The Sing-Off Review: The Final Four

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We're down to the final four on The Sing-Off and it's actually time for America to make a real vote. The groups opened with a multiple song mash-up and, from there, the competition was on. Read on for a rundown.

Dartmouth Aires on Stage

Round One – Mastermixes
Pentatonix - Forget You/Since U Been Gone- The group worried about the pressure of the competition and people complaining about how songs wouldn't sound right. Technically, that's what a mash-up is for: making several songs come together through magic. The two tracks managed to use the vocal limitations of five people correctly by picking one male and one female song. I thought the key of Scott took a little bit to adjust to, especially when Kirstin's vocals were a lot closer to Kelly Clarkson's. I liked the dub-step battle in the middle. My Grade: B+

Urban Method - Hot in Here/Fever - After the ladies gained confidence last week, Katie was worried about arrangements, so they allowed Liz to have the solo. The group had a nice "girls vs. boys" section in the beginning. The key for Mike when he kept saying "Hot in here" was odd, but when it got to the actual verses it fit a lot better. I thought the grapevine was a silly choice and the integration of the two songs weren't as good as Pentatonix. I'm kind of confused as to why this group also had a dub-step inspired ending. My Grade: B

Afro-Blue - I Believe I Can Fly/Fly - The group decided to pick the inspirational R. Kelly track but the rapping was the big worry. The two songs have a bit of a natural connection with the singles' message being about succeeding. The two messages came in together really well, but I was confused by Christie's notes when she hit the higher notes because it wasn't exactly the same as Rihanna. I thought the rap section was something unexpected. I liked the soulful ending of the song. My Grade: B+

Dartmouth Aires - Born This Way/Sympathy for the Devil - The Aires were worried about the arrangement and basically made sure that Michael was doing all the work to win. That's a sign of discomfort having the others stay in the background. The group began with an interesting palm fanning the devil opening. I thought that compared to the other bands, they spent too much time on one song then transitioned to the other. I'm also confused as to why half were dressed as The Warblers from Glee. The way the two groups sang on top of each other was a bit confusing. I don't get how team Gaga "won" at the end, either. My Grade: B-

Round Two - Judges' Choice
Pentatonix - Dog Days are Over - The judges love the innovation of the group with their electronic and futuristic ideas. Their biggest challenge was trying to continue innovating without losing the spirit of the original song. I thought it was interesting that they had Scott do the lead vocals, but the risk was worth it. I liked the explosive chorus section and the sparseness of the chorus. I loved Mitch's section and he clearly was their secret weapon for this song. You got to give a group with only five people fill in so much space. My Grade: A

Urban Method - "All of the Lights" - The judges thought that there was a distinct element because of rap, even though several bands added hip-hop elements to their performances. Sara pointed out that the women weren't stepping up, until Katie pushed even harder. I thought the opening could have been better and Mike's swagger didn't really match the Kanye style. Katie was giving everything she had, but it didn't help that the song wasn't the best choice. I wondered if anyone started getting seizures from the overuse of the red/blue blinking. I thought there was more theatricality than ever, but there was one section where the team was a bit pitchy before the breakdown. Katie continued to be the breakout star of the performance. My Grade: A-

Afro-Blue - "A Change is Gonna Come" - The judges liked Afro-Blue because of their relate-ability and their interesting arrangements. The song started with a solo opening and gained that warmth that they always have. I thought the arrangement this time wasn't too complicated or over-thought. Keeping the solo for Christie Dashiell was a smart choice because she had the right soul of the song. Somewhere near the end I thought there were the song lifted to more of noise than strong harmonies, but the group balanced out and found that church/spiritual section of the song. My Grade: A-

Dartmouth Aires - "Shout" - The most-collegiate-style group managed to differentiate themselves with a very interesting theatricality and survive past all the other male college groups. I loved the opening of the song with the few seconds of silence, but I thought the arrangement was a bit too frantic. When the group slowed down it was probably the best section. When the song returned to the speed, I think there was too much of this kind of "oompa-loompa" arrangement. The softer/louder section was great and the chaotic ending was amazing. Michael's voice was perfect for the song. My Grade: B+

The four groups were then up one last time, as the judges announced final two to be Urban Method and Pentatonix. This meant that Afro-Blue and the Aires had to face off.

Afro-Blue - "American Boy" - I thought the arrangement of "American Boy" was probably the best explanation of what Afro-Blue does. I think the second time around; the group was putting more effort into their song because of how little time they had. My Grade: A-

Dartmouth Aires - "Somebody to Love" - I love that the group technically picked a song from a medley and it was the one that the judges praised out the wazoo during the package just a few minutes prior. Michael pulled out as much spirit into the performance as possible, but it just made the group looks like "Michael and the Dartmouth Aires." My Grade for Michael: A; The rest of the group: B+

The judges revealed their votes lives. Sara went with the Aires, Shawn voted for Afro-Blue and Ben was left as the deciding factor. He voted for consistency and the Dartmouth Aires, leading to a grateful Afro-Blue exiting to "We've Only Just Begun."

Review

Editor Rating: 4.0 / 5.0
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@Mmm seriously the mormon group?

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Ugh, Urban Method--*so* one-note, *so* repetitive, *so* boring. Afro-Blue axed just shows the judges' (okay, *Ben Folds'*) disdain for jazz. Seriously, hip/hop night? Country night? And no jazz night? A capella as a genre owes a ton to jazz. My fear is that the Aires are going to win. Pitch problems all over the place? Check. Relatively simple arrangements? Check. Lacking a girl? Check. Ben's got a history of hating girl groups and strongly preferring all male groups to mixed groups. Guess that's continuing this year. He knows his music so well that it's a shame he lets his personal prejudices influence his judging this way.

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So, yeah - my boyfriend was staring at me like I was a crazy person as I stomped around the house and swore like a sailor for a solid hour after this show. I just can't believe The Aires beat out Afro-Blue. Okay, so I wasn't sitting three feet away from the performances like the judges were, but I am a trained musician, and I consistently heard way more pitch-errors from the Aires - every single week. It makes me wonder if there is something more at play here, like the judges knowing that Afro-Blue will probably get a record deal regardless of whether or not they win the show? Still, doesn't seem right. I feel like Afro-Blue is better than, not just the Aires, but the remaining groups who are left to battle it out next week.

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ooops...my previous post got cut off before I finished. Pentatonix has been the best of Season 3. They are talented, innovative, and smart/clever with their arrangements. In a group of 5, there is simply no place to hide. They get more pure and unique sound out of their five voices than anyone else. But that doesn't mean they are going to win. Does anyone actually believe the viewers phone-in counts for anything? It's all going to boil down to who Sony thinks they can make the most money off of. It's been an entertaining Season but the last two weeks we have seen groups voted off who were better than some of those left to compete. This week the judges had to even pull out new criteria....'more consistent over the course of the competition' to keep the DA's afloat. That doesn't make me want to waste my time with Season 4. Sara and Ben copped out. AB got jobbed just like VocalPoint did last week. Nick Lachey might want to stop the constant doomsday chirping about 'one bad note can send you home'. Clearly not true.

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good review and good grading. Michael and the DA's should have been sent home. Actually they should have been sent home last week. They have 16 voices and yet can't hide their pitch problems week after week. This competition is supposed to be about the group....not the lead. The DA's do not belong in the top three...they are not even as good as VocalPoint. You can't watch theatrics when listening to the radio. I believe the fix might be in for Urban Method. They have not been the best group in the competition (that position belongs to Pentatonix) but, for Sony, they might have the most potential for a recording career. I find UM's reliance on rap/hip-hop offensive and ridiculous but Sony probably sees it as the only way to sell records these days. Pentatonix is the best of

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Afro Blue should not have been kicked off last night, their performance was much better than the Dartmouth Aires. Disapointing!

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What was mistake was not to vote Afro blue last week. The Mormon group was a lot better than Afro blue.

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It was a mistake to vote off Afro Blue

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