The Sing-Off introduced a bit of diversity last night, but we were still left with an abundance of college-aged kids belting out their favorites on stage. Below, I hand out my weekly grades...
Dartmouth Aires - Oh, look an all-male college acapella group that doesn't believe in stereotypical outfits. After three seasons, I'm already jaded. Their opening to "Higher Ground" had funk to it, but then there were too many sounds that didn't work perfectly and it became a lot of background garble. The end had the same exact problem, but I liked the power ending. I liked their attempt to keep their fashion sense when they were stuck wearing clothes that looked like it was from Old Navy. My Grade: B-
Penatonix - The quintet started off as a trio that gained a bassist and beat boxer with a lot of YouTube hits. Their differentiating factor was they like transforming club music into jazzy acapella. I liked the slow opening and appreciated that with only four voices doing the harmonization, they filled the gaps well. The fact that they allowed other soloists during the performance, I'll forgive he Christina Aguilera-eque vocal runs. My Grade: A
Messiah's Men - The afro/gospel/soul group from Liberia explained the civil crisis and their singing to keep their spirits high. I was instantly won by the Pips-style "Woo-hoo" right off the bat. The choreography was basic, but you didn't need intricate choreography to emote the soul in their voices. Occasionally they would drift a bit vocally, but I don't think it mattered. My Grade: A-
Sonos - To differentiate this quintet from that other pink quintet was that they loved using effects pedals to give them more of an electronic sound. Fortunately for fair play they don't get use their pedals. Sonos claimed that they had some records and have continued to struggle the unsigned artists life. I liked the beat boxer’s fast tempo but the song arrangement and visuals looked like a soloist with her band that just happened to not play instruments. Their tempo shift was a nice end to the song. My Grade: B+
After the judges' discussions, the Dartmouth Aires and Penatonix were the first two safe. Of the remaining two, Messiah's Men was eliminated. There goes more of the diversity. They sang out to "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot." We're reminded that Committed won last season, prior to the next set of competitors.
The Collective - The struggling Nashville singers were a band of soloists that came together merged by Jeremy from last season. This is basically a combination of other bands sob stories we met last episode. I was a bit disappointed that they sang the one song that they ended their package with, but I really liked whispery tone of the lead singer and the soulful accompaniment. I'm not sure if I liked the beat boxing for the song. The lead singer didn't have enough air in her to hit the big notes but she gave the song a different flavor. My Grade: B
Soul'd Out - The high school group was the Glee representative for the season. I found it cliché for the high school group to do "Aquarius/Let the Sun Shine In" because it made them look like they were doing a high school play, especially with the really cheesy arm waves. Maybe if they chose not to wear the headbands. The group harmonies were scattered and everywhere and I actually disliked that there was no lead singer outside of the vocal runners. My Grade: C+
North Shore - Our oldest competitors were the street corner doo-wop group that was stuck performing in front of the one 50s throwback diner. The group was worried about financial issues and the economy. Their years of experience showed with their solid harmonization. Like Messiah's Men, they didn't need much for choreography, but I gave them credit for working the stage as much as possible. I really liked the song, but I'm worried if they survived can they keep the doo-wop going with more modern music? My Grade: A
Deltones - The college group explained that they were family outside of their singing group because the Deltones represented rejects coming together. A strong soloist opening the performance with only light muted arrangements was a great choice. Their building in intensity was something that we didn't get to hear the rest of the episode. There was a minor stumble right at the beginning of the chorus, possibly due to the backup singers having to get up from the couch, but they recovered by the end and had a clean finish. My Grade: A
The second group of four were up for elimination and North Shore and the Collective were both safe. The group eliminated was Soul'd Out, continuing the ousting of non-collegiate groups. The only high school team was eliminated and left with "Mama, I'm coming home" by Ozzy Osbourne.
Next week, the first bracket has to perform two songs: a current top 40 performance and a 60s classic.