The Sing Off, Finale, 12/20/10

Live final show. There’s no more competition so it’s mostly a concert until the last 3 minutes when the winner is announced.

The show opens with a group sing of “Put a Little Love in Your Heart.”

Committed sings “Motownphilly” with Boyz II Men. I don’t know the song, which may be why it seemed meh to me, or maybe the acoustic techs weren’t quite on top of things yet.

The previously eliminated Whiffenpoofs sing a brief phrase of “Nevertheless” as a segue to commercial. It’s nice the cut groups are back but it was not in tune at all.

The Backbeats sing “Think of Anything” with Sara Bareilles. I don’t know who she is. I just wish she wasn’t there. Something’s very wrong with this, though it could be my neighbors playing something that’s coming through the walls. No, a volume increase doesn’t really help. Maybe that’s the way it’s supposed to sound? Um, I don’t think so.

Jerry Lawson and Talk of the Town sings “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” with Nicole Sherzinger (aka Pussycat). She can sing, I’ll give her that. Jerry is carrying a cane, decorated to look like a candy cane. I hope he’s all right. He’s the only lead so far to actually sing lead with the guest star.

The previously eliminated Eleventh Hour sings Justin Beiber’s “Baby”, good god (no, I didn’t recognize it, I had to look it up), as the segue to commercial – very short segment on air but they were in tune, sounded much better than the Whiffenpoofs.

Street Corner Symphony sings “Gone” with Ben Folds. I wonder how they decided who gets to sing with whom. Sounds like they had a lot of fun – Ben says, “Watch me, eyes here!” and “we laughed, we cried, all in 2 ½ minutes”. Ben isn’t known for his extraordinary voice, and it sounds off. The SCS lead sounds a little off too. This was a lot of fun, nicely done. Nick gives him some musicbabble (arpeggiated harmonies) which is fun, too. But I think I’m biased. For Ben Folds, that is. And for SCS, for that matter.

The previously eliminated Groove for Thought does “Cooler than me”. They sound good though it’s very short.

The Backbeats, Jerry Lawson and Talk of the Town, and Sheryl Crow do “Long Road Home” with her playing acoustic guitar (and another guitarist) which is CHEATING! I like Sheryl Crow. I like the song. But this is wrong. I’m thinking they couldn’t get it together in the time they had. Sure, she has a new album coming out but can’t she hawk it some other way? I’m really angry. This is an a cappella competition, if she can’t do a cappella or doesn’t want to or they can’t get up to speed, or she doesn’t like the way it sounds, too bad, cut the song. Not right.

Everyone sings a phrase from his, her, and their favorite Neil Diamond song. Cherry Cherry, I Am I Said. Sweet Caroline (oh, that was so much fun last year, they don’t do it justice this year at all). All kinds of things.

Street Corner Symphony, Committed, and Neil Diamond (who has a new album coming out, surprise surprise), sing “Ain’t No Sunshine When She’s Gone”. I adore Neil Diamond, I have many of his early albums, but he just isn’t soul. Oh my god, he sounds like William Shatner. But the groups are terrific on backup. And they do it a cappella, thank you very much. Of course, they have an advantage in that they all know the song.

A special holiday treat. Everyone shares what’s special to them – love family, blah blah, Ben mixes it up with “six days to New Year’s Eve party” and a paean to gifts of underwear. Boxers, Tighty whities, it’s all ok. Everyone does some sappy pop Christmas song. The nice thing is Courtney gets to sing. And the big dreadlocks guy from Committed (I love dreadlocks, I think every reality contestant with dreadlocks this year has been someone I loved). Oh, and Nick sings a couple of phrases with them.

The Backbeats go to Hope Gardens, a transitional housing center for homeless moms, to bring a Christmas tree. Then they sing “Firework”. Kenton gets to sing second lead – he’s really quite good at singing and he moves well too. And he put the group together just for this show. I hope he gets something cool out of this, he’s quite talented. The judges talk about their depth, they can do all kinds of things with so many talented people, and they give Kenton props. Yay Kenton, I think he’s the icon of the season. Ben wants a Courtney action figure. Maybe Courtney is the icon of the season. Pussycat talks about sundaes, Kenton is the bananas, Courtney is the cherry on top. Pussycat is definitely NOT the icon of the season. She wasn’t this bad last year. I think they asked her to dumb it down, though why she would agree to that is beyond me.

The previously eliminated Men of Note do “For the Longest Time” to segue to commercial. Hmm, that was their weakest song, why would they do that? It was too short to figure out if they’ve improved it since August. It sounded better than the Whiffenpoofs. I think my cat and I would’ve sounded better than the Whiffenpoofs’ segue tonight. And I have tremendous respect for the Whiffenpoofs as an organization. I went to a concert of theirs once, a long long time ago.

Well, they’ve gone through all the special guest stars, I wonder what’s next – more heartwarming visits to wretched unfortunates? Yes, I’m cynical, but I’ve been on both sides of the equation.

Committed visits Suva Intermediate School’s afterschool program for underprivileged children and sings with them, play rugby with them, dance with them. Then they sing “Hold My Hand”, and they do a nice job of it, but don’t really bat it out of the park. It’s nice to see Dreadlocks sing again.

Jerry Lawson and Talk of the Town visits Ability First, a program for adults with physical/mental handicaps. Then they sing “Love Train” which is ok. I think the whole “foundation of a capella” thing has been pushed a little hard.

The previously eliminated Pitchslapped does “I Got the Music In Me” and they sound pretty good. I wonder if maybe the auditory gremlins that messed up the first couple of groups got exorcised. Or maybe they just put the better groups last, because they aren’t singing in order of elimination. Or maybe the Whiffenpoofs just didn’t give a damn and didn’t bother to work it up.

Street Corner Symphony goes to Little Kids Rock (music education group), and give out Fender guitars, which is cool. Then they sing “Fix You” by Coldplay, which is amazing. The other groups join them little by little which is also amazing. Ok, it’s sappy, but it’s really really nice. But I think I’m biased. When the judges take turns saying nice things about SCS, Ben says they bring Rock and A Capella together and they’re the most likely in the competition to draw dirty pictures on walls. Did I mention I love Ben Folds? I only have two of his songs, Mr. Jones Part II and Brick, and damn, I have to get more.

It’s time for the top two groups to be announced and the two losing groups to do their swan songs. Jerry Lawson and Talk of the Town go out. I’m glad they were here. Nick kind of grabs the microphone away from Jerry in the middle of a sentence, I think the live show thing has a tight timetable. They sing “Hit the Road, Jack” which is perfect. Jerry needs help getting down the stairs but he never misses a beat and improvs beautifully. The Backbeats go out next, sing “Goodbye to You”.

Which leaves Street Corner Symphony and Committed, and 20 minutes…which means 10 minutes for retrospective, a few minutes for commercials, three minutes for suspense and two minutes for congratulations and thank yous.

My Retrospective:
Street Corner Symphony
Round 1 – Everybody Wants to Rule The World
Round 2 – Hey Soul Sista
Round 3 – Creep; Come On Eileen.
Round 4 – Beatles medley; Down on the Corner

Committed
Round 1 – This Love
Round 2 – Apologize
Round 3 – Every Breath You Take; I Want it That Way
Round 4 – Usher medley; Let’s Stay Together

The previously eliminated On The Rocks sings “Final Countdown” as a segue to commercial.

Committed wins. They get a Sony recording contract, $100,000, and a trophy. I suspect the trophy isn’t foremost in their minds right now.

Street Corner Symphony sings “Drift Away” as their swan song, which is also perfect.

Committed sings “We Are the Champions” – they get a little lost in the lead-in, but I’m amazed they can sing anything at all, seeing as they’re all adrenaline-flooded and teary and they’ve been bouncing around hugging for ten minutes. And suddenly some sitcom is on. A bit abrupt.

I’m going to miss this show. Still, I don’t want it expanded. I think what makes it special is that it’s only a few shows (five this year) over a few weeks, at Christmas. If it were a full-season thing it’d be less fun. I also wish they’d put the kibosh on the “guest stars” thing as a way to pimp new albums – use guest stars who are relevant, last year they had Bobby McFerrin which was terrific. But of course anything on TV is selling advertising and they have to make money off the show… I just like the small-time dorky feel of it and wish they’d keep that instead of turning it into some ratings extravaganza.

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