Get ready to smile. Get ready to laugh. Get ready to get teary-eyed.
Why? Because the five members of Pentatonix came together during the coronavirus pandemic to record fresh, new music.
"The Lucky Ones," an album composed of original songs, is the harmonic group's most ambitious recording yet. After a decade on the road, jetting from venue to venue, the team slowed down and opened up.
"We wanted to be as vulnerable and honest as possible and tell our story of the past 10 years," vocalist Scott Hoying told USA TODAY.
"The Lucky Ones," out Friday, comes just a couple months after November's "We Need a Little Christmas." (And, yes, we did need Christmas in 2020.) Now, Hoying, Mitch Grassi, Kirstin Maldonado, Kevin Olusola and Matt Sallee have delivered an album of 11 tracks sure to resonate with fans.
The group hopes to get back on the road eventually, but until then, they've been cautiously making the rounds, including an appearance earlier this month on ABC's "Jimmy Kimmel Live." The past year, to put it mildly, has been like no other.
"Our lives have changed a ton," Hoying said. "The past decade has been tons and tons of touring. Living out of a suitcase. Being home day after day after day, I feel like I'm in the movie 'Groundhog Day.' "
"It was very sad to not tour anymore," says Maldonado, buds with Hoying since high school in Arlington, Texas. "To not have music around in general, it's been really crazy. When you're on tour, you get so caught up in the schedule and you're exhausted. Being grounded with family and friends at home has been amazing." She even bought a plant and has her fingers crossed she doesn't kill it.
Back to "The Lucky Ones." Recording wrapped up a month before the COVID-19 lockdown started, but the group held off on its release — something a number of other performers have done as well. At-home studios made it possible to polish things in post-production and the end result has the group extremely impressed.
The title track rips off the Band-Aid from growing up, somewhat stifled, in suburbia. In particular for Hoying, who is openly gay and "very in love right now and ecstatic." Take in these reflective lyrics: "Look how far we've come // And it was all so unexpected // We were broke and we were young // But somehow we stayed connected."
"All the songs come from a real place," Hoying said. " 'The Lucky Ones' ... I was a terrified, closeted gay person in Arlington, Texas, and hiding it my whole life in school and creating this character."
Now, he says, he's being his "more authentic self."
Maldonado says the album took longer than the group had hoped. They initially started writing it in 2019, nearly two years ago. But being "real" doesn't always come easily.
"We all felt we could be more honest," she said. "We're all more comfortable with ourselves now."
Maldonado was concerned at times that she was maybe being too real. Some lyrics had her so worried she ran them past her mom. That includes tunes like the already released "Be My Eyes," which she co-wrote: "I can get caught up on little things and missteps // You rebuild the ground beneath my feet // When I get lost I'm out of my mind, too in my head // You're the camera to refocus me."
"I felt like there was a lot to write about," she said. "It was equally cathartic as it was exciting. I played it for her and was waiting for her to say, 'Are you sure you want to go there?' It is emotional expressing how we felt. We've come so far. We're so proud, we're so grateful for all the support we've had."
Wherever you might be in life right now, Hoying thinks there's something for everyone on "The Lucky Ones." All five members are in different places in their lives, helping to color the lyrics of each track.
"It's exhilarating," he said. "There is an element of creating a song that you think people will like and, at times, you have to sacrifice integrity for that. This time we were just like, 'Let's just tell our story and be completely raw' and people will either like it or they won't."
So which track do they like best? Hoying, obviously, says "The Lucky Ones."
"It makes me think about how far we've come ... these awkward kids in high school who are now these confident people on stage at Madison Square Garden," he said.
Maldonado, after some hesitation, picks "Be My Eyes."
"I wrote that song and I love it so much," she said. "It's about support. So much happens in your life, but people always support you. I'm just really proud of myself for going there."