Group Number: “Little Help From My Friends”. A really good rendition – and I say that as a devotee of Joe Cocker. Jerry Lawson absolutely slays it halfway through with a scream to nice leaning choreography, he and all the other leads are terrific, the bass guitar line is wonderful. Very nice.
Two groups will go home today, one after the Superstar Medley round, one after the Judge’s Pick round. The live finale on Monday will show the remaining three groups. Viewers can vote until Sunday morning, details at end.
First round, Superstar Medleys.
On the Rocks – Elton John. The Bitch is Back; Benny & the Jets (lead has perfect voice on opening, weakens halfway through segment, does good falsetto. Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me, the lead pushed or sounded nervous or something. They do very good “ahh” harmony to open and close the set. Still, I love Elton John and while it was very good, it was still a choral interpretation of Elton John – I think that’s an arrangement problem, they executed it very well except for those two lead issues). Pussycat loved it, first time she’s heard them so clean. I don’t know about the first time, but they were very clean and precise and blended well. Ben says good blend and good energy, Bitch was too complicated, Benny could’ve been slower, Sun was great. Shawn liked changing up the leads. I think he meant they were distinct in vocal style.
Committed – sings “Joy To The World” as an interstitial-intro. I really like that they give them the opportunity to do these little things in between. I love their styling, turquoise shirts, grey suit pieces, pink ties. Usher medley: DJ Got Us Falling in Love; You Got it Bad; Making Love (Into the Night) (I think these are the songs, I’m guessing); nice jazzy ending, kind of reminded me of Groove for Thought. I didn’t know the songs, I found it rather bland and even throughout, though well done. Best line of the night is from Ben: “You’ve taken this journey from, I don’t know, birth control music to that”; seamless switch in percussion, very nice; Shawn, great transitions, kept the bounce that Usher songs should have, saw some movement from the church boys; Pussycat saw the holy spirit moving through them; not many groups can move from the church to the club (which is nonsense, many many black singers from Aretha to Fantasia to Marian Anderson started singing in church, and quite a few white country singers as well).
Street Corner Symphony: Beatles. Eleanor Rigby (good choice, lots of instrumental, good lead); Help – nice instrumentals, bass is great, lead works; Hey Jude (fantastic choice for a cappella singing) great lead, sounds like Paul – wonderful crescendo to nananana part, got some rock in there. I loved this, but that’s probably because I know and love the songs and they had a good arrangement. Shawn – began with some rhythm problems, liked that they kept it simple, second lead looks like John Lennon (they all do, like the early Beatles and sort of have the little British edge), Ben says they weren’t tuned at first but they tuned themselves, nice left handed bass, great beat box, but why wasn’t it in all along like in Hey Jude? Pussycat liked it.
Backbeats – Do “white Christmas as an interstitial-intro. Lady Gaga. Uh oh. Everything I know about Lady Gaga comes from Glee, and from her visit to Maine to rally for the repeal of DADT, bless her heart, I’ll always appreciate her for that, whatever she sings. Poker face; Paparazzi; where are my keys I lost my phone; I don’t know, I guess they were good, I didn’t hear anything off, but I don’t know enough to see the fine points. Pussycat thinks we don’t know how hard this is. Yes, we do, you don’t have to tell us every 15 minutes, it’s very hard, and these groups are all very good. Shawn thinks they were really good; Ben loved the percussion in Paparazzi, glad they share the limelight.
Jerry Lawson and Talk of the Town – Otis Redding. Sitting on the Dock of the Bay; Try a Little Tenderness Nice second lead, with rhythm change; Respect (I think they could’ve done a little more with this, got me out of my chair, but it was good). Ben liked the transitions and second lead, a couple of pitch issues in Tenderness, but lots of energy. Shawn says epitome of class style and experience; Pussycat got goosebumps, of course she would.
Now they kick someone off. Hmmm. Me, I think Jerry Lawson has had a good run and they should stop while they’re ahead. They just aren’t doing things at the same level of difficulty the others are, and now things have come to the point where that matters.
On the Rocks is off, which, well, I’m ok with that, they have 15 guys and they haven’t shown a lot more than the six guy groups, so this works for me. I’m very glad they introduced me to that Kyrie they did the other night. They do a very cute little speech incorporating something from each judge, and “Final Countdown” is their swan song which is cool. Interesting, the judges sounded like they had more complaints about Street Corner Symphony but I’m thinking they gave them credit for really getting into their set, looking and acting and sounding like the Beatles, and for being six guys against 15. That’s just my guess but it makes sense. Not to mention SCS really hit it out of the park the other night. I do think Jerry Lawson and Talk of the Town got a pass for rep but when six old men can keep up with college kids and 20/30-somethings, doing a lot of music that isn’t really part of their lives, they can have a pass.
The next round is Judges’ Request
Committed – “Let’s Stay Together” – rev. Al Green – rolling leads, nice use of falsetto, nice thick chords and good percussion that is almost subconscious. Nice, very nice. Shawn loves Al Green, likes how they didn’t reinvent the song, smooth, great leads. Pussycat, liked the minimal choreography, something about candy, oh shut up lady. Ben appreciates choreography with stools, me too, likes the complex harmonics of the backup. What would it mean to you to go to the finals: well, duh, God has brought them a long way, what did you expect them to say, thank God we don’t have to waste all this talent in church any more?
Street Corner Symphony – “Auld Lang Syne” as the interstitial-intro. The judges pick “Down on the Corner” – woo-woo! Wonderful percussion – Love Love Love the riff they do, and the last chorus echoes the way it’s supposed to – not crazy about the very end, but that’s my opinion. Ben – judges picked the right song, they nailed it, made a classic sound modern, excitement built naturally, nice work. Shawn, glad they kept it original, playful, soulful, white boys got funky, arena a cappella, arenapella. See if that catches on. Pussycat, alive and kicking, she hears everyone individually and together.
Backbeats – “Landslide” – one of my favorites. Starts with pings. Love Love LOVE the cello! Oh no, the lead blew “ocean”, that’s interesting, she’s been so perfect, she has a very nice soft low voice. Full chorus nice. Very thoughtful, I liked it, that one bobble. Pussycat whines about competition. Ben thinks they’ve grown up, nailing hard things, innovative arrangement, delivered emotionally, very nice. Shawn saw the sound, it was that beautiful, lead has sincere eyes. If group went to finale: blown away. Yeah, like they’re gonna say “oh, really, that’s nice I guess.”
Jerry Lawson and Talk of the Town – They do “Silent Night” as their interstitial-intro. “House of the Rising Sun” – ok, now there’s a song for ya. Now that was nice. Different, the very beginning threw me but I think that’s because it was not what I was expecting. Now I’m glad they didn’t go home. Great backup, nice switchups. I’ve heard similar versions, really nice. Shawn – turned it into a gospel, see sound. Ben wants the Coen brothers to make a movie out of that soundtrack. How would they feel about getting to the finale: no words, second chance, preserving the art of a cappella.
I have no idea who’s going home. They all nailed it with the exception of a tiny bobble on one note of “landslide” but nothing close to axe territory. I don’t know, I want to hear more from all of them. I can’t say I’d send Jerry Lawson home now, not after that performance, I retract what I said earlier, they’ve earned their place. But I can’t say I’d send anyone else home either. Maybe Committed, just because they blew me away a little less than the others, but that’s probably the song, they did a great job with it. It’s like Season 6 of Top Chef as the Fab Four was cut to three – someone very talented is getting cut tonight. I don’t know.
Ha! The judges couldn’t decide either, they’re all going to the finale. I think that was phony – come on, they don’t make snap decisions that involve live TV time and crew, then again, this was filmed last August so I guess they had plenty of time to plan ahead. I have to say, I’m relieved, because I don’t see how they could’ve justified sending anyone home.
Now it’s the viewer’s turn. Vote until Sunday, December 19 at 9:00am eastern. 10 votes per method. Or go to nbc.com (I haven’t double-checked this, you might want to verify phone numbers).
Committed: 1-877-6-SING-01 (1-877-674-6401) or text 1 to 97979
Street Corner Symphony: 1-877-SING-02 (1-877-674-6402) or text 2 to 97979
The Backbeats: 1-877-SING-03 (1-877-674-6403) or text 3 to 97979
Jerry Lawson and Talk of the Town: 1-877-SING-04 (1-877-674-6404) or text 4 to 97979.