For the first two verses of Pentatonix’s cover of John Lennon’s “Imagine,” the a cappella group’s video for the song is pretty straightforward: The quintet stands on a semi-darkened soundstage, as Avi Kaplan (who more often provides the bass rhythms) and Scott Hoying take turns on lead vocal.
The group turns the song into a ballad that might even be more ethereal than the original song, with layers of background vocals with a reverent slant to them.
Then, around the 2:10 mark of the clip, right before Mitch Grassi takes his turn at singing lead, the video starts to take on a bit more of an edge.
In front of the singers is a small table with a stack of what looks like cue cards. Grassi picks one up, writes on it, then turns it over the reveal the acronym LGBTQ+. He then passes it to Hoying, who flips the card over to reveal a new word, then it goes down the line to Kaplan, Kevin Olusola and Kirstin Maldonado — each of whom flip the card over once or twice to reveal new cultural, ethnic and religious labels they identify with. The video concludes with each member holding up a card with one letter on it, spelling out — spoiler alert — HUMAN.
As we always note, Grassi, Hoying and Maldonado, who founded the group, are all graduates of Arlington Martin High School.
The song will be included in Pentatonix’s upcoming EP, “PTX Vol. IV — Classics,” scheduled for release on April 7. A full track list hasn’t been releases yet, but as the EP will also include the group’s Grammy-winning collaboration with Dolly Parton on an update of Parton’s 1974 hit “Jolene,” it appears that they will be reaching pretty far back for the songs they cover on this one.