The Long-Awaited Sing-Off Wrap-Up – Part 1

Quick note: That title may win a record for most hyphenated words in a short sentence.

I was waiting to put this up for a couple of reasons. I wanted to wait until after the semi-mandatory “holiday” music special that I kneew was coming from NBC. Since I don’t really like Christmas music all that much, I only tuned in to watch Ben Folds and Sara Bareilles sing, and also to catch another glimpse of the lovely ladies of Delilah.

Overall, in my humble opinion, the season was kind of a downer, and felt very similar to last year when Committed were all but anointed to win about three episodes from the end. This season was no different; vocal superstars Pentatonix were clearly the class of this season, nearly from week one. Despite the judges insistence in moving forward one-trick pony Urban Method, as well as carrying Afro Blue a bit longer than they probably should have been, the season was anti-climatic at best.

Before we talk about how it all ended, let’s go back and look at how it started. First of all, there were entirely too many groups to start off with, so many that they had to split into two group of eight. There were many episodes during the early part of the season where one group had to lose someone that was better than the best performer from the other group. I think this decision was more about NBC wanting to suck as a television network even more by not figuring out other original programming. Maybe they wanted the additional two weeks of two hour blocks to justify ordering a full season of “Whitney.” I don’t know, but it is easy to see why the only thing that is highly rated on NBC anymore is Sunday Night Football… and even that is not super great.

Week One
Back on September 19th, the first group of eight kicked off the festivities. As the rounds progressed, the groups this batch lasted the longest, as the first three groups eliminated after the groups were combined came from Group B. However, I thought this was more a testament to the imbalance of the groups. Compounding this was the decision to group the groups into subgroups… if that makes any sense. The first four performers were the University of Rochester YellowJackets, the Duggar-ish Fannin Family, Delilah, and AfroBlue. They eliminated the first group after the first hour, sending Fannin Family packing. I personally thought the YellowJackets were the worst of the four, but all 85 of them* were allowed to hang out for another few weeks.

*Another point of contention with this season was the HUGE college groups they had. So many people on stage. Too much going on.

The next subgroup featured another obscenely large college group, BYU’s Vocal Point, that I thought might have been pushed along because one of them lost his father during the first few weeks. They did turn it around later in the show when he came back though, so maybe not. Also in this group was my favorite of the night, Kinfolk 9, despite the lead singer’s crazy hair that was very distracting. Eventual finalist Urban Method was not blowing me away at the early stage of the competition, and the failed to do so the entire time unless the girls were featured. The final group, one that probably could have been avoided, was an a capella group that sang on cruise ships. I thought they weren’t great, and my judgement was affirmed when they were booted at the end of the episode. On to…

Week Two
Another gigantor college group, this time the Dartmouth Aires, started off week 2. Despite the size, they did have one of the most compelling leading men in Michael Okigbo, whom they may have ridden a bit too hard over the entire season. The Aires were followed by Pentatonix, the group that (SPOILER ALERT) won the whole thing in the end. They featured Avi Kaplan, probably the best beat boxer of the entire season. The feel good group from this hour was Messiah’s Men, a group of guys from Africa that I thought would move on because of their story. Closing out the first hour was Sonos, a group that usually used pedals and whatnot while performing, truly stretching the definition of what a capella is. They definitely struggled a bit without their equipment. At the end of the hour, to my surprise, Messiah’s Men were eliminated.

In the second hour, The Collective, a group from Tennessee started out strong. Soul’d Out, a high school group followed, singing a song that probably wasn’t around even when their parents were alive. Glee they were not. The show went back to the “old guy do wop” group store with the introduction of  North Shore during week 2. Similar to Jerry Lawson and the Talk of the Town from Season 2, these were a group of guys that have always loved “singing” and were trying to keep an old school feel to a capella. They need the show to help them keep going, otherwise its back to living off their pensions?*  Lastly, another large college group, this time the University of Delaware‘s Deltones, take the stage, adding more female voices to the season. At the end of week 2, Soul’d out joined Messiah’s Men as the boots from week 2.

*Wasn’t quite sure what would happen if they had to stop singing part-time around Boston for tips

Week Three
Week three featured two performances each by the remaining six groups from Group A. After contestants’ choice for the first two weeks, the theme for week three/four was “radio hits” and ’60s classics. Since I don’t really listen to “Top 40” radio, they all sang songs that I had never really heard before, except for “American Boy” by Estelle featuring Kanye West and “Dynamite” by Taio Cruz, though I wouldn’t have been able to tell you those song titles without looking it up. “Dynamite” was in my head because of my leave trip to Germany last summer, and “American Boy” because I had heard it around. Otherwise, Vocal Point singing Justin Bieber doesn’t really make me that excited. Other than asking Delilah to indicate relationship status based on wardrobe choices the next week, the only thing that really stuck out from the second hour was Kinfolk 9 and their “Let It Be” performance. I didn’t like it, and the Twitter seemed to agree with me at the time. To nobody’s surprise, Kinfolk 9 and Moi with his annoying hair were sent packing at the end of episode 3. I did like that they sung “Loser” by Beck as their swan song though.

Week Four
The remaining six groups from Group B did their best at “radio hits” and ’60s classics.  The Deltones got it started with a great version of “Edge of Glory” by Lady Gaga, one of the few “pop” songs that I actually like. Love her or hate her, Gaga can bring it. North Shore kind of struggled through a Bruno Mars song, but redeemed themselves by surprising no one and singing “Unchained Melody” in the second half. Pentatonix and The Collective did the right thing by showcasing female leads for their pop songs, which makes me happy. In the end, pedal-less Sonos bid adieu with a version of “Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday” by Boyz II Men.

With Week 5, which will continue in a new post after the crazy length of this, the remaining ten groups will be united and sing “guilty pleasures” songs with two groups going home. Exciting!

Until next time…

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