Here we are, the penultimate episode of Season 4. In many of the more critically respected dramatic television shows this year (Breaking Bad, Game of Thrones, etc.), the penultimate episode was often the most powerful, surprising, or compelling of the season. Let’s see if The Sing Off, which is nothing like those shows, follows suit. 😉
Episode 6 is called “Judges Choice,” which could be interpreted two different ways: the judges choose the songs for each group to perform, or as a tongue-in-cheek wink at the fact that the judges do not actually choose who advances or wins this show. I’m guessing it’s the former.
The opening number “Shake It Out” is strong, each of the soloists shines, particularly Tim Foust (perhaps the breakout star of the season?). The staging was a little more dramatic, which worked well for the song and I liked the clusters containing soloists from different groups. As always, the arranging staff and Mr. Deke Sharon deserve lots of credit for making a song like this work with lots of different types of voices.
First up, The Filharmonic with “Baby I Need Your Loving.” The judges, er, producers, picking a Four Tops song is smart for The Filharmonic, and I hope this means they have really chosen songs in the wheelhouse for each group tonight, letting them shine on their preferred type of song. My only concern is that doo wop is simple harmonically (see Street Corner Renaissance) and I think The Filharmonic should be trying to offer more complicated arrangements if they want to win it all.
Obviously, these guys are slick on the moves, but I do think they sound a tad hesitant compared to past performances and the tempo is pushing and pulling quite a bit. They try a few things to play with the harmonic structure, and I like the effort, but they don’t quite lock. Not sure this gets them to the final, but it all depends on whether the producers want the high school group to advance and if so, whether they prefer these guys or Ten.
Next up, Ten has been given something in their wheelhouse, “Proud Mary.” I am glad to see that the producers are giving each group a song which they can really sink their teeth into. I’m a little nervous about them saying “you cannot mess up Proud Mary” before they perform, because…you can mess up ANY song if you try it a cappella. I’ve seen chaotic versions of “In the Still of the Nite,” and that’s about as simple as it gets.
Well, you can tell they love singing this song, they’re starting to try and sound like a backing band instead of a backing choir, so that’s good. I don’t really love the frantic pace, I think it’s a hair too fast. I do like the breakdown, and obviously the solo is terrific. I agree with Ben that I’d like to see them take more risks. Much like The Filharmonic, though, I wasn’t totally blown away. I don’t feel like this was a performance that the winner of the competition should be putting out in the next to last episode.
Home Free gets their comfort food with “Colder Weather,” and they are obviously excited to do a country ballad. Incidentally, I love Rob from the packages/bumpers, he’s hilarious, and as they get started I’m pulling for him on the solo. He’s definitely solid, a little nervous, but he has a sweet voice. It’s not the edgy, ripping kind of solo voice (a lot Scott Hoying), but more of that sweet, change of pace solo voice (a la Mitch Grassi) (sorry, but this is The Sing Off- no reason not to compare groups to Pentatonix).
Anyway, the song sounds good, I think the arrangement is a little boring at the chorus but again they sound good. I’d just love for them to thicken up the texture, spice up the harmonies without reaching too far. Frankly, I’m yet again not overly impressed. I still don’t hear that killer performance that you expect from a competition winner. Maybe all the groups were a little nervous tonight, but I so rarely notice that in a Pentatonix performance. Ok, at this point we can safely say none of these groups is Pentatonix. The question is, will any of them be capable of sustaining success for 6 months, much less years, beyond the end of the competition. At this point, I’d say Home Free has the potential, and Ten and Filharmonic haven’t proven it yet. Vocal Rush is a high school group, so no matter how good they are, they won’t be winning the whole thing. But they can still make it to the finale, so let’s see what happens.
Yes, they gave Vocal Rush a song that likely appeals to their generation, Fallout Boy’s “My Songs Know What You Did in the Dark.” It’s also high energy, which these kids actually do better, more consistently, than any of the groups in the competition.
Hmm, the tempo is fluctuating a little bit in the beginning, but it starts to settle in at about the 30 second mark. These guys are just so talented, I’m surprised that minor pitch issues are present (so rare for them). Sarah Vela is a vocal powerhouse, I like the breakdown, and it’s another solid overall performance. Flange (that droning sound in the beginning) can mess with tempo and pitch, but at least they’re experimenting with different sound palettes and textures. I don’t think it’s their best, but it’s worthy of heading to the finale.
Tough call- I would put Home Free and Vocal Rush through in a minute, leaving the tough decision between Ten and Filharmonic.
The producers agree, so we’re down to a battle between these groups. I think both groups are intriguing, though Ten has gotten better as the show has progressed whereas Filharmonic has actually stagnated a bit in the past 2 weeks in my opinion. If the producers agree, they’ll take the momentum with Ten. Also, and this shouldn’t matter, I think The Filharmonic are so appealing from a PR perspective that they might actually have some success in the mainstream media even if they get booted now.
The battle song is “Should I Stay or Should I Go,” which seems wrong somehow. The Clash cannot be happy about this.
Ooh, not loving the intro from Ten, the beat is fine, but the backs are clearly out of their comfort zone. The Filharmonic seem way more comfortable on this in their intro. Ten responds with a weird rhythmic approach, and The Filharmonic responds with a dubstep breakdown, and now Ten have finally found their identity for this song. If this were a true battle, The Filharmonic would win by a landslide. Unfortunately, it’s not- so the outcome has already been decided regardless of performance.
And the producers took momentum, sending Ten on to the finale. I liked the Filharmonic in the beginning, they’ve slipped the past few episodes, but I would be willing to bet that we hear a lot more from these guys over the next 6-12 months. If they’re smart, they will be tearing it up on social media and YouTube, kinda like… VoicePlay. If you missed it, they’ve released videos in the past week with members from nearly all of the contestant groups, but this one with Home Free is my favorite:
See you all Monday night for the finale, and let me know what you think!