Pentatonix, a quintet created a week prior to auditions for "The Sing-Off," walked away with the NBC show's trophy, $200,000 top prize and a Sony Music recording contract Monday night.
The group, with a trio of childhood friends from Arlington, Texas, at its core, forged a human-electronica sound in the a cappella competition to emerge victorious over two other finalists, the all-male 16-member Dartmouth Aires and Urban Method, an octet than married rap with a cappella singing.
"I think they're innovators, pushing boundaries in the right ways," judge Sara Bareilles told Billboard.com after Monday's finale about the winning group. "They have an incredible chemistry. The arrangements were always exciting and they really delivered."
Pentatonix's male lead, Scott Hoying, said the group started to find its place in the show's sixth week with their version of Kanye West's "Love Lockdown." As a quintet -- one of the smallest groups in the show's three seasons -- Hoying says "it took a little while for everyone to find out exactly what their role is. Since it's one voice for bass, one voice for the beat we were able to work on making the most out of what we had."
Hoying, Mitch Grassi and Kirstin Maldonado started singing together in high school a couple of years ago and just prior to the "Sing-Off" audition found their bass in Avi Kaplan and a third lead vocal in Yale student Kevin Olusola. The quintet has not thought much about recording, though they expect to continue on the path they displayed on the show.
"We sing popular songs and show it can be done a cappella," Maldonado said. "It's fun music." On the finale they performed David Guetta's "Without You" and Survivor's "Eye of the Tiger" then backed show host Nick Lachey as he sang his 98 Degrees hit "Give Me One Night (Una Noche)." Ensemble numbers included and all-female rendition of the Aretha Franklin hit "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman" and an all-male version of Bruce Springsteen's "Born to Run."
NBC expanded the show to a full season this fall after two years of running the Sony Pictures Television-produced show between Thanksgiving and Christmas. The field was expanded to 16 groups, which was whittled down by the judges Ben Folds, Shawn Stockman and Sara Bareilles until the final episode, which was determined by the viewing public. The expanded season did not result in more viewers as "The Sing-Off" attracted between 4.1 million and 4.25 million viewers each week during the November sweeps period, according to Nielsen.
"I don't know anything about TV or the ratings," Folds said on the makeshift red carpet, "but we set out to make this show about music and we succeeded in making it about music. A lot of (singing) shows name a winner and then throw them off a cliff and some of the shows are getting better about helping (the winners). I hope we can find a way, too."
The finale garnered "Sing-Off's" highest ratings of the year, pulling in 6 million viewers, 1.7 million of which are in the 18-49 demographic, according to the Nielsen fast nationals ratings reported Tuesday morning.