Dec 172010

The back end of December’s usually a pretty quiet time for television, unless you enjoy reruns and holiday specials. But for the second year in a row, NBC’s snuck a three-week competition-style reality show into its lineup at precisely this time of year with little fanfare. It’s the peacock network’s answer to Fox’s American Idol and Glee, and it’s called The Sing-Off.

The Sing-Off features ten of America’s best vocal groups vying for dual grand prizes: $100,000 and a Sony recording contract. No instruments come into play here, just lots and lots of voices performing songs we all know and – sometimes – love. To sweeten the pot for music fans, the groups are judged by industry royalty: Ben Folds, Nicole Scherzinger of Pussycat Dolls and Shawn Stockman of Boys II Men. Oh, and Nick Lachey hosts, if that’s your bag.

The too-brief show lasts only five episodes, including a live finale in which America votes on the winner. As it happens, four episodes have aired already and we’re now down to our final four groups, with the finale airing Monday night. What better time to recap the season and fill you in on who’s left? Voting’s open until Sunday night on NBC’s website, so bone up on these incredible talents and exercise your patriotic duty!

Who’s Left?

The Backbeats (Los Angeles, CA): Group leader Kenton Chen formed the Backbeats explicitly for the purpose of competing on The Sing-Off. They’re made up of a collection of top singers from a myriad of LA a cappella groups. A few of their tunes have been a little shaky, but lead soprano Joanna Jones has an amazingly emotional voice that can sell any performance, as you can see in their amazing “Landslide” performance below. The youngest, newest group, the Backbeats probably stand to gain the most from a win simply because they have the furthest yet to travel in their musical journey. They’ve certainly won me over in the past few episodes.

Committed (Huntsville, AL):
A group of choir boys, Committed had only ever sung in a religious context until Sing-Off. They’re probably the best musicians on the show; no other group can touch the insane harmonies they regularly pull off, as you can see in this Usher medley. They seem like the group with the most soul (unsurprising given their background), and in my opinion are one of two locks to win the competition.

Street Corner Symphony (Nashville, TN): Lead singer of this down-home sextet, Jeremy Lister has been portrayed by Sing-Off as a struggling recording artist trying to make a name for himself doing something novel in Nashville. Indeed, Jeremy currently has a record contract with a Warner Bros. subsidiary, but until Sing-Off has remained more or less an unknown. Street Corner Symphony is a strong group that can run the gamut from warm balladry to powerful rock with relatively few members, and they were an early favorite of mine, but after a flat Beatles medley I just don’t think they can stand up to the other groups in the finale. Check out a really good early performance of Tears for Fears‘ “Everybody Wants to Rule the World” to see what they’re capable of.

Jerry Lawson & Talk of the Town (Oakland, CA): Every group in Sing-Off‘s final four brings something unique to the show. What Lawson and friends bring is class. Lawson is probably best known as the original singer of the 1960s vocal group the Persuasions. Hard times knocked Jerry out of the music business for awhile, but he picked himself back up and joined up with Oakland group Talk of the Town several years ago. They’re certainly the act with the most experience on the show, and they possess incredible talent besides that, as their performance of Duffy‘s “Mercy” makes clear. If Committed doesn’t win Sing-Off, I predict Jerry Lawson & Talk of the Town will.

Full Season Recap

Whole Cast Performances:
I’ve Got the Music in Me (Kiki Dee)
Use Somebody (Kings of Leon)
21 Guns (Green Day)
With a Little Help from My Friends (The Beatles/ Joe Cocker)

Pitch Slapped (Berklee College of Music, Boston, MA):
Good Girls Go Bad (Cobra Starship)
Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye (Steam)

Men of Note (Cherry Hill West High School alum, Cherry Hill, NJ):
The Longest Time (Billy Joel)
Take a Bow (Rihanna)

Eleventh Hour (Fairmont High School, Kettering, OH):
Baby (Justin Bieber)
Just the Way You Are (Bruno Mars)
Leavin’ (Jesse McCartney)

The Whiffenpoofs (Yale University, New Haven, CT):
Grace Kelly (Mika)
Haven’t Met You Yet (Michael Buble)
Home Sweet Home (Motley Crue)

Groove For Thought (Seattle, WA):

I Wish (Stevie Wonder)
Cooler Than Me (Mike Posner)
Changes (David Bowie)
You Make My Dreams (Hall & Oates)
That’s Life (Frank Sinatra)

On the Rocks (University of Oregon, Eugene, OR):
Bad Romance (Lady Gaga)
Live Your Life (T.I. feat. Rihanna)
Pour Some Sugar On Me (Def Leppard)
Kyrie (Mr. Mister)
The Bitch is Back/Bennie and the Jets/Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me (Elton John)
The Final Countdown (Europe)

The Backbeats (Los Angeles, CA):
If I Were a Boy (Beyoncé)
Breakeven (The Script)
You Give Love a Bad Name (Bon Jovi)
Love Shack (The B-52s)
Poker Face/Paparazzi/Just Dance (Lady Gaga)
Landslide (Fleetwood Mac)

Committed (Huntsville, AL):
This Love (Maroon 5)
Apologize (OneRepublic)
Every Breath You Take (The Police)
I Want it That Way (Backstreet Boys)
DJ Got Us Fallin’ in Love/U Got It Bad/Love in This Club (Usher)
Let’s Stay Together (Al Green)

Street Corner Symphony (Nashville, TN):

Everybody Wants to Rule the World (Tears for Fears)
Hey Soul Sister (Train)
Creep (Radiohead)
Come on Eileen (Dexy’s Midnight Runners)
Eleanor Rigby/Help!/Hey Jude (The Beatles)
Down on the Corner (Creedence Clearwater Revival)

Jerry Lawson & Talk of the Town (Oakland, CA):
Save the Last Dance for Me (The Drifters)
Mercy (Duffy)
(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction (The Rolling Stones)
Easy (The Commodores)
Sittin’ on the Dock of the Bay/Try a Little Tenderness/Respect (Otis Redding)
House of the Rising Sun (The Animals)

Nota (San Juan, PR):
I Gotta Feeling (The Black Eyed Peas)
[note: this group won last year’s competition and returned for a special performance in the second episode of this season]

The Sing-Off live finale airs Monday at 8:00 PM/7:00 central and features performances from the remaining four groups plus guest stars Neil Diamond, Sheryl Crow, and Sara Bareilles as well as judges Ben Folds, Nicole Scherzinger and Shawn Stockman. Remember, you can vote for your favorite group by Sunday night at the NBC website. I honestly don’t know who should win. What do you guys think? Post your thoughts below!

  2 Responses to “The Sing-Off Roundup (So Far)”

Comments (2)
  1. I’m gonna be reppin’ my SoCal VoCals (and so on)…goooo Backbeats!

  2. Well now that we know who won… I was pulling for the Backbeats too, David. I DO think Committed was totally deserving and I look forward to seeing where they go, but I hope and trust that your southern Cali buds have grand futures ahead of them.

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