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Previous Episodes
September 19

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 Productions for Sony Pictures TV
Origins Sunset Bronson Studios, Los Angeles
Web nbc.com/singoff
Airs 8p ET Mon, NBC
@The Sing-Off

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Round of 16: Season Premiere Part 2
September 26

Last week on "The Sing-Off", we met eight of the sixteen groups. Two of them - Fannin Family and The Cat's Pajamas - had barely gotten a chord in edgewise before they were asked by the judges to leave the stage. Now Opening Round continues tonight with your back eight. At the end of the show, we'll have the final 12 who'll battle it out for $200,000 and the Sony Music contract.

Now let's "SING" (My Chemical Romance) with these eight groups...

- The Collective; Nashville
- The Dartmouth Aires; Dartmouth College; Hanover, NH
- The Deltones; University of Delaware; Newark, DE
- Messiah's Men; Minneapolis
- North Shore; Boston
- Pentatonix; Arlington, TX
- Sonos; Los Angeles
- Soul'd Out; Wilsonville HS; Wilsonville, OR

The groups that survive tonight will join Urban Method, Delilah, Kinfolk 9, the Yellowjackets, Afro-Blue, and Vocal Point next week.

First up...

9) DARTMOUTH AIRES - They're Ivy Leaguers, but they don't take each other seriously when they're on the stage. They describe themselves has having a lot of traditions, but not being traditional. We're going to "Higher Ground" by Stevie Wonder to start.

It's classic college a cappella with random movements and a belter out front. I think the arrangement could've been half a step down, because the lead gets lost in the breath control. But wow, what a statement to make on the first number of the night. They're engaging, they're energetic, they're threatening.

10) PENTATONIX - This Texas trio-cum-quintet take a cappella ... and give it a club-banger groove. The extra two were brought in to take the group to the next level. They're going to need those extra two on "ET" by Katy Perry.

Okay, it's a female-originated song. You have a female vocalist. Why is Scott singing the lead? Yes, technically it sounds on point, but there's just something off-putting with that. They have a really good foundation of things, especially on the melodies, but if you're only going to have a group of five, and you want the strength to power your way through this song... you have to arrange it for five. It just sounded like melodies with a beat. There was no overall connecting backing track, and it ends up sounding like something's missing.

11) MESSIAH'S MEN - This group of West African transplants from Minneapolis describe their sound as Afro-centric gospel. Could this be the second coming of Ladysmith Black Mombazo sexed up for a primetime audience? We'll see as they take on Curtis Mayfield's "People Get Ready".

Very unique arrangement style, seamlessly blending vocal harmony with backing tracks. And nice use of the sound effects and native language points. This is a very different vibe from the group, and that's going to make them stand out. If I could give them one word of caution... be careful not to fall prey to the Karen Rodriguez Rule of using a hook to the point where it becomes nothing more than a trope. Also... watch your pitches and your modulations. Any wavering can prove deadly.

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

12) SONOS - Another group of five that takes music and turns it on their ears. They're trying to make a living out of this hobby of theirs which involves using.. shocker... vocal effects pedals. Hey, if you got it, flaunt it. But they're going to go completely au naturel on "Wicked Game" by Chris Isaak.

I hope Pentatonix was taking notes. This is how you arrange for five. Of course, song choice plays a great deal into it. It's a very complex arrangement, and the females ooze sensuality. And then there's the whole remix remake aspect of the song, which takes a familiar slow ballad and turns it up a notch into something a little bit angry. And it seems like they've been performing with effects for a while, because it didn't really hit the fullness or the dynamic range of the other groups. They have a great potential, but they have to be careful about not being too thin.

One of these groups has beatboxed their last. The judges have decided on their first cut of the evening.

There are places in the next round for... Dartmouth Aires and Pentatonix. Joining them... SONOS. Unfortunately, the game is over for the Messiah's Men, who give their amen in the form of the traditional "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot."

As we head to the mid-show break, here are reigning "Sing-Off" Champions Committed singing a bit from their self-titled debut, "Always".

13) THE COLLECTIVE - From Nashville comes season 2 singer Jeremy Lister and a collective of Nashville artists who put their solo dreams on hold to have another go at the trophy. Can they ride it to the top this time? Next on the program, Adele's "Rolling in the Deep".

They all have soloist experience. That is a given from their soloist... AND their backing track. There's no coherence. Their lack of experience in a cappella is on full display. What I see are 12 good singers... but no good group dynamic. The Pit of Despair on this show is littered with such groups.

14) SOUL'D OUT - These 15 singers are the youngest of the 16 groups, calling themselves "the real life version of 'Glee'." This is going to be the last time that you'll hear all 15 together, barring an appearance at their high school reunion. Their entry is "Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In" from "Hair".

That was a rough go, wasn't it? It held to start... and then it just went to crap from there. I would've just chosen a BETTER SONG, because that fell all to bits. The Collective is probably falling to their knees and giving thanks for you. If that's the real-life "Glee", then no wonder they're having a crap start to season 3.

15) NORTH SHORE - These guys have been around the street corner for a while, having opened for some of the greats, the Temptations, Frankie Valli, and Ben E. King. Now it's time for THEIR time in the sun with their cover of Dion's "Runaround Sue". A song that's near and dear to MY heart.

Those of you that follow this site know that I'm an alumnus of the UNC Achordants, not to make myself sound bigger than I am, but one of the songs we did was "Runaround Sue". Their arrangement runs around ours. Seriously. This is doo-wop at its purest, and I can see where a lot of people would like this group. If I were to say one thing... they need to get current. Not too current where they're scratching their heads, but ultimately, you're going to compete for America. They need to find a song that will span the times.

16) DELTONES - Their motto: "friends first, singers second." They have a unique camaraderie in that the original members were all rejected by other groups but found each other. They're hoping to find a spot in the next round with "Feels Like Home" by Randy Newman.

No real point of comparison, because the song is a lost hit. It's no "Short People" or "You've Got a Friend in Me". But it's a song that they're very familiar with, a theme song if you will, and it comes across as very warm, very vintage for this group. Technically proficient, but safe. Hopefully they'll branch out and take some risks along the line.

These four groups have given their all... but for one, their all may have been too much, because Lord knows they ain't getting anywhere.

Surviving this cut... North Shore and the Collective. Joining them in the next round... the Deltones! That leaves Soul'd Out to walk out with their mics held high with Ozzy Osbourne's "Mama, I'm Coming Home".

Power Rankings after Week Two

And we have our 12 for the next round. Next week, our division one singers will take on two songs a piece and hope to make it to the round of eight. Until then, remember to support local & independent music!

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