“Mars” single artwork

It’s not often that one gets to review a new song — much less a first solo foray — from an artist that has been a part of so many people’s lives for the last decade. Many know Scott Hoying as one-fifth of the immeasurably talented and multi-Grammy-winning acapella supergroup Pentatonix — not just as a talented vocalist, but also as one of the group’s key assets when arranging covers and constructing lyrics for original songs. But now, Hoying has stepped into the spotlight on his own terms with his first, very powerful solo release, “Mars.”

In Pentatonix, Hoying became immediately noteworthy for his flawless vocal riffs and soulful voice, which has only grown stronger and more nuanced as he’s gotten older. On “Mars,” his singing prowess is on full display tenfold, alongside an arrangement that makes excellent use of his background in musical theatre. Unlike many pop songs about love and all its complicated emotions, “Mars” sincerely takes its time to build up beat by beat, allowing Hoying to make use of his softer tone before belting and letting loose by the end. The song is like a performance in and of itself, with absolutely gutting emotion delivered in every lyric, from the beginning with, “No texts on my phone / Maybe like me, it’s been broken,” to the very end where he sings, “When I’m seconds from take off / You hold out your arms / And bring me back home to Mars.” The deep feelings of the song are very personal and intentional according to Hoying, as he states:

“The song ‘Mars’ is very special to me, it’s not only a song I’m very proud of but also releasing it is such a symbol of all the self work I’ve done over the years. It’s a song I wrote from such an honest place about the love of my life and how much he impacted me as a person. I’ve always dreamed of releasing solo music, but for a multitude of different reasons I never did. This year has been really special and transformative for me so it felt like the right time to go for it.”

“Mars” starts off with piano before moving into crescendos of guitar and percussion — along with lilting, acapella-like harmonies in the background. It’s an intense ride throughout, supported by an equally-powerful music video where Hoying goes about his day, alone, in a giant mirrored house in the desert before trekking into the sands and being lifted up by a beam of light. Intercut throughout this story are images of flowers blooming, fires bursting and, in many abstract scenarios, Hoying embracing a lover — who is unseen until the very end, when both men happily embrace. It’s a strong visual statement that encapsulates the anxieties and growth that Hoying feels for the one he loves. By the end of both the song and the video, one feels like they too have been on an emotional rollercoaster — or, more appropriately, a journey to Mars.

Scott Hoying has not released any information yet as to whether “Mars” will be part of a future studio album, but stay tuned as we learn more. In the meantime, you can — and should — take a listen to “Mars” and watch its music video below!

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