Archive for December 20th, 2013

progressThis is going to be short and sweet. But after a few days of being utterly distracted with other things on the blog and endless phone calls today; I got the live data from the server to show up in the app. It formats correctly and even sorts on the fly.

Now we’re cooking!

The Sing-Off_ Season 4, Episode 6- Judges' Choice - EPEpisode 6 – “Judges’ Choice”

The groups still in the game – Home Free, Ten, Vocal Rush, and The Filharmonic.

Home Free – five men in their twenties, super-tight harmonies, clear tenor lead with the occasional toss to the uber-bass. Lots of performing experience at festivals. They consider themselves “country a cappella” but they are proving to be comfortable applying their style to songs that are not traditionally “country.”

Ten – Ten members (duh), mixed voices. Mature, rich sound, lots of experience as background singers so the harmonies are very full and developed. All of the leads shine. I will steal from Jewell here because she verbalized what I was thinking, which is “I’m not sure what kind of group you are. What kind of records do you want to cut?” This has been puzzling me as well.

Vocal Rush – Performing arts high school group. Twelve members, full of energy and heart, with some pretty mature abilities. The harmonies are a little light on the low/middle end which is really the only thing that highlights their youth.

The Filharmonic – Classic boy-band, adorable, energetic. They have a couple of solid leads that are holding things down pretty well. They have been on the chopping block a couple of times and I personally feel they don’t have a lot of variety; they stick right on the 90’s boy-band sound all the time and I’m getting a little tired of it.


Opening number:

I didn’t know the song but as usual, the opening number was completely enjoyable. I think the bass from Home Free must sing at a sub-sonic level.


The Filharmonic: “Baby I Need Your Lovin’”

Pretty much the same old thing. I didn’t hear enough soul. The lead was happy and sincere but I still didn’t feel quite enough desperation in “I neeeed your lovin’’” Nice choreography, fun to watch but the ooomph was missing. You can’t just throw it a pelvic thrust and equate it with the true aching need that you hear in the Four Tops version. I’m’a leave Jewell’s comments about climaxes alone.

Ten: “Proud Mary”

Wow, this is a song I have trouble imagining a cappella. But of the groups here they are the only one that could probably pull it off. Oh yeah, they did. Very solid, enjoyable performance. The “Tina Turner” lead got a little breathless occasionally, but she wasn’t locking a chord with anyone, and it seemed to fit with the frenetic pace of the song. The backup was really what made this arrangement.

Home Free: “Colder Weather”

I didn’t know this song at all so I could only judge this performance against other Home Free performances. It was clearly in their wheelhouse. Loved Rob’s solo, so beautiful and sincere. I actually liked his better than Austin’s solo. Austin shied away from the “country vowels” they were a little too rounded for this song. You have to do that in a choral arrangement if other singers are singing the same words at the same time, but I don’t think they were; he could have freestyled it just a touch more. And why does he always go “Bah-ah-ay-bee”, instead of “Bay-yay-yay-bee” like most self-respecting country vocalists? I enjoyed the performance and overall it showed off their strengths and reminded us where they came from.

Vocal Rush: “My Songs Know What You Did In The Dark”

I didn’t know this song either. Because I’m hopelessly out of touch. But, this meant, again, I didn’t have a prior performance in mind to compare their arrangement to. Classic Vocal Rush performance; energetic, lots of variety in the arrangement. Thought I heard the various leads go sharp here and there (dark and fire). But, they were so, so, in it and I was in there with them. I can see this group selling tickets, if not records, based on the popularity of Glee and Pitch Perfect. Maybe more so than Ten even though Ten is much better technically.

Safe: Home Free & Vocal Rush

USO: Ten & The Filharmonic

Ulitmate SingOff: “Should I Stay Or Should I Go” (BTW WTF???)

The Filharmonic pretty much did their same old thing and they did it well. But as usual there was no variety. In contrast, Ten seemed to have a different flavor to each verse. And their sound is so much bigger (not just because of more members but also because of more sound in the lower range) that Fil was clearly overwhelmed.

The thing is, a Filipino Boy Band might sell more tickets than a mature gospel/soul group. Based on vocal performance, my winner is Ten by a lot. If the judges are using commercial viability as a criterion, they might go with Filharmonic.

drum roll…Ten is safe!!!  I’m happy to see talent win over commercialism this teeny-weeny time.

Until the finale…







The Sing-Off_ Season 4, Episode 5- Movie NightMy quick rundown on the three Ultimate Sing-Off match-ups from Episode 5

AcoUstKats vs VoicePlay – “Eye Of The Tiger”

Well, it was very entertaining. They were totally transparent about this being pre-staged this time. The show seemed to be trying to keep that secret up to this point. Acoustikats lead lost control of the pitch a couple of times. It was so much about staging and working together I don’t think I can judge their performances separately.  I still hope Voice Play is the one they keep out of this pairing (consistent with my pre-USO pick).


Ten vs Vocal Rush – “Fame”

Another “let’s work together” number. Good performance, I really enjoyed it. maybe they should tour together. I think that Ten’s verses were richer and actually sounded more like a band than Vocal Rush. From a business point of view, Vocal Rush may be more commercial, because they are young, and I’m afraid that may start to play into the decision. Toss-up; I am chickening out of a call on this one. (I didn’t realize there were going to be three…so I didn’t pick a third in the pre-USO write up.)


Home Free vs The Filharmonic – “I’m Alright”

Fun! And not in a bad way. No missteps that I detected. In the rare times that each group sang by themselves, they had their own character. Home Free had tighter, richer harmonies even though there are fewer of them. They were my pick out of this pairing (consistent with my pre-USO call).

If they had put The Filharmonics against the Acoustikats I would have been in trouble. But they didn’t!



Home Free, Ten, and Vocal Rush all safe. Yaaay!

One left to save out of Voice Play, The Filharmonic, and Acoustikats – The Filharmonic? Really?

Upon reflection, they will round out the final four and make an entertaining show. Voice Play had been a little uneven throughout but I think I would rather hear a Voice Play concert than a Filharmonic concert because everything Fil does sounds the same. I’m looking forward to the Final Four. This season is really going way too fast though.

Until next time…


The Sing-Off_ Season 4, Episode 5- Movie NightI would like to thank Andrei for the invitation to join him in blogging the Sing-off. He sets a very high bar so I hope I do not disappoint.

Episode 5 – Part 1

Opening number – Time Of My Life

I could have done an entire entry just on the pairings of the leads, but this is a two-hour episode and I think there will be a lot more to talk about. Altogether the performance was a great production; the arrangement really built up well to the dramatic climax. There may have been a tiny tear-up.

Home Free – Another good one! From Andrei’s pre-show write up I knew what their song choice was, and I thought Pretty Woman should work well for them. And boy, did it. I loved the mix of “toe tapping” and “tenderness” that they weaved in. Really tight harmonies which I have come to expect, appreciate, and frankly, that I think are missing from a lot of the other groups. This had just enough country flair to be true to their roots without making me say “oh, that’s a country-western version of Pretty Woman.” I did catch a glimpse of the Oak Ridge Boys a few times. Nice to see them “suited up.” (oh, wait, was that just another version of Shawn Stockman’s “you look lovely”? At least I saved it for the end of the critique.

Vocal Rush – I’m so glad they gave multiple leads the chance to shine, including their beat-boxer! Kyana was really lovely (her voice! I am not pulling a Shawn). They were all wonderful. I was surprised they could connect so well with this song emotionally since 1) it came out before they were born and hasn’t been remade, to my knowledge, by an artist they would be familiar with and 2) they are usually very exuberant and I was not sure they had the ability to restrain themselves without pulling back completely. But, I was wrong.

Acoustikats – Old Time Rock n Roll. I was expecting a return to the “frat boy kats” with this one, which is a shame because I enjoyed their more choral style “Amazed.” Actually, I felt like they toned down the frat boy just enough to still be entertaining but they did not make me cringe this time. The choreography was less chaotic than in past weeks. All three leads were their strongest performance yet. I wish they had actually had someone do the slide across the floor if they were going to strip to boxers-n-sox. They are entertaining to watch but I wouldn’t want to listen to an album.

The Filharmonic – Don’t Wanna Miss A Thing. I was a little nervous for them. It’s a BIG rock ballad and they have done neither of those styles so far.  They turned the arrangement into something more comfortable for them, and it worked, it was very “them.” I heard a little loss of control in the leads a couple of times, which is easy to do when you are selling the emotion of a song (armchair directors, like armchair quarterbacks, are allowed to criticize people who are, in fact, doing something than better than the armchair can do it themselves). It was fine but I’m getting a little tired of them; they are not really evolving.

Voice Play – They were coached about being more emotionally connected. I didn’t think that “Don’t you forget about me” really needed that, but I liked this performance the best of all their performances so far. Harmonies were much tighter. I liked the arrangement. I liked the “Breakfast Club” character costumes. I liked lead #2 getting to shine a bit. But, the breakdown (la, la, la) fell apart a little and Honey lost control of the pitch.  Such a shame, because I was really with them until that.

Ten – Skyfall – I had no preconception of this song other than “How is Ten going to make the most of their gospel roots (I say that because they seem to say that about themselves). Well, the breakdown certainly answered that; the finish of the song was great. The lead in the first verse was really good, I couldn’t take my eyes off of her. Stealing from Jewell, they have such a good “choral” sound and that speaks to me. They are getting better every episode. However, I’m not sure they have my heart.

I am writing this after the broadcast, but I have not read ahead. I’m going to call Acoustikats and Filharmonic to be going home based on pre-USO performances.

Next entry – the Ultimate Sing Off match-ups.

Jut a really quick post that my review of Episode 6 will be up later today.

But! Before then… I want to welcome Armchair Judge Erin to the blog who will also be putting up comments and reviews as well. I’ll let Erin do up a little bio post; assuming I haven’t terrified her with all the annoying meta. I’m really thrilled to be bringing her on board and I hope you’ll enjoy her opinions as much as I do.