I spend so much of my time watching YouTube videos, that, hey, it’s become one of those things that defines me. In YouTube Limelight, I’ll feature a content creator whose work stands out to me. Roughly put, the majority of YouTubers can be categorized as Vloggers, Gamers, or Musicians. Here are my favorites.
Pentatonix is an a capella group who made their breakthrough on the TV show The Sing-Off, and now resides and makes their name on YouTube. They’re one of the biggest YouTube artists today, and they even had the #1 selling Christmas album in 2014. They even recently won a Grammy award for arrangement. They’re practically my favorite artists in my entire music library. And yes, we’re talking about YouTubers here.
The main distinction which sets them apart from other musicians and a capella groups is their group dynamic and their unique talent. Scott has a beautiful baritone, Mitch is able to sing in what’s usually a girl’s register, and Kirstie tacks it down by joining Mitch in the higher notes. These three were friends since high school, already forming a strong core bond. In 2011, the addition of Kevin, the beatboxer (who can also play cello and speak Chinese!), and Avi, their bass (who can hit extremely low notes–it’s like nothing you’ve ever heard), marked the culmination of Pentatonix.
But it does the band injustice to single out their individual talent and present them as such–Pentatonix is truly Pentatonix because they combine to form one inseparable group. One doesn’t listen to their music and say “oh, he’s the best” or “her part was amazing”; even on the songs clearly designed to feature one of them–their music is one big conjoined group effort. You can’t pick it apart.
Not only do they cover, rearrange, and write a wide diversity of amazing music, already making them an exceptional a capella group, their dynamic on top of this is heartwarming. The group already represents so many different backgrounds come together as nothing less than a family–gay, Christian, white, black, Jewish, and so on–and it speaks to how we can still have our differences and be the best friends there are.
In terms of being YouTube content creators, and since they’re in the music division, their music videos, it never fails to match how well they sing. Whatever they do visually for the video is almost as entrancing as the sound. Sometimes they’ll sit in their signature order for a live cover, or there’ll be a tiled visual of each of their faces. They’re also fond of occasionally dressing up (Radioactive, Daft Punk, Love Again).
But what I cannot express in words is their unique sound. Let the music speak for itself; here are some of my favorites that they have posted on YouTube.
Pentatonix’s main signature is covering pop hits in the musical world. A look down their YouTube videos reveals a potpourri of hits, whether they were from last fall or two years ago. One of my recent favorites is their cover of Clean Bandit’s Rather Be. This is also an example of what I said before–it’s designed to feature Kirstie, but you can’t ignore the group as a whole.
Pentatonix also does live covers, mashups, arrangements, so forth…here is a very popular video of theirs, which is a four-and-a-half minute time travel through music history.
Although not the first I heard, their Carol of the Bells is the first song that truly hooked me into listening to them. Probably one of their more intricate arrangements, I still love this one.
In terms of accolades, Pentatonix isn’t nowhere. They won the 3rd season of The Sing-Off, and most recently, they won the 2015 Grammy Award for Best Arrangement (for Instrumental or a Capella)–for their Daft Punk Medley.
In addition, they write originals. Love Again is one of them which is on their channel, and there are a couple more on their most recent EP, such as See Through, On My Way Home, and Standing By (which I all love).
I could go on, but I could also bore you with too many videos. If you would like to listen to more, their YouTube channel is here. If you need even more, they have three EPs, PTX Vols. I, II, and III, as well as two Christmas albums, PTXmas, and the aforementioned 2014 #1 Christmas album That’s Christmas To Me.
Pentatonix has one of the most unique and pleasing sounds I’ve heard from a contemporary genre in a while, and to top it off, they have the most loveable group dynamic. Ruling the top of the YouTube-based music channels, I can’t wait for the day when bands like them will be equaled with traditional music artists.