* * *
It’s the fourth night of our holiday edition of The Sing Off. We open with “Talkin’ Bout My Generation” for the group number. Does anyone want to guess which group is dressed in sparkly short body-con dresses? No? Only me throwing shoes at the television? OK. The groups transition into “We Will Rock You” and then to...Imagine Dragons “It’s Time,” which is when I officially declared confusion on this medley.
First to sing tonight is Home Free. They’ll be singing “Ring of Fire” by Johnny Cash. Ben wants them to be vulnerable in order to reach and move people. Home Free tonight is slowing the song down at the beginning. Does slow = vulnerable? They then rock the beat up to normal. Tim, the bass, is singing the verse solo tonight and surprises the judges by quickly jumping into falsetto. He pulls out a low F# at the end and my jaw dropped. (That is really, really, really low.) In the judging, Ben likens Tim to a walking refrigerator, which is ridiculous, but also hilarious. Jewel liked that the group brought out the vulnerability that June Carter wrote into the song. Unfortunately, she pronounces the word “octaves” strangely and I go back to being annoyed with her. Shawn liked the reggae dance hall beat that Adam (the VP) brought in.
Quick note: the vocal bumps and intro/outro music you hear coming in and out of commercial is all music from The House Jacks, the a cappella group of TSO producer Deke Sharon. If you like it, you should download some of their stuff. Might I suggest you start with “Red Dress”? It’s hot.
VoicePlay will be up next, singing “Don’t Speak” by No Doubt. This is actually one of my favorite songs ever. The group talks about how they are not ballad singers normally, and Ben coaches them to focus on the story. Phenomenal harmonies on the “it looks as though you’re letting go” line between Honey and the tenor. Honey is killing the solo, and the group has some really interesting modulations in the bridge that really drive home the emotion. I do not understand why each member of the band is wearing 42 different fabric patterns, though. They literally look like they came out of the rejected costumes for the orphans from Annie. Despite my beef with wardrobe, I loved this performance. So did the judges.
Oh great, it’s yelling at sparkly dresses time! Element’s package is about them “running and working out and doing cardio” and I am literally screaming. ARE YOU KIDDING ME?! I actually have never been more angry at TSO than I am right now. I wanted to make a point, sometime tonight, to address how great I think it is that TSO includes more women of all different shapes, sizes and colors this year than they have in any previous season. But now I am just livid at them. So anyway, Element will be signing “You Keep Me Hanging On” by the Supremes. Ben advises them to create a clear space for the soloist so that she doesn’t get overshadowed by the background. Rachel’s VP beat is really great tonight but the first solo is nasal. There are tuning problems towards the end and this just isn’t doing it for me. Jewel points out first that they look beautiful and I should just give up now. She goes on to discuss how Diana Ross doubled the lead vocal on the original but Element ended up doubling the harmonies and it was effective. Shawn also points out that they look lovely. I’m dying over here. A great step to making me less mad about the state of all-female a cappella on TSO would be to either a) stop the judges from first mentioning how the all-female group looks before getting to substantive musical comments, or b) get the judges to mention how beautiful every group looks first. Seriously, if later in the season someone says "Home Free, you guys just look beautiful tonight" and Home Free swishes around their hair or something I would be a lot happier than I am now.
Finally tonight is Vocal Rush, still my favorite group in this show. Help me, Vocal Rush, you’re my only hope! They’ll be performing “Holding Out for a Hero” by Bonnie Tyler and they say it’ll be challenging because they weren’t born when the song came out. Hey, I thought the theme for tonight was “MY” generation? Sarah is on opening solo again, yay. I already feel better. Shawn is doing some serious head-bopping. It was another strong performance from the group. Ben points out the strong work on bass and VP. Shawn likes that they give 100% of themselves to a performance. He thinks that something happened during the double chorus that knocked them off a bit, but they got back on. Jewel loved the rap. But then she points out that despite “so many female voices” they sound “so warm and so rich.” This is exactly the crap that I hate, and the stereotype against women in a cappella that is untrue. I thought we’d all moved past this during Pitch Perfect?
Time for deliberation. The two groups who will be competing in the Ultimate Sing-Off tight are Element and Vocal Rush. This is completely unsurprising based on the judging. The two groups will trade off on “Survivor” by Destiny’s Child. Vocal Rush just sounds infinitely more interesting. Why are the Element soloists high-pitched talking through half of this song? They are performing but not singing. Vocal Rush is absolutely bringing the attitude of this song in a way that I find more effective.
I think the decision is clear, and so do the judges: Element will be going home. Goodbye sparkly dresses! I hope I never see you ever again! TSO is back on Wednesday at 8pm. Try not to get confused by the new time.