Survivor|
PTX Vol. 1 and PTXMas (2011–13)
Scott Hoying and Kirstie Maldonado dropped out of college in the hopes of winning The Sing-Off, while Mitch Grassi skipped his high school graduation to audition for the show. After they won, all of the members relocated to Los Angeles in order to pursue a career as recording artists. The main goal of the group is to become the first mainstream a cappella group in recent times.
In January 2012, having signed with Sony Pictures-owned label Madison Gate Records, the group began working on their first album with producer Ben Bram. During that six-month period of picking covers and writing originals, Pentatonix released covers of both popular and classic songs on YouTube. In interviews, the members mention that it was a way to stay relevant to their audience that enjoyed their work on "The Sing-Off", in addition to gaining new fans. Almost all of their covers, including "Somebody That I Used to Know" by Gotye featuring Kimbra, "Gangnam Style" by PSY and "We Are Young" by Fun, went viral on YouTube.
Their first EP, PTX, Volume 1, was released on June 26, 2012, charting at number 14 on the US Billboard 200 chart and number 5 on the digital chart. It sold 20,000 copies in its first week of release. The group promoted the album through press appearances on Access Hollywood, VH1 The Buzz, Marie, and local television shows. Pentatonix were also featured on the Chinese version of The Sing-Off as guests where Kevin showcased his fluency in Mandarin. Pentatonix also embarked on their first national headlining tour in Fall of 2012. The tour was sold-out and spanned 30 cities. Opening acts consisted of Alexander Cardinale and SJ Acoustic Music.
The group released their Christmas EP, PTXmas, on November 13, 2012. The group released their video of an original arrangement of "Carol of the Bells" the following day. The group performed on "Coca-Cola Red Carpet LIVE! @ The 2012 American Music Awards" Pre-Show on November 18, the Hollywood Christmas Parade, and the "94.7 THE WAVE Christmas Concert Starring Dave Koz and Kenny Loggins" on December 16. The group was also featured guests on Katie Couric (ABC), Home and Family (Hallmark), The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, and Big D NYE. Ryan Seacrest's website named Pentatonix the 2012 "Featured Artist of the Year" for their expansive growth online in just one year. The Christmas album was re-released on November 19, 2013 as a deluxe edition containing two additional tracks. One of these, "Little Drummer Boy" charted in several Billboard categories including peaking at number two on the "Streaming Songs" chart and number one on the Holiday 100 chart, receiving a number of Billboard awards. PTXmas reappeared on the Billboard charts again in November 2014, placing No. 24 on the Billboard 200 and No. 4 on the Holiday charts, giving Pentatonix three albums on the Billboard 200 at the same time. On Billboard's 2014 Year-End charts, PTXmas was No. 8 on the Catalogue Albums chart and No. 119 on the Top Billboard 200 Albums chart, with Pentatonix ranked as No. 46 on the Top Billboard 200 Artists chart. As of December 24, 2014, PTXmas has sold 356,000 copies.
PTX Vol. II (2013–14)
The band went on their second national headlining tour from January 24, 2013 to May 11, 2013, and simultaneously wrote additional original material for their second EP, PTX, Vol. II. The group released the first single, a cover of Macklemore and Ryan Lewis's "Can't Hold Us" on August 20, 2013 which to date has over 35 million views. The group also promoted PTX, Vol. II on The Ellen DeGeneres Show in November 2013, after the success of "The Evolution of Beyoncé" mashup on YouTube. That week, the band was featured on "Around the World with Diane Sawyer" and were named "Persons of the Week".
The album was released on November 5, 2013 in conjunction with their second album single on YouTube: a medley of Daft Punk songs. The video went viral, garnering more than ten million views in the first week, and as of September 2015, has over 150 million views. The medley was later nominated for and won Best Arrangement, Instrumental or a Cappella of the 57th Grammy Awards. PTX, Vol. II debuted at number ten on the Billboard 200 and number one on the Independent charts, selling 31,000 copies in the first week. Pentatonix subsequently re-released a deluxe version of PTXmas on November 18, 2013 with two new tracks, "Little Drummer Boy" and "Go Tell It On The Mountain". Their YouTube video of "Little Drummer Boy", released near the end of November, garnered more than ten million views in the first week and reached number ten on the iTunes top songs charts worldwide. The song both debuted and peaked at number 13 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart for the week ending December 21, 2013. The video has over 40 million views as of November 2014.
In May 2014, Pentatonix signed with RCA Records, a "flagship" label of Sony Music Entertainment. On July 30, through the new label, the group released their first official album PTX, Vols. 1 & 2 in Japan, containing all of the songs from their two namesake EPs and four additional tracks, previously released as singles. It was released in Australia on August 15 and in the Philippines on September 26.
PTX Vol. III and That's Christmas to Me (2014)
On August 7, 2014, Pentatonix announced that their third EP PTX, Vol. III would be released on September 23, 2014. The EP went up for pre-order on iTunes on August 11, 2014 and included a download of two tracks from the EP, "Problem" and "La La Latch". PTX Vol. III debuted at number 5 on the Billboard 200.
The group also revealed on August a second full-length Christmas album, That's Christmas to Me, titled after the title track of the album, an original song that was penned by Pentatonix themselves. The album was released on October 21, 2014 and peaked at number 2 on the Billboard 200, and number 4 on the Billboard Canadian Albums chart. A single from the album, the group's cover of "Mary, Did You Know?", both debuted and peaked on the Billboard Hot 100 chart at number 26, at number 7 on Billboard's Adult Contemporary chart, and at number 44 on the Billboard Canadian Hot 100 chart. Another single "That's Christmas To Me", the title track from the album, also peaked at number 8 on the Billboard Adult Contemporary chart.
Pentatonix is also the first act to top both the Holiday Albums and Holiday Songs charts simultaneously since the Holiday 100 launched as a multi-metric tabulation in December 2011. The album is also the highest charting Holiday album by a group since 1962.
During the holiday season, 7 songs from That's Christmas to Me charted on Billboard's Holiday Digital Songs chart. On December 10, 2014 That's Christmas to Me was certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America. On December 24, 2014 the album was certified Platinum. By year's end (December 31, 2014), Billboard reported the album had reached a total of 1.14 million copies sold — becoming the 4th best selling album of 2014 by any artist of any genre (being surpassed only by Taylor Swift's 1989, the Frozen Soundtrack, and Sam Smith's In the Lonely Hour) and was the Top Selling Holiday Album for 2014. On February 11, 2016 the album was certified Double Platinum.
Self-titled original album (2015-present)
In late December, Scott Hoying stated that for 2015, "Pentatonix is transitioning towards original music." A release of a full-length album consisting of only original material is planned. Hoying also stated, "We're at the point in our careers now [where] we must go to original music, and we want to go to original music; we have so much to say, and I think it's gonna be quite a journey."
On August 28, 2015, Pentatonix announced on social media that the group's third full-length album and first fully original album, which is eponymously titled, will be released on October 16, 2015.
On September 4, 2015, Pentatonix released the first single from their upcoming album called "Can't Sleep Love." Then, 2 weeks later on September 18, 2015, a second version featuring Tink was released online. On October 9, 2015, Pentatonix released their second single, a cover of Jack Ü and Justin Bieber's "Where Are Ü Now". The album ended up being released one day early as a surprise gift to their fans. On that same day, Pentatonix released their third single, "Sing".
The album debuted at number 1 on the US Billboard 200. In the US, the album started with 98,000 units (88,000 in pure album sales). On February 8, 2016, the album was certified Gold.
Along with their own albums, the band has also collaborated with other artists. In March 2013, Pentatonix and violinist Lindsey Stirling released their cover of the Imagine Dragons song "Radioactive", and won for Response of the Year at the YouTube Music Awards. In July of the same year, along with American Idol contestant and fellow Arlington Texan Todrick Hall, they released "The Wizard of Ahhhs", which mashes up several songs to create one song. The music video follows the story of the 1939 film The Wizard of Oz with the artists dressed as its numerous lead roles.
Pentatonix embarked on their first national headlining tour in autumn of 2012. The tour was sold out and spanned 30 cities. Openings acts consisted of Alexander Cardinale and SJ Acoustic Music. The band went on their second national headlining tour from January 24, 2013, to May 11, 2013, and simultaneously wrote additional original material for their second EP, PTX, Vol. II.
In 2014, Pentatonix undertook an extensive tour that included the United States, Canada, Europe and South East Asia.
In 2015, Pentatonix began the North American leg of their "On My Way Home Tour", which began February 25, 2015, in California and ended at Grand Prairie’s Verizon Theatre on March 29. The group started a European tour in Portugal on April 9. This European leg ended in Glasgow on May 6. The Southeast Asian leg of the tour was began in Seoul, South Korea on May 28. The last show of this leg was on Jun 16 in Osaka, Japan.
Pentatonix opened for Kelly Clarkson on her Piece by Piece Tour. During Clarkson's set the group performed "Heartbeat Song" with her. Due to Clarkson's doctor's requests for vocal rest, the tour was canceled 15 shows early.
In 2016, Pentatonix will undertake the first leg of their "PENTATONIX WORLD TOUR" with Us The Duo, which will begin April 2, 2016 in Chiba, Japan and end at Porto, Portugal on June 26, 2016. Further details for the future tour legs will be announced down the line.
In September 2012, Pentatonix were invited to perform several of their songs ("Somebody That I Used to Know" by Gotye and "We Are Young" by fun.) on the Chinese edition of the Sing-Off. In addition, they covered the late Taiwanese pop star Teresa Teng's song, Tian Mi Mi.
Pentatonix appeared and performed on The Today Show, The Tonight Show With Jay Leno, The Talk and Conan. The group also returned to The Sing-Off, performing their cover version of Ellie Goulding's "I Need Your Love" during the Season 4 finale episode, which aired on December 23, 2013.
In November 2014, Pentatonix were invited by Baz Luhrmann (director, producer and writer) to be involved with the Holiday Window display at Barneys in New York City. Each window had a theme such as "love," "beauty," "truth" and "freedom" with its own soundtrack, recorded by Pentatonix. Pentatonix also performed at the opening night, as well as the "after party" for invited guests.
On November 27, 2014, Pentatonix participated in the annual Macy's Thanksgiving Parade in New York City, performing "Santa Claus is Coming to Town" on the Homewood Suites float.
Pentatonix also performed during NBC's annual Christmas in Rockefeller Centre special on December 3, 2014, performing "Sleigh Ride" and "Santa Claus is Coming to Town".
Pentatonix returned to The Sing-Off, performing a medley of songs from That's Christmas to Me during the Season 5 holiday special, which aired on December 17, 2014.
On December 7, 2014 Pentatonix appeared in The Kennedy Center Honors award presentation, as part of a presentation to actor Tom Hanks, singing the song "That Thing You Do", from Hanks' film of the same name. The show was broadcast on CBS on December 30, 2014.
On December 31, 2014 Pentatonix appeared as part of ABC Television Network's Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve with Ryan Seacrest 2015, performing from the Billboard Hollywood party hosted by Fergie.
In December 2014, Pentatonix were invited to perform on the final episode of Wetten, dass..?, a longstanding entertainment show in Germany, performing a medley of songs from artists that have been on the program over the years.
Appearances and presentations
Pentatonix appeared on Sesame Street on February 7, 2014.
Pentatonix were presenters at the 2014 American Music Awards, introducing a performance by Jessie J, Ariana Grande, and Nicki Minaj. The group was also featured in the "YouTube Rewind 2014" video as one of the most subscribed YouTube music channels.
Pentatonix was on the Disney Channel show, K.C. Undercover on June 14, 2015.
Pentatonix had a cameo role in Pitch Perfect 2, released in May 2015, as the Canadian team competing against the Barden Bellas. Pentatonix also released a documentary about the group's journey titled "On My Way Home" (based off the original song of the same name from PTX, Vol. III and the group's 2015 tour) on June 18, 2015, which was promoted on social media through the hashtag #OnMyWayHomeProject. Maldonado, Hoying, and Grassi guest starred in Bones on the episode "The Strike in the Chord." They each play members of a cappella groups.
Awards and nominations
|2015||Best Arrangement, Instrumental or A Cappella||"Daft Punk"||Won|
|2016||"Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy"||Won|
|2014||Best Cover Song||"Daft Punk"||Won|
|Best Original Song||"Love Again"||Nominated|
|Best Musical Artist||Pentatonix||Nominated|
|2015||Best Collaboration||Pentatonix and Lindsey Stirling||Nominated|
|Best Cover Song||"Evolution of Michael Jackson"||Nominated|
|2013||Response of the Year||"Radioactive" (with Lindsey Stirling)||Won|
|2015||Artist of the Year||Pentatonix||Won|
|2015||Best YouTube Musician||Pentatonix||Won|
|2015||Top Billboard 200 Album||"That's Christmas to Me"||Nominated|
|Top Billboard 200 Artist||Pentatonix||Nominated|
|2016||Favorite Music Group||Pentatonix||Nominated|
|2016||Best Cover Song||"Cheerleader"||Nominated|
|2016||Video Remixes/Mashups||Evolution of Michael Jackson||Nominated|
During The Sing-Off, Pentatonix visited the administrative offices of The Trevor Project, an American non-profit organization founded in 1998 and the leading national organization focused on suicide prevention efforts among lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning (LGBTQ) youth. The group members shared their experiences of overcoming bullying and recorded a Public service announcement. A 60-second spot about The Trevor Project aired during the live finale, but it was met with considerable controversy as the producers edited out LGBTQ references and failed to acknowledge the orientations of Grassi and Hoying, who are both a part of the LGBTQ community.
Pentatonix performed two shows in Rochester, New York, on December 11, 2011 in support of the University of Rochester YellowJackets' "United We Sing" Kenya project. The event, which also featured all-female octet Delilah, was hosted by the YellowJackets at Kodak Hall at the university's Eastman Theatre. Pentatonix was also invited to the A Cappella Palooza fundraiser in Boston in April 2012 (together with Ben Folds, Delilah, The Dartmouth Aires, North Shore and the Dear Abbeys from Boston University) in an effort to raise funds for the Mass General Cancer Center.
- Scott Hoying - baritone lead and backing vocals
- Mitch Grassi - tenor lead and backing vocals
- Kirstin Maldonado - mezzo-soprano lead and backing vocals
- Avi Kaplan - vocal bass, vocal percussion, bass lead and backing vocals
- Kevin Olusola - vocal percussion, beatboxing, backing vocals, cello, tenor