NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Pentatonix already has a Grammy, millions of fans on social media and platinum album sales, but there was still something missing for the five-part vocal group.
With the release of their new single, “Can’t Sleep Love,” the a cappella group is finally getting airplay for a song they wrote.
“I feel like that is the missing piece,” said Avi Kaplan, the group’s bass singer. “That’s always been something that’s very, very far away. And it’s like that would be really cool, but now it’s actually happening.”
The group’s members co-wrote all but one song on their first full-length self-titled album, out on Oct. 16. But even with their success of their previous releases, including two Christmas albums and three EPs, putting out an album of original a cappella songs is still somewhat of a gamble.
“With a cappella, it’s like a tightrope,” said Scott Hoying, one of the group’s lead singers. “Because people are already nervous about playing an a cappella song, cause they don’t know if it is going to work or not.”
“Can’t Sleep Love,” which has gotten to No. 25 on Billboard’s Adult Contemporary chart, shows off their skills at arranging their unique vocal sounds and also crafting a catchy pop melody, all without instruments.
“Original music a vulnerable thing, we have learned,” said Hoying. “We have so much to say, but we are so nervous because how are people going to receive it. Because we have just done covers for so long. So this is the moment for sure.”
The band is made of a trio of lead singers, Hoying, Mitch Grassi and Kirstin Maldonado, with Kaplan and beatboxer Kevin “K.O” Olusola providing the bass and percussive sounds. Hailing from Arlington, the group won NBC’s “The Sing-Off” in 2011, but it was their YouTube covers of Daft Punk, Imagine Dragons and Beyonce that saved their recording careers.
Pentatonix made their film debut in the well-received Pitch Perfect 2 earlier this summer.
Olusola said the videos gave fans something they hadn’t gotten before.
“They want to see me doing the beatbox thing, and they want to see (Kaplan) hitting those crazy low notes,” Olusola said. “They want to see the trio doing their runs and everything. We have kept to that formula in most of our videos, so that people can actually see that we are actually doing this with our voices, with our mouths.”
But they had to throw in one cover on the new album, a version of Shia’s ’90 R&B classic, “If I Ever Fall in Love” featuring guest vocals from Jason Derulo.
Although they aren’t abandoning the cover songs that brought them fame, the band is ready for something fresh.
“We’re more excited not to do the old material,” said Grassi. “We love it but we have been doing it for so long… And once the fans learn the songs and can sing along at every show, it’s going to be fun.”