Monday, September 26, 2011

Wow! Sing-off better with Bareilles

Afro Blue offered my favorite performance on Monday, Sept. 19, during the first half of Round 1.

Season 3 of the Sing-off, hosted by Nick Lachey, debuted on NBC on Monday night, Sept. 19 at 8 pm without all the pretense and bells and whistles of many other TV talent shows, by launching directly into the first round performances of eight of the phenomenal 16 groups competing this year.

But, more about that later…

The biggest change, a huge improvement over last year, is the changing of the guard: Three-time grammy award nominated singer songwriter Sara Bareilles has taken the place of former judge, Pussycat Doll Nicole Scherzinger. Instead of the sexy and sweet kitty cat purring over every performance, we now have the witty and wonderful songbird, spewing out wise words of wisdom.

I suppose adding Ms. Bareilles to the team of judges has been a bit like discovering that you were missing something that you didn’t know was absent in your life, and now that you’ve experienced the difference, you know you can never ever go back to the way things were before. She fits into place so effortlessly on the panel of judges, like that perfect puzzle piece that truly completes the picture. She offers depth, character, and charm to what had been, well, a little more than fancy window dressing.

And, she's funny! After an accidental poor choice of semi-suggestive words, Bareilles quipped, "Well, you know me, or you don't, but you're getting to," at which point, the crowd burst into laughter and applause. In pure "Sara" style, she thanked the audience for their appreciation, dallied off a pageant wave, then meekly requested, "moving on… please everyone… come with me?"

I liked Nicole Scherzinger. I really did. But, I must admit, she actually provided more feel-good, sympathetic pats on the back than she offered in valuable critical advice to competitors looking for ways to step up their A game in the technical aspects of a cappella. Not many people perhaps are aware of the huge amount of criticism she received for her role. Following social media over the past few months, it seemed no one could bring up the Sing-off without someone else knocking her down. Cruel comments such as: “She’s so dumb,” and “She's feckin' useless! She'd actually make Paula Abdul look incisive...” littered social media.

Perhaps the X-factor truly is a better place for Scherzinger and this will be a win-win for everyone.

Round 1, Parts 1 and 2

Season 3 has proved to be even better than the last two seasons, with all eight groups who competed on Monday, Sept. 19, providing superb a cappella performances. Like any competition show, some of the more experienced groups seemed to have been waiting in the wings to see how the show worked out it's bugs, before stepping into the ring themselves. Now, they're here, and they're ready to win!

Round 1 - Part 1

In the first hour of Round 1, the Fannin Family, 8 brothers and sisters from Hortonville, Wisconsin were eliminated. Because they are related, their voices match perfectly. However, their genetics work against them because no one in the family sings a strong baritone or bass. When the daughters grow up, perhaps they should look for that missing quality in their future husbands, and before going out on a date, ask them, “Tell me, do you sing, and what is your range?”

Moving on are the Yellow Jackets, Delilah, and my favorite of the night, Afro-Blue, who delivered a smooth, rich, full-ranged rendition of Corinne Bailey Rae's "Put Your Records On." Judge Sean Stockman noted that lead singer Christie Dashiell's voice sounded like "warm butter on grits."

I was a bit put on edge by the screaming lead of Amy Whitcomb of Delilah, and I felt the Yellow Jackets were simply not tight enough.

Round 1 - Part 2

In the second hour of Round 1, the Cat’s Pajamas, a five man performance group from Branson, Missouri were eliminated. I was sad – I had strong hopes for them. However, they picked a terrible song to perform: Grand Funk Railroad's "Some Kind of Wonderful;" and they looked ridiculous – dressing in dated matching black polyester (?) suits with hot pink dress shirts, and dance moves reminiscent of the Saturday Night Fever era. I was so disappointed – Their performance was technically perfect, but was boring in that it lacked soul and character. I would have loved to hear their version of “Video Killed the Radio Star,” which I think is stellar in its originality and quirky delivery and would have easily gotten them into Round 2.

Judge Ben Folds gave excellent advice: "Take risks and be a little more vulnerable in the artistry part… you kill the technical part. Your voices are beautiful and amazing. They completely gel… How powerful would that be if you said something about yourself in the song?"

Judge Sara Bareilles added, "You guys are pitch perfect…You're so slick and showy, I want to see a different side of you…"

Moving forward are Kinfolk 9, Urban Method, and Brigham Young University's Vocal Point, who are perhaps the tightest and best arranged all male college a cappella band the show has seen to date.

Two more groups will be eliminated tonight, Monday, September 26. Be sure to tune in at 8 for more witty sarcasm from Ms. Sara Bareilles, more humorous intellectual insights from Dr. Ben Folds, and more cool "current" comments from the smooth Shawn Stockman.

(NOTE: As always, TV grrrrl reads no other articles or blogs before writing and posting her own in order to keep her opinions as fresh and original as possible. Any comparison to other blogs means simply that great minds think alike.)

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