Last year... Eight groups came together in a
competition unlike no other. Using nothing more than the power of their voices,
they would have to convince a panel of three industry heavy hitters that they
were worth $100,000, a Sony Music recording contract, and the title of
"Sing-Off" championship. Puerto Rico-based Nota locked down the public vote and
became the first ever champions of the show... and a cappella geeks all over the
Get ready, because it's about to happen all over
The judges are back, and ten groups (up from last
year's eight) will compete to stay in the game, and at the end of the rainbow, a
pot of gold, $100,000 and a recording contract from Sony Music.
We have the stage. Do you have the chops? It's
time to SING-OFF!
As we start the competition with a group sing of
"I Got the Music in Me", we meet the teams...
- Eleventh Hour - Fairmont HS, Kettering,
- Street Corner Symphony - Nashville, TN
- Committed - Huntsville, AL
- The Backbeats - Los Angeles
- On the Rocks - Univ. of Oregon, Eugene, OR
- Jerry Lawson & Talk of the Town - Oakland, CA
- Pitch Slapped - Berklee College of Music, Boston
- Groove for Thought - Seattle
- The Whiffenpoofs - Yale University, Boston
- Men of Note - Cherry Hill, NJ
Tonight, I, Chico Alexander, alum of the UNC
Achordants, will supply the play-by-play, with Gordon Pepper, who's known a
music chorale or two in his life as well (and he's a good singer to boot),
handling the color commentary.
Drawing #1 tonight is ELEVENTH HOUR, a
high-school based group from Kettering, OH. They call themselves "The Breakfast
Club" of music, and they're the youngest group on the show. Will they parlay
that into energy and harmony performing? They sing "Baby" by Justin Bieber.
What they say: Ben says that the bass and the
drums were together. Nicole compares the group to "the real-life Glee". Shawn
called their look fresh and says that they are focused for such a young group.
What G says: It was a good song selection -
getting something current to sing. However, the arrangement itself didn't work;
it was too slow and staggering. What really didn't work is that the base was
completely off-pitch with the rest of the group, creating a dissonance which was
off-setting throughout the song. And apparently, the judges are on their Glee
pills, since we're not going to get anything productive from them if they don't
many any criticisms on the group.
Next, we head to Eugene, Oregon and try not to
duck from the University boys of ON THE ROCKS. They've been described as "a
rolling ball of contagious energy" and "a singing fraternity". They became
YouTube sensations when they performed "Bad Romance" by Lady Gaga on campus and
someone recorded it. Can they turn that into a title?
What they say: Shawn was scared at first, but
they pulled it off, making it interesting and fun. Ben thought it was
entertaining, but they were a little pitchy starting with the basses. Nicole
says Gaga would be pleased to know that she's influencing frat boys to ... do...
THAT... on stage.
What G says: As good of a first choice that
Eleventh Hour had, this was a rotten song selection: The song is played out, the
choreography was creepy, and the hand motions made them look like a group of
drag queens scorned, possibly rejected from RuPaul's Drag Race. The singing was
alright, but everything else about the performance detracted it for me.
Next, we're heading to Seattle for a family
affair that is GROOVE FOR THOUGHT. They've perfected a jazzier-style of
vocalism. Several of them are music teachers. One, Kelly, even drafted his own
daughter, Amanda to be a new singer. Will this magnificent seven do justice to
"I Wish" by Stevie Wonder?
What they say: Ben thought that lead vocalist
Peter and bass Jeff were great and the arrangement was also on point. BUT it
needed a little more edge. Nicole says that they should stick with that they're
doing, because she's a fan. Shawn called it solid and reminiscent of Take 6.
What G says: One word: Smooth. This is a group
that lets their musical talent speak for themselves. They don't need no flashy
choreography or silly movements, and the interlude was sweet. They remind me of
a young Manhattan Transfer or as the judges say, Take 6. I want to hear more of
that and I can't wait to see what happens when they go contemporary.
Next, we go to Boston and get a lesson from PITCH
SLAPPED from Berklee College of Music. They hail from the #1 contemporary arts
school in the nation, so expectations are high. They can play other instruments
as well, so they have a competitive edge. But will they make history... or will
they BE history? They'll rock it out with Cobra Starship's "Good Girls Go Bad".
What they say: Nicole... says nothing of value,
other than that she loves how they weren't serious with it. Now she also wanted
to hear the accompaniment. Shawn saw that there was a top and a bottom, but
there was nothing in the middle. Ben expands, saying that it's all about
dynamic. Not their strong point.
What G says:
They have the
girls vs. guys dichotomy which sounded nice. The female's voice was off-kilter
and didn't mesh with the group. The song itself was okay, but there was no
volume variety for the song; no emotion, no energy, no 'pop'. The first song is
supposed to define who you are, and I didn't get that. I think that could be
Now we go to Oakland and catch up with R&B
legends JERRY LAWSON & TALK OF THE TOWN. Jerry himself was in The Persuasions,
having recorded 24 albums. He walked away from it, but then he ran into Talk of
the Town, who has been singing the music of The Persuasions for 30 years. It's
almost like Stan Lee meeting his creations. They'll sing the Drifters' "Save the
Last Dance for Me".
What they say: Shawn calls Jerry an inspiration
in this room, being a living testimony that second chances do exist. The group
presents a style and class that only experience can groom and teach. Ben cites
that the unfair advantage is that they own the genre. Nicole is at a loss for
(C-Note: RINGERS! That is all...)
What G says: This is a traditional
barbershop-style song, and as you would expect from a group that's been
together for a very long time. This was clean, smooth, and put together.
They seemed to lose their rhythm near the end, but they got it back
together before the end of the song. You knew what you were going to get
from them from the get go, and they delivered. Like Ben Folds Five (and
like Groove for Thought), I want to see what they can do in the current
Now it's time for the judges to make
their first cut. Four of these groups will make it to the next round...
One won't. It's time to vote off... THE WEAKEST LINK... Wait, wrong
On the safe-list... Jerry Lawson & Talk
of the Town... Eleventh Hour... On the Rocks... and Groove for Thought.
Pitch Slapped just got... well, you know. In Sing-Off tradition, each
group has prepared a swan song to sing themselves off the stage. Pitch
Slapped pick up their mics one more time with "Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him
Goodbye" by Steam.
What G says: Ranking the groups...
- Groove for Thought
- Jerry Lawson & Talk of the Town
- On The Rocks
- Eleventh Hour
- Pitch Slapped
Do I agree with the judges? Yes, but why are you tormenting Groove For
Thought when you knew based on their reviews, that they would be safe?
Next up, we're going to Yale and the
first ever college a cappella group. With over 100 years behind them,
they are THE WHIFFENPOOFS. The onus is on them to uphold the quality of
the group. That includes performing in white tie and tails. And gloves.
How delightfully square. They have a particular style of them, and
they'll display it by singing "Grace Kelly" by Mika.
What they say: Ben says that it's
refreshing to hear the things that they're not doing (vocal percussion,
mostly). Nicole called it brilliant. Shawn says the dynamics are...
What G says: I really, really liked
the background vocals and the choreography, which was seamless. I did
not like Brandon the main vocalist, who couldn't handle the lead vocal
and who's voice and tone cracked under the weight of the high notes.
They should make it through the next round, but perhaps a change in lead
vocalist may be in order.
Next, we're going to Cherry Hill, NJ and
meet the MEN OF NOTE, who have nothing to do but serenade ladies.
They're also lacrosse players... and swimmers... and all around
athletes. They're very competitive. They're "real singers", but they
have to prove it against real singers with Billy Joel's "For The Longest
Time"... now I did this as #05 in the A's, so I'm expecting greatness...
What they say: Nicole says that they
could be a little tighter and not as thin. Shawn thought it was a little
stiff. Ben says that they're tenor-heavy, calling it an arrangement
What Chico says:... dude, where's my
What G says: The problem with going after
a group with tight choreography is that anything else after that looks
commonplace. I liked what they did to the Billy Joel song, but I would
have liked them to have taken even more liberties with the song, really
jazz it up and bring it out of it's element and put a stamp on who they
are and what they can do. it was good, but I don't know if good is going
to get it done now when they could - and should - have made it great.
Music City USA produces the eclectic
sound of STREET CORNER SYMPHONY. They draw heavily on Southern
traditions of bluegrass, rock, and gospel. They like to "un-practice",
which is to not sing and drink beer. One member was in a band for a
while, but their label wasn't releasing anything he wrote. Will
redemption be his with "Everybody Wants to Rule the World" by Tears for
What they say: Ben thought it was
interesting... except for phantom cymbals. Shawn appreciates the group's
honesty. Nicole says that lead singer Jeremy has a beautiful voice.
What G says: Flat, flat, flat. This felt
generic and by the numbers. No pop, no vibration, no nothing. They
couldn't keep either the rhythm or the pitch going for the entire song.
The end slowdown was nice, but for me, it didn't bail them out of the
first 95% of the song. Worst performance of the night so far.
Going to the west coast with college
all-stars THE BACKBEATS. Kenton was from USC. He saw season 1 of the
show, and called his friends from all over LA to get a group together.
Courtney & Kelly were ON season 1... Now they're back and ready to try
it again for the judges with Beyonce's "If I Were A Boy".
What they say: Nicole says that they set
the bar with their power. Ben called it "moving". Shawn thought it was
"off the chain".
What G says: This was way too slow, sort
of like trying to get caramel out of your teeth after eating a candy. It
felt that slow and mushy. It's a great song choice, which makes this
even more painful for me. While I liked the harmonies converging in the
accompaniment, I thought Joanne couldn't handle the vocals. Like
Brandon, who couldn't handle the high notes, Joanna made the low section
sound like murky water. I agree that it was emotionally powerful, and I
think they will get through this round, but you can only get through on
emotion over pitch and technicality for only so long.
What Chico says: I hate to say this, but
this is a group composed of people who underwhelm. The only thing you're
going to get is... mass mediocrity.
Last up, it's COMMITTED from Huntsville,
AL. They're committed to G-d, to music, and to each other. They're
rooted in gospel and think that it gives them the advantage. Their
pastor can't wait to see how it turns out. It's going to be the first
time they've sung contemporary pop music in a while. This oughta be fun.
They'll close the show with "This Love" from Maroon 5.
What they say: Shawn's at a loss. Ben and
Nicole join him in their appreciation.
What Chico says: I'll have an adequate
sandwich with extra cacophony in the middle. That's a reasonable
explanation of what we heard from them. It started out well... It ended
well... The rest of it was meh.
What G says: Ouch. That opening was ugly.
This is sort of the reverse problems that the other groups in this
section has - the lead vocals may be good enough to bail out an uneven
chorus that gave out more klunks that Geoff Edwards on Treasure Hunt. I
liked what they did to 'This Love', and I liked the pitch shifting at
the end. Too bad we couldn't have it earlier on in the song - like from
the beginning onwards.
Ranking the Groups:
Men of Note
Street Corner Symphony
What G says: Do I agree with the judges? Yes and no. I didn't think that
Men of Note were the worst, but I also don't think that they did enough
to not be eliminated. To be blunt, I think each group in this division
had some sort of problem. Some of them can be worked out, some of them
can't. We'll see next time if they can handle it.
Next comes another cut. Five enter the
ring of fire... only four will return Wednesday.
Those four are... The Backbeats...
Committed... The Whiffenpoofs... and Street Corner Symphony. The Men of
Note head back to the malls with their swan song, "Take a Bow" by
Now for a little insight, Mr. Pepper...
What G says overall...
Groove for Thought
Jerry Lawson and the Talk of the Town
On The Rocks
Street Corner Symphony
Overall, I think the talent level is MUCH better than last season.
Whereas I only saw 3 groups that could win for Season 1, I can see 6 of
the 10 win it this year. But who will? Find out in 47 as we continue
singing towards a title.
To see this episode in its entirety, visit