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Season 3
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The biggest musical challenge ever to hit the stage features 16 teams, great music... and no instruments.

Recaps by Chico Alexander, GSNN
 
Host Nick Lachey
Judges Sara Bareilles
Ben Folds
Shawn Stockman
Creator Joel Gallen
EP Joel Gallen
Deborah Jelin Newmyer
Sam Weisman
Josh Greenberg
Packager Tenth Planet Productions & Outlaw Entertainment for Sony Pictures TV
Origins Sunset Bronson Studios, Los Angeles
Web nbc.com/singoff
Airs 8p ET Mon, NBC
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Round of 16: Season Premiere Part 1
September 19

Nota won it in season 1.

Committed won it in season 2.

Tonight, for the first time in the regular season... The Sing-Off is ON... again. And this time, there's a new kid on the block, as "Love Song" and "King of Anything" singer Sara Bareilles (who's also a fan and an alum of the a cappella community) joins Ben Folds and Shawn Stockman on the judging panel. FIRST things first, though... Time to meet this year's crop of a cappella junkies who are chasing $200,000 and a recording contract from Sony Music... to the tune of Pink's "F***in' Perfect."

- Afro-blue; Howard University; Washington DC
- The Cat's Pajamas; Branson, MO
- The Collective; Nashville
- The Dartmouth Aires; Dartmouth College; Hanover, NH
- Delilah; Los Angeles
- The Deltones; University of Delaware; Newark, DE
- Fannin Family; Hortonville, WI
- Kinfolk 9; Los Angeles
- Messiah's Men; Minneapolis
- North Shore; Boston
- Pentatonix; Arlington, TX
- Sonos; Los Angeles
- Soul'd Out; Wilsonville HS; Wilsonville, OR
- Urban Method; Denver
- Vocal Point; BYU; Provo, UT
- YellowJackets; University of Rochester; Rochester, NY

Tonight, eight of these singers will perform, with two groups being eliminated. The other eight will sing NEXT week.

First up...

1) YELLOWJACKETS - Big stress is on this group of NY college kids. They respond to the challenge with the equally challenging "Wavin' Flag", K'naan's theme from last year's World Cup.

The only beef I had with the song was the start. The person who sang the first verse should've never even considered it. He was a very weak vocalist. The arrangement hits all the right notes (no pun intended), and the choreography makes sense from an artistic standpoint. They're making a big statement in choosing this song and performing it the way that they did. The solos had the right tone, but the over-arching group dynamic is what makes this performance a great way to start the season.

2) THE FANNIN FAMILY - We've seen some groups before, but never from the same family. That changes tonight as this group of eight siblings takes on "Who Says" from Selena Gomez.

The stress is on Maria, the young 14-year-old, to carry the song. She does that with a voice of someone twice her age. But it comes at a price of not being as controlled as the older contestants. That money note, though... whoo. Anyway, the group have an enchanting harmony, but they do next to nothing with the arrangement. Or is it that they just all sound the same and it's just steadily engineered to be monotonous with one unified tone throughout the whole piece and I'm putting myself to sleep as I type this. This would've passed muster in season 1, but the bar, unfortunately for you, has been raised.

3) AFRO-BLUE - They specialize in jazz, R&B, and funk, drawing from the rich history of the HBCU. They'll have to pull that in to their performance of Corinne Bailey Rae's "Put Your Records On".

The ladies in the background need more of a blend with the guys, who seem to knock the bass out of the park. The lead vocalist is incredible for a college student. The arrangement is really solid, but it could've used a tad more dynamic... just a touch. And the song fits the group, very natural, very loose. It was refreshing.

Side note: we get it, Sara. You're new.

4) DELILAH - Most reality shows cull contestants from past seasons. This reality show... leaves the culling to the contestants themselves. Made up of all-stars from the first two seasons, this group of eight women will vocalize as one for the first time with "Grenade" by Bruno Mars.

In a word... DAMN.That was raw sex. Anyone can be taught how to sing or perform, but to do it at the same time and exude that sensuality while doing so... that can't be learned. The arrangement was also pretty saucy, almost raunchy. The group itself was together. They are emerging as an early threat. Now they have to go at it to be BETTER than this. Because if you peak too early, you're going to burn out that much quicker.

And now the judges aren't going to wait until the end of the show to put one group out of its misery. For three, they continue on to the next round.

Surviving this round... Delilah & Afro-Blue. And the dubious honor of being the first group going home on season 3 of "The Sing-Off".... The Fannin Family. Their swan song... "Tomorrow" from Annie.

5) URBAN METHOD - A group of professional musicians deliver "The Sing-Off's" first ever group... with a rapper. Will that be the X factor this group needs to win? Of course not. That's another network. But they will make their opening argument on "Love the Way You Lie" by Eminem & Rihanna.

First of all, mad props on Mike's rhymes. If only the rest of the group was as clean as he was. the basic story here... Potential squandered. They have a great group performance factor, and they tell the story of the song, but the problems - and there are many - is that they don't do enough with the arrangement AND what they do do is... well, doo-doo. And there's no real matching dynamic overall. This group needs to regroup, or else they're going to meet up with the Fannin Family and then things will REALLY get awkward.

6) THE CAT'S PAJAMAS - They're from Branson. So they're a bit professional. Can they bring that to this stage with "Some Kind of Wonderful" from Grand Funk Railroad?

It's a good arrangement, but there's way. Too. Much. Treble. Good breakdown in the trailing of the song, but let's call a spade a spade. It's all about the soloist and to hell with the backup. Technically, they are the best singers of the group, but they don't really have the artistry aspect of the other groups. It's more like "this is how you sing a cappella". You're not singing AT me, you're singing towards me. There's no performance, there's just a well-sung song.

7) KINFOLK 9 - They're a group of struggling artists who decided to try a cappella for the first time. But can they put the art into their performance of "Secrets" by Onerepublic?

Very controlled background. I would've picked a stronger pair of vocalists, but they have chemistry, so there's a bit of trade-off. A very safe arrangement, no risk. No need for risk right now. But they have a very tight harmony. They just need to build from that.

8) VOCAL POINT - As far as collegiate a cappella groups go, they are the best of the best, having won numerous competitions. Now they'll have to translate that into their signature of "Jump Jive & Wail" from the Brian Setzer Orchestra.

NOTE: One of the group is missing because three days prior, he got a phone call asking his return to Australia to be with his father, who has leukemia.

Great performance, effortless harmonies, creative arrangement, good modulation in the key-change, and the execution was spot on with as much risk as needed. They also move in time. That comes with years of training and dedication. It needed a little bit of baritone, though, just to even everything out. But yeah, it was fun.

Now to cut and run, because we're running out of time. Another group is going to leave the competition tonight.

Surviving this cut... Vocal Point & Urban Method..... and Kinfolk 9. The Cat's Pajamas weren't... so they're going to sing their swan song, "Bye Bye Love" by the Everly Brothers. And if they had done the job during the round that they did in their swan song, they would still be here... And yes, that is often the case on "The Sing-Off."

Power Rankings after Week One
DELILAH
AFRO-BLUE
VOCAL POINT
YELLOWJACKETS
KINFOLK 9
URBAN METHOD

These six will have two weeks to get their follow up to par, because our next group of eight will take the stage next week. Until then, remember to support local and independent music!

To see this episode in its entirety, visit www.nbc.com/singoff.