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Pentatonix: One Million Copies, A Top Five Album In 2014, And A Grammy Nomination

By Hugh McIntyre

1/19/2015

Recently, BIllboard published their rankings of which songs and albums performed best on the charts last year, and while there were only a few shocks, they were big ones. The number one album of the year went to Taylor Swift, whose 1989 snuck past the Frozen in the last charting week of the year, forcing the phenomenon’s accompanying CD to settle for second place. Immediately after them sat newcomer Sam Smith, whose In The Lonely Hour was the breakout hit of the year. Following those three albums, one would expect another chart-topping pop star, or perhaps even a second soundtrack from a blockbuster film.
Instead, surprising more than a few people by breaking into the top five best-selling albums of last year was a capella group Pentatonix, who seem to have come out of nowhere in the past few years to become an act you need to know. The group has had quite the following online for some time, racking up millions of views onYouTube with their fun vocal arrangements and medleys of various pop tunes. They got their big break a few years ago when they won season three of NBC’s since-canceled singing competition The Sing-Off back in 2011.
Since then, they’ve become one of the most popular a capella groups in the world. 2014 was their biggest year yet, as it saw them sell over one million copies of their holidayalbumThat’s Christmas To Me—it was one of only four records to reach that threshold this past year—and it brought them their first ever Grammy nomination, which they are still waiting to see if they’ll win in February. The group’s upcoming US tour is completely sold out, and they’re headed out around the world after that.
In between everything they have going on, Mitch Grassi answered a few of my questions about their process and their recent successes:



When you were recording a Christmas album, did you have any idea it would be so huge?
I really didn’t, but I had certainly hoped! I think it did so well partly because of the virality of a few of the singles on YouTube, but I really think people enjoyed it because we took some classic holiday songs and gave them a fresh yet still accessible twist.

How does it feel being nominated for your first Grammy?
It’s unbelievable! When I first found out, I was speechless. It’s incredible that at such a young age, I can say I’m part of a Grammy-nominated group!

music world as an a capella group?
Well, it’s gotten easier as we’ve gone along. I think what we’re trying to figure out now is how we fit into the radio world. We’ve written a few originals, but we’re itching for that one particular song that just sets us off and proves to the world that we’re legitimate. Hopefully, we’ve already kind of done that.

How do you come up with the original vocal arrangements for your songs and medleys? Is there a method?
We start with bassline and beat, usually (meaning Avi and Kevin, respectively). Then we work in complementary background parts underneath the melody. We add “moments” at the very end to take it to the next level.

Tell me about your upcoming tour.
I couldn’t be more excited for it. We’ve really amped up the production this time around to better suit bigger venues. I’m not sure if our audience is ready for it. I’m just excited to be back on the road again and perform for our fans all over the world. They’re amazingly supportive and dedicated people. And so sweet!