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December 14
December 15


The biggest musical challenge ever to hit the stage features eight teams, great music... and no instruments.

Recaps by Chico Alexander & Gordon Pepper, GSNN
Host Nick Lachey
Judges Ben Folds
Nicole Scherzinger
Shawn Stockman
Creator Joel Gallen
EP Joel Gallen
Deb Newmyer
Sam Weisman
Packager Tenth Planet Productions & Outlaw Entertainment for Sony Pictures TV
Origins Sunset Bronson Studios, Los Angeles
Airs 8p Mon-Wed, NBC
Available In High-Definition Where AvailableStreaming Online

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Superstar Medley & Judges' Challenge
December 16

Last night on "The Sing-Off", we had big hits and guilty pleasures. Unfortunately, the only thing Noteworthy is guilty of is taking a big hit to their register as they are shown the door. At the end of tonight's show, though, we'll be left with four groups competing for your votes.

We start with a group sing of ELO's "Mr. Blue Sky", looking like a vocalizing NBC peacock.

Round 4: Superstar Medley

The groups are going to be given the charge of performing medleys of multiple songs by the same artists. They better be bloody good, because this is an elimination round, and one group will be shown the door by the judges.

First up, the Caribbean crooners of Nota, who had two big performances so far (and one that needed work). They have to stay focused and keep working hard. Six guys from Puerto Rico will channel five guys from Indiana. That's right, it's the Jackson 5 medley with "I Want You Back", "I'll Be There", and "ABC"

What they say: Shawn likes the way they brought the energy, and they didn't miss a beat. Nicole thought that it was an honest delivery of a song. Ben said that they didn't make anything cheap. They made it intimate. He wants the false to be pushed a little harder.

What we say: They nail the harmonies on "I'll Be There", and the transitions are spot on, but their "ABC" was a little weak and sort of flat. But all in all a good start.

What Gordon says: They are a crowd pleaser, no doubt, but they were consistently flat throughout the medley and their 'I'll Be There' was painful to listen to. They do finish on a high note with 'ABC', and the kids love them, so they should be ok (though I didn't like them as much as everyone else did).

Next up, the Beelzebubs from Tufts University. They are born entertainers, no doubt, but can they show us "Who" they are with a medley of the Who's hits "Behind Blue Eyes", "Who Are You", and "Baba O'Riley".

What they say: Nicole said it was more powerful in their less-is-more performance. Shawn saw a deeper side of their voices. Ben thought it was driven by the lead vocals. He thought that Matt and Eric had some great range.

What we say: This is probably the Bubs' best performance, having blended great harmonies with a killer stage presence.

What Gordon says: When they aren't flying around the stage like...well...flying Beelzebubs, they can sing. This was focused, spot on pitch-wise, and emotionally charged up - something I didn't see on the second episode. They did exactly what they needed to do, which showed their serious side as well as their performance acumen. 'Behind Blue Eyes' was masterfully done. Far and away, the best that I have heard them.

The medleys continue with Maxx Factor keeping up with the younger set no problem. Leslie says they're ready to kick some a cappella butt. They'll strap on the boots of the Beach Boys to do it. The songs: "God Only Knows What I Would Be Without You", "Wouldn't It Be Nice", and "Good Vibrations".

What they say: Ben says that they're not trying to pretend that they're doing things that they ought not to be doing. Nicole thinks they're in sync and that they sound like more than just their four voices. Shawn commends them for taking on the Beach Boys, but it took them a minute to get into the groove.

What we say: A nice combination of their barbershop skills and the instrumentation in "Wouldn't It Be Nice", but other than that, it was emotionally flat and the transitions were not there. They're going to need a miracle to pull this off, because they're in a field of five hot groups.

What Gordon says: They listened to the judges. We got more group harmonies and less individual singing. I really liked the singing. I did not like the transitions (or lack of). The ending when Leslie kept a note and the other groups harmonized were sweet, yet powerful. As good as they were, because they weren't very good yesterday, they will need an errors from both Voices fof Lee and The So-Cals to advance (since I think that Nota and the Beelzebubs are locks for the finals).

Medley action continues with Journey from the SoCals. They'll have a hard time trying to top what they did in the first round last night. They'll hope to hit Steve Perry's notes with "Any Way You Want It", "Open Arms", and "Don't Stop Believin'".

What they say: Shawn says that they bring about a feeling in him when they click together. Ben thought a lot of stuff went right, saying that the "Open Arms" duet made him weepy. Nicole sees a lot of improvement every single night. All three LOVED David's electric air guitar solo.

What we say: I think if you're the SoCals, you don't pick any other group than Journey. This was a smart selection, a) because the energy demands it, and 2) because one of the judges happens to cover it on their new album. And the closer kind of borrows from a musical show on another network... This was kinda slick. This was their best performance.

What Gordon says: They go back to the duets and it works. The choreography works, as does the instrumentation and the pitch. The background instrumentation, which I did not like last time out, worked a lot better now. Journey was a great choice for them, and from a pitch standpoint, it was flawless. Like the Beelzebubs, this was far and away their best performance.

One more group medley and that's the Voices of Lee and the Beatles. They needed a couple of strong outings last night and they got them. But can they close the deal for the public vote tonight? They'll perform "Paperback Writer", "Oh Darling", and "All You Need Is Love".

What they say: Nicole thought it was awesome, thinking that "All You Need Is Love" captured their essence. Shawn was just worried about "Paperback Writer" until they nailed it. They stepped it up. Ben thought that all three songs were treated as compositions, but "Paperback Writer" didn't really mean that much to them.

What we say: I don't care what anyone says about how on point they were vocally... That. Was. Preeeeeeeeeeee-tentious.

What Gordon says: If I'm going to select a Beatles medley, and I'm trying to win a competition which requires America's vote, 'Paperback Writer' and 'Oh Darling' are not songs I'm using. I wouldn't be using any of the 3 songs (yes, not even All You Need is Love, as that's been sung out). Pitchy on the transitions, pitchy on All You Need is Love, and just a giant pitch-fest.

Performance Rankings:
The SoCals
Maxx Factor
Voices of Lee

Overall rankings after four...

The SoCals
Voices of Lee
Maxx Factor

If the judges are basing on that performance alone, Voices of Lee are out. If they are basing it on total portfolio as of now, it's Maxx Factor that's getting booted. The judges are going portfolio. Meh. Maxx Factor will sing their swan song with "Leaving on a Jet Plane" by Peter, Paul & Mary.

Round 5: Judges' Request

Now the experts have a say in what the groups sing, as they choose a song to highlight their strengths.

Shawn thought that the guys from Nota were soulful down to the bone, The judges have chosen something that is very much a challenge... Peter Gabriel's "Sledgehammer".

What they say: Ben loved seeing them freak out with the song. They know when to drop the groove and that propels the song along. Nicole says that this highlights their talent. Shawn noted that Nota is starting to sound a little troubled by the piece.

What we say: As usual, Nota are very creative with their interpretation, especially with the Latin flare at the end. Though some of the choreography is a little bit cheesy.

What Gordon says: Much better from a vocal standpoint this time around. I liked their background interpretation of the song (though the sledgehammer fist was a little cheesey for me). I liked the Caribbean feel at the end - but what I really would have like to have seen would be an actual lyric in the Carnival style. I actually agree with Shawn that they didn't own the song. Technically it was sound, but it was a tentative soundness.

Next up, the Bubs and one of America's all-time sing-alongs... They're fun. They're playful. They're tight. They're singing... "Sweet Caroline" by Neil Diamond. Performance is good, but at the end of the day, this is about who can make a record. So yeah, this is a challenge.

I'm starting to get the judges' round here. They're being evil.

What they say: Nicole's charmed by their humor. Ben saw restraint and maturity. Shawn thought he was listening to Neil Diamond.

What we say: Too much gravy, not enough potatoes. They're good performers, but this was a test of vocality they D'ed big time.

What Gordon says: This is a traditional barbershop song, and it was done traditionally well, and sung traditionally decent, in it's own traditional way. In other words...IT WAS BORING. The only spark was that one of the singers presented Nicole with a set of flowers. Nothing bad anout the performance, but some innovation would have been nice.

How evil will the judges be to the SoCals? Let's find out as they sing... "Hazy Shade of Winter" by Simon & Garfunkel (more famously the Bangles). It's a dramatic song, but it doesn't really channel the vibe of musical theatre that we're used to.

What they say: Ben thought that the song was God, and he hates to see that the song is getting lost. Shawn liked the breakdown in the middle, calling the arrangement interesting. Nicole liked the energy and they gave it everything.

What we say: The SoCals come through again as they put their own spin on this established song while still doing umbrage to the original. Unfortunately the background is drowning out the ladies.

What Gordon says: Not nearly as tight as the first performance. The energy was there, and they certainly didn't play it safe...BUT...pitchy and ill-tempoed all over the place. They get good grades for effort, but the instrumentation (with the wah-wahs) drowned out the vocals. I had them in the finals, but if the Voices of Lee show up to impress, I'm going to have to take them out of the finals. Really bad time to have a bad performance.

One more song away from decision time, as the Voices of Lee have one more chance to show up for the finals. They get... "Man in the Mirror" by Michael Jackson. It's a fun song, but it has a message. They need to innovate, because Michael Jackson is a big rhinestone glove to fill.

What they say: Shawn didn't feel the power of the original song. It wasn't just about sounding good, it was about feeling good. And Shawn didn't really feel good hearing it. Technically sound, but the feeling was lost. Nicole didn't feel a powerful impact, but the message was there. Ben was moved by it, not married to the original.

What we say: Write a letter to the judges saying "Thank you very much for putting our group in the finals." Aside from one miscue on the bridge and several misfires as far as harmonies are concerned, this had a little bit of heart that the SoCals didn't have. This may be one of the closest calls that the judges have to make.

What Gordon says: A little shaky at the beginning, but they cover it up. Unlike the SoCals, the harmony does not drown out the vocals. But I 100% agree with Shawn; it's technically sound, but there was no fire behind it. At least you had passion with the SoCals.

So now it's decision time. What's better, technically clean with no fire, or plenty of fire, but an audible mess? We prefer...

Performance Rankings:
Voices of Lee
The SoCals

Overall Rankings after five...

Voices of Lee
The SoCals

Time to face the music... Singing in the finale... THE BEELZEBUBS... and NOTA!

That leaves the bottom two: Voices of Lee and the SoCals. As we said before... Voices of Lee had passion but no fire. SoCals had fire but no real harmonies. Joining the Bubs and Nota in the finals, and through to the public vote... are...



VOICES OF LEE! Sorry, SoCals, but it's the end of the line for you. They'll sing us off with "Here I Go Again" by Whitesnake.

The battle lines have been drawn. Monday night, the Beelzebubs, Nota, or the Voices of Lee will win $100,000, a Sony Music recording contract, and the title of the first-ever Sing-Off Champions. Who wins this? I defer to Gordon, since for the great duration of this series, we've been on the same page.

What Gordon says: So who wins the finale? Between their performances and their reputation, I think the devils will get their due during Christmas week. Beelzebub to win over Nota, with Voices of Lee coming in 3rd.

You're not going to want to miss the finale. Until then, sing us out, people...

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