Bow Bow, Chk-a-Bow: Five Voices Rise To The Top Of TV's A Cappella Competition

Play associated audio

American Idol is more high-profile and The X Factor is more sensationalized, but perhaps television's most unusual singing competition is The Sing-Off, which pits a cappella singing groups against each other. In the season that recently wrapped, the winning group was a five-person ensemble called Pentatonix, and its members speak to Melissa Block on today's All Things Considered.

If you're having trouble imagining what such a group might sound like, rest assured, you'll hear them do some singing — but if you want to see a performance, here they are in the closing weeks of competition performing a "mastermix" of Kelly Clarkson's "Since U Been Gone" and Cee Lo Green's "Forget You."

Pentatonix was assembled by three friends, Scott Hoying, Mitch Grassi, and Kirstie Maldonado, who went to high school together and had done some singing together, but badly needed a low end and a beatboxer to complete their group. They found their bass, Avi Kaplan, through a friend and found their rhythm section, Kevin Olusola, through YouTube videos showing him playing the cello and beatboxing. If that sounds unlikely, you really need to see Kevin do it.

Putting together an arrangement like the ones Pentatonix favors requires some unusual sounds, and you'll hear Avi demonstrate how, as he says, he takes the natural tones that exist in his voice and changes them with his tongue. You'll even find out the answer to the question: How low can he go?

Rarely will you hear an interview with quite so many unlikely mouth noises — and that is, in this context, a good thing.

Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

NPR

No Longer Omar: Actor Michael K. Williams On Lucky Breaks And Letting Go

Over the course of his career, Williams says he's learned to separate himself from his characters (like The Wire's Omar). In HBO's The Night Of, he plays a powerful prison inmate named Freddy.
NPR

#FoodPorn, Circa 1600s: Then And Now, It Was More About Status Than Appetite

A new study of old masters finds that capturing and showing off decadent and expensive meals is a decidedly old-fashioned practice. Like today's Instagrammers, it was all about projecting an image.
NPR

Raucous, Repeated Chants Of 'Bernie' And 'Hillary' Fill Convention Hall On Day 1

Outside the convention, supporters of Bernie Sanders demonstrated against what they said was a rigged system, while the atmosphere turned chaotic inside the conventional hall.

NPR

The Big Internet Brands Of The '90s — Where Are They Now?

Verizon's purchase of Yahoo will close the book on one of the oldest Internet companies. What happened to the other famous 90s brands, like GeoCities, Netscape and CompuServe? A nerdy remembrance.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.