Music / Pentatonix

http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/ptx1.jpg
L - R: Avi, Kirstin, Scott, Mitch and Kevin.

Pentatonix, aka "PTX," are an A Cappella singing group consisting of Scott Hoying, Kirstin Maldonado, Mitch Grassi, Avi Kaplan, and Kevin Olusola. Scott, Kirstie, and Mitch grew up together in Arlington, Texas. They recorded a YouTube cover of "Telephone" in an attempt to win a "meet the cast of Glee" contest. They didn't win, but when Scott learned about The Sing-Off, they were inspired to audition. With advice from Sing-Off staff member and Scott's college friend Ben Bram, they added Avi, the bass singer, and invited Kevin to join them on vocal percussion after seeing his viral "cello-beatboxing" video on YouTube. Together, the group produces a unique, full, complex and layered sound, with Scott, Kirstie, and Mitch forming the melodic and harmonic core and Avi and Kevin laying down a remarkably solid base.

Pentatonix won the third season of The Sing-Off, and have released four EPs and two studio albums thus far, while regularly releasing YouTube videos of their music. They have had multiple viral videos, most notably "Evolution of Beyoncé" and a Daft Punk medley which reached 100 million views in November 2014 (one year after it was posted). Both videos received wide media attention as well. Pentatonix has headlined multiple US and European tours and one Australasian tour, and opened for Kelly Clarkson's Piece by Piece tour. They've performed pop, electronic, dubstep, R&B, and hip-hop music in their signature A Cappella style. They're the first Sing-Off alums to have an album go platinum (That's Christmas to Me) and also the first to win a Grammy (for "Daft Punk"), and the first a cappella group to have a No. 1 album in the United States.

In May 2017, Avi announced his departure from Pentatonix, stating that he couldn't keep up with the fast pace of the group. PTX as a whole took the opportunity to begin premiering various solo projects (typically involving actual instruments): Kirstie as kirstin, Avi as the frontman of Avriel and the Sequoias, and Scott and Mitch together under their pre-existing SUPERFRUIT collaboration. (Kevin, ironically the one person with a pre-existing solo act, has not announced any new content, though he has guest-performed on at least one Sequoias song.)

Members of Pentatonix include (from left to right in the picture):

  • Avi Kaplan - born 17 April 1989.
  • Kirstin Maldonado - born 16 May 1992.
  • Scott Hoying - born 17 September 1991.
  • Mitch Grassi - born 24 July 1992.
  • Kevin Olusola - born 5 October 1988.

Discography

  • PTX Volume 1 (June 2012)
  • PTXmas (November 2012)
  • PTX Volume 2 (November 2013)
  • PTXmas Deluxe Edition (2 bonus tracks) (November 2013)
  • PTX Volume 3 (September 2014)
  • That's Christmas To Me (October 2014)
  • Pentatonix (October 2015)
  • A Pentatonix Christmas (October 2016)
  • PTX Volume 4: Classics (April 2017)


Pentatonix provide examples of the following tropes:

  • A Cappella: They have a unique take, incorporating electronic influences in their percussion, beatboxing, and song structure.
  • Adorkable: All of them, especially when they're geeking out about their interests, such as Scott talking about Beyoncé or Mitch talking about corgis.
  • Affectionate Nickname: Kevin has many used by the other members: Kev, Kevy, Kurvy, Kevo...
  • Affectionate Parody: Pentatodrix, a parody by good friend of theirs, Todrick Hall, playfully insulted the group and their mannerisms, such as Scott's height and Avi's body rolls.
  • After the End: The setting for their cover of "Radioactive" with Lindsey Stirling. Blasted, graffiti'd buildings, oversaturated visuals, and costumes with plenty of dusty leather and goggles.
  • Anti-Love Song: Original song "The Baddest Girl":
    Do you really love me? (Tell me that you love me, say it)
    Do you really care? (I won't hold you to it, put me through it)
    Do you really want me? (Don't worry, my heart is made of steel)
    Do you really.. at least pretend to love me girl,
    I don't care if that love is real.
  • Attention Deficit... Ooh, Shiny!: Kirstie, in their collaboration with Todrick Hall:
    Kirstie: [as the Witch of the West] Don't want no money! [to Avi/Lion] I like your beard.
  • Audience Participation Song:
    • One of the most well-received parts of their concerts is where they divide the audience into thirds and have each third sing a part (as Team Scott, Team Mitch, and Team Kirstie), then have Avi and Kevin do their thing beneath.
    • Lately, they've been teaching the audience the three parts for the chorus of "On My Way Home."
  • A Wild Rapper Appears!: In the single version of "Can't Sleep Love", Tink jumps into the bridge of the song to rap for a couple of seconds, before disappearing again.
  • Basso Profundo: Avi, full stop. The man can rattle the floorboards on incredibly deep, low tones.
    • One fan-filmed YouTube video shows them needing to stop in the middle of singing "Hit the Road, Jack" when Avi hits such a low note, he blows a speaker out.
  • Bowdlerise: They tend to remove curse words and other potentially racy language in their songs, the most notable being their performance of "OMG" on The Sing-Off, explained in part by Kevin's very religious background. Fortunately, it rarely if ever gets in the way of their songs and it really does make the songs more palatable to a wider audience.
  • Book Ends: The beginning and end of "The Wizard of Ahhs", a musical parody of and homage to the iconic 1939 film featuring Todrick Hall, begins and ends with the line Somewhere Over the Rainbow.
  • Big Eater: Avi is this, especially with meat. During their tour vlogs, it's not uncommon to find him trying out as much food as possible.
  • The Cameo: All five of them appear very briefly in Pitch Perfect 2, though they don't actually sing. They do sing in their cameo in K.C. Undercover.
  • Cheshire Cat Grin: Mitch can pull off a very unnerving smile, which borders on a Slasher Smile in their "Aha!" music video.
  • Chiaroscuro: The video for their original song "Run To You" and their cover of "Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy."
  • Childhood Friends: Scott, Mitch and Kirstin are this for each other.
  • Christmas Songs: Three full albums of them, PTXmas, That's Christmas to Me, and A Pentatonix Christmas.
  • Chronological Album Title: All of their main albums are named by their volume number.
  • Color-Coded Characters: During the time of the 2015 album release, this was very common for them during their tour, as their colours match with their album colours. Cue all of the Power Rangers references:
    • Avi is usually represented by black or grey, though he's often also represented by the colour white if some vibrancy is needed.
    • Kirstin is pink.
    • Scott is blue.
    • Mitch is green.
    • Kevin is yellow.
  • Comical Angry Face: The behind-the-scenes for their "Radioactive" cover features a "super-frown count" of Lindsey Stirling and several members of the group doing their comical angry faces for various reasons. Final tally? Four.
  • Concept Video: Thus far:
    • Their cover of "Starships" by Nicki Minaj features the group putting together a spaceship out of random household objects.
    • Their cover of "Aha" by Imogen Heap, in which zombified band members stalk a man and his girlfriend.
  • Cover Version: The majority of their songs so far. However, they often drastically rearrange the songs and like to do medleys, such as "Daft Punk" which combines seven different Daft Punk songs in one and "La La Latch" which combines "La La La" and "Latch", both of which have lead vocals by Sam Smith. Pentatonix, in contrast to earlier albums, is mostly original songs with only "If I Ever Fall In Love" as a cover (plus covers of "Where Are Ü Now", "Cheerleader", and "Lean On" in the deluxe version.)
  • Curtains Match the Window: In the video for "Daft Punk", Kirstie not only wears blue contact lenses but a pale blue wig and blue make-up across her eyes and nose.
  • Embarrassing Nickname: Scott's mother used to call him Scottybuckets as a child.
  • Fingerless Gloves: Avi sometimes wears these; even on stage and during interviews.
  • Five-Token Band: Very nearly a natural example: Two gay white guys, a Hispanic girl, a Jewish guy, and a black guy.
  • The Friends Who Never Hang: Kirstin and Avi were this for a long time, for reasons that have never really been explained. It doesn't help that they both unfollowed each other on twitter on the exact same day, leading to many fans to believe that the two actually don't get along at all. They've been shown to be interacting a little more over the years, however, but don't expect to ever see them hanging together on their own.
  • Halloween Episode:
    • The video for their cover of "Aha". Acappella music by way of a zombie flick.
    • The video for "Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy" is also rather dark and eerie, if toned down compared to "Aha."
    • They performed in costume for their tour appearance in Columbus, Ohio on October 30th, 2016.
  • Icy Blue Eyes: The band sports pale blue contact lenses in their "Daft Punk" video, except for Kevin who wears futuristic Cool Shades.
  • Medley:
    • Their Britney Spears cover from The Sing-Off
    • Their *NSYNC medley from their YouTube channel.
    • The "Evolution of Music" video, spanning over five hundred years' worth of popular music.
    • "The Evolution of Beyoncé" which is exactly what it sounds like.
    • "Daft Punk", which combines "Technologic", "One More Time", "Get Lucky", "Digital Love", "Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger", "Television Rules the Nation", and "Around The World"
    • "The Wizard of Ahhhs"
    • "Evolution of Michael Jackson". It is nothing short of awesome.
    • They also did one of Sesame Street songs based around "Pinball Number Count."
  • Mr. Fanservice:
  • Neoclassical Punk Zydeco Rockabilly: A Cappella pop, A Cappella hip-hop, A Cappella electronica...
  • Nice Hat: All of the boys on occasion, though Avi and Kevin are both the most common. While they're both a fan of snapbacks, Avi is also commonly seen in beanies.
  • Numerological Motif: Five.
  • Once an Episode: At the end of many of their YouTube videos, Avi will say, "Don't forget to subscribe," in a deep voice.
  • The Oner: Some of their early YouTube videos consist of the group sitting on a couch in front of a stationary camera and singing live.
  • Performance Video: They have several of these, such as the video for their cover of Fleet Foxes' "White Winter Hymnal."
  • Platonic Life Partners: Scott and Mitch are this, having been friends since childhood, and living together.
  • Precision F-Strike: Subverted; you have to listen closely to catch it, but Mitch is actually singing "Bad Mitches like me" in their cover of "Starships" instead of "bitches."
  • Pretty in Mink: Kirstie wore a white fur jacket on the album cover of That's Christmas To Me.
  • Renaissance Man: Kevin plays cello at professional level (as well as saxophone and piano) along with inventing celloboxing (playing cello while beatboxing). He's a gifted singer, composer and arranger with his own solo EP (The Renegade) and speaks five languages fluently, including French and Mandarin Chinese. He graduated pre-med from Yale with a degree in Asian Studies which included a year and a half as an exchange student at China's two best schools, Beijing and Tsinghua University. He put a career in medicine on hold to explore his musical calling.
  • Self-Titled Album: Well, almost. PTX is a nickname for the group, and their first four albums were "PTX, Volume 1," "PTXmas," "PTX, Vol II," and "PTX, Vol. III." Finally played completely straight with Pentatonix.
  • "Sesame Street" Cred: They've already appeared in an episode.
  • The Smurfette Principle: Kirstin is the only girl of the group, and she receives special treatment because of it. According to the boys, Kirstin gets her own dressing room, make-up artist, and other treats; especially on tour.
  • Something Completely Different:
    • Their collaboration with Lindsey Stirling on Imagine Dragons' "Radioactive" (and later again on Stromae's "Papaoutai"). A Cappella music... with cello and violin.
    • In their concerts, they bring out Kevin's cello and have him cello-beatbox in order to give the rest of the vocalists a bit of a break.
  • The Stoic: Avi sometimes comes across as this during interviews, as he tends not to speak unless he is asked a direct question or if he's speaking along with group. If you watch their livestreams or vlogs, however, you will see that this is far from the truth.
  • Team Dad / Team Mom: Kevin tends to be the former, while Avi is the latter. It helps that they're the older members of the group.
  • The Last of These Is Not Like the Others: Their first four albums all contain their nickname, "PTX," in the title; the fifth one is titled "That's Christmas to Me." Their sixth resumes the pattern, being a true Self-Titled Album.
  • Vocal Tag Team: Scott takes lead most often, but Kirstie and Mitch carry several songs apiece, and Mitch usually does the rapping when it's needed. Avi has sung lead on a few songs, and even Kevin gets in the mix with the odd solo here and there, especially in some of the more recent covers.
  • Vocal Dissonance:
    • Despite having the deepest voice of the group, Avi is 5'11" to Kevin's 6'1" and Scott's 6'3".
    • Kevin's singing voice can also be quite high at times, which you wouldn't guess based on his appearance or his beat boxing skills.
    • Though he's since shaved it, Mitch's high voice created quite a contrast with his beard.
  • Voice Types: The average American has a vocal range of one-and-a-quarter octaves; a trained singer typically has two and a bit. The members of Pentatonix have a lot more, easily qualifying as bisectional.
    • Avi is a Basso Profundo but can function as a tenor. One video pegs his range as three-and-a-half octaves.
    • Scott primarily sings tenor lead, but can function as a bass, such as in "It's The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year" when Avi has lead.
    • Kirstie tops out at mezzo-soprano, but has access to the whistle-tones made famous by Mariah Carey.
    • Mitch typically plays the part of the alto. That's crazy enough as it is, because that makes him a Cross Dressing Voice singing the part of a woman, but it gets crazier still when you see him run the gamut from tenor to soprano over the course of "Aha!" alone. When they do "Bohemian Rhapsody", he hits the high note. Mitch also has a whistle register, almost as high as Kirstie, though maybe not as consistent.
    • And Kevin is a high tenor on the occasions when he sings. He and Mitch often noodle around very close harmony, occupying basically the exact same ranges in "Run To You" and "Can't Help Falling In Love". When he flips into falsetto, such as in "Imagine," he actually has the highest notes, even farther up than Kirstie goes.
  • White Male Lead: While every member save Kevin has sung lead on at least one song, Scott is the most common lead, and Mitch after him.
  • "X" Makes Anything Cool: According to Scott, the group was originally going to be called "The Pentatonics," but a friend suggested dropping the "The" and adding X at the end.


http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Music/Pentatonix