Thursday, December 9, 2010

Sing-Off Round 2 wow's the crowd

Jerry Lawson and Talk of the Town made magic with their wide array of vocals.

Round 2 of the Sing-Off was perhaps the best night in a cappella television history. All eight acts brought their very best game to the table and performed their hearts out. I felt so completely sorry for the poor judges who had the difficult job of having to weed out two of the eight final acts in Round 2, which aired on Wednesday, Dec. 8, from 8 PM to 10 PM on NBC, because all eight groups could easily have been pushed through to Round 3. Perhaps the powers that be should have taken a page from Project Runway, announced a tie and not eliminated one of the performing groups, with the promise that two would go home next time.

All of my evaluations are done by myself and any friends who happen to be watching with me while I view the performance. I make a point to not read any other reviews (not even Judge Ben Folds' own blog) before posting my own because I don't want to cheat a group out of my honest opinion. Here is my take of each group, listed in order of appearance last night.


On the Rocks
Eugene, Oregon
15 members: all male, former and current college students, diverse

The original version of "Live Your Life" by Rihanna is already a vocally interesting and dynamic song. On the Rocks actually improved the sound, giving it a honey smooth texture by emulating the instruments with their voices. What I love about On the Rocks is the way that they trade lead singer roles, entertain with energetic choreography, and know how to make even red sweaters and windbreakers look cool. Judge Nicole Scherzinger was especially impressed with their simulated delays, something I did not pick up on until I watched the replay -- it's very noticeable on their final note.

Clip from the show:
Judges critique after the show

Street Corner Symphony
Nashville, TN
6 members: men, Caucasian, young to middle aged

Incredible is the best word to describe Street Corner Symphony's performance of "Soul Sister" by Train. I was especially impressed by their dynamics, excellent timing, utilization of vocal strengths by switching off lead singers during the coda, sound effects (the rewind made my jaw drop), and nearly perfect pitch. And, they hit the high notes! I wanted to know more about Street Corner Symphony, so I read their website and was thoroughly entertained. Here are a couple of more interesting pages: About us, where you can read the bios of each of the six members and discover all of their eccentric phobias, and their first blog, complete with test comments and directions from their web designer (I can really relate to this).

Street Corner Symphony performing "Soul Sister"
Judges critique after the show

Eleventh Hour
Kettering, Ohio
7 members: 3 men, 4 women, diverse. High school students.

Eleventh Hour covered "Just the Way You Are" by Bruno Mars. The first verse of the song was a wee bit rocky as the backup singers cluttered the background, but the group fell back into perfect sync during the chorus, with the two lead singers and backup blending together in a magnificent harmonious swelling. Unfortunately, the backup lost track of their pitch somewhere near the end of the song. That being said, I was still extremely impressed, but someone had to go home and they were the least amazing of the four acts who competed.

Clip from the show:

Jerry Lawson and Talk of the Town
Oakland, CA
6 members: men, African American, older

It was a magical moment when Jerry Lawson and Talk of the Town performed "Mercy" by Duffy as their full range of voices: bass, baritone, tenor, countertenor, and falsetto created a vocal wall of sound behind lead singer, Jerry Lawson, who sang with heart and conviction and really brought it! Their dynamic arrangement was exciting. It was tight. It was great!

Clip from the show (please note that this first link has been marked as an infringement of copyright laws and may not work anymore by the time you view it):
Jerry Lawson and Talk of the Town perform Mercy

The Backbeats
10 members: 5 women, 5 men, former and current college students, diverse

In a daring move, the Backbeats used three lead singers in the opening quiet lines of their rendition of "Break Even" by the Script. All three singers were strong and melded together flawlessly when they came together in the fourth line of the song. The backup singers swelled in places creating some "wow" moments, but for the most part were not too loud for the lead singers to be heard. The result was an emotionally moving rendition and Judge Shawn Stockman noted, "When you sing, I believe it." I was happy the judges finally noticed the female beat boxer.

Clip from the show:
The Backbeats perform "Break Even"

Huntsville, AL
6 members: male, African American, college students

Once again, Committed amazed and stupefied the audience and the judges as they performed their rendition of "Apologize" by One Republic. It was soooo smooth. Their perfectly blended backup vocals mixed and swelled, reversing highs and lows in round fashion. It was so beautifully executed, there were people tearing up in the audience. After their performance, the audience gave them a sincere standing ovation. Judge Ben Folds said "the first and second violins were beautiful, the celly were perfect..."

Clip from the show:
Committed perform "Apologize"
Groove for Thought
Seattle, WA
6 members: 4 men, 2 women. Caucasian, Various ag

Groove for Thought created their own original jazz rendition of Mike Posner's techno pop song, "Cooler than Me." Their beautiful mix of high and low jazz-style minor key harmonies, rising and lowering in both tone and volume, created a rainbow of sound behind the rich, softly raspy-textured lead vocals. It was phenomenal and it carried me away.

Clip from the show:

The Whiffenpoofs
New Haven, CT
14 members, male, college students, diverse

The Whiffenpoofs performed a beautiful rendition of "Just Haven't Met You Yet," by Michael Bublé, trading leads to give each gorgeous male singer the chance to melt some poor girls heart out there in TV land. The beginning leads were softer and sweeter, and the backup vocalists need to remember to turn it down and not sing so loudly so as not to drown them out. In the end, someone had to go home and all the acts were worthy of staying. However, the Whiffenpoofs were eliminated. They sang a very interesting version of "Home Sweet Home" by Motley Crue, and it was so wonderful, I almost wished they'd sang that instead.

Clip from the show:
Whiffenpoofs perform "Just Haven't Met You Yet"

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