Pentatonix (abbreviated PTX) is an American a cappella group from Arlington, Texas, consisting of vocalists Scott Hoying, Mitch Grassi, Kirstin Maldonado, Kevin Olusola and Matt Sallee. Avi Kaplan was formerly a member of the group; he was replaced by Sallee in 2017. Characterized by their pop-style arrangements with vocal harmonies, basslines, riffing, percussion and beatboxing, they are widely known for their covers, mostly of modern pop works or Christmas songs, sometimes in the form of medleys, along with original material. Pentatonix formed in 2011 and subsequently won the third season of NBC's The Sing-Off, receiving $200,000 and a recording contract with Sony Music. When Sony's Epic Records dropped the group after The Sing-Off, the group formed its YouTube channel, distributing its music through Madison Gate Records, a label owned by Sony Pictures. With over 13 million subscribers and 2.7 billion views, Pentatonix's YouTube channel is currently the 50th most-subscribed-to YouTube channel. The group's video tribute to Daft Punk had received over 250 million views as of mid 2017.
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, followed by a third Christmas album, A Pentatonix Christmas, in 2016, and a new EP, PTX, Vol. IV – Classics, the following year. In May 2017, Kaplan announced that he would leave Pentatonix due to his inability to keep up with the touring demands of the group; he left after the completion of the tour in September, and was replaced the following month by Matt Sallee, who was featured on their next album PTX Presents: Top Pop, Vol. I.
Pentatonix have won three Grammy Awards: they were the first a cappella act to win Best Arrangement, Instrumental or A Cappella, doing so in 2015 and 2016, and Best Country Duo/Group Performance in 2017.
Pentatonix began with Kirstin "Kirstie" Maldonado (born May 16, 1992), Mitchell "Mitch" Grassi (born July 24, 1992), and Scott Hoying (born September 17, 1991) who grew up together and were schoolmates at Martin High School in Arlington, Texas. For a local radio show competition to meet the cast of Glee, they arranged and submitted a trio version of "Telephone". Despite losing the competition, their singing sparked attention at their school, and they began performing. Their version of "Telephone" by Lady Gaga featuring Beyoncé subsequently gained attention on YouTube.
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 Maldonado and Grassi to join him, but Bram suggested having a bass and beatboxer as well to support the group Through a mutual friend, Hoying met Avriel "Avi" Kaplan (born April 17, 1989), a highly recognized vocal bass in the a cappella community. 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. Olusola 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.
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 was 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 the 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.
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 66 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".
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.
PTX Vol. II 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 December 2016, had nearly 225 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 98 million views as of December 2016.
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.
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.
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 their third self-titled album, the group's third full-length album and first album made of mostly original music, will be released on October 16, 2015.
On September 4, 2015, Pentatonix released "Can't Sleep Love" the first single from Pentatonix upcoming album 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.
On April 14, 2016 the music video was released for Pentatonix's cover with Jason Derulo of Shai's "If I Ever Fall In Love". In August 2016, the music video of Pentatonix's "Perfume Medley" was also released. The medley consisted of the songs "Spending All My Time", "Pick Me Up", "Chocolate Disco", and "Polyrhythm".
Their second full-length Christmas album, titled A Pentatonix Christmas, was released on October 21, 2016. It featured two new original songs, "Good to Be Bad" and "The Christmas Sing-Along". It debuted on the Billboard 200 at number three with 52,000 albums sold in its first week, and later peaked at number one. The album also debuted atop the Billboard Holiday Albums chart, their second number one on that chart after That's Christmas to Me.
Their fifth EP, PTX, Vol. IV – Classics, was released on April 7, 2017. It marked a departure from the group's typical sound, focusing on covers of standards of rock, blues, country, and older pop music.
In May 2017, the band announced in a Youtube video that Kaplan was leaving the group following their upcoming tour. This split is amicable and centers on his inability to keep up with the touring demands of the group, and deal with the distance from his family.
On July 31, the group released the single "Dancing on My Own", a cover of the eponymous song by Robyn, their first release without Kaplan (although he was still a member at the time, as the tour was ongoing). Olusola performed cello on the song in lieu of a bass vocalist.
Kaplan performed his last concert with Pentatonix on September 3, 2017 in Essex Junction, Vermont. On October 13, Hoying introduced Matt Sallee as the group's new bass. The band's first official release with Sallee was a cover of the Camila Cabello song "Havana", released as a single on February 23, 2018.
On February 27, 2018 the group announced via their social media the upcoming release a new album titled PTX Presents: Top Pop, Vol. I on April 13, 2018, to be followed by a tour in the summer. It marked their first album with Sallee and without Kaplan. It was preceded by three singles: their cover of "Havana", a medley of Dua Lipa's "New Rules" and Aaliyah's "Are You That Somebody?" titled "New Rules x Are You That Somebody?", which they released along with a music video on March 9, and a cover of Charlie Puth's "Attention", which they released along with a music video on March 23.
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 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 embarked on the first leg of their "Pentatonix World Tour" with Us The Duo. The tour began on April 2, 2016, in Chiba, Japan. The second leg ran from May 23 through June 26 in Europe before returning to Japan for two shows in August 2016. The third and fourth legs of the tour (in Oceania and Asia respectively) occurred in September 2016, followed by the fifth leg in North America from October 17 to November 22, 2016. The tour's 2017 shows kicked off in May with another five shows in Japan. The final leg of the tour began July 2, 2017 in Los Angeles and continued across the United States before concluding in Vermont on September 3, 2017. The last show marked Kaplan's final performance with the group.
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 Center 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.
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.
Maldonado, Hoying, and Grassi appeared as members of a cappella groups in the Fox television show Bones, in the episode "The Strike In the Chord" that originally aired on May 19, 2016.
They made a guest appearance on The Voice on November 24, 2016 where they sang their rendition of "Jolene" alongside Miley Cyrus and the song's writer and original performer, Dolly Parton.
On December 14, 2016, the group hosted their first Christmas special, titled around their current album, A Pentatonix Christmas Special. The hour-long special aired on NBC and featured guest appearances by Reba McEntire, Dolly Parton, and Kelly Clarkson.
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.
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.
• PTX, Vols. 1 & 2 (2014)
• PTX (2014)
• That's Christmas to Me (2014)
• Pentatonix (2015)
• A Pentatonix Christmas (2016)
• PTX Presents: Top Pop, Vol. I (2018)
• Scott Hoying – baritone lead and backing vocals (2011–present)
• Mitch Grassi – tenor lead and backing vocals (2011–present)
• Kirstin Maldonado – mezzo-soprano lead and backing vocals (2011–present)
• Kevin Olusola – vocal percussion, beatboxing, backing vocals, cello (2011–present)
• Matt Sallee – vocal bass, bass lead and backing vocals (2017–present)
Sources: Last.fm, Wikipedia
Pentatonix in the news
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