Reality singing competitions are a weird beast. You have your standard shows like American Idol which gave us gems like Fantasia, Jennifer Hudson and Ruben Studdard, and The Voice which is more about the judges than the contestants. Then you have off-beat offerings like The Sing-Off. While enjoyable, no one really expects the show to produce a breakout act. Then you have a group like Pentatonix who refuse to be beatboxed into your small world. The Sing-Off season three winners have delivered a number of impressive ditties using only their slick and vibrant voices to bring throwback hits and Top 40 singles to life. Their new single, “Can’t Sleep Love,” an explosive a cappella doo-wop diddy, is no different.
On “Can’t Sleep Love,” Pentatonix delivers harmonies that can be as smooth as silk one minute and tougher than leather the next, modulating their voices and vocal arrangements to match the needs of the song. More than just some fancy beatboxing, handclapping and finger snapping, “Can’t Sleep Love” is imbued with enough theatrics to keep things interesting, but PTX stops short of grandstanding.
The music video is a great compliment and contrast to their impressive a cappella antics. In the clip, which could double as a Target or Ikea commercial, the group is dressed in their finest hipster, thrift store, classic man finds against backdrops of wild colors and patterns. Each backdrop is adorned with a dancer to match the scenery, offering sometimes subtle and other times exaggerated movements. What this has to do with a love that sets your soul on fire is anyone’s guess. It might have something to do with the ever present tension of being in something as beautiful, precious and fragile as love. But we're open to suggestions.
With “Can’t Sleep Love,” Pentatonix has delivered a warm ballad that would give the barbershop quartets of old a run for their money, and a video that showcases their strong sense of artistry and personalities. Totally awesome and totally unexpected, the group seems poised to become more than just a footnote in pop culture history but to truly make an impact in music and hopefully on the charts. We shall see what else Pentatonix has in their bags when their self-titled album drops on October 16th.