Only 3 episodes left, which is both exciting and disappointing. Which also describes my feelings about Episode 5, loosely themed “Movie Night.”
The intro is “I Had the Time Of My Life,” starting with the subhuman voice of Tim Foust. It’s a nice enough medley, I’m sure it will appeal to a lot of people, I’ve just never really felt much about the song and this performance didn’t change my mind. Obviously my wife will hate me for even suggesting this about the song. 😉
Nick announces in the beginning that we’re going to have 3 full battles, which sounds both exciting and confusing.
Home Free starts things off with the oft-covered “Pretty Woman,” performed with extreme regularity by male groups and Rockapella for the past 18 or so years. They’ve added a few different elements, namely the “hey” shouts, the early beat, and the shift to a doo woop mid-section, but this might be the first underwhelming performance by Home Free. To put that in perspective, they are still in tune, they sound great, it’s just not doing anything for me.
Vocal Rush is going with “Against All Odds,” and they’re letting the vocal percussionist Kyana take a stab at a solo- with good reason. She has a terrific voice, and the arrangement is pretty meat and potatoes but powerful; the only thing is they hit some weird moments in the backs about a minute in, but the recovery is quick and total. Another very solid performance from Vocal Rush.
The AcoustiKats are going with “Old Time Rock ‘n’ Roll,” and I suspect this might be their final performance on the show. They trade the solos around, which is nice until they get to operaman. It’s a big finish, and they still have lots of energy, but I don’t feel like this performance was any better than dozens of other college groups out there. Basically, I don’t think this saved them.
The Filharmonic are doing “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing” from Armageddon, a song which was literally unmissable on the radio for 9 months back in 1998-99. Oddly enough, I don’t recall hearing an a cappella version of it before. The intro is pretty, but the chorus is totally underwhelming and not nearly big enough. This is where the smart arranging of a group like Pentatonix is so obvious. These guys have the same number of singers, but the chorus is far emptier than almost anything PTX does. It was an emotional performance, powerful in that sense, and they are still great singers, it was just kind of boring. Joe’s open weeping suggests to me that they will NOT be going anywhere tonight.
VoicePlay is up with “Don’t You Forget About Me,” and they’ve got the Breakfast Club theme going. It’s very clean, maybe even a little clinical, in the beginning, and all kinds of things start happening in the arrangement. This is actually the precise opposite of the Filharmonic song, which was straightforward and boring. This was busy and active, and I found that interesting. It fell apart a little bit, but overall I thought it was fun and cool. Not sure the judges felt the same way, and it makes me a little nervous for them.
Next up, Ten is going to cover Adele’s “Skyfall” theme, and I am eagerly anticipating it. This seems like it could be a good fit for them, depending on how they approach the backing parts. There are some cool chords going on, I like the atmosphere, but there are also a few weird notes here and there (particularly in the bass). The modulation is pretty solid, but after it, they go back to a very vanilla, choral approach which I don’t like as much. Whoa, nice breakdown and another modulation, and they’ve got my attention again. Only problem was some weird VP at the end, but this was a very solid performance.
Now, the “battles,” which are really more like mini-opening numbers with just two groups, and you know what? I’m not mad about it. I actually really enjoy this part of the show, particularly knowing that the producers are going to choose who they want regardless of the performances in the battles anyway. So, first up is VoicePlay and the AcoustiKats with “Eye of the Tiger,” and it’s fun. I don’t love the AcoustiKats arrangement in the beginning, but I love the VoicePlay rendition. The ‘Kats chorus is better, and then VoicePlay changes to a Latin rhythm which is fine, and then it is full-fledged collaboration, which is what I wanted. Great arrangement, so much fun. If the producers plan to eliminate one group from each pairing, I think the ‘Kats will be headed home.
Next battle is Vocal Rush and Ten, doing the theme from “Fame,” and it’s compelling from the beginning. Ten does some nice harmonic shifts on the chorus, and now I’m starting to wonder if Ten will actually boot Vocal Rush off. The groups join together, and it’s huge, beautiful-sounding, and again- lots of fun.
Last up, the most puzzling matchup to me, Home Free versus The Filharmonic. I had assumed the producers want both of these groups in the final, so I wonder if we’re being tricked on the format here. This is actually the best of the 3 battles, and both groups are so good at their respective styles, but they also work pretty well together. This is particularly important as they are just jumping through various musical styles on this song, which is a great idea since the original is not a very interesting song.
Honestly, i don’t know what’s going to happen. I would suspect the bottom two groups for the evening are the ‘Kats and _. As in, it could be The Filharmonic, it could be Ten, maybe evenVocal Rush or VoicePlay. The only group I think is untouchable is Home Free.
Well, it seems a bit unfair for them to eliminate both VoicePlay and the ‘Kats since they battled each other and both lost, but it only proves that the whole thing is a big facade, and the only thing that matters is whether Sony thinks Home Free, Ten, or The Filharmonic is the most marketable group (and thus will win it all).
This was a big episode, but tomorrow we’re back to one hour.
What did you all think?