Category: Review

And before we kick of Part two of episode five…

Here’s a link to a video of Pentatonix doing their (now 29 song) Beyonce medley at ABC News.

The Sing-Off_ Season 4, Episode 5- Movie NightWhen we last left out intrepid band of mighty adventurers… Wait, wrong series… 3 groups up and 3 to go. Let’s get back to it!

The first two groups did a really great job. And the Kats went back to partying. At this point I was basically calling the order of the performances:

  1. Home Free
  2. Vocal Rush
  3. acoUstiKats

I wasn’t impressed by them. I really wanted to be, too. But there were three more groups and they could do anything to the positions of the previous performances. There was also the question of how the triple ultimate was going to fit in.

Fil-VJThe Filharmonic (@TheFilharmonic) – “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing” – Aerosmith

The intro on this piece was quite silly. Initially the idea is that they will dress like painters (Well, astronauts) with an asteroid hurtling towards Earth. By the power of the Angelic voices combined, they save the planet by singing a note that changes into a beam that destr…. Yeah, the band didn’t buy it either. On a more serious note: The band commented that this is redemption for them. They need to convey the emotion. Jewel tells them that the song is a bold move. They’ll either hit a home run or go home. She wants to feel who they are singing to. She tells VK not to be just a smiling face. She wants real feeling and to see all the emotion.

My comments earlier about The Filharmonic:

In case you don’t remember this is, ‘That Aerosmith Armageddon Song.’ The Filharmonic is coming out with a Ballad. And one that I think would lend well to the Boy Band sound they have. This is the coin flip. This could either work stunningly well or be an exploding failure that would be called Glorious by a cadre of Kingons. (Did I mention that my Geek runs deep and I do embrace it.

I gave The Filharmonic a 12:1 which put them floating in the 3-4 spot. Either a solid land in the finals or a moment of doubt that they will return. The song started with a simple and single voice. It was smooth and lovely. All the vocal leads were on top notch. I loved the mix of voices and you could feel how everyone in the song was utterly committed to and moved by the piece. This even carried a little into the voices making the tone even stronger with emotions. The arrangement was simple; but it was powerful. There was a lot of maturity in the decision making. On the downside; even my ear could pick out some harmony tuning issues.

The judges:

Jewel: Bold Choice: You seem really moved. You seemed really vulnerable. Joe is overwhelmed.

Nick: Real sincerity.

Ben: Joe: Texture of your voice… Was stunning. The emotion helped push it. you connect and have a rock star aura. Don’t blow any moments. Hears it come unglued. Beat Box: Think about a cymbal when you use it. Think it you need it. A ‘good’ performance

Shawn: I think you interpreted lovely. Made the song your own without losing the feel. Gotta lock the harmonies.


VP-Elkins cropVoicePlay (@theVoicePlay) – “(Don’t you) Forget About Me” – Simple Minds

With a look back on last week, VocalPlay talks about how much of an emotional roller coaster the experience was. They really worked hard getting into the character of it. Jewel Freud then appears and begins an intense counseling session with Honey. (On twitter last night Ben Folds reminded people that the judges call her ‘Honey’ because that’s actually her name.) Jewel wasn’t sure if the angst she saw in “Don’t Speak” was real angst or ‘a really good assimilation of angst.” Which Honey was surprised at. As Jewel pushed her analysis further into Honey seeming to have a “Deep well in her heart,” Honey eventually broker down entirely. Says Jewel, “You give it, we’ll receive it.” Then she added, “I come, make you cry, and leave.” Trying to be light-hearted about it. She states she just wants to ‘feel the real.’

This walked the razors edge down what I don’t like about reality shows. Emotions run high in art no matter who is the artist or what the medium is. I felt like the producers were really baiting for emotions and I felt uncomfortably voyeuristic over the entire thing. I think it could have been edited with similar impact but not quite as invasive.

My comments earlier about VoicePlay:

I really like VoicePlay. I’ve made it clear. They have a Pentatonix vibe but different. Several people have actually gotten on the other side of the fence for this group because of this. This is a song that I think they will knock out of the park. It falls in their (to use a growingly annoying term) wheelhouse. But I think the pleasant surprise here is that we’ll see more of the other vocalists step up in this one and Honey may move to harmonies. This is a song like “Video Killed the Radio” that has such pure fandom and love behind it, that doing it right could seal them into the top two. Not doing it right could end the competition for them. I lean towards success.

My 10:1 odds had VoicePlay just edging The Filharmonic; but the Filharmonic brought a great performance and this song really is a definite make or break. I’m hoping that Honey will sit back on the vocals but to my surprise she leads off the song. And it is very poignant. It’s some of her best, leaning towards the gospel. There were some very nice cascades in the vocals. However; it was a complete rework of a VERY recognizable song. Once they finally got into the “LaLa” section that is the one thing most people familiar with the song know; the group seemed to fall apart. So, there was very little to hook into the original. The arrangement was very original, but sometimes that isn’t the best approach.

The judges:

First Shawn starts with a comment to all the groups:

To all – Vulnarability: What makes artists unique is that we bare our souls in front of millions of people. You can always be honest.

Shawn:  I loved the arrangement, I love how you started. Honey – Love your delivery. Eli – Nice to see you there. Group is not a one trick pony. With all that. The arrangement went up and wanted the peak… didn’t come. I wish there was more of the”LaLa” at the end. Other than that… It was a good performance.

Ben: Honey: Awesome. That was fantastic. Normally don’t comment… In the last chorus, taking off the symbolism was very performance. Loved the vocal without the net. Going to half time may not have been necessary. Was very moving. Thought it was great.

Jewel: Very proud. It’s an ongoing journey. Let your realness come out. Like the deconstructed the song. Moment of Polyphony. Ben: The La las at the end… the rhythm at the end was what was missing.

During the commercial lead up the judges reaffirmed that they missed the most memorable part of the song. This is a huge spike in the coffin likely to arrive in the episode for VocalPlay.


tenlogo-whiteonblackTen – (@OfficiallyTen) “Skyfall” – Adele

“I don’t thing the Singoff has seen out best performance yet.”

This is a very interesting comment about the group. What started out as 10 backup singers has really begun to become a very cohesive unit. Each performance has been better than the last. Jewel lends her opinions: There is great opportunity on their choice this week. This piece has a lot of texture. The voices and the arrangement need to deliver what is needed. Members of Ten add that they know they are taking a big risk with this song. Showing at least the spirit they convey that it’s go big or go home but go for it. They are hoping to show that Ten is now ready to show that they can sing. And that they can sing anything. Their performance plans to embody the Song, the movie, the style in one big package.

My comments earlier about Ten:

This is basically a Torch song from Adele. I think Ten is going to suffer the most from the short season. With the longer run of Season 3, the groups definitely had time to grow and mature. The shorter season doesn’t allow for much growth of experimentation. I think this is something strong for Ten’s voices. But the cohesion that we want to see may not get a chance to shine with this one.

I called 15:1 which was very weak odds of survival based on the simple idea that with a double elimination they’d have to kill the song to turn things around. And that wasn’t the only thing they turned around. They did the same for me. The song started with a nice slow tempo. The backing vocals were almost a tuneless drone. But as the song built, everything built on top of it. the cohesion, the harmonies, the power all grew. And the growth was organic. Ten has finally found their strength as a group and not 10 separate singers. They are now contenders to win.

The Judges:

Ben: Very powerful. Fantastic performance.

Jewel: I loved it. It was like a movie. Great painting. Fantastic reserve vocals. Really intricate 10 part harmonies.

Shawn: Adele is in London… “Oh my god! It’s amazing.” It’s a joy to watch you develop. You keep getting better and better with each show. Coming into your own. Finding your voice. Understanding what you can do vocally.


Ranking these performances was very hard. In the end this was how I ranked things:

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

My spouse plays along at my annoying insistence and came up slightly differently:

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

In Part 3… Yes, I need to do a part 3; I will cover the Ultimate Sing Offs, how things shook out and what’s up next.

To hold you for the next few hours: The Seattle PI has an exclusive video from the final episode of an entirely spontaneous, not at all rehearsed, completely off the cuff…. Duet Production Number between Nick Lachey and Jewel with the groups backing them up.


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!

The Sing-Off_ Season 4, Episode 5- Movie NightThe main post will come by about 11am Eastern time tomorrow. It was two hours with a lot to talk about. I also took down about 50 quotations from twitter. Everyone will get attribution.

All I want to say is that I love when my pre-show guesses are wrong. I’ll break down how I felt, what I said, how it changed as the show went on, what others said, and try to sum it all up.

As always… how did you stack up against your pre-show guesses, the judges, and the performances? I know (from twitter at least) I am not the only armchair director out there.

The Sing-Off_ Season 4, Episode 4 - My Generation - EPLet me start this review by saying that my pre-show guesses were off, but I am happy for why. We’ll come back to my pre-show calls later. I should note: I do like all four of this episode’s group. I will sadly make this comment many times through this analysis.

Episode 4: My Generation. Which is described as songs that are “Chart toppers that span the decades.” After a quick recap from the previous show. There is a mention that this week’s “Mentor” will be Ben Folds and we go into the opening production number.

“My Generation / We Will Rock You / It’s Time”

Well, in the words of Jim Steinman, “Two out of three ain’t bad.” Actually, all the songs were really amazing, I just know the first two inside and out and didn’t really know the third. I felt the transition out of WWRY into It’s Time was a little messy and jarring, but besides that. greatly entertaining. I’m also really happy when they get vocalists from different groups to sing together in duets/trios. It’s just a nice unique sound for the series.

And allow me again to state how much I love the theme to the series in a world where show theme music has gone the way of such ironic travesties as the theme to “Glee.” The Sing Off theme is perfect for the mood of the show. This of course brings in Nick LeSwagger and the introduction of the judges. The pre-competition video shows Ben Folds talking to the group about the theme and how he will mentor each team. Ben has one interesting quotation for the episode in the opening bit:

Each group has something getting in the way of them being unstoppable.

The competition.


Home Free – “Ring of Fire” – Johnny Cash.

My comments earlier about Home Free:

Once again, Home Free finds a country hit that has enough cross-over to keep them in the running. My fear is that so far we have begun to see a formula where the lead singer is awesome, the song is “Fun” and then they trot out Uber-bass for a few lines for the sex. I am beginning to want to see more from them.

I gave them 15:1 on the fear that they were going to trot out the same formulae again. Then Home Free came out and did EXACTLY what they needed to. With an impressive interpretation which told a story and changed the focus around, Uber Bass Tim Foust took control of the song. One person on Twitter said the group should be called, “Tim Foust, Super Bass and some other country guys.” The Beat Box brought out a Reggae beat which was astounding. Admittedly, again mentioning Pentatonix; it’s not the first time that Reggae was brought out during a country song. Granted… it works. Austin Brown’s lead vocals are always very nice. But if the reggae worked and the arrangement worked, then the ending worked overtime. Foust let loose with a low F#. Which is a frightening note to begin with and he hit it like a hole in one. I am privileged/cursed during my viewings because I have a sub woofer. Or more correctly until this song ended: Had one. The note was almost sub-sonic. It was a huge signature. Home free brought it, and my belief that they were 15:1 at worst odds for the episode were entirely wrong.

The Judges:

Ben: You did it all. Perfectly executed. Bass went from an instrument to a human. The end… Heavy note. “Holy $#|^! What was that?” Awesome guys.

Jewel: June wrote the song. Great Poignancy. F#. Over 3 octaves. Country a cappella reggae.

Shawn: A “country” a cappella group with a beat box doing reggae. Never would have thought of it. It works. Austin: Voice… Smooth as butter.


HoneyLaRochelleVoicePlay – “Don’t Speak” – No Doubt

My comments earlier about VoicePlay:

 I really love this song. And I can not envision it as a cappella. This doesn’t mean anything of course. VoicePlay was the first group to get the Ultimate Sing Off wake-up call. So hopefully, they can keep up the energy and give a huge surprise.

I feel badly because I didn’t feel as strongly about this performance as the judges did. Things they greatly like didn’t work for me.  Honey’s entrance seemed uneven. At first the song seemed slow, but then I grew to like the story telling they were doing with it. About halfway through was a Hebraic chant. I thought it was stunningly well done, but it just didn’t fit into the song for me. The arrangement overall was great and it was in the correct direction for them. I walked away feeling that Honey Larochelle is a mixed blessing for the group. There are things she does very well, and there are things that seem to feel like her vs. the rest of the group. I gave them a 10:1 to continue on which was at the time a weak second place. Which was where I ranked them with Home Free holding an easy 1st place.

The Judges:

Shawn: Amazing. A different side. Fantastic arrangement. Eli: Middle Eastern Solo… Very nice

Ben: They kicked the song’s ass. You started with your liability. This time you used the dynamics to say something. When You earn it, everyone feels it with you.

Jewel: Week 1 was very technical. This week we saw your hearts. You showed us angst. Showed us the poignancy in the moment. Fantastic dynamics.


elementElement – “You Keep Me Hangin’ On” – The Supremes

My comments earlier about Element:

As opposed to the previous song; I can hear this one easily done a cappella. This also doesn’t mean anything. However, Element has not been bringing it anywhere near the power of Delilah (and one of their members was in that group)… They need to show or be in the bottom this week.

Ben’s advice was to let the soloists stand apart and not get lost by backup singers on the same parts. Element brought out the soloists. When the focus was on the solos this song really shined and Element was ‘in theirs’ and was doing a vey good job. Soloists were well highlighted, balance was good. Some very good energy and storytelling. Where things went wrong was that the harmonies got off far more than once or twice. At this stage in the show where there are only four groups… this is a kiss of death. With the level of euphoria the judges had for VoicePlay and Home Free, this performance does not look good for Element’s future. I gave them a 12:1 which meant they were positioned at third with their own ability to steal 2nd or clench defeat from the jaws of victory. After this I rank them 4th even though I don’t have a 3rd place yet.

The Judges:

Ben: Supported the lead and gave her space. A few tuning issues. You are such nice people. You almost got pissed. Drive it home. Like that you really focussed on singers. A step in the right direction.

Jewel: Thought you did a great job. Song had female empowerment. Hard to make modern. Good job.

Shawn: Compliments the look first (again). I like what you do. Some of the moments: The harmonies were a little muddy/unglued. I did like it.

Additional from me: I respect Shawn Stockman for his musical acumen. But I feel that he has been highly disrespectful to the members of Element. In general, the fact that the group is referred to as girls rather than women… In general it just makes me unhappy about the respect for the groups.


The Sing-Off - Season 4Vocal Rush – “Holding Out for a Hero” – Bonnie Tyler

My comments earlier about Vocal Rush:

This is a song that once again pre-dates the singers (which I find very amusing each week.) I think this one is a challenge and will really be the one that people measure Vocal Rush by. I like them a lot but I don’t know if they have the ability to push through the whole season.

I suppose I need to out myself once and for all. I have never (Outside of High School and College Choir) sung in an a cappella group. I truly wish I could. And if any of my readers are local to Pittsburgh I’m really good at several ranges, picking out names, being a ham, but on rare occasions have issues holding a pitch. Sigh. What this means is that sometimes I can miss the errors in a harmony blend. Vocal Rush hit the ground hard and hit it in a dead sprint. The initial beat and entry vocals got my attention from the word, “Go.” The intensity and performance from the beginning had that mature intensity that makes you forget their ages. Tonight at points I doubted that they really were all under 19. I also would be more than happy to buy this single. I loved it. The rap breakout in the middle was a fresh addition to the song. Sadly I was so captivated that I missed where they fell off the beat and where their harmonies muddied. So my rankings were higher than the judges. I initially gave them a 5:1 expecting them to hit this one out of the park. This may have coloured my opinion of their performance going in.  In the end, I moved them into 2nd position because I liked their performance better than I liked VoicePlay’s.

The Judges:

Ben: The bass and drums. Held it down in a way you hadn’t before. Thanks. Double force. Landed the plane very well.

Shawn: Young; Have no fear. You just go for it. You just give 100%. It’s so great about you. So musically intelligent because of you age. Double Chorus. Something happened. It fell apart a little bit. But you picked it back up. It was awesome.

Jewel: You made the song cool. Loved the rap. Didn’t expect it. Male voices are so warm and mix in well. One chink in the armour, can be the youthful exuberance makes you rush in the fun.

To recap my original odds:

  • Home Free – Ring of Fire  15:1
  • Element – You Keep Me Hangin’ On 12:1
  • VoicePlay – Don’t Speak 10:1
  • Vocal Rush – Holding Out for a Hero. 5:1

And my rankings coming out of the competition

  1. Home Free – Amazing growth, new sides of the group, Obscene bass.
  2. Vocal Rush – Energetic, fun, new take, mature
  3. VoicePlay – Honey felt uneven, and as much as I liked the Middle Eastern Chant… it didn’t work for me.
  4. Element – Just not bringing the sound I expect to hear.

My call for the Ultimate Sing Off (which I still dislike, but have grown to appreciate a good show, better performance, and sometimes a needed kick in the butts for the groups that shouldn’t be down there): Originally, by my rankings it would be: VoicePlay vs. Element.

HOWEVER, The judges gave no ill words to either VoicePlay or Home Free; so it looks like it’ll be Vocal Rush vs. Element. Even though I like my review of VoicePlay and Vocal Rush better. So, despite how I feel:

I think Vocal Rush’s energy take Element out. I like Element a lot, but I just don’t see them showing what they need to after 3 shows in a row where they haven’t. I think the Ultimate battle will be the “Time to really grow up” call to Vocal Rush.

And then I get all conspiracy minded and try to talk myself out of it:

Granted… they keep talking about how far Vocal Rush has made it in the competition for a High School group… which may mean that they are already done before singing.

The final judging:

  • Element vs. Home Free (Really? Ouch)
    • Safe – Home Free
    • USO – Element
  • VoicePlay vs. Vocal Rush
    • Safe – VoicePlay
    • USO – Vocal Rush

I’d really like to see Vocal Rush move on. I think they have a lot of potential. And I feel badly because I like Element.

Ultimate Sing off: Element and Vocal Rush – Survivor – Destiny’s Child

Both groups come out with both their groups fully energised. The “Game Face” attitude is annoying and distracting. Both groups sounds strong but each have their weaknesses. Element is showing a lack of variety while Vocal Rush is letting the emotion muddy their sound. Both groups are very good. Unless something changes for the winner, neither will make it to the final 3. Honestly it’s a coin flip from listening and watching. It’s very hard to call.  In the end I let my cynicism for Reality Programming to win out and lean toward Element for having a tighter group cohesion. My wish is for Element, my belief is that they will chose Element. Element I think had the slightly better showing in the Ultimate Sing Off; but I think between the two of the groups, Vocal Rush has the better chance to grow and get better. I inevitably call this one a coin flip.

Ben Folds on behalf of the judges and without any explanation calls “Vocal Rush” as the survivor. (Which honestly and happily surprised me)

Final notes:

  • Next episode:
    • Wednesday @ 8:00 pm
    • Movie Themes – Ooh Yum!
    • 6 team Ultimate Sing-Off Battle
    • 2 teams will be eliminated.
  • Single Best thing from the episode: Vocal Rush continues on
  • Single Worst thing from the episode: Sexism and Sexist condescending comments from Shawn Stockman

See you this Wednesday!

The Sing-Off_ Season 4, Episode 4 - My Generation - EPWell, kids… Episode 4 is just minutes away. So here comes the whirlwind pre-analysis of the song names and groups but without listening.

Tonight’s episode is “My Generation” – This theme could mean any number of things, but with the lineup being a Country, High School, Techno, and All-Female… This could go in a lot of directions.

The intro will be a medley of “My Generation, We Will Rock You, and It’s Time. Which should be greatly fun. But onto the groups and their songs:

Home Free – Ring of Fire. Once again, Home Free finds a country hit that has enough cross-over to keep them in the running. My fear is that so far we have begun to see a formula where the lead singer is awesome, the song is “Fun” and then they trot out Uber-bass for a few lines for the sex. I am beginning to want to see more from them.

VoicePlay – Don’t Speak. I really love this song. And I can not envision it as a cappella. This doesn’t mean anything of course. VoicePlay was the first group to get the Ultimate Sing Off wake-up call. So hopefully, they can keep up the energy and give a huge surprise.

Element – You Keep Me Hangin’ On. As opposed to the previous song; I can hear this one easily done a cappella. This also doesn’t mean anything. However, Element has not been bringing it anywhere near the power of Delilah (and one of their members was in that group)… They need to show or be in the bottom this week.

Vocal Rush – Holding Out For a Hero. This is a song that once again pre-dates the singers (which I find very amusing each week.) I think this one is a challenge and will really be the one that people measure Vocal Rush by. I like them a lot but I don’t know if they have the ability to push through the whole season.


  • Home Free – Ring of Fire  15:1
  • VoicePlay – Don’t Speak 10:1
  • Element – You Keep Me Hangin’ On 12:1
  • Vocal Rush – Holding Out for a Hero. 5:1

10 minutes to go… Let’s hear your picks and how you fare. Meet you back after the episode!