The Sing-Off_ Season 4, Episode 5- Movie NightWednesday’s show was a mixed bag for me. In my pre-show reasoning my odd’s were mixed between very right and very wrong but my reasons behind the odds seemed sound. On top of that things I disliked and liked got mixed around as well. It was a long episode chocked full of great music and stuff to mentally chew on for days.

I hear you cry, “Part 1″… there’s a lot to this episode and I want to at least get the first part out while it’s early as promised. There will be more throughout the day. The rest of this episode and the pre-show for tonight. So, keep watching the blog!

I’m going to be adding some things to the post and playing with the format going forwards. I’m also looking to bring in some other voices. I’ve talked to some folks about posting their opinions on the blog and I’ve also spent a good time scouring the net for quotes, reviews, etc. Expect some ‘tweets.’

Episode 5: Movie Themes. In the modern days of formulaic television where you try to actually produce as little as possible from episode to episode; it was nice to see them play with the opening. I loved the old film reel to start the show. Then they went directly into the intro.

“(I’ve had the) Time of My Life” – Starting with the pairing of Honey Larochelle of VoicePlay and Bass Extreme Tim Foust of Home Free doing their best Bill Medley and Jennifer Warnes. If there’s anything I appreciate this season and last season is that they are showing regularly that a Bass can hold a melody on their own. It’s a voice that can be warm, imposing, diabolical, tender… and I’m not just saying this as a Bass. Well, okay I am. In college I was a Bass Baritone given the title “Basso Pretendo.” Now I consider my self a ‘Basso nigh-profundo’ and live for those times that my voice gets very relaxed and can hit those last octave notes. (Does anyone else shudder at Jewel’s pronunciation of “Oc-tave” with a long ‘A’. Maybe I just learned it incorrectly. @mdoolittle:“I’m seriously on making sure I know the correct pronunciation of octave. Jewel threw me off for a second there.“)

This was a ‘nice’ opening number. I use the term ‘nice’ as a bit of a double-edged sword. It was enjoyable. The song is a great throwback to a well remembered movie and an even better remembered song. It set the theme of the night. On the other hand; it didn’t have the kick of some of the other openings. Just a lot of complimentary pairings breaking into grand chorus. Fortunately, the intro did not cut into what would be a highly impressive night of music. The one big noticeable concern in the intro was that Vocal Rush was now in Element’s stock short-cut sparkly dresses. With Shawn Stockman typically complimenting outfits like that based on their allure; this made me feel like awkward moments could come up later in the judging.

We get a quick recap video with a note that Jewel is the Mentor duShow, the ‘pulse-pounding, game changing, spleen flensing‘ triple ultimate challenge and double elimination. And then the theme. Nick Lachey gives us the rundown we’ve just seen: “triple ultimate with a double elimination” (which put that way sounds like a burger combo) and introduces the judges. Formula works. We then get the mentor to competitor speech from Jewel. She has a very nice reminder about the series.

We’re not competing against others. We’re competing against ourselves.

The show.


Home Free (@homefreeguys) – “Oh, Pretty Woman” – Roy Orbison.

The intro biographies on the group are more becoming produced segments to give a little bit of character on the group and the mentoring segment. Home Free states (and comically demonstrates) that people will be expecting a Western. But they pick “Pretty Woman” because they feel it’s iconic but they can bring it in a way so that people can enjoy it in a manner tha they aren’t expecting. Jewel reminds them not to make it a “Toe Tapper” It either needs to bring the emotion and be heartfelt or they really need to turn it into the celebrate party. It can’t just sit in the middle.

My comments earlier about Home Free:

I sense in this one a potential for Home Free to fall back into the rut of “All Austin” with a quick show of the Bass to be impressive. Home Free has been good about being tight and keeping the fun up and is not for a lack of surprise. So as long as this isn’t “More of the Same” this should be a group solidly in the Top 4.

I gave Home Free near even odds at 2:1 to survive the episode. And they really didn’t disappoint. Pulling out a page from Street Corner Renaissance; the opening of the song was a shuffle that basically evolved into Neo-A Cappella, Country-Doo Wop. So it started as a toe tapper, became a party song and then abruptly (but with a fantastic transition) became a love ballad. So, it wasn’t just a toe tapper; it was all three. And it did so to tell the story of the song. Throughout the upbeat section the backup chanted, “Hey” which was a really fresh change and quite fitting for the arrangement. Home Free has a great talent for growing their style while still being very much their own sound. And of course as pictured above…. “Beard”

The Judges:

Ben: Home Fires! That was Tight. “Loved the, ‘Hey’” Not just Doo doo doo. Could have done it any one way. Loved that you did it multiple ways.

Shawn: I thought I was gonna be angry with the Doo doo doo. Play on your strengths. Tight Harmonies are always so clean. Austin: I am a Fan. Boy got chops, boy can blow. Ain’t your typical singing’ white boy. Tim: Why do you make the Bass sound so easy. Great job (Again, I find myself annoyed with Stockman. It’s not the 80’s anymore. Do we really need to call out gender or race on a national TV show?)

Jewel: Did they mix the emotion and the toe tapping? Yes. Orbison is a hard shoe fill. You did a great job. (Jewel joins in the gendered notation by pointing out Tim Foust’s erotic dance moves in the opener)


VocalRush-editVocal Rush (@OsaVocalRush) – “Against All Odds” – Phil Collins

The Intro shows us the kids talking about enjoying being kids despite the continual compliment that they are mature. Cue Pillow Fight. Jewel reminds them that they need to harness in the wild energy they have when things get fun. She compares it to riding a volcano.  She tells them to play with the scriptural texture of the song. The vocal percussionist (I’m guessing that beatbox is becoming a passé term), Kyana will be performing a solo in this episode.

My comments earlier about Vocal Rush:

This is smart. Vocal Rush has an incredible sound when they have the intensity up but their Achilles heel comes from when they ‘blast off’ into fun. We haven’t seen them do a full straight ballad. We’ve seen songs with slow and fast. If they can keep this one under control; this could be a top seed for them.

I gave Vocal Rush a 5:1. Also high likely hood to continue on. This was everything it needed to be. The cohesion was much tighter for this presentation. Kyana (at only 16) has a beautiful alto voice. You could sense her nervousness easily; but for the song that added to its drama. There was a very stellar moment when the lead vocal passed to another singer and the tempo increased. The thing that made this so remarkable to watch is that Kyana drifted effortlessly from lead vocalist to vocal percussionist. Back in her preferred element, her confidence increased and this also was perfect because this is where the beat and energy of the arrangement rose too. Jewel, consider the song’s script duly textured. My biggest complaint of this performance doesn’t go to the group but to the Production team for their choice of outfits on TWO counts. First of all; the evening wear for the group seemed really vulgar and unnecessary. But to me what was far more insulting was to put the “non-television sized women” into Black outfits. It drew my eye in what I feel was yet again the unnecessary shaming of other-sized women. (But I soapbox)

The Judges:

Shawn: Singoff First. Kyanna. Beautiful. Someone sing beautiful and then goes into the percussion. Jordan: Vocals- Such Control at 18. You sound like you have the maturity and voice of an experienced 30 year old. You have the ability to do anything. You understand each other: You are a group.

Ben: “Kids these days” is such a negative. If it’s you kids running the place? Awesome! You sense as a unit. Kyana: Be autiful. Jordan fantastic. Love the Arrangement. Little technical things. I love you guys. Love the performance.

Jewel: “You don’t know how not to be emotionally honest” – Kyana – 16 years: Real vulnerability. Could hear it in the breath. And then awesome beat box. Great Job!


acoustikats-brandacoUstiKats (@acoUstiKats) – “Old Time Rock And Roll” – Bob Seger

The Intro shows us the last week’s performance, the engagement, and then reminds us of the Frat Boy mentality as they act out a Bachelor Party. (Until now, I’d never heard of a bachelor party where they wind up putting toe nail polish on women.) Jewel enters to ask the college boys if they will be performing in just their underwear. And thus wins the coveted “Shawn Stockman sexist comment award” for the episode. yes it’s the iconic image, but this is first and foremost about the song. She states that it needs to create character; honour the nostalgia; but above all: have consistency in the music and not let the theatrics over shadow it.

My comments earlier about the Kats:

This is dumb. Yes… Big movie hit. However, I’ve chatted about the fact that Acoustikats (the Gemini Group) wears the two faces of Frat Boys and Serious A Cappella Colllege group. Their problem is that when they go for the fun, they lose their edge and originality. This song is about as “Party” as you can get. The main vocals aren’t even sung. So, putting an actual vocal to it will distract from the original or not doing so will distract from being a competitive group. This seems like a lose-lose for the Kats.

I gave the Kats my lowest odds to survive at 25:1. At first I thought that maybe i’d be wrong. They came into the song with a sweet barbershop-like styling and came into the song with a good middle ground between the scream and the sing. If only they’d stopped there. the Kats then ‘treated’ the viewers to a cavalcade of musical styles: Show Shuffle, Testify, etc. And finally, in a moment out of a bad burlesque show; the 3 leads demonstrated their break-away pants to give us the partial-monty and the full Tom Cruise. As expected as the pants came down, the theatrics went up and the harmonies and glue came down as well. Maybe I’m just getting older but the sexualisation on the Sing Off isn’t supporting the rest of the show. The performance as a whole just fell flat.

The Judges:

Jewel: Musical tour. Good mix of musical styles.

Shawn: Could have done without the exposure. You can never unsee something. Seriously. Great performance. Harmonies waver on the theatrics. Found a niche. Bringing out new things. (Everyone of Shawn’s comments feel like they have a hidden double meaning that is hiding distaste for the performance)

Ben: Jewel jokes that Ben judges in just his underwear. “I’ve gone commando tonight.” It was entertaining. The transitions were good and well executed. Not sure if I’m happy about multiple styles in a song about r&r. Wanted more R&R in the song.


And this was only half of the performances. What did you think of these three groups? How do they rank so far for you? More shortly!

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