How Pentatonix is reinventing holiday music

The holiday season is not only rooted in tradition, but thrives on it as well. From decorating trees and hanging lights to exchanging gifts and of course, singing classic carols and holiday tunes, there is tradition everywhere. But for those craving a modern spin on the season’s biggest songs, there is one group that is a perfect fit. 

Pentatonix, the five-piece a cappella group formed in 2011, are quickly becoming a holiday staple in their own right for their arrangements of popular holiday songs and tremendous vocal ability. Comprised of Kirstin Maldonado, Mitch Grassi, Scott Hoying, Avi Kaplan and Kevin Olusola, Pentatonix rose to prominence following their appearance and victory on the a cappella competition series The Sing Off in 2011, which earned them a record deal.

Known for their impressive vocal harmonizing and riffs, as well as exceptional bass and beatbox vocals from Kaplan and Olusola, respectively, Pentatonix has taken to Youtube to brilliantly show off their talent. Their official channel is among the site’s most popular music video channels with over 12 million subscribers, in large part due to their covers of hits from Beyonce, Michael Jackson, Meghan Trainor, Pharell and more of the world’s biggest artists. Their increasing notoriety via Youtube, The Sing Off and the boost in popularity of a cappella thanks to the Pitch Perfect franchise has catapulted Pentatonix to become one of today’s premier singing groups.

They have released four full-length studio albums along with four extended plays, including three holiday efforts. Their 2014 album That’s Christmas to Me landed at no. 2 on the Billboard Hot 200 chart, and showcased the group’s knack for modernizing songs, as evident in their chilling rendition of “Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy.” The song even earned Pentatonix a Grammy Award for Best Arrangement, Instrumental or A Cappella.

Their latest studio effort, A Pentatonix Christmas, drew similar praise and also peaked at the no. 2 spot on the Hot 200 chart. The album features a mix of traditional carols (“God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen,” “O Come All Ye Faithful“), old-time classics (“I’ll Be Home for Christmas,” “White Christmas“), and recent hits along with original songs. They even included a less-traditional pick for a holiday tune, and their cover of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” is easily a standout track. It is also a fitting tribute to the late singer, who passed just weeks after Pentatonix released the cover.

While everyone enjoys hearing the timeless voices of Bing Crosby, Nat King Cole, Brenda Lee and more on the radio during the holiday season, Pentatonix is paving the way for shaking up the beloved holiday favorites, and we couldn’t be more excited about it.