Ode to the Pentatonix

The Pentatonix are a musical blend. Their music is a mix of classical, polyphonic harmonies and pounding, popular tunes. They take some recognizable hits and convert them into something new and exciting while they also have their own, original songs. Their medleys are some of the best musical tributes to other amazing artists I have heard. Most of the time, they sing entirely unaccompanied. Usually, you can’t tell that there is no accompaniment because they are so good. On the rare occasion that they do include instruments, they are minimal, authentic, and add much more to the song. Each of the singers sings a variety of voice parts, and their harmonies are as tight as sibling pairs often are. The confidence and accuracy of pitch required for each of five people to be singing entirely separate things and yet have those five parts come together in seamless harmony is incredibly impressive. It shows the best things that music has to offer both through visceral appeal to the ears and to spiritual unity. Their music fundamentally sounds good.

The very first time I heard the Pentatonix was through a Facebook share in 2011. It took about three chords to be hooked. This was a sound that combined both sides of my musical life: choir and singing to the radio. I love the combination of good singing techniques and popular music, and the Pentatonix hit this right on the head. They go beyond Josh Groban, who does similar fusions, to include intricate, interweaving harmonies, each one an adventure and pleasure to sing. Each of the harmonies is usually within my range making them fun to sing, but they encourage me to work on expanding that range when they wander to the extremes, to explore harmonies of my own, to improve my technique singing, and to sing confidently, even when others are listening. It is an adventure to sing along. I am much more keyed into the songs released by the Pentatonix than I am other artists to such an extent that I usually do not know if their songs are re-makes or originals. With almost no exceptions, I prefer the Pentatonix’ version much to the originals. My favorite songs of theirs include: “Love Again,” “Water,” “Rather Be,” “the Wizard Of Ahhhh’s,” and “Can’t Sleep Love,” but I could easily expand that list to include twenty or so of my favorite songs period.

Their songs frequently strike an emotional chord with me. It brings a richer range and depth of emotion to experiences I have had, and that makes those experiences so much more treasurable. They are one of the few groups I have actually sought out to attend a concert, which brought so many good memories with my mom and an incidental opportunity to see Kelly Clarkson, who is also awesome. They have been there to pull me out of my darkest times for they saved my life and gave me the strength to keep going, “The only thing that matters is that your heart is beating strong”; they have been there in my greatest joys, “When I am with you, there’s no place I’d rather be”; they have helped me finish races, “…cause I’m the ref. Did it all, all because of your ego…” and the rolling beat of “I need, I need you like water”; they have augmented the fantasy that is my life, “Give me that can’t sleep love. I want that can’t sleep love, the kind I dream about all day, the kind that keeps me up all night”. For all of this, I give them my sincerest thanks and love.