Pentatonix, the five-piece a cappella group that first drew television audiences during its Season 3 win on NBC’s “The Sing-Off,” has again looked toward evolution to continue its success.
Monday, Pentatonix released the latest in its “Evolution of” cover series, this time honoring the musical history of the late pop megastar Michael Jackson. The five-minute medley transitions from MJ’s younger years with the Jackson Five – “I Want You Back” and “ABC” – through “Billie Jean,” “Thriller” and “Bad,” before ending with the 1995 hit “You Are Not Alone.”
But whether mezzo-soprano Kirstie Maldonado is belting Jackson Five oldies, tenor Mitch Grassi croons to “Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough” or beatboxer Kevin Olusola surprises with his own delicately high vocals on “The Way You Make Me Feel,” the a cappella encapsulates the vocal prowess of Jackson’s prolific career with the sixth anniversary of the King of Pop’s death coming Thursday.
In 2013, Pentatonix released its first “Evolution of Music” video, tracing classic notes of history from an 11th century Gregorian chant through the modern pop of Katy Perry, Beyoncé and Gotye. The video has garnered more than 60 million views on YouTube, and Monday’s Michael Jackson tribute is approaching 1.5 million views.
Pentatonix has been in the studio this year working on an album consisting solely of original a cappella songs. Since the group’s previous three studio albums -- including 2014’s “That’s Christmas to Me,” which peaked at No. 2 on the Billboard 200 chart -- have always been based around covers of popular music, the new album will test whether an a cappella group can achieve the same recognition with all original music.