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Pentatonix Is More Than a Game Show Gimmick

By Ana Anguiano • College Times

Published: Thursday, January 31, 2013

Updated: Friday, February 1, 2013 11:02

Pentatonix, the a cappella band that gained notoriety for winning NBC's “The Sing Off,” quickly proved to be more than just a gimmick. Their songs are devoured online and their YouTube channel has over 400,000 subscribers and over 50 million views.

While the five-piece group has dominated the internet and been played on numerous TV shows, touring is still a relatively new venture. Kristie Maldonado, the only female singer in the group, says they hired a choreographer to turn their live show into a full-blown performance. They upgraded to a new set and light show and have added new songs.

Maldonado admits she never expected to be touring and traveling as much as they have. She gushes about Pentatonix’s tour bus and learning about each city on the tour and reveals the secrets to keeping one’s vocals in the best shape are relaxing, sleeping and eating well on the road.

“I think we all feel so fortunate to have this taken off as much as we have. Not that I didn’t think we’d do well, but the amazing support we’ve gotten is incredible. It’s a whirlwind and a dream,” she says.

When it comes to creating a live set, which consists of many rearranged popular songs, Maldonado says they try to sing something for everyone. On their last tour they sang classics such as Steppenwolf’s “Born To Be Wild” but threw in radio favorites like Usher’s “OMG.”

“Each song that we pick really inspires us,” she says. “Once we’re inspired by a song and have that direction and get that outline, it takes off from there. Each one is different.”

They have released two albums, PTX Vol 1 and PTXmas, and are currently working on their next full length album, PTX Vol 2. Maldonado promises there will be more original songs on the new album along with new covers.

The key to Pentatonix’s success is the flair they add to cover songs. They have to deconstruct songs to make them their own, but Maldonado says getting the arrangements just right is easy once they start working.

“We start with Avi (Kaplan) and Kevin (Olusola) because they’re like the backbone. We get the bass line, Kevin comes up with the beats and then there’s a soloist and the other two fill in the background parts,” she says. “What’s really awesome about us is that we’re such a small group that if we have a lot of ideas we can try them out quickly. It helps us come up with a lot of ideas and then move away from them quickly as well.”

However, Maldonado admits with a chuckle that writing original songs was a bit of a learning curve for the band. She says all five members listen to different types of music and when they started to write everyone stayed within his or her own style. It wasn’t exactly fitting nor was it right for the group as a whole, but they have learned from their mistakes and plan on recording a couple new songs that are all their own.