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Album Review: Pentatonix reels in the season with “A Pentatonix Christmas”

Grade: A

During this chilly season, many of us college students will spend our time staying cozy, sleeping in and drinking hot cocoa by our heaters watching and listening to everything related to Christmas. Thankfully, the a capella group Pentatonix and their new album “A Pentatonix Christmas” has a few hits to fill your ears this winter.

Pentatonix, which came on the scene in 2011, has stuck around since the public’s initial astounding response. This vocal collaboration is made up of five members: Mitch Grassi, Kirstin Maldonado, Scott Hoying, Avi Kaplan and Kevin Olusola. They have won Grammy awards, sold nearly three million albums and are considered Platinum artists by the Recording Industry Association of America. All five vocal artists all have some pretty serious musical clout, spanning competitions and classical trainings and Olusola even went to Yale University. You may have also seen them perform in “Pitch Perfect 2.”

Their album “A Pentatonix Christmas” which came out in late October, contains a combination of some classic go-to holiday songs as well as some comforting carols. The difference is that this album is made up of five powerhouse vocalists and one very unique sound.

Their song “White Christmas” is opened by Kaplan, whose notes start off low before moving to heavy bass to carry out the bouncing rhythm. In this song, Pentatonix also feature The Manhattan Transfer, an a capella pop group founded in 1969. The combination of the two groups creates a wonderful array of harmonized notes, adding a bit of a swing and jazz feel as well.

There’s no reason to listen to Kanye West’s take on “Coldest Winter” because you can hear it now as the Pentatonix take this spooky song and make it a solemn addition to the season. The group plays up note opposition with individuals each taking up notes on the of the high and low spectrum before rejoining in a middle-ground harmony.

“Up On The Housetop” also get a makeover in this album. It’s no longer the cute children’s song we know. Instead, it’s a jazzy pop hit. The beat is quicker than the original, there is a lot of short notes to create a pop beat and the beat boxing definitely adds some flare.

“The Christmas Sing-Along” has a nearly Jamaican sound to it when Scott Hoying takes up the lyrics. Kirstin Maldonado and Mitch Grassi do an excellent job of filling in the higher notes. There is a lot of harmonizing in this song as well, letting this track show off a wide variety of their skills.

“Good to Be Bad” should be a college student’s anthem for the next few weeks. The fun and joking lyricism represent the things we may do while trying not to totally stress out about finals week. Not eating well, skipping class and not doing so well on a test are all sung about in this track.

If you’ve never heard of them before, Pentatonix is a great group to check out, especially if you haven’t heard a cappella music before (not that you would know they are a capella with the way their beat master Kevin Olusola mixes it up). Also considering that it is beginning to look a lot like winter up here with the cool winds and such, maybe it would be nice to curl up to these tunes for a bit.

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