“The Sing-Off” Season 3, Episode 7 Recap: Can’t Help Falling In Love

It was Halloween tonight on “The Sing-Off,” and this particular group of superstar medleys was a real treat. (The previous line was brought to you by Nick Lachey’s writers. Not really, but it could have been. 🙂 ) Really, though, there was a lot to love in this week’s episode (even the conclusion, which brought an elimination I’ve been awaiting for weeks now), and although I was a bit distracted tonight having to help hand out candy to trick-or-treaters at a few points, I still really enjoyed it. (I also enjoyed watching “Rock Center with Brian Williams” afterwards. I used to watch “Dateline” with my parents as a kid, and this was kind of a nice progression from that…a great mix of news and a little entertainment. Plus I love Brian Williams. Also, I promise NBC is not paying me to write this. I just like random things, such as newly launched newsmagazine programs.) The Halloween-themed opening group performance was very interesting. I wasn’t big on the first two songs (Danny Elfman is one of my heroes, but I’ve vowed never to see “The Nightmare Before Christmas,” and to be honest I’ve never heard of “Werewolves of London” before now…to top it all off, there wasn’t much great singing to be had in those first two parts of the number), but I LOVED the “Ghostbusters” portion. Which is highly ironic, since I actually hate that movie, and I’ve never been a big fan of the song, to be honest. I’ve never loved it as much as I did tonight, which is once again a testament to the power of a cappella, and great harmonies. After all that, the night started off with…

  • Urban Method (performing a Rihanna medley of “What’s My Name,” “Umbrella,” & “Only Girl (In The World)”): Urban Method’s momentum has seemed to be slowing down a bit these past weeks, and tonight was no exception, I’m sad to say. It took a bit too long for their Rihanna medley to take flight…the girls once again seemed to be holding back, and the arrangement was OK, but lacked a bit of spark and originality. Their take on “Only Girl (In The World)” was a step up, though, and it ended the medley on a high note for sure. The soloist in that part, however, didn’t let out the more poppy side of her voice enough, I thought, so it wasn’t a complete slam dunk. I like Urban Method, and they’re bringing something different to this competition…but their past two performances just haven’t completely cut it, and at this stage in the game, that’s not a terrific omen.
  • Vocal Point (performing an Elvis medley of “Don’t Be Cruel,” “Can’t Help Falling In Love,” & “Jailhouse Rock”): I have to admit I’ve never been the biggest Elvis fan, but Vocal Point just may have changed my mind tonight. (OK, not really. But they came pretty close.) Rebounding from last week’s emotionally gripping but pitch-imperfect outing, they brought tons and tons of energy (as always) to the stage, and the result was business as usual for Vocal Point…pure fun to watch. If I were to pick on anything in their performance, it would probably be the first two soloists. They were good, but I found at many instances that their tone seemed a bit too ‘square,’ in many ways…like not quite dynamic enough for this kind of flashy a cappella setting, if that makes any sense. (The last lead, however, blew it out of the water in my book. He nailed the energy and classic quality of “Jailhouse Rock” without veering into Elvis imitation.) It was a great job by Vocal Point tonight, and I continue to be very happy that they’re still in the competition. (Go Cougars!)
  • Afro-Blue (performing a Janet Jackson medley of “What Have You Done For Me Lately,” “When I Think of You,” & “Miss You Much”): “Too ambitious.” That’s the phrase that seems to be haunting Afro-Blue throughout this season, by way of the judges’ table. The lovely trio of Sara, Shawn, and Ben seem to love Afro-Blue, there’s no question about that…but they seem to keep harping on the complex quality of the group’s arrangements, and that kind of bugs me. I will admit that the performance came dangerously close to flying off the rails at one or two points (particularly in the transitions), due to how much was going on harmonically…but the end result is that it didn’t. It still worked. Fabulously. I’ve never really heard any of these three songs before (Janet Jackson’s oeuvre has largely escaped my ears, except for the inexplicably catchy chorus of “Feedback”), but I heard them in an amazing way tonight. The arrangement was dynamic and brilliant and so gloriously inventive, the staging was classy and energetic (how is it that they can be throwing out these kinds of crazy chords AND still be paying attention to their excellent choreography at the same time?), and once again, I was in love. Afro-Blue can sing all kinds of intricate harmonies, and I’ll enjoy it every time. I just wish the judges would feel the same way.
  • Dartmouth Aires (performing a Queen medley of “Killer Queen,” “Bohemian Rhapsody,” & “Somebody To Love”): File the Dartmouth Aires also under the category of “group I wish the judges would feel the same way I do about.” After they pleasantly surprised me last week by delivering a performance that I actually didn’t hate, and after realizing that they were starting off with the impossible-to-dislike “Killer Queen,” I was trying to take a positive approach to the fact that one of my least favorite groups in the competition was taking on one of my favorite bands of all time. That positive approach didn’t last long, I’d have to say. The whole thing just didn’t work. It was energetic and flashy (as the Aires are wont to be), but there was no substance behind all that spectacle, which is pretty much how the group has gone through the show so far. The soloists were not cutting it (especially the last one, who took a pick-axe to the greatness that is “Somebody To Love” with his distractingly wonky falsetto). The arrangements were by-the-numbers. Their pitch and blend was hit-and-miss. It really failed to come together in my book. It’s not that Queen’s work can’t be covered well (even though Freddie Mercury is pretty much an incomparable vocalist), because it can and it has, but it certainly wasn’t here. And after all that, the judges gave the Aires unanimous, glowing praise, which I simply cannot get. I’ve been in agreement with them since Day One on pretty much everything else…so why is there such a disconnect between their love for the Dartmouth Aires, and my own opinions about them as a viewer?
  • Pentatonix (performing a Britney Spears medley of “Oops… I Did It Again,” “Toxic,” & “Hold It Against Me”): This was probably the portion of the night that I was most distracted during (I had to run to the door to hand out candy, my grandma called, AND during the judges’ critiques, one of our dogs ran out the door and I had to go catch her really quick), but that didn’t stop me from once again getting a big kick out of it. I’ll have to re-listen to it more carefully once I buy it from iTunes get the chance (OK, I’m so buying it from iTunes, let’s put that out there right now), but what I heard was gold. It’s not easy to translate electronically-driven music like Britney’s to an a cappella setting (does anybody even know what her real voice sounds like? Can she even actually sing? IS ANY OF THIS REAL?!?!? Sorry, got a little carried away there), but if any group was the right one to do so, it would be Pentatonix. Their creativity knows no bounds, and their female member (sorry I’m so bad with not knowing names…this is what happens when you’re an amateur blogger and all that) was a great choice to anchor much of the medley, delivering some powerful, assured vocals. For me, Pentatonix continues to be one of this competition’s front-runners, and I remain incredibly excited to see what they’ll do next.
  • Delilah (performing an Alicia Keys medley of “Fallin’,”A Woman’s Worth,” & “If I Ain’t Got You”): Yet another performance I wasn’t able to devote quite my full attention to, but I still was wowed by nonetheless. That opening of “Fallin'”…where they had just the soloist singing by herself…was AMAZING. She owned that song, y’all. Like the judges noted, the sensibility of Alicia Keys was a perfect fit for the female-driven soulfulness of Delilah, and it spotlighted many of the group’s good qualities in a cool way. When “A Woman’s Worth,” which they did a great job on, was actually a low point of the performance compared to the other portions, you know you’ve got something terrific. Plus powerhouse vocalist Amy got her chance to shine once again, tearing it up on “If I Ain’t Got You.” Delilah is back on the rise, and I’m happy to see that being the case.
  • Yellowjackets (performing a Billy Joel medley of “The River of Dreams,” “She’s Always A Woman,” & “Uptown Girl”): When you say things in your rehearsal package like “we’re NOT going home,” sometimes you get in trouble. This was one of those situations. Not a lot about this performance worked very well at all. Aaron was simply not a strong soloist…his tone was incredibly off, and his pitch wavered at quite a few points. The arrangement wasn’t all that and a bag of chips (it was a little too straightforward to make it stand out), and during “Uptown Girl,” I was seriously struggling to find the group’s tonal center. That pitch was swimming all over the place, and very rarely to the right places. All in all, it was not the Yellowjackets’ best night by any means.
  • Before we said goodbye to one of tonight’s 7 groups, we had a stellar guest performance by Committed, last season’s top-notch champions. (By the way, how weird was it that the show had them sit in one of the opera boxes, like they were competing on the show again? It was kind of like someone going back to high school, then having to sit in their old desk.) Chris Brown’s music would be far from my first choice for a medley, but Committed sold it beautifully with their trademark intricate harmonies, and fine stage presence. It was great to see them back again (I was afraid all we’d get of them this season was the short appearance they had a month or so ago), and a reminder that this show really gets it right with the talent it chooses.
  • Now back to the matter at hand…tonight’s elimination. And here is where I rejoiced, because…the Yellowjackets were FINALLY sent home. I called it beforehand that them and Urban Method would be the bottom two, and I was afraid that the judges would send the latter home, but I had a small feeling that they’d stay around simply by virtue of their unique concept. I was correct, and thus one of my least favorite groups was cut from the show…but not before they delivered probably one of my favorite swan songs in “Sing-Off” history. When they started off their take on “Tubthumping” (AKA that song that repeats “I get knocked down” over and over and everyone recognizes, but absolutely no one knows the name or artist of), I thought it was some weird, strange ballad of sadness or something. I was very surprised to hear them break into the familiar chorus, and it all went WAY uphill from there. They dropped in references to the judges…the show…heck, even the network “The Sing-Off” airs on…and had an absolute blast doing it. It was classy and tons of fun to watch, and a terrific impression to leave viewers with as they departed. I may have never been a fan (whatsoever) of the Yellowjackets, but they left on the highest of notes. I likely won’t be seeking them out much further, but I have to give them props for making a classy exit.

Next week, the groups take on two numbers…a country song, and a rock song. (That’s certainly an interesting combo, but then again, this is the show that brought us Radio Hits/60s Classics Week.) We’re down to the wire, with 6 groups and less than a month remaining, so things should get even more intense. For now, the customary poll, the also customary thanks for reading, a reminder that the deadline for commenting to enter to win the iTunes gift card giveaway is WEDNESDAY (there’s only two entries right now! Don’t miss your chance to win!), and as always…I’ll see you later with more new posts.

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15 Comments Add yours

  1. Rachael says:

    I only watched the first couple of episodes of the sing off. I’m glad to see that my two favorites Vocal Point and Delilah are still on the show! I’ve been a big Britney fan since I was a young teeny-bopper, so I am very intrigued. I’m definitely going to look that one up!

    1. Brandon R. says:

      Yay! Vocal Point and Delilah are amazing. I love them. (Admittedly I love Afro-Blue and Pentatonix too, maybe just a bit more, but there’s definitely enough love to go around, no worries. 🙂 ) And I’ll have to look it up too, haha. There were kind of a million things going on at my house while they were singing…

      (Also, thanks for commenting, Rachael! You’re entry number 3 in the giveaway contest.)

  2. shantay says:

    My fave group is Pentatonix. They never fail to impress me. I think the judges got it right as well this week with the eliminations. Compared to the other boy groups, the YJ just couldn’t compete with them. I agree as well that Urban Method is running out of steam. They were just getting good when they started goin bad. If they don’t pull it together next week they are outta here for sure. I think alot of groups may struggle next week. Rock and Country don’t seem that easy to do and could be hit or miss

    1. Brandon R. says:

      Yeah, next week is going to be interesting. I have high hopes after they did great with hip-hop week (and I hate hip-hop), but you never know. It’s sad to see Urban Method kind of falter…last night was the first night since the first week or two that I wouldn’t have minded seeing them go home. If they don’t knock it out of the park next week, I think they might be in serious danger.

      (Also, thanks for commenting and entering the giveaway. Your number is 4!)

  3. Anita says:

    Thanks for putting up this recap. Almost makes me feel like I watched it (I came here to see the results; I will have to catch individual performances later online.) It is my first time to visit your blog, and I appreciate all the detail you put in. I’m following the show because I’m a fan of vocal point, but it is fun to hear other talent too. Looking forward to next week!

    1. Brandon R. says:

      I’m glad you liked it! And I’m way excited for next week too, of course. 🙂 Thanks for stopping by! (Also, you entered the giveaway I’m running right now…you are entry number 5.)

      1. Anita says:

        awesome. thanks!

  4. I’m baack! I love reading these recaps so I can validate my opinions about the performance 😛

    I have to disagree with you for the first time here, and about the Aires at that #mortified

    As hard as I tried to hate their performance, I actually loved it. Probably cos Michael wasn’t the lead singer for most of it, his voice actually hurts my ears O_o

    And the girl in Pentatonix is Kristin, the first lead in Delilah’s medley was by Hannah. I’m a smart a**, I know. 😛

    1. Brandon R. says:

      Yes! I think you may be one of my first repeat commenters/known readers, haha. That means my recaps are actually kind of useful or something, which is nice. 🙂

      Whoa! I guess I might have been the only one that hated the Aires, then. Fair enough. One thing I can always give to them is that they have TONS of energy. They’re certainly not wanting for stage presence (even if they still annoy me then), that’s for sure.

      And yes, thank you for your soloist knowledge! It’s good to know the names. I try to glean them as much as I can from other recaps I see before I start mine, but there aren’t many (stupid low viewer numbers!), and they usually don’t know the names either. 🙂 Ironic how Aaron is the one I remembered so easily, when as you can see I was quite the detractor of the Yellowjackets…

  5. How can you not like the Aires? Did you get rejected by an Ivy League school?

    The Aires had a great opening performance with higher ground and then had flaws especially on the low end for a few weeks. The performance you liked was a step back in the right direction and they did it outside their comfort zone with Hip Hop.

    Their presentation does save them at times and it is important to point out that matters. It is not just the sound but the whole presentation that matters with performance. It is a lot easier to stand around and do this stuff, a point the judges made the first week when talking to the Aires.

    I am not sure any group has shown as much flexilbility as the Aires to this point. Ultimately, I think they go down because they do not have the same solo talent.

    This week though they nailed it. I am with you and another commenter in that the judges seem to have an inexplicable love for Michael. He was not bad but I do not think he was the heart of the performance tonight. The backing vocals were well beyond any other group tonight including the low end. No question, they were the best in week 7 by far. Not even close.

    1. Brandon R. says:

      I stand by my opinion about the Aires, but you do bring up some interesting points. Presentation does indeed matter, and the Aires do it very well, I’ll definitely grant you that. They’re not the only group to do so, though…take, for example, Afro-Blue (my absolute favorites). Their arrangements are complex and intense and they could certainly get by with just standing there…but I’ve noticed that they are very good at paying attention to the visual aspect as well. Theirs is a different stage presence than the Aires (or the other college groups, for that matter), but it’s a classy touch that helps their performances stand out even more for me. (On the flip side, I will admit Delilah, one of my other favorites, does a lot of standing around & singing. It works with them thanks to the way they build most of their arrangements, so I don’t usually miss it, but yeah…something to think about.)

      I do agree the Aires have taken care of their low-end problems. To be honest, that was never my issue with them to begin with…I’ve more felt like something’s off in their general group sound. It’s a problem I’ve had with a lot of college groups (Vocal Point, one of my favorites this season, sometimes included).

      Sometimes a group just rubs you the wrong way, and I suppose that might be part of the case with me and the Aires. So we might have to agree to disagree. As for my Ivy League connections, I haven’t been rejected by one, but that’s probably due to the fact that I didn’t apply to any of them. 🙂 (I do have a friend that goes to Yale, though.)

      1. Fair enough.

        I personally thought Afro-Blue was horrible this week. I do think the judges hit it on the head (as you have as well), they try to be too complicated in arrangement. I love Rush in the rock world but people, often musicians, say the same thing about them. It is difficult to be complicated and have a good catchy sound. Some of the best rifts in music history are the simplest.

        I think one advantage the Aires have with numbers (which I know you do not like) is that they can fill things with a lot more sound. That tends to hide weaker links and mistakes. It also adds fullness. It makes their physical presentation a lot more difficult and yet they pull it off. Hard to do all of that and sing as one judge pointed out in an early week.

        I can see where the Aires might rub people the wrong way to an extent. And I think it is that Ivy League “geek” factor. There is a certain stiffness to them at times but overall they are more hip than the Whiffenpoofs (Yale) or whatever that group from Princeton calls themselves.

        I have a bad feeling Pentatonix is going to win it and I just do not see them as the best.

      2. PS- Delilah may lack energy but they are hot. Not sure energy would work with them. Totally different groove for them.

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