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PENTATONIX: PTX, VOL. III

Never underestimate the power of originality in 21st century music, because it goes an extremely long way. Try to think of what percentage of vogue artists' talent or appeal is reliant entirely on an instrument, and do not let anyone convince you that vocals are not an instrument. As an individual acutely aware of his nonexistent singing ability, I am certain that honing those skills takes years of commitment and discipline. Listen to me. Or don't.

That said, the latest EP by Texas songsters Pentatonix, PTX, Vol. III, has its ups and downs, aside from being unimaginatively titled. They are no doubt a shtick, but what a shtick. The adherence to covering songs as opposed to writing their own works both ways - sometimes I lament that such talents do not produce original material, strictly speaking. But at the same time, you have not truly experienced the wonder of a cappella until you hear them cover a song with which you are intimately acquainted, so do your research.

I'm not crazy about the selection of covers on PTX, Vol. III - which includes Ariana Grande and Stromae - because the diversity factor occasionally falls short. You certainly get used to their style: chief offenders are Papaoutai and Rather Be, filler songs of minimal appeal. The impressiveness of their vocal range and versatility should supplement, not replace, quality songs.

The hit single Problem is perhaps the brightest jewel in the crown. The beats are close enough to modern music that they almost sound real, but not so much that you forget the awesomeness of a cappella ("awesome" in the archaic sense, "inspiring awe"). I'd have a hard time believingthat there is an octaveleft unexplored. Pentatonix combines the talent of musical legends like Freddie Mercury with modern-day interpretations of popularmusic: As I said, originality goes a long way.

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Grade: ****

Available: now

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REVIEW KEY

***** Can you marry a thing that's not a person?

**** Silver medals are still cool.

*** Nobody's perfect.

** Its mom still loves it.

* No. Just, no.

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