Just now sitting down to watch the show. I had meetings tonight so I’m late getting to the TV. Darn job keeps getting in the way!
Tonight is Radio Hits and 60s Classics. Not my favorite night but it does challenge the groups to move outside their comfort zones. With six groups performing, that’s a LOT of music. That part I really like.
I found the set for tonight online today and I didn’t recognize many of the songs, which begs the question: Is it better to know the original so you have a comparison point, or is it better to hear the song for the first time on the show? I think I like having a comparison point better so that you can see how the group has reinterpreted the song. We’ll see how the affects me as I listen tonight.
OPENING NUMBER – Really liked this song! I didn’t know it before tonight. In my mind, they’ll never be able to replicate the magic of “Beautiful Day” and “Use Somebody” from last year, which were both simply awesome. But this song got the show off on the right…ahem…note.
Vocal Point – “Never Say Never” – These guys seem perfect to do a Justin Bieber song and they did a great job. Loved the kung-fu choreography. They really seemed to be enjoying themselves and it was a creative arrangement, although the pace seemed uneven. They were seriously un-serious. Great job!
Delilah – “Whataya Want from Me” – So excited for this performance! They absolutely killed it last week. Can they repeat? Yes! What a risky arrangement: lots of timing challenges and harmonizing and for the most part they nailed it. For an all-girl group they have a lot of variety in their voices. Kendall kicked it off strong and they built an incredible foundation. These girls are starting to stand out in the same way Committed did with their first two songs (“This Love” and “Apologize”) last year. Outstanding!
Urban Method – Just Can’t Get Enough – I liked the female lead but the male lead’s vocal got last a few times in the background vocals. The song kicked into a new gear when Mychal started rapping but it took too long to get there. His contribution is clearly this group’s strong suit. Very interested to see how this groups handles their 60s song. In case you don’t know, there wasn’t a lot of rapping in the 60s.
Afro Blue – American Boy – This group was a Week 1 favorite, which puts a lot of pressure on them to keep it up. Wow! I love the jazz-to-hip-hop-to-jazz movement. This group has such amazing richness and depth and can do just about anything vocally. The covered about four decades in the midst of one song and the lead on this song was stunning. These guys will be tough to beat.
Yellowjackets – Dynamite – I loved what this group did last week with “Wavin’ Flag” but this song didn’t wow me. The first lead’s voice seemed a little sharp and the never seemed to completely blend their voices. Overall, the song seem ill-fitted to this group. I’d love to see how Urban Method rocked this one. The Yellowjackets did the best with what they had but this song choice exposed some of their weaknesses.
Kinfolk 9 – “Pricetag” – Based on the first night, this is the weakest remaining group. They have a lot of style, but I feel like they’re using that to cover up what’s missing vocally. They are certainly talented individually but they’re not coming together as an a cappella group. The song was well done and had a nice groove to it, but appeared average compared to the other performances so far.
Now onto the 60s songs. I expect several of the groups to struggle because this is so far out of their comfort zone.
Delilah – “Heatwave” – I wasn’t in love with the first lead, but I could listen to Kendall (the second lead) sing the dietary laws from Leviticus. She’s awesome! I loved that that played to their femininity after showing they could sing with the boys on their previous songs. I’m still amazed at the range they have for an all-female group. And yet, this sound was only so-so. Still, their average is most everyone else’s best.
Urban Method – “Dance to the Music” – Man, these guys are fun! I absolutely what they did to showcase the “instruments” and give everyone a moment to shine. And they hid their rapper well! They took the challenge and made it the song their own instead of just playing it safe. This group is really amazing and this song was a great demonstration of all they can do. They just sound so much bigger than the other groups.
Vocal Point – “The Way You Look Tonight” – Loved the vocal instruments, but the lead’s voice just didn’t carry the song for me. At times he channeled the Chairman, but at other times he sounded overmatched. The song itself felt too arranged and choreographed. Not my favorite of what they’ve done. Apparently I need to stop typing while I’m listening because the judges loved it.
Afro Blue – “I Heard It Through the Grapevine” – These guys have such a big sound! I like this song a lot better when they slowed it down, which I think suits both the song and their style. The start felt rushed, which through off the whole song for me. They were still able to groove their way through it and proved that they have a big reservoir to drawn from.
Yellowjackets – “Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You” – These guys have a lot of style and can make any song fun. I really dug the lead’s voice and delivery (what I didn’t feel in Vocal Point’s delivery). These guys’ theatrics felt right with the song and the arrangement was fun without being derivative. Not your average college a cappella group. These guys might stay around for awhile.
Kinfolk 9 – “Let It Be” – Great song. The first million times I heard it. I feel like this song has been redone so much that there’s simply nothing more to it has to offer. Kinfolk 9 give it a great try and I love Moi’s voice, but they tried to get creative with a safe song and it didn’t hold together for me. This is a collective of powerful vocalists, but they’re not a group for me.
My ranking for these groups so far:
1 – Urban Method
2 – Afro Blue
3 – Delilah
4 – Yellowjackets
5 – Vocal Point
6 – Kinfolk 9
That means I think Kinfolk 9 should go home tonight. And the judges agreed! Tough decision because I love Kinfolk 9’s story. Man, this is a tough competition! Can wait until next week!