‘Tis the season for Pentatonix, as the a cappella group has become quite the Christmas music champion with two No. 1 Christmas albums in a row and numerous holiday hits (including two No. 1 songs). But in the middle of the two Christmas LPs, the Arlington, Texas natives proved that they also appeal to the masses when they aren’t singing festive classics, landing an album of originals (2015’s self-titled Pentatonix) at No. 1 on the Billboard 200.
Pentatonix’s success has only grown since, with 2016 seeing an 84-date headlining world tour, an appearance on The Voice and their own Christmas television special. After the a cappella group’s whirlwind year, we honor the 10 best Pentatonix songs to date as 2017 approaches.
While Pentatonix has us completely enthralled with their cover tracks, the fact that they can also create bouncy pop originals using only their voices puts them in a different field of choral groups. Pentatonix’s song “Sing” is a perfect example of that, with clap-along beats and lyrics that make you want to try the a cappella thing yourself.
A calming wish to close their album of original material, “Light in the Hallway” finds Pentatonix in surprisingly somber territory, and while the restraint is unexpected, they pull off the serious tone with aplomb.
Pentatonix made the mix of Sam Smith features “La La La” (with Naughty Boy) and “Latch” (with Disclosure) completely believable as its own track, mastering Smith’s signature falsetto while seamlessly overlapping the two tracks. It’s tricky enough to create a smooth flowing mash-up, but to do so and sing it completely a cappella? Now that deserves some serious kudos.
The haunting notes and melody of this Christmas tune make it a great fit for the Pentatonix voices as it is, but adding their harmonies to the song makes for one special rendition. The softer tone of “Mary Did You Know” allows for their talent to really shine through with bursts of impressive vibrato, concluding with Mitch Grassi’s stunning solo.
6. “If I Ever Fall In Love” (feat. Jason Derulo)
Although the “Talk Dirty” singer tends to steal the show in this Shai cover (yes, that is him hitting that insane note on the word “again”), Pentatonix’s background “doo da da doo, doo doo” additions and euphonic dramatics provide just enough pizzazz to make this team-up a match made in heaven.
The frantic production to “Starships,” one of Nicki Minaj’s biggest hits, would seemingly be difficult for even the best a cappella group to replicate, but Pentatonix crew handles the beat with ease, rolling out a layered percussion under the nifty rhymes and high-wattage hook.
New Year’s Day is a moment of hope and renewal; naturally, the group strikes an inspirational pose on this original Pentatonix song from their self-titled album, offering a rousing soundtrack for a new beginning. “It’s a celebration of the moments to come,” the group sings, making a convincing case to officially replace “Auld Lang Syne” with a new New Year’s Day anthem.
After Pentatonix had showed off their talent plenty with their spectacular covers, “Can’t Sleep Love” was the first original for the fivesome and served as a striking introduction to who they are. With snappy rhythm and buoyant vocals that practically became an instant classic in the a cappella world, this track established Pentatonix as much more than a group that sings other people’s songs.
Released just weeks before the untimely passing of Leonard Cohen, the singer-songwriter’s oft-interpreted masterpiece was given an understated update for PTX’s latest holiday album. Props to Kirstin Maldonado, who soars midway through to give this “Hallelujah” its centerpiece.
1. “Daft Punk”
Taking the first 30 seconds to break down the bullet-time mantra of “Technologic” before moving on to more iconic Daft Punk hits, Pentatonix presents a multi-part mash-up that does a great job at cherry-picking the best moments from songs like “Digital Love,” “One More Time” and “Get Lucky.” Extra points for the vocal modulation during “Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger”!