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Who Needs Guitars When You Have Voices Like Pentatonix?

By Azaria PodpleskyWed., Dec. 19 2012 at 8:30 AM


What Glee did for show choir, Pentatonix did for a cappella music. The L.A.-by-way-of-Texas quintet won the third season of The Sing-Off, a now-defunct American Idol-like competition show, in 2011 and have since brought their brand of a cappella music to the mainstream. We caught up with singer Scott Hoying and found out all about the video for their cover of Imogen Heap's "Aha!" before the group takes the stage at Shoxbox at the Market tonight.

The Video: Directors Ryan Parma and Gabe Evans, who have worked on Pentatonix videos in the past, had the idea to switch back and forth between the group at a bonfire and an undead version of the quintet as they terrorized a couple, played by Alex Segal, a friend of Parma and Evans, and Joe Sofranko, Hoying's college friend.

"Aha!," shot over eight hours at a friend's house in Beverly Hills, also features Kayla Radomski, another friend of the directors, and members of Hoying's college a cappella group, SoCal VoCals.

Though the group was all smiles while hanging out around the bonfire, they had the most difficulty shooting that scene, according to Hoying, because of the lack of power and challenges with lip syncing.

On the other hand, the group had no problems transforming into the undead Pentatonix.

"It was so fun to truly get to act like we were zombies and be attacking the actors," Hoying says.

Keeping It Simple: When they're not acting like zombies or, in the case of the video for their cover of Nicki Minaj's "Starships," astronauts, the group films one-take videos, usually shooting between one and five takes to get the final video.

"If a song inspires us to do a full out video, we will, but most the time we like to keep it relaxed," Hoying says.

Of course, fans have mixed feelings about the official videos with some preferring performance-based visuals over those that are more story-centric.

Cover Story: Once a member of the group thinks they've found the next song to cover, they pitch it to the other members at rehearsal. If the song is unanimously agreed upon, the group starts working on an arrangement.

"We loved Imogen's voice on 'Aha!' and knew Mitch [Grassi] could kill it," Hoying says about the decision to cover Heap's song. "We also love the production and thought it could translate well to a cappella."

"Aha!" is just one of the many covers Pentatonix has tackled in their almost two years together. The group has also put their own spin on classics like Whitney Houston's "How Will I Know," Top 40 hits by Rihanna, Maroon 5 and fun. and, perhaps most impressively, everyone's favorite Korean ditty, "Gangnam Style."

Most recently, Pentatonix has created a very timely cover of "Carol of the Bells" and an NSYNC medley. Check out those videos and more on the group's YouTube page here.