The Sing-Off – R&B Revue night

So I’ve got to get used to life on the Sing-Off after Delilah. Sigh. We’re down to the Final Five, all of whom have had strong moments. My unofficial ranking at this point:

1. Pentatonix
2. Dartmouth Aires
3. Afro Blue
4. Vocal Point
5. Urban Method

Tonight’s theme should be an easy one for all the groups, who already bring an R&B style to their music (except maybe for Vocal Point). Each group will do two songs tonight: An oldie-but-goodie and a newer hit. Should be interesting to see how the groups fare. Let’s get it on!

Opening – Yes! Michael from the Aires doing James Brown? SUH-WEET! With fewer groups in the opening, the performance is tighter and the quality of the lead vocals aren’t diluted. This performance had great energy and I’m amazed how all the lead vocals matched the originals. And it’s so much dang fun. Should be an amazing night!

Dartmouth Aires – “Ignition Remix” – It was interesting to see this group move from fun to sexy without completely losing their identity. They also were able to show off the talented vocalists that populate the group. If I remember correctly, the main lead had never been out front before, and he did a great job. Unlike a lot of college groups, these guys really have an amazing stage present and knack for making any song their own.

Urban Method – “Knock You Down” – The group is smart to move Katie to the front of the females; she’s definitely the strongest of the three. In this song, she seemed to have her moments of nervousness where she didn’t complete her words or cut short her notes. Mike was a star, as always. I loved the collective breath, but I expected them to follow it up with a real powerhouse chorus, and it fell a bit flat for me.

Vocal Point – “Every Little Step” – Tough challenge for this group, but they have so much personality that I believe they can pull it off. I don’t know the technicalities of music, but I imagine it would be really hard to do that much dancing and stay on pitch. I trust Ben Folds on this one. I love that they really went for this song, which was so far out of their comfort zone. Dang, the beatbox breakdown was incredible! This group really surprised me with how well they handled this song. That was so much fun! Probably one of my favorite performances of the competition.

Afro Blue – “We Belong Together” – This song felt surprisingly straight-forward compared to Afro Blue’s previous performances. As strong as Christie’s lead vocal was, I missed their creative arrangements. It’s as if they were trying to recapture last week’s powerful performance, but sacrificed some of their unique sound to reach for it. I feel like they’re moving away from their signature sound. Is there a way to weave in the Afro Blue style so that it infuses each song and reminds us of their strengths?

Pentatonix – “OMG” – These guys continue to be so incredibly inventive in their arrangements and reinforce everything they do with that incredible bass and rhythm. They switched up the pace a number of times during this song, showing off their versatility and amazing talent. The song didn’t feel like it held together all the way through (maybe because of the constant pace switches) but that’s not much of a critique. I get more and more excited for each of their performances. No one is coming close to what they are doing.

Based on these first performances and the judges’ words, it’s impossible to figure out who might go home. I thought Vocal Point would be the weakest and yet they were probably my favorite of the five. Someone is going to have to really stumble in this second five or else the judges are going to have to send home a very deserving group.

Dartmouth Aires – “Midnight Train to Georgia” – Michael does soul so, so well. This song relied on a lot of harmonies, and I can’t tell how well they held together. I know Michael absolutely killed the lead, and I loved the toned-down groove. They stayed very true to the original and captured the the essence of the song.

Urban Method – “It’s Your Thing” – This group keeps going back to the females for lead vocals as if they have something to prove to the judges. Katie has established herself and rose to the challenges, but the other two still have some room to grow. Mike felt more like a after-thought in this song, which was unusual for someone who is a bonafide star. The song was a lot of fun and they really seemed to enjoy themselves, but overall this didn’t really stand out to me.

Vocal Point – “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg” – Ben’s voice didn’t stand out as much in this arrangement as it did on his previous lead with “Every Breath You Take.” He didn’t sell the song nearly as well as Keith did in their first number. I love the choreography and arrangement and these guys really own the stage when they’re up there. However, this song felt like a step back after their stellar first number.

Afro Blue – “Best of My Love” – Great bass from Reggie on this song! He deserves all the props he gets. This song had a little more of the group’s jazzy sound, which felt more comfortable for them. The rhythm seemed to have some hitches in it during the transitions, but I loved Danielle’s lead and her bubbly stage presence.

Pentatonix – “Let’s Get It On” – The innovation here was the song choice itself. I wouldn’t have expected Pentatonix try to tackle a Marvin Gaye slow jam. And yet, they did ti with amazing class and their unique style. I loved the falsetto opening, and the lead was in such capable hands with Scott. When he kicked into the chorus and Sean jumped out of chair, that sealed their victory for me. This group is simply untouchable.

So who goes home? Wow. Tough decision tonight. For me, it’s down to Vocal Point and Urban Method, who were my bottom two groups coming in. I’m kicking off Vocal Point; their lackluster performance of “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg” was just too big of a misstep this far along in the competition. Did the judges agree? Urban Method made the first cut, which was a surprise to me. I thought Afro Blue came back strong in this show, but again they are in the bottom two. Still, the judges sent home Vocal Point, no surprise to me.

Next week, it’s mastermixes and judges’ choice (one of my favorite). The Final Four are all strong in very different ways. The only group that can trip up Pentatonix is Pentatonix. They aren’t showing any weaknesses. We’ll see what next week brings!

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