The Sing-Off Review: Battle in the Streets

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Hip hop reigned supreme on The Sing-Off this week... so why did Urban Method struggle? That answer and many others are revealed in our weekly grading system...

Nick Lache on The Sing-Off

Round One
Dartmouth Aires - "Club Can't Handle Me" - While the Aires traditionally do rock songs, they struggled with the lack of chords. The group let Henry rap, which really sounded awkward. As they actually performed, while they started off fun and interesting, the tempo was odd. It was as if there was a train that kept gathering steam and ended off faster than it began. The bridge and ending was strong, but I'm not sure how much that balanced the weaker opening. My Grade: B+

Afro-Blue - "Killing Me Softly" - Staying with the Howard University alum Roberta Flack, they tried to keep elements of the classic instead of the Fugees version. I liked the buildup of the song and the arrangement started off just like the Fugees version, but the chorus was closer to Roberta Flack. There was something about the lead singer that felt like she was bored right until the end. There wasn't much in the innovation side to the performance, but it was solid. My Grade: B

The Collective - "Give Me Everything" - The Collective was worried about adding rap elements and figuring out how synths translate into their soul-style. I didn't like the opening and the song felt unnecessarily rushed. There were points where you could hear the group was out of breath as they tried to sing and move around the stage. The slowed-down ending didn't work for me because it didn't improve the song and there wasn't enough dropout of voices. My Grade: C

Vocal Point - "I'll Be Missing You" - I'm happy that the white guys admitted that they're white and they managed to find a song that matched the emotions. They decided to buck the odds and stick to their guns. I thought the arrangement was interesting, but I had no clue that the lyrics were what they sang. What happened to the "Every single day" section of the chorus? I also don't understand if they were trying to be respectful, why didn't the lead singer also take off his hat? My Grade: B-

Following round one, The Collective ended up in the showdown.

Round Two
Urban Method - "Airplanes" - Urban Method may have been polished last week, but since they are the hip-hop group they have the pressure. Mike the rapper had issues with "California Love" so they switched to something easier. The cricket opening was an odd choice; what do crickets have to do with airplanes? The rapping section was slower, so I'm convinced any group could have done the song without any question. I actually thought that Mike was over-rapping his sections so it felt too forced. My Grade: C

Pentatonix - "Love Lockdown" - The group decided not to rap, which seems like a smart choice to not compete with Urban Method directly. I liked the build-up of the voices in the beginning. There was something very dubstep about the execution of the performance that worked. I liked the passion that all five were giving so even though the girl was a bit pitchy, it worked. My Grade: A-

Delilah - "How to Love" - The girls felt defeated so they decided to go back to their roots. They realized that they not only can't rap, but there wasn't the strongest of bass sections. There were some breathing issues right off the bat that possibly having the percussion may have covered the issue. The end half was stronger and closer to what Delilah's full potential actually was. My Grade: B+

Yellowjackets - "The Show Goes On" - The Yellowjackets decided to play up the fact that they went to Kenya. I get that they had a connection and it's special, but it's making them sound like a bit fake. It's not like they can give a recording contract to the boys and girls of Kenya. The double vocal opening wasn't necessary. The rapping was fine, but I actually hated the tempo and arrangement. There were a handful of the white kids that looked like that instead of being passionate looked silly. There were issues with the dynamic. My Grade: C

The Sing-Off Battle - The two groups had to perform Nelly's "Just a Dream" back-to-back. The Collective instantly had an advantage for going first and setting the bar. Having female vocals and the soul was nice, even if they were pitchy because of their passion. Yellowjackets followed and I thought it was interesting that their key was different and their tempo was a bit more choir-like. Their falsettos felt weak for me, but they did manage to do a strong vocal drop-out near the end.

The vote ended up 2-1... for the Yellowjackets! I really have to disagree with the judges. We need to get rid of at least one of the all-male groups and the Aires are much better than the Yellowjackets. The Collective sang "Knockin' on Heaven's Door" and are headed out.

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    Blu

    Being white and therefore not being able to pull off hip hop are not synonymous...at all. Not when there are white hip-hoppers out there in the public eye and well known, and those who aren't as well known. If some of the white kids couldn't pull it off it had nothing to do with their race but rather their skills. I kinda hated the fact that groups with black or hispanic people seemed to have higher expectations placed on them in hip hop week then groups that were predomninately white....and vis versa.

    That being said, I also somewhat resented their loose interpretation of hip hop. I mean to say that in that first hour especially the groups cut corners is an understatement. There was no wiggle room when they had to do 60s music, wouldn't be wiggle room if they had to do Broadway, and yet just because it was harder for most of the bands, they clearly cut corners on the hip hop. I hated that, because no one actually rose to the challenge of it. How very disappointing that was, a week that should have been relatively interesting and entertaining fell unbelievably flat. I've never heard the groups whine so much about being out of their element. As someone who has a broad taste in music, very eclectic I found it disheartening that in this genre so many people didn't even put in a genuine effort. I can't even get into the distortion of songs, some of them were unrecognizable...even the ones that I knew.




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