Acapella music isn’t something people listen to on a regular basis, partially because they’ve probably never listened to Pentatonix. Pentatonix is five-person Grammy Award-winning acapella group who recently released a new Christmas album titled, “A Pentatonix Christmas.” Pentatonix changed the game by infusing pop music into the traditional acapella sound. Their new Christmas album is a testament to exactly that, and it reminds us that Christmas music and acapella go hand-in-hand.
“A Pentatonix Christmas” is the group’s second Christmas album, and third studio album overall, containing 11 tracks with both old school Christmas songs and a few originals. The opening song is the classic, “O Come, All Ye Faithful,” but it’s not slow and peaceful like one might think. Their rendition has a far more energetic vibe, with the beat of the song resembling tribal drums. This is achieved by the group’s bass Avi Kaplan, and the beatboxing done by Kevin Olusola. For people who are listening to them for the first time, this opening number is a great way to entice listeners and make them say, “This is acapella?”
Pentatonix has also reimagined several other classic Christmas songs. They covered, “Up on the Housetop,” which features the baritone of the group, Scott Hoying, and his impressive riffs and runs that can only be done by him. “Hallelujah” is also featured on the album. Along with Hoying’s soulful solos, the two other members, Mitch Grassi and Kirstin Maldonado also take part in the haunting song with their mellifluous voices, all harmonizing together in an effortless manner.
The acapella group also showcase their talent through original compositions. A song titled, “Good to Be Bad” with lead vocals by Maldonado is a fun and playful Christmas song. With lyrics like, “I played hooky and I failed my test,” sung to an upbeat melody, it resembles the cute yet naughty song, “Santa Baby.”
With acapella music, there are many limitations with what can be produced. This album doesn’t have added sounds of bells or harps to make it sound more “Christmas-y.” But Pentatonix has proven themselves to be the masters of acapella, and one can forget they are such a group when listening to them. They’re bringing in the holiday cheer in the best way they know how: Through exciting new arrangements and beautiful harmonies.