Hello I am Zin! Whew, I have been busy lately! But I get to take a little break after this!
Seven groups are left and one will go home tonight! Committed will visit tonight! And since it is Halloween, we have a medley of Halloween songs as an opening number. I would not have guessed there were any Halloween songs, except maybe Thriller, but they seem to have found some. I only recognized Ghostbusters, but boy was that opening number was fun! The first song was a little goofy, like it was from a Hallmark Happy Halloween Hour or something, but it got really good, with lots of really great individual performances! I am not a big Halloween person but that really worked!
For the competition, each group will do a three-song medley of one artist or group.
Urban Method: Rihanna, “What’s My Name,” “Umbrella, and “Only Girl in the World.” They want to showcase the girls because last week the judges said the girls were weak. Everything is in a different key and has a different beat.
Me: “What’s my Name” was a little weak on the solo. ‘Umbrella” works a little better. The third seemed to fall apart at first harmonically. They had a moment at the very end but it was not all that good! What has happened to Urban Method, they were my favorites and now they are not doing very well two weeks in a row!
Sara: strong finish. Weak moments starting out, confidence issue maybe. She loves that they put girls in front, got confident in the end but it took some time.
Shawn: cool to highlight ladies. Rapper stands out because he is a rapper and he has intensity. Likes solo potential of the ladies, needs more confidence. Overall good.
Ben: transitions work, cool edits, started strong, unglued in umbrella, “Only Girl” was great. Strengths are production and rapper. Should not have too much pressure to make everyone total stars, girls did fine.
Uh oh, they could be in trouble.
Vocal Point: Elvis, “Don’t be Cruel,” “Can’t Help Falling in Love,” and “Jailhouse Rock.” Tanner delayed his wedding for this competition. They should blow this away.
Me: “I Can’t Help” shaky on solo. Not a great arrangement. Nice transition to different beat. And good modulation. Stepped up. Nice transition into “Jailhouse Rock.” They are in their element. Love the lead. Great bass! Cooked at the end!
Ben: “You are back, that is good.” Loved medley within medley, several transitions in “Falling in Love,” great choice, including reggae. Loved Jake as lead. McKay killed lead on Jailhouse. Liked that Mike first did not worry about sounding like Elvis, nice work.
Sara: in their element. Chose great vocalists. Jake, very sincere. Well done.
Shawn: appropriate mood changes with every song, engulfed, what are they going to do next, entertaining, great job.
They will be very safe.
Afro-Blue: Janet Jackson, “What Have You Done For Me Lately,” “Miss You Much” and “When I Think of You.” Transition is the challenge.
Me: Great jackets! “When I Think of You” had some issues at first, not as cohesive as they have been. The scat is great. “Miss You Much” started weak but then clicked. Clever ending.
Shawn: He likes that they gave tribute to Janet Jackson with choreography, clothes, and hairstyles. Reggie, bad man on bass, on key, following rhythm changes, foundation of everything. Transitions were ambitious, at times he did not recognize the song, they might be overthinking some parts. Overall easy and effortless.
Ben: Radical arrangement, lots of space at the top, loved scat, really good.
Sara: They have lots of personality and are fun to watch. They might be too good at this, too ambitious, not that they were not delivering but she got lost in the middle. Amazing vocalists.
They will be safe. They are the musical intellectuals of the competition.
Dartmouth Aires: Queen, “Killer Queen,” “Bohemian Rhapsody,” and “Somebody To Love.” They are nervous because these are iconic songs.
Me: So much of Queen was a capella or at least choral, they had better hit it! Great lead on “Killer Queen.” “Bohemian Rhapsody” (the “bismillah” part) could have done more choreography but singing was very good. Terrific transition into “Somebody To Love!” I do not like that there is a director. Love Michael as the lead! Great choreography on lead! He held that last note forever, a soft falsetto while going from standing to sitting on the floor cross-legged, that is hard to do, great job! I think they knocked it out of the park.
Sara: Favorite performance of the entire competition at this point. Brilliant.
Shawn: Amazing. Nailed it, all the leads, Watching a Broadway play.
Ben: Nailed it. Sick high notes coming out of Nick, a little flat, pitch center went down, but so dynamic and well sung. Michael, insane lead.
They are very safe.
Pentatonix: Britney. “Oops,” “Toxic,” “Hold It Against Me.” They disagree how to do something, both sides feel very strongly, no idea how they worked it out but they did.
Me: “Innocent” was good, she did a great Britney.” Toxic,” interesting they used a guy lead, great rhythm switch up, and the girl played the character right into it, terrific! “Against Me,” great effects. At the end they did a little tailored mashup that was terrific, very cool. It’s amazing they are only five people.
Shawn: “This is a really good show [yes it is!].” Avi and Kevin fill up so much space, amazing how big they sound, bass and percussion. Techno a capella djs. Mashup at end seamless, perfect. Kirstie, who would have known. Great show.
Ben: so many colors, smart arranging, Kirstie killed it. Great transitions. Freaking out in rehearsals paid off, keep freaking out.
Sara: They have a high standard, packed a punch. Awesome. Kirstie, stoked, great to hear in lead. In sparkly little dress. Transition between Toxic and Hold it Against Me was rad. Rhythm section untouchable. Kevin and Avi, consistent, spectacular.
They are very very safe.
Delilah: Alicia Keys, “I Keep On Falling,” “A Woman’s Worth,” “If I Ain’t Got You.” They have had a hard time being consistent.
Me: “I Keep on Falling” had a terrific alto lead, and cool bass! Woman’s Worth, something odd in the arrangement, like octaves that should not be octaves (never double the third or the fifth, I forget which). If I Ain’t Got You was really good. They’ve improved a lot.
Sara: Fantastic. Great choice of artist, Started with Falling which is sometimes overdone, love how they did it, would buy it right now. Vocal was perfect. Woman’s Worth got a little squirrrely, brought back with I Aint Got You.
Shawn: smart arrangement, using right vocalist. Sassy, humble, sexy, strong, engaging. Nailed leads.
Ben: All leads were great. Arrangement great, started sparsely, Jo as anchor, satisfying low end, great way to highlight Amy. Candace needs more confidence, can be great. Gina on percussion, held it together.
Sounds like they are not completely safe but are safer than Urban Method.
Yellow Jackets: Billy Joel, “River of Dreams,” “Uptown Girl,” “Always a Woman to Me.”
Me: River of Dreams perfect for chorale sound they have! First lead is not quite there. Second lead works much better! Always a Woman to me is a little too overblown, too choral, too classical! Second lead is wonderful, I love this guy, nice high tenor. Nice duet. Great transition to Uptown Girl. Meh ending. Ok, but not anything great.
Ben: start great, brought in African influence. Alwas a Woman, employed vocal percussion he disapproves of, percussive mouth cymbals, but it was pretty cool, brought the wind. Liked transition. All harmony locked. They have a group personality, even though they have strong singers, we need to know who lead singers are, they have no character voice in leads, just the group personality. [Aha! That is because they are mostly classical musicians!]
Shawn: showed another side with Always a Woman. Aaron is lead, trouble holding high note at end but it worked out. Ballad worked ok, another side to them.
Sara: well as they have blended. Loved lead vocalists. Would have gotten rid of vocal percussion, the wind in the middle. The problem is harnessing energy, they overpowered Aaron at end. But well done.
Sounds like they are in trouble.
I think Urban Method and Yellow Jackets are in the bottom. I have been disappointed by Urban Method twice now and I do not know if it is because I had high expectations or if they are out of steam. I think Yellow Jackets will go home though. At this point Pentatonix is my favorite! I admire Afro Blue but I do not like their music (like that Tom Bissell story). I am not sure what the trouble with Urban Method is but they are losing ground. Delilah is gaining ground. The two remaining college groups are pretty good!
Committed performs! They do a Chris Brown medley. “Forever,” “With You,” “Yeah 3x.” They are a small group, only six people. I am afraid I was not terribly impressed by this performance! They were not bad, it just did not interest me much, it could have been the songs, I am not familiar with them.
And the verdict:
Dartmouth Aires, Pentatonix and Vocal Point are immediately safe. Delilah and Afro Blue next.
That leaves Urban Method and Yellow Jackets, just like I said! I love this show, what I see, what the judges say, and what happens at the end all work together! It is not like some shows where I end up thinking, what were they listening to.
And Yellow Jackets are out. It was the right decision. They are too classically oriented, I think. I love classical choral, I sing classical choral, I would love to see them do some Randall Thompson or Ralph Vaughan Williams, and I still wish they would have one classical number in this series at some point, but they can not break out of it into a more pop sound.
Their swan song is “I Get Knocked Down” (“Tubthumping”) by Chumbawamba, and they do a spectacular job of it, with lyrics tailored to include the judges (Shawn Boy, Ben Boy, Sara Boy) and the NBC 1-6-4 tones! (When I was learning to sight-read, the little trick we used for a 1-6 interval was that tritone: N-B-C! I think you have to be “of a certain age” to remember it!) That was the best swan song yet! In fact it was maybe one of the top three performances of the series so far! No, that would be going a little to far, but it was wonderful! It is too bad they could not do that all the time!
Next week, each group will perform two songs, one country and one rock anthem (that sounds like fun!), and one group will be out. A rock anthem depends on power, so larger groups might have an advantage. But I have confidence in Pentatonix!