Category: Review

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.

The Sing-Off_ Season 4, Episode 6- Judges' Choice - EPDown to the final 4.

In 2 hours on the east coast we’ll have our final 3 for Monday’s 2 hour gala. (I hope this year that NBC doesn’t decide to edit out what the charities actually do. To this day we support the Trevor Project and their support for bullied gay children.)

I’m not going to look at the songs for tonight. I’m just going to talk about the final four groups and try to hit odds on elimination.

Going in we have:

  • Home Free
  • Ten
  • Vocal Rush
  • The Filharmonic

Home Free – A Cappella-Country with a great cross over sound, a stunning lead vocalist, an unbelievable bass (No worries, still a fan of the Avi the Bass Canon), and of course who could forget, a beard! Home Free has a sound that isn’t just original, it’s tight and creative. I was worried in the early weeks that they were getting formulaic, but they managed to find a surprise in each episode. Good odds for survival tonight.

Ten – I was not a big fan of Ten going in. Gospel and R&B has to kick me so hard I’m grateful for it to really touch me. Ten’s initial foray was very scattered. You could tell it was 10 really good singers looking to come together. While it’s not obvious from the crunched in schedule; taping for this series was over weeks rather than days. Ten has obviously matured and coalesced into a group. They will only get better with each performance. Good odds for survival tonight.

Vocal Rush – I love these kids. Every episode they show more depth, more maturity, and more style. This group has so many different and eclectic weapons in their musical arsenal to call from. Vocal Rush’ ongoing danger has come from their biggest asset. They know no fear. The put it all honestly out there and that means if it’s fun, they are going to bring the party. And the care-free attitude is where the really hard hitting songs begin to break down. If they can conquer this, they’re in… If they let it get away from them, the other thing that will get away is the competition. Sadly… Lowest odds for survival tonight.

The Filharmonic – To think that I’d ever enjoy a 90’s boy band. These guys have a locked in sound. They have a style and swagger to match. Finally, they have an ear for arrangement and performance that really pulls people in. After the last episode they also have figured out how to rip their hearts to shreds to bring it to the next level. Whereas Vocal Rush comes unglued when they have fun, The Filharmonic becomes unglued when they don’t put the full emotion in. Filharmonic needs to keep focus, not make tuning errors, and be as openly honest and without fear as Vocal Rush. Low odds, but I think they have a better chance of overcoming/hiding their shortfalls better than Vocal Rush does.

Odds for tonight to survive:

  • Ten – 2:1
  • Home Free 2.5:1
  • The Filharmonic 12.5:1
  • Vocal Rush 14:1

35 minutes and counting. See you in a few more hours!

Why yes, this is FOUR Sing off posts in one day.

The Sing-Off_ Season 4, Episode 5- Movie NightGood gravy, this was a full episode. So, to recap; with six groups having done their main performance of the night we were moving into the TUSO! (Triple Ultimate Sing Off) The groups would be paired off for an Ultimate battle and then their individual performances would be factored into the decisions.

My rankings as a reminder to this point were:

  1. Ten
  2. Home Free
  3. Vocal Rush
  4. Filharmonic
  5. VoicePlay
  6. Acoustikats


Ultimate Sing Off 1: acoUstiKats vs. VoicePlay: “Eye of the Tiger” – Survivor.

If I do anything this season let me have one nay saying moment against my beloved Pentatonix. After the rush of the win PTX presented this as what was theoretically their Swan Song. It was probably one of their weakest things on the entire run of season 3. As a result; this is a song that makes me cringe when I hear ANY a cappella group do it.

In the intro video we see that the groups are counting on their assets:

  • VoicePlay: Experience and being clever
  • Kats: Sheer number and “Wall of Sound”

After two seasons of writing posts on A Cappella to hear a group self identify as a “Wall Of Sound” was mixed vindication. I’d had many people tell me not to use that term in describing college groups because it’s just a style. And here was a college group describing itself that way. It’s also something I don’t like to hear.

It was also made apparent that this is for show and that while a ‘competition’ the groups are going to try to work their best together. This is obviously from the producers. If you haven’t seen by now; finalists and the winners of the season will be touring in the spring with favourites from the season as well as new ‘ultimate sing offs.’ What this means is that they are really trying to push the combined group performances. The Ulteriour on the Ultimate begins to make more sense.

Working together works so much better for these groups. The performance is simply fun. And wonderfully the theatrics don’t upstage the really good music. There is an odd latino beat thrown in half way. It was enjoyable. I’m not entirely sure how they will judge that.

The judges:

Ben: That was really fun. You guys worked together so well. As much as a competition as it can be, it’s always together. There are no Divas. Everyone had a moment.

Shawn: A mixture of Loony Tunes and Monty Python. You’ll never see anything like this anywhere else on TV. So Cool. A lot of fun. Everyone sounded wonderful. Very cool.

Jewel: Really silly. Really enjoyable. Loved the leg lifts. Forgot to listen to the sound. And it was sound.


Ultimate Sing Off 2: Vocal Rush vs Ten – “Fame” – Irene Cara

When asked why this pairing; Jewel responds that she see the seeds of Ten in Vocal Rush and the youthful origins of Vocal Rush in Ten. She calls it a credit to a Past, Present, and Future Vibe. Again it’s made clear that the groups are working together on the performance but there’s mock trash talking. This latter I can do without.

The performance was unexpectedly stunning. This song fit Vocal Rush better because it has that honesty from naive exuberance. Something that Vocal Rush has innocent mastery over. Ten doesn’t exactly have a problem either, but their more mature voices lend an almost bittersweet maturity that dampens a little. Granted between the groups together it is amazing. I actually lose track on who is in which group and have to remind myself by outfits. Amazing energy all a round. That latin beat shows up again unexpectedly. Calle Sol must really be unhappy now. With one of my favorite tweets of the night coming from Season 2 2nd place finisher (which I felt was a bad choice, thinking they were better than winner Committed) “Street Corner Symphony” (@StreetCornerSym):

SPOILER ALERT: Most of tonight’s @thesingoff choreography ends with a fist pump.

The judges:

Jewel: You guys did not disappoint. Sarah: Love your diva. Nice mix in the group. Really a good job.

Ben: Rubbed off on each other. Ten seemed more youthful, The kids seemed tighter. Vocal Rush held their own next to Ten. Not a bad lead vocal in the bunch.

Shawn: Just watching and seeing it, reminded me of my HS days at HS For Perf Arts. Same energy. 75 blowers just singing. They could just do it. A great sense of vocal acrobatics and flips. So much fun to listen to. (VR-)Sydney: Where have you been? So interchangeable. Great job.


BeatOffUltimate Sing Off 3: Home Free vs The Filharmonic – “I’m Alright” – Kenny Loggins

Both groups want to show the best of both groups. They want to have fun swapping and combining their talents. I would not expect these two groups to mix well, but they did superbly. Watching Filharmonic line dance while Home Free rippled like mermaid was an experience. Both Austin and Joe have AMAZING voices and carry their groups well. Then the surprise. The Sing Off’s first BeatBoxBattle. As a fan of KRNFX, this has come a long way from when I was in High School (Appreciating VoicePlay’s song from earlier). Granted back then instead of  vocal percussion or beat boxing, I think my father called it Tourette Syndrome. This was the most powerful duet of the night.

The judges:

Shawn: How much fun was that?! Beard Did the gopher – So much fun and energy – but showed the distinction between the groups. Country and Boy Band… Heard both. Showing the personality.

Jewel: I have not stopped giggling like a school girl. Oh my heck. I’m going to focus… Laugh. Adorable to see the swap in personalities. Filharmonic. Sometimes I hear it come unglued… But it didn’t happen this time.

Ben: America’s first (really bad edit)… Beat-Box off.

As was confirmed by Tim Foust on Twitter, Ben actually did say, “Beat Off” unintentionally and the censors had to come in and have him refilm/reloop that because they could say “Beat Off” on the air.

My other annoyance is that it wouldn’t be America’s first Beat-Box competition any more than The Sing Off is America’s first A Cappella competition. In both cases, America’s first “TELEVISED” versions. Remember kids, American Ninja Warrior is actually around 30 years old… and Japanese.

At the end of the TUSO, I actually decide to hold my ground on my rankings:

  1. Ten
  2. Home Free
  3. Vocal Rush
  4. Filharmonic
  5. VoicePlay
  6. Acoustikats

This is killing me because I’m not ready for VoicePlay to go, I don’t want to lose The Filharmonic and I’m terrified that they’re going to boot Vocal Rush who’s a dark horse favourite.

First three safe:

  • Vocal Rush
  • Home free
  • Ten

They called my 3, 2, 1.

Nick gives the judges comments:

  • VoicePlay: 1st perf: So powerful, but arrangement didn’t peak. High marks for USO
  • Filharmonic: Deeply moved, rock star aura. Sometimes fall apart. Beatbox issues : USO standing ovation.
  • Acousticats: Props on the musical revue: wavered, needed more growl. USO: Stayed in tune

At this point I’m very much hoping not to lose The Filharmonic. But as if Honey hasn’t had enough musical therapy, each group waiting for their fate is asked the obscenely ridiculous question, “How are you feeling?”

  • Honey: Really thankful for the opportunity to be here. Really glad to have made connections
  • Filharmonics: Amazing groups to compete with and to learn from.
  • Acoustikats: Most amazing experience of our lives. VoicePlay… So much fun. Singing with Voice Play was the pinnacle of performance life. Made it so far… Still more in our tanks.

And then they turn to Mentor Jewel who after too long of a dramatic pause tells The Filharmonic that they are safe and we say good-bye to the Kats and to VoicePlay.


Next Up Thursday @ 8pm The final 4 in Judges Choice (Because I haven’t written enough today (Thursday) as it is.

There are two episodes left. and the quote from the episode that they will beat into the ground came from Jewel:

“I think I missed a climax there and it was sort of frustrating.”

Back in a few hours with the pre-show