The Sing-Off 2011 Episode 5 – Guilty Pleasures

All ten groups perform tonight, but it turns out there are still two brackets. They are different brackets from the original split! This is sneaky! So two groups go home. They will do guilty pleasure songs of the 80s and 90s! They start off with the group number, All Night Long by Lionel Richie. I find Ruby from The Collective to be annoying again, though she was not last week.

I should say I seem to be off tonight. I had trouble paying attention, I kept coming in halfway through their introductions, and I thought they all sounded off. Nothing made me go wow. So either it was an off week for all ten groups, or it was an off night for me. I do think this worked a lot better as a Christmas surprise!

Yellow Jackets: “Wannabe” by the Spice Girls. They will have fun with it, an intense musical experience.
I think the lead is too pretty! And I think they could have done a much better arrangement, that sung-spoken “tell me what you want what you really really really want” could have really cooked! At the end one of the guys tried, but, well, no. Not bad, just not really working.
Sara – ton of fun, she does not even know what she experienced, loved the personality and energy. They had tuning issues, with such high energy it is easy to oversing, but the point was to have a blast, and she loved it. Would totally watch again.
Shawn – Strange but enjoyed it. He wants to get the men slamming their bodies down out of his retinas. Some harmonies flarp: his term for flat and sharp. The pressure is on, because there are three other all male college groups.
Ben – entertaining, every four or eight bars, there was another event, smart arrangement. End riff by Nick was a statement. Jamal as lead has a unique voice. Their challenge is putting a face on everything they do so you can tell who the singer is.

Delilah: “What a Feeling” from Flashdance. Candace is their secret weapon, she has a soulful voice.
Wow, some good bass there for a female group. The lead needs better breath control, I think she takes breaths at awkward places. Not terrible, but not good.
Ben – they made a cool choice in how they put group together, but that means they have a challenge with range. Their strength is they are all good singers and have big brains. Pulling it off in the verse. Beginning took four bars for harmony to come into focus. Loves Candace, breakdown chorus worked but you can not do that in both. Heart and energy is there, need to crack one more bit of code.
Sara – Emotion coming across. Pitch issues, and rhythm moved around a little, but focused on heart and soul. Technically, not quite up to par with first two performances (that does not make sense, their first two performances were not that great).
Shawn – Loves Candace since Voices of Lee. Came undone at end with overlap (oh, I agree!). Brought it back with last chord. Testament what never giving up represents. Heart is always there.
They are in trouble and they know it, they are crying as they get the notes.

North Shore: “Imagine being 64 and being in this!” They were going to do “Mm-bop” by Hansen to compete with the kids. But it was not working, so two days before the show they started over with “Power of Love” by Huey Lewis and the News. I would have liked to have seen Mmm-bop just because there have been commercials here lately for a Hansen concert and it is funny to see them grown up, without the “awww” factor they are not what they used to be, which is why they are playing Portland!
The lead (not Guy) is terrific. Slow at start, lots of rhythm, bluesy, not so rock. Then speeds up. Bridge did not work at all. Overall kind of meh. Everyone seems off tonight!
Shawn – they are always fun to watch but he wants to see another side, wanted to see something different. They always nail the entertainment, he wants to see more emotion. Hey, wait, emotion on a guilty pleasure song? That is silly! Guilty Pleasures are about fun!
Ben – loved transitions, interpretations, always start strong. I missed something here.
Sara – They took risks. Entertained, but she agrees with need for diversity.

The Collective – “I Will Survive” by Gloria Gaynor. They want the judges to have no doubt they are supposed to be here. I missed some off this!
Oh no, Ruby as lead. No, no. Duet works thought. The Hey is good. Not bad at all. I just do not like Ruby, she is beautiful and I like how she moves but I do not like her voice!
Sara – damn if I didn’t love that. Loved that it was so emotional. Delivered stellar performance with interesting arrangement and amazing vocals. Rachel and Ruby great, voices match. Really really good.
Shawn – Each week they find themselves vocally, Ruby and Rachel had some great moments together. Wish the four on the floor (the thumping 1-2-3-4 bass) came sooner.
Ben – One of the improvements is that they grabbed it from the start with the rubato statement, he loves the vibrato Ruby has (oh no!). Respects the choice to not glom onto anthemic feel initially (I love it when he talks like this!). Background vocals blended this time, exaggerated swells, spooky and old-fashioned, interpretation was cool, everything a step up.

Dartmouth Aires: “Jessie’s Girl” by Rick Springfield. Oh no! I have bad associations with this because it was so bad on The Glee Project! But I will have to get over it! Every week they have solo auditions. That is interesting, I guess they vote.
I do not understand the percussionist sitting in front. Dance move did not work. The end, maybe not. I liked the beginning better.
Ben – not a dance moves person, but that was pretty bitchin’; Clark knocked it down. Great energy, smooth tenor and up. Lower in range, got less defined, bari and bases. Visual energy, top energy, not quite grooving really. Sort of virtually grooving. Applaud simplicity but simplicity always shows seams. Basses not quite jelling.
Shawn – missing bass, something from bottom. Energy was there. Clark, impressed with dance move. “I knew with a hairstyle like that we were going to have a Clark moment.” Yes! I like Clark too, I am glad he got to do something! Entertaining.
Sara – Great lead. Loved middle. Agree, they are missing consistency and focus in low end but super entertaining.

Oh no, now a group goes home! That is not good. I am guessing Delilah and Yellow Jackets will be in the bottom,with Delilah going home. North Shore missed, but they have done so well up till now, I think they will be ok, and it was an off night for everyone.

Collective and Yellow Jackets are in. I am surprised – I still am not sure this means these are the “best” groups but if so, I am very surprised Yellow Jackets are there.
Dartmouth Aires are in. Delilah is very emotional, they are in the bottom two again!
Well, North Shore is in much more trouble than I thought. How can you connect to guilty pleasure songs more deeply?
Delilah is in. North Shore is out. I am flabbergasted! In fact, I am so surprised, I wonder if they asked to be out. They would have been out eventually, but I thought they would last at least another round. They do “Goodnight Sweetheart, Goodnight” by the Spaniels as their swan song, and they do a terrific job with it!

The second half:

Afro-Blue: “Dance with Somebody” by Whitney Houston. Risky, since she is known for amazing vocals. They are trying not to overthink or jazz too much.
They did fine, I am just meh on the song and the jazz style. But they were good.
Shawn – very entertaining and smart arrangement. Took to heart riding fine line between doing too much and too little. Perfect blend of keeping original, then did samba breakdown in middle, and incorporated signature harmony. Love that everyone got to shine in leads, all sounded magnifico.
Ben – First chorus seemed separated, missing stuff in baritones, hearing bass and girls. Second chorus perfect. Pronounce words a little more. “You guys are so amazing I can not believe I am lecturing you.”
Sara – I was wondering if you were going to take it too seriously, loved the Wedding March at end (Shawn breaks in to point out it was the Soul Train line!). A lot of fun, missing some meat in the middle. At end, almost feels a little sharp. But fun, loved it.

Pentatonix: Started with “Believe” by Cher, but did “Video Killed the Radio Star” by the Buggles instead, in honor of the eliminated Sonos. I missed that explanation. It sounds like Sonos was going to do it, so they did it for them?
I liked the second half better than first half.
Sara – awesome, did what you do so well, made it really distinct, meticulous choices, and deliver. Drum and bass solid. Scott, lots of restraint on lead. Made song choice based on Sonos, who is there in the audience! Loves the camaraderie. Lot of ear candy there, great.
Shawn, sent back from the future to save a capella and do it in a futuristic way.
Ben – they hit on something, a loseness that suited them. Scott, great voice, great work. Once in a while on top of the beat, don’t need to do that.

Deltones – “Listen to your Heart” by Roxette. It is a guilty pleasure because the lyrics are melodramatic. When someone tells you you need to get better, it motivates you. Worried about being stiff on stage.
Nice percussion, love the breath at the end. But the lead seems whiney. Meh on the song.
Ben – one of the few groups that earnestly sings lyrics every time. They still need a calling card. They got lost at the breakdown, should have been big moment, but the breath at end was cool. Looking for a sound that says we are Deltone.
Sara – all heart, see it up there. Good performance, song choice might have been too serious (do you think?), blend was great, Courtney on lead was sweet and right on, would like to see voices dropping in and out to give dynamics.
Shawn – Courtney, beautiful voice. With fifteen people on stage, would love to hear more dynamics.

Urban Method: “Poison” by Bel Biv DeVoe; they were mentors to Shawn and Boyz II Men so they have to have Shawn out of his chair or they have not succeeded. That sounds ambitious! The song is completely unfamiliar to me, but they did great from what I can tell. But I admit I am biased!
Shawn – They took on premise of record. Tony held bass down. Singing bass and doing cabbage patch at same time is not easy. Ladies, good harmony, sexy. Hip Hop, did your thing.
Ben – Loads of fun, not expert in genre, but grooved from beginning to end. Troy, lower singing not as articulate, but as soon as you went up, was clear. Go home and tell your kids, never trust a bigg butt and a smile. Sage advice from the lyrics!
Sara – so much fun. Troy, versatile in vocals, stylized, make specific choices, a little pitchy in beginning. So much happening on stage. Polished, well, delivered performance.
Ben chimes in again: Mike the rapper was good. Ben tries to rap. Not very well, not well at all.

Vocal Point: Ben is back from Australia. “Footloose” by Kenny Loggins. Nice lead, Somebody did some great high notes at end. It did not explode the way I would expect, though!
Ben – Nice rock belting. Keith, great falsettos, lots of energy. Ben on baritone guitar, adding a lot. Glad to have Ben back. Missed you. Bass perfectly in time. Nice work.
Sara – Kenny Loggins would love that, exuding essence of song, pop version of rock n roll. Percussion and bass, good job. Fun to watch.
Shawn – great, showing diversity, different sides, different voices with each song, shown many different personalities. People are dancing in hello kitty pajamas at home right now.

And the decision:
Pentatonix and Urban Method are in. I think they are going to be the two finalists.
Vocal Point is in.
It is between Afro-Blue (that is a surprise!) and Deltones. It must be Deltones.
Afro Blue is in, Deltones are out.
“Goodbye to You” by Michelle Branch is their swan song. They struggle with it a little.

Next week, hop hop. Wow, that will certainly favor Urban Method!

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