The Sing-Off 2011 Episode 6: Hip Hop



Hello, I am Zin! I do not know much about hip-hop, but every time I hear something I find out is hip-hop, I like it! I have a feeling most of these groups are going to struggle, except for Urban Method because their specialty is hip-hop!

Eight groups left! They will perform in brackets of four, and the lowest group in each bracket will get together at the end to compete on the same song (“Just a Dream” by Nelly), just the two of them. So only one group will be eliminated tonight. It is good they have a second chance on this particular genre since it is so unfamiliar to most of them!

The opening number is very good, “Nothing on You” by B.o.B./Bruno Mars. I like that some of the duets were people from different groups. I never heard the song before but I liked it very much!

Dartmouth Aires – “Club Can’t Handle Me” by Flo Rida. They have not done hip-hop at all before! Clark says the problem is that most hip-hop has only four chords. Henry will do the rapping, and he has only done rap once before.
Me: [note: I make my comments while watching, before I hear what the judges say; I clean them up before posting but do not change them, unless I can not remember what OKREwjh means!] Boy, they went for it! It was definitely Ivy League white boy New England hip-hop but they did something with it. And of course it helps that they have a lot of singers! But good job!
Sara: swagger. Great energy, they enjoy what they are doing. It felt a little chaotic and rushed at the start, but they got into it. Fun to watch.
Shawn: first prime-time network show to have a whole episode of hip-hop. Henry did a great job rapping, flowing, like a pro.
Ben: great unison at the top with Clark and Michael. Turned into a polka at one point, so that makes them the first prime time network show to have polka hip-hop. But they got it together at the end. Lots of fun and last note was really good.

Afro Blue – “Killing Me Softly” by the Fugees with some of the original Roberta Flack as well. They do not do hip-hop either so they are sticking mostly to the Roberta Flack version. [For the record: The song was inspired by Don McLean, one of my idols from my angst-ridden adolescence so I have always been very fond of this song. I have never, however, heard of the Fugees or their version, so I am scared!] Roberta Flack was an alumna of Howard University.
me: Wow, I did not expect to like that but it was very very good! I have not been enthusiastic about the jazzy sound they do but this was great! I am not sure it was very hip-hop though!
Ben: He tries to rap with Nick; I think he should keep his day job! Gorgeous performance, Reggie was great, Christy in lead was beautiful.
Sara: This showcases how intricate and important a capella is. Great rendition of both versions, melded beautifully.
Shawn: Roberta Flack would be proud. Reggie is not just the bass, he is the foundation. Christy makes singing look fun. Very impressive.

The Collective – “Give Me Everything” by Pitbull/Ne-yo. They are about soulful southern and the song is a club song, about having fun and popping bottles but they are in bed by 10pm.
Me: the rapper was a little off, kind of self-conscious. The opening was almost choral. Oh, Ruby, no no no! I can not understand why the judges like Ruby so much, she is the only person on this show in three years who has a voice I find really unpleasant! Plus she sounded like she was forcing. The arrangement was odd, like everything was in octaves or something, I am not sure.
Shawn: he likes that they let their hair down, some spots in the middle lost the groove though they got it back. The song did not give them much music to play with. They did harmonize well. Good job.
Sara: Ambitious, went for it, fluctuations in rhythm.
Ben: David was “wicked awesome” rapper. Started with their strength, that big choral blast, nailing the blend, he loves their personality but they needed more rhythmically.
They are in trouble, weakest so far.

Vocal Point: “I’ll Be Missing You” by Puff Daddy [it is a take-off on “Every Breath You Take” by the Police but redone in memory of another recording artist who was murdered]. They do it for Ben, who lost his father. Oh no. This does not sound like a good idea to me. Ben will do the lead. That sounds like a terrible idea to me!
Me: It was nice, very moving because of the situation with Ben, I like they take their hats off, and Ben did an excellent job, but it was not hip-hop. It was their weakest performance. They have done really well until now and I hope this will not knock them out!
Shawn: Your father is looking down and smiling. They took the song and made it their own (stop doing that!). There were some key issues, maybe because of the emotion.
Sara: It was brave to choose something that emotional. It was an illustration of music transcending genre, they did it justice. First time they have had pitch problems..
Ben: beautiful, they may be the first group to make him cry. Even though Ben is a baritone, he has a beautiful tenor. Moved.
They may be in trouble.

Decision on first four:
Afro-Blue and Dartmouth Aires are safe. Aha, they judges love the Collective and Ruby, it must be Vocal Point, which is a shame because they have done so well.
But no, Vocal Point is safe, and The Collective will go to the final showdown. This is a surprise! But I am very glad, and I think it is right!

The second bracket performs.

Urban Method: They started with “California Love” but it was not working, so they switched to “Airplanes” by B.o.B./Hayley Williams which translates better to a capella. They feel a lot of pressure, since hip-hop is their thing and if they do not knock it out of the park they have failed.
Me: Cool cricket! Great metronome! I love these guys! I have never heard that song before but it sounds wonderful! It was not their best, not stand-up-and-scream great, but good.
Shawn: Myke, so focused; girls doing lead could have been stronger. Wanted to feel more, but always enjoy their performance.
Ben: brilliant. Build tension before passing it off to Myke. Liked harmony with girls. Sung part at beginning great, but backups too close to melodies; held groove, nobody missed the band, great.
Shawn jumps back in to give a shoutout to Richard for the crickets. Sara says, “Oh, I wanted to say that!” Shawn says, well, go ahead.
Sara: props to Richard for cricket! [it was awesome!] She also wanted more from girls. Myke is a superstar, compelling to watch. [I agree]

Pentatonix: “Love Lockdown” by Kanye West. They will not be rapping.
Me: Wow, they were great! Terrific effects, powerful vocal. Best of the night.
Sara: You feel it in the room when they get into the sweet spot, they delivered. They know how to push the genre to the edge. Scott, power is knowing when to use power, and it is very effective.
Ben: Primal. Kevin still looks pissed off [that is funny, I was thinking that while they were singing, I could not tell a friend of mine about this because she would complain they look angry, I guess that is part of the song]. Mitch, descending violin great. Nice work.
Shawn: Risk takers, worked in their favor. Good job. He blathers a while without really saying anything. Maybe filling time?

Delilah: “How to Love” by Lil Wayne. They tried it without percussion. The percussionist will sing lead! The song is low energy so they need the pitch to be perfect.
Me: Gentle beginning, I liked when percussion came in. Percussionist as solo worked. But very suburban white girl hip-hop. Not bad, middle wasn’t bad. It was the best they could do. But compared to the other two, they are in trouble!
Shawn: Amazing, he liked the emotionality. Shoutout to soloists. Emotional rendition of Lil Wayne song. Did well, great job.
Ben: It was great. Jo, great low note, he can not even hit it!
Sara: powerful feminine energy. The other songs, did not show their “lady nads.” I have to remember that term!
I still think they are in trouble.

Yellow Jackets – “The Show Goes On” by Lupe Fiasco. The lyrics discuss the struggle of overcoming hardships, they are reminded of their recent trip to Kenya, all the things the prize money could do for the kids there. Hey, no fair! This should be on performance, not on who has the best plan for the prize!
Me: They tried. The rapper was not very good. It was muddled and boring, actually. Or maybe I was just put off by the “give us the money because we are the nicest people” thing.
Ben: They always bring heart to their performance, message was all there, very powerful, loved the rap Jamal did.
Sara: All heart, it felt fast, Jamal kicked butt, but rushing. She loved when Jamal started singing.
Shawn: Nailed a difficult hip-hop song, Jamal was working hard. Dynamics were not there. He wishes they had locked in more of an element of surprise. Good, but wish it was better.
I think they are out. They will definitely be in the showdown.

Decision for second bracket:
Pentatonix and Delilah are safe. Oh, that is mean! No way Delilah was better than Urban Method!
Urban Method is in.
Yellow Jackets go to final sing-off.

That makes it The Collective vs Yellow Jackets, they both do “Just a Dream” by Nelly.

The Collective does a really nice job! They included rap. They are not bad at all when Ruby shuts up or at least does not sing lead! I liked the tailored lyrics: “If you like the Collective put your hands up”! I am surprised, they did quite well!

Yellow Jackets have a very choral rapper, he is the whitest black boy ever! Not very good. They will be out.

The judges pick one by one, and of course it is a tie and Sara casts the tiebreaker (I think this is phony and I wish they would not do it this way).

Yellow Jackets are in.
The Collective is out. What? I have not been a big fan of The Collective all along, but they did quite a good job on the second song! And Yellow Jackets, well, I have to admit I am mad at them for doing the whole “look how good we are going to Kenya” thing. Like I am mad at Vocal Point for milking the death. But still, I thought Yellow Jackets were clearly worse on both numbers. Is this a shock boot? This show does not do shock boots! This bothers me.

Their swan song is “Knocking on Heaven’s Door.” They do well until Ruby starts in. I wonder if there is something wrong with me that I do not see how others do not hear how awful she sounds! But I still feel like they should not be the ones going home!

Next week: Superstar medleys. Committed will perform!

4 responses to “The Sing-Off 2011 Episode 6: Hip Hop

  1. Hey, just found your blog on google. Thanks for the review. Agree that the collective sounded better on the last song, but honestly how do you pick between them, they really both deserved to go. Can’t wait until the yellow jackets leave next week and this thing can really get heated. Also, I DO HEAR HOW AWFUL SHE SOUNDS. Thought I was the only one too..

    Afro Blue/Vocal Point for the final Show-Down

    Vocal Point for the win (Although it should be Afro Blue) — Called it here.

    • Hello, elroberto! I am glad you found my little blog! And I am glad someone else hears Ruby the same way I do – I do not like to be critical of individuals (especially since I have been criticized for my vibrato but I am not on a tv show!) but they keep saying she is wonderful and I keep thinking there is some thing wrong with me! She is very beautiful and I hope she has a lot of success, but I would prefer not to listen!

      I think it is a toss-up between the Yellow Jackets and Delilah for the next elimination, if I look at overall performance.

      I am so sorry but I have to disagree with your final show-down! From the beginning I have been thinking Urban Method and Pentatonix! I have to admit Vocal Point is really great though they did not really take care of the business last night. They remind me of the ‘Bubs in terms of how well they do things and I loved the ‘Bubs! Afro-Blue was terrific last night but that is the first time I have “got” them, it is a matter of the song and arrangements, though! That is the problem, when it gets down to the core group they are all equally good at what they do and it is a matter of preference.

      We will see! I am sure one of us will say “I told you so!”

    • Hah! Yes, really! No one is more surprised than me that I like their rapapella! I am from a classical choral background, I am more about Palestrina and Bach than the past ten years, but somehow I am crazy about their sound! But I stumbled over part of a repeat last night (I have to pay more attention to when repeats are on, I keep finding them when they are half over! But it confirmed, The Collective had it all over Yellow Jackets in the final showdown, I am still perplexed) and Pentatonix was amazing, and with only five people, so they really have chops! I have been pleasantly surprised by Vocal Point all along, too, they are my favorite college group this season, though I was very unhappy with the tug at the heartstrings in the absence of hip-hop in this particular episode! And I think Afro Blue is terrific at what they do, but I just am not someone who right now likes that kind of jazz sound – still, like with the rap, maybe that will change!

      We will see! It is one of those contests where it is ok whoever wins!

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