MUSIC UPDATE: PENTATONIX and MACKLEMORE X RYAN LEWIS

Pentatonix has amassed an amazing body of work on YouTube, and Pentaholics (including myself) relished whatever they have released, and they have demonstrated to be viable beyond their win in The Sing-Off.  But figuring out their one definitive performance amongst an eclectic body of work had been a challenge, with each number they released showcasing some aspect of their broad array of talents but nothing that could give us a broad, encompassing picture.

Then, two weeks ago they released the “Evolution of Music” video.  Performing songs ranging from 1100s Gregorian chants to 17th century classical music, to standards from the Great American Songbook to a variety of pop and rock hits over the various decades, Pentaholics were astounded and amazed as expected.  But little did I know that it would spread buzz like wildfire to erstwhile non-Pentaholics–I was surprised to see officemates who never heard of the group playing the video, along with gamers at the internet cafe I frequent.  I have a feeling new followers are converted thanks to this video–with 7.5 million views and counting in a short amount of time, it is likely that it will eventually overtake their most watched video thus far, their version of Gotye’s “Somebody that I Used to Know”.

Pentaholics after watching that performance then are clamoring for full versions of some of the individual songs in their medley–some favorites include Destiny’s Child’s “Say My Name”, Beyonce’s “Single Ladies”, fun.’s “Some Nights”, Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody”, Aretha Franklin’s “Respect”, The Jacksoon 5’s “ABC”, Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin'”, Shakira’s “Hips Don’t Lie”, and Gnarls Barkley’s “Crazy”.  The piece that blew my mind was their take on the Andrews Sisters’ 1940s “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy from Company B”–I think they actually sounded like the original.  And their take on the Beach Boy’s early 1960s classic “Barbara Ann” made me wish that one day they will cover their 1966 epic “Good Vibrations”–imagine Avi singing the chorus to that tune and Scott, Kirstie, and Mitch harmonizing like the Beach Boys; it will be a major challenge, but I feel they can deliver.

The only quibble here is simply a low amount of rock tunes–some people wanted to hear grunge classics by Nirvana and Pearl Jam and maybe even the Rolling Stones and Led Zeppelin (a fantasy I have is that they perform “Whole Lotta Love” with their Sing-Off colleague formerly from the Dartmouth Aires, Michael Odokara-Okigbo), but well, you can’t really please everyone anyway and the absence of these songs do not detract from the awesomeness of their performance.

Another indication of their rising fame–they recently booked a guest gig at that popular children’s show, Sesame Street.  I don’t know if I will be able to watch that eventual broadcast since I’m located in the Philippines, but it’s such a welcome development indeed.  Check out their photo with Oscar the Grouch, below:

Moving on to another recent favorite act of mine, back in February Macklemore X Ryan Lewis allowed their song about consumerism “Wings”, to be used as one of the unofficial themes for the NBA All-Star Game.  Some die-hard fans decried that they sold out, and some trolls posted comments on the artists’ videos stating: “RIP Macklemore”.  Macklemore countered with an eloquent statement that explains it all--his main points are that: a) he didn’t object to the NBA and cable TV channel TNT using the song as he is a big basketball fan, and the song is not a tirade against basketball but consumerism in general; b) he knows that it is part of the process that when a song is appropriated, they might edit it, and he didn’t totally object to the edit; and c) he views using the song as an opportunity for fans to eventually tune in and download the full song with the real message behind it–and he felt validated that that’s what happened as more people preferrred to download the original version, anyway.  I’ve already posted the original version in my original writeup on this duo, so I’ll post the “sanitized NBA edit” instead.

Good thing the furor died down as they decided to promote the song “Can’t Hold Us” all over the talk shows.  With the song still rising up the charts (though likely will be facing a formidable obstacle with the awesome duet by Pink and fun.’s Nate Ruess, “Just Give Me A Reason”), it’s nice that the early factor for this song’s current rise was simple hard work appearing on TV shows to promote the song live (with consistently barn-burning performances all the time).  The official music video came much later, and it delivered on the hype–they did a few tweaks to make the song sound more epic, added a few more lines, and the effect is probably their most lofty production yet.  There is a mix of comic elements (like the barbershop-on-the-beach scene) and serious moments that all make some kind of sense, and the highlight is Macklemore climbing up the famous Seattle Needle landmark to hoist their “Heist” flag (it’s based on the Stars and Stripes, with curved stripes and the title of their album emblazoned on the blue canton in lieu of stars).  Expect extraordinary legs for this awesome song for months to come.

JUST ME!

JOSEPH

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