Music is incredibly important in my life, to the point that if something illogically happened and I was only allowed to keep one of my senses, it would be my ears so I could keep listening to music (sorry husband). I’m not a musical prodigy, but like many offspring with an Asian mother, I learned a musical instrument growing up – first the recorder, then the flute, and then the guitar (the last one was my choice in an attempt to cultivate some street cred. It didn’t work, I sucked). From this exposure I learned to appreciate all genres of music.
I’m no snob though, and the music that makes me the most happy is stuff from my high school and college years – good old pop from the late 90s and early 2000s. All of a sudden I understand those adults who were kids back in the 60s and 70s, banging on about listening to The Eagles, Led Zepplin, The Who etc (all of which do nothing for my ears). For them, that music and those bands were the sound track to their lives. So it is for me and the likes of Killing Heidi, Spice Girls, Savage Garden, 5ive, Eminem, Taxiride, the list goes on. As a terrible example, Jack Black’s Tribute immediately takes me back to being 16, and in my head I’m visually apparating like Dumbledore and Harry Potter, back to 2002. However I’m not big on lyrics, preferring to hear the song as a whole – if it’s got a good beat and bowel trembling bass, you’ve got my love.
So I’m excited to share with you my current music obsession, an a capella group known as Pentatonix. They formed in 2011, winning season 3 of a reality TV show in the US called the Sing-Off (now discontinued), and most recently have won their second Grammy award for best arrangement, instrumental or a capella. Popular videos on their Youtube channel include The Evolution of Music (samples of music dating from the 11th century to now knitted in one take), and Daft Punk (a mash up of several of the group’s songs and which scored them their first Grammy last year). This year saw them win for this creative remix of Tchaikovsky.
What I love about this group is how cohesive they are vocally and how creative their arrangements are. Far from merely covering popular songs without instrumental accompaniment, they have an incredible ear for reworking existing music, seamlessly mashing popular riffs together, still preserving the spirit of the piece but also being able to add their own unique edge that is incredibly fresh yet still easy to listen to. They debuted their first original album in 2015; their 3 earlier albums (PTX Volumes I, II and III) were collections of covers, the style of which is what made them so popular in the first place. In addition, they have also recorded two Christmas themed albums, which I think even self proclaimed Christmas haters will enjoy.
Check them out here, where you can also listen to their tracks, or purchase here. Oh, and if you’re into bass, make sure to listen to them with headphones on or speakers that have a good sub woofer. Avi Kaplan, bass, will blow you away. To quote Shawn Stockman, member of Boyz II Men and one of the judges on the Sing-Off: Avi [does] something with his voice that Will.I.Am actually needed EQs and outboard gear to do…Bass bitches of the world, unite under the frequency that is Avi (who has broken speakers with his tonal growl, I am actually not kidding, they blow at 01:37 roughly).
Pentatonix are weeks out from embarking on a world tour; dates for Australia have yet to be announced.
I’d love to hear what music or bands you are really digging at the moment, or even what music just takes you back.