|Posted by Thomas J. West on January 30, 2014 at 4:10 PM|
As an contemporary a cappella enthusiast and part-time professional, I have been closely following the career of mainstream a cappella artists Pentatonix. It has been a pleasure to get to know many of the people behind the scenes who have helped PTX catapult into the limelight. I have gotten to see them perform live once and unfortunately could not stick around to chat with them. I really enjoy everything about their sound - they are pretty much the "perfect storm" of five voices - each person's contribution to the sound is indispensable, yet unique.
I waited anxiously for PTX Volume II to drop, hoping that it would be the album that sealed the deal for them in mainstream pop culture. It did not disappoint. With the exception of one track, the album is really a tour-de-force of a cappella music, showing how amazing and versitile the human voice is while putting the arranging and performing skills of the quintet on prominent display on both cover songs and original compositions.
As a professional music educator and self-confessed "chord junkie", there are few things that grab my attention more strongly than lush chords and equally lavish lyrics. Pentatonix, along with producer Ben Bram, wrote "Run to You" for PTX Volume II, and it was immediately one of my most favorite a cappella recordings of all time. Weaned on barbershop quartet music, my early a cappella favorites were the Singers Unlimited and Take 6. "Run to You" has just enough dissonance to make the point of the lyrics, and just enough emotional contouring to drive the sentiments home.
Now, Pentatonix has released another amazing video of this song in conjunction with FifGen Films, who gave us the record-breaking video for PTX's Daft Punk Medley and many of the videos distributed on YouTube by a cappella solo artist Peter Hollens. What I love about the video is that is doesn't get in the way of the music, yet manages to make an artistic impression of its own. I spent part of the video wondering how they could have worked in the reverse footage of the snowfall while the group members sang the song. I was impressed all over again when I disovered that the group had to practice lip syncing to playback in reverse in order to make the effect. Astounding, and a tribute to true creativity at work.
I have enjoyed watching Pentatonix grow from their formative days on Season 3 of The Sing-Off to YouTube paragons and globe-trotters. Most of the musical artists that I enjoy began their careers before I was old enough to follow them. My favorite pop artist will always be Billy Joel, with singer/songwriters like Paul Simon, Sting, and Phil Collins ranking high on my list. It is a different experience to watch a close-harmony singing group begin to take hold at what hopefully is the beginning of a long career and watch them affect popular culture.
Watch on YouTube
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