Inside Pentatonix's Scott Hoying & Frankie's 'Grease'-Inspired Homage For 'Ghost'
On June 16, 1978, the 1950s-high school set big screen musical Grease hit theaters. Starring John Travolta (then hot off of the double whammy of disco smash Saturday Night Fever and hit sitcom Welcome Back, Kotter) and Olivia Newton John (at the time known as an English-Australian pop star), the landmark film became the highest grossing musical in history at the time, with its soundtrack the No. 2 album of that year.
Exactly forty years later to the week, the movie serves as the inspiration of the video for Pentatonix and Superfruit crooner Scott Hoying’s first outing as a solo singer. “Ghost,” a tongue in-cheek anthem about ghosting (which, for those unacquainted, is the fine art of not returning calls or texts from a prospective lover for no apparent reason, thus disappearing into ether) features Hoying and the pop singer Frankie, herself in a transitional phase of her career with a new EP on the horizon and “Ghost” serving as a reintroduction.
“Sometimes you get scared to put out a song and just hope people relate to it,” explains Frankie. “But everyone has a story where they’ve been ghosted, so it seems to be hitting a chord.”
The song itself -- co-written by the Los Angeles-based production duo of Ben Rose and Joey Orton (known collectively as One Night) -- is a literal retelling of a ghosting experience that befell Rose.
“I went on three amazing dates when out of nowhere she went completely missing in action,” he notes. The real-life situation inspired the lyrics of the song, almost line by line, and the two then thought it would be funny if the aforementioned ghoster, a singer herself, hopped on the track. “We reached out to her and asked her to sing the female part of the song, but when it came time to record she ghosted again!” explains Orton.
Once Frankie stepped in, their next course of action was sweet revenge with the help of Hoying, a friend the two made while they were all attending USC. “This girl (who ghosted) absolutely loves Scott, as do we, so we figured the best and pettiest possible revenge would be to ask him to sing the other half of the duet.”
Hoying was more than happy to pitch in. “I thought the song was so sick and said I’d love to sing on it,” he explains. “I went to the studio within the next two weeks and laid down my vocals, we ended up falling in love with the whole thing.”
When it came to concocting the video itself, Hoying and Frankie fielded various ideas, but it was one from the director Dano Creny that rang out to them the most.
“Dano’s done a bunch of stuff for both Pentatonix and Supefruit and was like, ‘I know exactly what this video should be,’” says Hoying of the director. (Hoying has also been behind the lens of videos for The Chainsmokers and Halsey’s megahit “Closer” and the Galantis smash “Runaway (U and I)"). “He pitched the whole gender-reversal Grease theme.”
It just so happened that Frankie had just rewatched Grease that very week, which reinvigorated her fandom for the classic so much that she changed her iPhone background a photo of Travolta and Newton-John. Adding to the irony, it wasn’t until the group were shooting on location at Pasadena High School this past April that they realized that the 40th anniversary of the film was merely two months away. Says Frankie, “It was all so strange and it just felt like the stars were aligning.”
For Hoying himself, the shoot was a special one. “Between Pentatonix and Superfruit, I’ve done maybe hundreds of videos," he says. "This specific one was one of the best on-set experiences I’ve ever had. It was so collaborative. Usually there’s a ton of drama on a video set, but this one was effortless and fun.” Dressed in period garb and flanked by 50s-era sports cars, the video was shot in a single day and features cameos from Love, Simon actor Clark Moore and Famous in Love’s Georgie Flores.
“It’s not every day you get to make music with your closest friends, and it’s also not every day that your ex may hear a song she inspired, and then ghosted on performing with a Grammy award winning vocalist,” says Rose with a laugh. “It’s been so warm and lovely," Frankie adds. "I couldn’t have asked for anything better.”