Monday, December 16, 2013

AcoUstiKats singer's girlfriend says, "Yes" during Sing-Off

Mike Owens proposes to Maggie Blair during Thursday's Sing-Off taping.

Day three of the Sing-Off a cappella competition show was an hour long show featuring only four of the eight remaining groups: TEN, Street Corner Renaissance, the acoUstiKats, and The Filharmonic each competing amongst each other for one of three spots that would survive to the next round. 

The Sing-Off Season 4 Episode 3 aired on NBC on Thursday night, December 12, 2013 from 8 p.m. to 9 p.m. The show is judged by Ben Folds, Shawn Stockman, and Jewel and is hosted by Nick Lachey of 98 Degrees. Competing are ten groups hoping to win a $100,000 recording contract from Sony.

Mentoring the four competitors during rehearsals this episode was Judge Shawn Stockman who drew from his extensive vocal knowledge and experience performing with the successful band, Boyz II Men, to give pointers to each of the four groups.

The surprise of the night came when AcoUstiKats member Mike Owens asked his girlfriend Maggie Blair to come up on stage to join them after their romantic performance of the song, "Amazed" by Lonestar. Referencing the title of the song, Owens told her, "I am amazed by you, Maggie," then got down on one knee and asked her to marry him. 

She said, "Yes." 

Host Lachey joked, "And guys, for the record, we all expect to be invited to the wedding."  

Season 4 Episode 3 Recap – "Number One Hits"

Dallas, TX
10 men and women
covering "Chain of Fools" by Aretha Franklin

There's more than one lead singer in the group, Ten, but you wouldn't know it from the way in which the group works as a cohesive unit to emulate the instrumentation and backup vocals of a full supporting rhythm and blues a cappella band. With Deedee Yancey-Mackey singing lead on Aretha Franklin's "Chain of Fools," the rest of the all-star cast of gospel church and professional performing backup singers divided themselves into three groups of three: a group of three male singers vocalized the sounds of drums and bass; another group of three backed up the singer with a mixture of melody and doo-wops; while the third group acted as the the three-girl backup band characteristic of the famous Motown sound. 

Their arrangement was filled with interesting changes and dynamics as they transitioned from part to part, building to a fast tempo gospel-choir-like finale where all the members joined in for one final flourish. The performance was filled with strength and power and garnered the group a standing ovation from all three judges. "It was amazing," said Folds, "You're dangerous."

Jewel complemented the group on how they divvied up their roles behind Deedee, the lead singer,  "Girls, backing her up, Imani, Peaches, and Sidney. That sounded great. Ya'll just supported her, you gave her a place to grow and be there. You guys back there in the band, acting like a band, I loved it. I love the staging. It was great." 

"There you go, There you go. Nice. Yeah!" cheered Stockman, "Here's the thing that sucked about that whole performance. It wasn't long enough."

During rehearsals, Stockman had suggested the group drag out the choral hook of the song, "Chain Chain Chain," and make it sound gritty and grimy. "Make people feel you. Take them to church," said Stockman. The group took his suggestions to heart and delivered with power and grit. 

"That performance right there is your signature as far as who you are. When people say Ten, I guarantee, they will bring up this performance right here. That's what it's all about. Great job. Great job," praised Stockman.

University of Kentucky College of Fine Arts in Lexington, KY
12 men
covering "Amazed" by Lonestar

Delivering a beautiful, traditional, choral arrangement of "Amazed" by Lonestar, the acoUstiKats melted the hearts of everyone in the viewing audience. 

Stockman had advised the members of the group beforehand to make the song more emotional and personally meaningful by using a trick he had learned during his many years of performing, "Pick a girl in the crowd, and sing to her. You'll be amazed at how you'll start to sing better. Because, you'll then see her reaction…"

React, they did. "That was moving," said Folds.  

"I was a little worried when I found out you guys picked this record, because its such a sincere vocal, and what I've seen out of you guys so far is sort of this goofy frat persona, and I think I just found you guys' heart," said Jewel.

Folds noted the groups tight arrangement, "The choral approach was good, the bond you had together to push the song out, and Ross that was a beautiful vocal. It's like Josh Groban," said Folds, referring to Ross Hill's beautiful, manly, and rich lead vocals.

"I think you guys are a legit choral group. And I loved hearing this approach. This was harmonically very challenging and you guys didn't shy away from it," praised Jewel.

"Overall, a great performance," echoed Stockman.

Street Corner Renaissance
Los Angeles, CA
5 men
covering, "Forget You" by CeeLo Green

I always enjoy how Street Corner Renaissance takes a current song, changes it up, then Motowns it down. The group played with CeeLo's hit song, "Forget You," by customizing, then acting out the lyrics in typical SCR fashion, and the result was hilariously funny as expected. 

"That was the grooviest crying I've ever heard... You were crying right in time," laughed Folds.

"That was really enjoyable," said Jewel. "You guys have been this time machine. You've been going from One Direction to the Contours, and back here to the present, and you're making it all work for you. You guys are adapting this to your style."

The one thing I have noted about this act is their consistency. They always sound great and they always entertain. They never disappoint. Sadly, Street Corner Renaissance was sent home at the end of the night, a casualty of elimination.

"That was a lot of fun," said Folds.

"You could probably do a rock song in doo-wop and it'll sound good," said Stockman. 

The Filharmonic
Los Angeles, CA
6 men
covering "One More Night" by Maroon 5

Imagine a boy band with a lead singer with a voice as smooth and full of character as Adam Levine's, combined with equally impressive harmonizing backup singers such as those found in Maroon 5, and imagine that this six-man band is performing Maroon 5's "One More Night," and sounds remarkably similar, yet does not have an actual band behind them: as in no real drums, bass, guitars, keyboards, and other instruments, and yet sounds as if they do, since these a cappella band members are only using their voices to emulate instruments. Imagine that feat, and you have The Filharmonic. Each time I hear one of their performances, I am equally impressed. 

Despite their stellar performance, there were cracks in the armor. When a band is as tight as The Filharmonic, you hear every tiny flaw, every small mistake. 

Though lead singer VJ Rosales is jokingly referred to by his band mates as "The Filipino Adam Levine," for sounding nearly exactly like Levine, Jewel noted that his vocals were not angry enough, "VJ on that vocal, you're so charming, and you're so lovely, and you're so smiley, and adorable, but this song has a little bit of …dark anger. It has some heartbreak that I wasn't getting from your vocal. So it made it a little bit light for me."

Folds also noticed that something seemed to be missing. "For some reason, [ I ] was not as excited about that performance, myself," he said. "We're not all perfect the whole way and the whole journey, and I know you guys have got it in you. You've got such personality. You see it in each and everyone of you," 

"There's some interesting things going on that you guys did. You guys re-harmonized the bridge,... and that was pretty cool," said Jewel.

"The thing I'm most proud about you guys is that you've actually improved. This is the tightest you've ever been," said Stockman.

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