Release Date: August 14th 2020
Reviewed by: Joshua Andre
- Happy Now
If you’ve been alive in the world for as long as I have, or even if you’re younger but you’re still listening to pop music nowadays; then this statement that I’m about to make is probably no secret to you- it’s more than likely common knowledge and it’s me stating the obvious. On the other hand, if you’re a hermit, a recluse, someone so dogmatic in their musical tastes (of which I was part of this category musically until not too long ago- maybe about a year and a half or so ago!), then what I’m about to tell you will be from left field. And this opinion of mine (and it’s only an opinion, mind you- you don’t have to agree with me by any means!) is that pop group Pentatonix is one of todays’ most inspirational bands ever! And that’s a pretty bold statement but a statement I firmly believe in.
Comprising of Scott Hoying, Mitch Grassi, Kristin Maldonado, Kevin Olusola, and Matt Sallee (and previously Avi Kaplan), these five impressive and out-of-this-world vocalists are even more remarkable given that everything they’ve sung is entirely recorded using music made from their mouths. Yep, Pentatonix is an acapella group (similar in ability and fame and influence to Youtube star Peter Hollens); who rose to fame and gained popularity through their appearance on The Sing-Off a while back- and yes every song they sing they do so with no instruments. Yep, you did hear me correctly. These guys sing acapella but they also beautifully sing in harmony and try to create the sounds of ‘drums’, in order to deliver the fullest experience of acapella songs to us. Of which each song of Pentatonix’s is crazily awesome, and cannot be praised enough! Winning the competition is no mean feat, and ever since then, these guys have been wowing us with their stellar covers of both iconic classics and modern pop songs. Original songs slotted in between the covers throughout the years- and while I won’t delve into the intricacies of how the band came to be (which I will leave for Jon to talk about in his Momentous Mondays post!), I will direct you to their Wikipedia page, and you can peruse at your own leisure about the band’s history! But given that the group dropped her latest single “Happy Now” (and their first original track in 5 years!)- I thought I’d voice my opinions for a little bit… and reveal to you all one of the most ingenious and creative bands currently.
It’s no secret that we’re all somewhat struggling right now at home during quarantine. We can’t see our friends or eat out for dinner or go to parties, concerts and other large events like sporting games. Most of our conversations can’t be face to face anymore, and we have to settle for Zoom or What’s App. We are in unprecedented and uncertain times. We are stuck at home during quarantine trying to beat COVID-19- and we aren’t even sure if this virus will be eradicated this year or not! We also aren’t sure if we are racists or not (at our core deep down if we really examine ourselves!); and all of that uncertainty and issues we’ve never had to face before… well I guess it’s reason enough for us to feel like our world is out of control. It’s a time where we can feel isolated and alone, like no one loves us anymore- and like we’re the only one going through hell on earth. And while most of our favourite TV shows are renewed, these shows unfortunately won’t be in production until late this year or even next year.
Music artists are delaying albums and are cancelling tours, while some of us workers in hospitality and retail have been stood down from work. White leaders are unintentionally making mistakes and being somewhat unfairly crucified for their actions in this time of ‘Black Lives Matter’; while the protests, rioting and looting are all still going on. Yet the release of music in some form is nonetheless a constant in these troubling times. Artists are becoming more and more creative these days- sure some are delaying projects, but others are releasing standalone digital singles, or a surprise album or an EP full of rarities. Whatever the case, I reckon as listeners we need music now more than ever to fill the void of emptiness and pain- thus artists are now becoming creative, and are thinking outside of the box in terms of releasing new material. And now here we are, as Pentatonix have given us a collection of 6 songs recorded entirely during quarantine. I voiced my thoughts on that EP here; but while we’re still in quarantine now, Pentatonix have given us another surprise- an all new original track. “Happy Now” is a joyous 3-minute ball of fun and excitement, that gets our toes tapping and our spirits lifted, as we dwell upon what it truly means to be happy. And as I quote verbatim what the song means to each of the members (according to the annotations on Genius.com!), let us watch the vibrant and energetic music video, and be blessed by a hopeful and inspiring melody about being thankful and grateful for everything in our lives, and choosing to be happy in the midst of trials and tribulations.
(Scott) This song represents hope, new beginnings, togetherness, excitement, relief. I think everyone who hears it will be able to connect with it in one way or another and… it’s a great excuse to DANCE!
(Kirstin) Happiness is freedom, it’s not a controlled substance. It knows no bounds, pops up in the most random places like a flower peeking out of concrete. It comes in jolts. It fades in seasons. It’s the comfort of a snuggly blanket. It’s getting a text or call from your loved ones when you needed it the most. It’s acceptance for who you are and the freedom to live it!
(Matt) This lyric sticks out to me so much because it’s a true depiction of the relationship and family that has been cultivated within this group. It’s truly like traveling the world with crazy talented friends. We laugh soooo much until we cry and it’s based in safety and love.
(Kirstin) We’ve all been evolving – individually and as a group – and I think we’ve really leveled-up in terms of seeking out our own happiness. So, to me, this song is a little bit about us turning the page and being ready for a new chapter.
(Scott) I’ve had instances in my life where I surrounded myself with toxic people and it definitely took a toll on my mental health. I’ve learned how essential it is to stand up for yourself and assert your needs.
(Mitch) I think happiness is a sense of inner peace and strength — a self-assuredness that you can really conquer anything you put your mind to. It’s being comfortable in your skin. It’s a contentment that you’re exactly where you’re supposed to be.
(Matt) Happiness to me is knowing that I’m choosing to wake up every day and be the best light I can be to the world. People tell me all the time that they don’t understand how I’m always smiling or how I can be so consistently happy. My answer is that I get joy every morning, waking to the thought of bringing light and joy and life to someone who needs it. I feel like that’s part of my purpose and nothing brings me greater joy!
(Kevin) Happiness to me means that no matter what’s going on in my life, I’m going to choose contentment and joy. I used to think that this reaction had to be based on circumstance, but I now know that it’s a choice that I can make for myself, regardless of any and all external factors.
(Scott) To me, happiness is gratefulness. It’s about looking around and appreciating what you have and who you get to share it with. Health, shelter, food, family, friends, laughter, potential… It’s all so miraculous and beautiful. There’s so much power in reminding yourself of these things every day!
(Kirstin) Sometimes, when we would sing Happy Now on stage, I would tear up during the chorus after really thinking about the lyrics because I felt finally at a secure, loved, and trusted place within myself and the people that surround me.
(Kevin) This song makes me think of a butterfly finally breaking free from its cocoon and the elation of coming into a new world, with a new sense of self. It’s an exhale and it’s a sigh of relief. The journey that “Happy Now” captures is a perfect way to introduce our new original music, and more than that, it represents our collective and individual journeys.
If you don’t know about Pentatonix, should you listen to “Happy Now” first, or At Home EP or the 3 Christmas albums, or their 2015 self-titled debut of all original material, or their various covers all across Youtube, or their best of Christmas project? I’d say “Happy Now”, because that will bring a smile to your face even while we are in quarantine still. Yet no matter which way you choose though; you’re going to be blessed, I guarantee it! And though these guys aren’t classified as a Christian band (and we’re not sure of the faith of any of the members!), I reckon it doesn’t matter- because we know that God can use anything and anyone to point glory to Him, so too can Pentatonix even if they do not know Him yet. So without further ado, I will end my ‘review’ by showing you guys the album playlist below. Listen, be amazed, and transfixed by the sheer fact that there’s no instruments. It’s definitely crazy and surreal at how these guys can be a light in a dark, dark world- crazy in a good way. Pentatonix are a once-in-a-generation band, and they’re not done yet. It’s only just the beginning! So what are you waiting for? Let’s get into music again and let Pentatonix be the first to fully convince you of the power of the written, spoken and sung words! Well done Scott, Mitch, Matt, Kristin and Kevin- I can’t wait to hear what’s in store next!
RIYL: Peter Hollens, Cimorelli, Megan Nicole, Human Nature, Backstreet Boys, Avalon, Jason Crabb