The Sing-Off – Round 2, Weds 12/8/10

Opening number by all groups – “Use Somebody” by Kings of Leon. I just thought of this – last year someone on TWoP said Kara Saun, from the first season of Project Runway, did the styling. It was all scarves and sweaters, there’s a brief snippet in the opening credits that looks like it. I wonder if she’s doing it this year.

On the Rocks, University of Oregon – “Live Your Life” by T.I. and Rhianna. Did Lady Gaga last night. 15 men. They had a YouTube video. They wanted to try rap. Wow, they are such white boys, this could be interesting. Not bad, but the lead sounded a little out of breath sometimes. Maybe it was just he looked like he was out of breath, he was really bouncing around. Ben is looking for them to transition from entertainers to artists. Ouch. But I think he meant it as a compliment, that they’re ready to move on. Considering they have 15 guys singing, they should be pretty good, though, especially against groups with 6 or 8 people.

Street Corner Symphony from Nashville – “Hey, Soul Sister” by Train. They’re worried that the range is very high. Doesn’t really sound like they’re struggling. Wow, they did a slide that was great, also a rhythm switch in the bridge to a second lead, very nice. Shawn loves lead’s voice and the bridge; Ben says great blend and percolation, leads, wants to hear him sing a little lower and do something sad in a lower register.

Eleventh Hour – high schoolers – “Just the Way you Are” by Bruno Mars – Opening harmony seemed slightly off. Opening lead is too low for her voice. A little draggy in tempo towards the end. The lead had some slight problems. Pussycat likes the lead (last time she said she’s a star, I don’t quite see it, maybe she’s encouraging her because she’s young?), could’ve blended better. Shawn thinks it’s sincere; intricate arrangement, a little struggle to stay in key. Ben, sometimes came apart because of the clever arrangement, lead is covering a large range; good percussion; not totally in tune at end. He doesn’t tell them what he wants to see on Monday, I wonder if that means something.

Jerry Lawson and Talk of the Town – “Mercy” by Duffy. Dang, I love them. I love the falsetto. I love the less frenetic choreography. I love the flower in the lapel. Ben: “Jerry… Mr. Lawson… You’re cool! Though from me that might be a dubious compliment.” Not singing like backup, singing full out, which works great. Pussycat: “Yummy.” Shawn – bouncy, bass got down. I’m not that familiar with this song – it reminds me of “Rehab”, the Amy Winehouse song the Sweet Adeline group did last year. Funny the old folks should do similar numbers. Probably because they’re all 12-bar blues riffs, classics. Apparently this Duffy is Welsh. I’m obsessed with Welsh folk music. Interesting she does American R&B too. That’s what’s so cool about music.

Now they kick someone off – I’d say the high school kids, Eleventh Hour, and from the judges’ comments, they had the most criticism. In fact, I don’t think there was really any criticism about anyone else. I wonder if that’s how it really happened, or if that’s just how they edited it? I’ve seen too many manipulated reality shows. How did they pick which four went together? Because that could determine who goes home. It’s slightly different than the first show.

Yes, Eleventh Hour, the high schoolers, are off. Interesting, the announcer (I forget his name, from another boy-band) said On the Rocks was criticized by Shawn for harmonies, I guess I missed that.

A break featuring Nota, last year’s winners. They sing “I Got A Feeling” by Black Eyed Peas. They just released an album. Their second lead isn’t all that good IMHO, actually. But it’s a fun thing. They’re really good, I loved the clips they showed.

The Backbeats – “Breakeven” by The Script. Really nice job. Lots of dynamics. Great breathy effects towards the end. Second female lead was meh, male second lead was very good. But the lead was spectacular. Shawn – lock on melancholy harmonies, 7ths, 9ths, 11ths; when lead sings, he believes it. Ben – worried about the higher dynamic, but it held together, the arrangement was really good, split the lead, great percussion (she was on last year’s show), gives props to Ken?Kevin? who put together just for the show, did a good job. Pussycat – their percussionist is the only female percussionist in the competition; the male lead was great (she didn’t comment on the second female lead).

Committed – “Apologize” by One Republic. The first verse almost lost me, the lead was a little wobbly, but then they got into it and it started to cook. Lots of percussion, lots of harmony. Ben – bell tones again, I need to figure out what he means by that, I know what I’d mean by it but I’m not sure it’s the same thing. Shawn loves the riffs, the blends, the movement, he really loves them. Pussycat is talking about orgasms again. I think I missed the boat on this – I thought they were good, but not that kind of good (I’m talking about Shawn and Ben here, not Pussycat). Last time, they were that good, but not tonight. Maybe if I knew the song I’d feel the same way.

Groove for Thought – “Cooler Than Me” by Mike Posner. I love the string bass! The jazz chords aren’t really my thing, again with Manhattan Transfer, nice in small doses, but they do it very very well. I thought they were great. Shawn – cool, lead is cool, hat is cool, backup is cool, they’re just what cool is. Ben – lead is star; bass is great; harmonies were sick (good sick), soprano clicked, difficult on judges.

Whiffenpoofs – “Haven’t Met You Yet” by Michael Buble. They’re proud they don’t use beatbox, they come from a choral tradition. Oh no. The second lead did the opera thing. Uh oh. This is why I hate choral arrangements of pop music, and it’s the first time I’ve heard it on this show. Very Kings Singers – and I adore the Kings Singers, I have so many of their classical and folk CDs but I don’t like their pop songs. Pussycat loves it because she performed to this song on DWTS. Shawn loves enthusiasm, but leads weren’t that strong, very entertaining, have an element no one else has. Ben heard Broadway, leads good, bass good, harmonies good, didn’t notice choreography, except for some conducting.

The judges convene – with great sadness, I must say the Whiffenpoofs are the ones to go. That breaks my heart, but I don’t think this is their kind of thing. For me, I wouldn’t want to see anyone else cut, and the judges gave them the most criticism.

So the Whiffenpoofs are cut, and they sing some “I’m on my way, home sweet home” song, I wish they’d sung the Poor Little Lambs thing. But I’m probably the only one who thought of that. I’m such an old fart.

For the record, I made my picks for elimination before the announcements, I didn’t go back and edit (except for spelling, typing while watching is not that easy). I wish Top Chef and Project Runway producers (and American Idol for that matter) would pay attention – this show is very satisfying to me, because my impressions match with the judges and aren’t thrown by editing it to create false suspense. It’s been pretty clear to me at least who’s getting eliminated every time, and that’s how it should be, the criteria are laid out, the evaluations are clear and honest, there’s no showing only the negative comments so they can claim later we didn’t see it all. And the judges are on point, specific, and I never think, what the hell, what were they listening to? when they’re done. Ok, Pussycat (I should call her by her name but she annoys me) is there to talk about orgasms, but once in a while she comes up with something good. Ben and Shawn, they’re as good as it gets. They do this show right – I sure hope it doesn’t become a big hit so they have to ruin it to make it bigger.

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