RENO GAZETTE JOURNAL
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preview: Success comes at whirlwind pace for Pentatonix
When Scott Hoying joined the school vocal group, the SoCal VoCals, while attending the University of Southern California in 2010, it was just an enjoyable extracurricular activity.
“I had no big dreams of making it as an a cappella singer,” Hoying said in a telephone interview. “I joined that group just for a good time. I just wanted to be part of something, like a lot of college kids.”
But one thing led to another for Hoying, and eventually Pentatonix was formed. He persuaded his pals Kiristie Maldonado and Mitch Grassi to join him to record a song for NBC’s “The Sing-Off,” a singing competition, featuring a cappella groups.
The three friends added Avi Kaplan and Kevin Olusola, and the quintet delivered a winning version of Survivor’s “Eye of the Tiger” from the “Rocky” film.
The group won the third season of “The Sing-Off,” as well as $200,000 and a recording contract with Sony in 2011.
“This has all been completely surreal,” Hoying said. “We didn’t expect to win. It was mind-blowing. It’s been a whirlwind.”
School has been put on ice while the group tries its luck in the music business.
Expect a bunch of familiar tunes when Pentatonix performs live, including Gotye’s “Somebody That I Used To Know,” Fun’s “We Are Young” and Psy’s “Gangnam Style.”
“We always pick songs that we can sing well,” Hoying said. “The covers have to be popular. ‘We Are Young’ was the most overplayed song of 2012, but everyone loves that song.”
Pentatonix is wise enough to rearrange the songs without changing the essence of what made the tunes a hit.
“That is so essential,” Hoying said. “We don’t want to take what’s special out of the song. The melody in the chorus of ‘We Are Young’ is so strong. You can’t change that. What you can do is change and add in a subtle manner.”
The success of a cappella act Straight No Chaser is encouraging for Pentatonix.
“They’re doing great, and that proves that there is room for a cappella groups,” Hoying said. “Straight No Chaser is playing bigger and bigger places.
“Rockapella also had some success. We think there is room for us, and we just love doing this. It helped winning the television show. That was great, but now we’re taking it to another level. We’re working on an album and focusing on our road show. We’re in this for the long haul.”
The group could always go back to school.
“That’s an option, but that’s not something I would like to do right now,” Hoying said. “School is on hiatus for us. We’re all going for it with our group. There’s nothing we would rather do.”