December 6, 2010

Quick Thoughts on THE SING-OFF: Season 2, Episode 1

I officially watch too much Glee because I checked out NBC's The Sing-Off and was immediately hooked, and I blame New Directions. For those out of the loop, The Sing-Off is an a cappella singing competition hosted by Nick Lachey and judged by Ben Folds, Shawn Stockman from Boyz II Men, and Nicole Scherzinger (honestly, the judges are the weakest link of the show). To me it's a combination of America's Best Dance Crew and American Idol. Yes, it's a reality show, but the first episode of the season was fun to watch.

Episode 1 introduced us to the ten competing groups, and two were gone by night's end:

The Backbeats (Los Angeles, CA)
This group is comprised of two rival So-Cal groups (probably from USC and UCLA) who have joined forces to take the competition by storm. It'll be interesting to see if they'll be able to gel as a team since they've spent so much time and effort competing against each other. Their first song was Beyonce's "If I Were a Boy", and while the performance was OK, it's just not a song I care for. There wasn't anything glaring bad about The Backbeats, so I'm sure they'll be able to make it quite far in the competition.

Committed (Huntsville, AL)
This group looked and felt most like what I picture when I think of a cappella group. They dressed the part in their preppy sweaters, and they sounded like the second coming of Boyz II Men, so it wasn't a shocker when Shawn Stockman went overboard with the praise, but it was well deserved. Committed tend to focus on Gospel, so when they nailed "This Love" by Maroon Five, it was truly impressive. They're the early frontrunners in my opinion.

Eleventh Hour (Kettering, OH)
A misfit group of Ohio high school students from all walks of life bond over singing. Sound familiar? It'd be easy to draw the Glee comparisons to Eleventh Hour (like one of the judges did), but they were pretty good and did a decent job with Justin Beiber's "Baby" (a song I had never heard before tonight). Since they're the youngest of all the groups, I wonder if they'll have the endurance to keep up with the older groups, but they started off fairly strong.

Grove For Thought (Seattle, WA)
The Seattle based group of music teachers and family members started off strong with their jazzy roots, and I liked their version of Stevie Wonder's "A Wish". On top of the talent, Grove For Thought has a good vibe about them, and could become a sentimental favorite.

Jerry Lawson and Talk of the Town (Oakland, CA)
First thought about this group: ringers. Apparently, Jerry Lawson was lead singer of an a cappella group known as The Persuasions and has been on the grand stage since the 60's. They're number, "Save the Last Dance For Me", definitely had an old school charm but was safe for the group since it harkened back to the days of Motown. I'm excited to see this group challenged by more modern day arrangements, and Lawson's comeback story could be gripping stuff.

Men of Note (Cherry Hill, NJ)
Men of Note felt like the most boy-bandy of the lot, which really isn't a bad thing. I was excited when they picked "For the Longest Time" by Billy Joel for their first song, but it ended up feeling safe and it didn't wow me. It was surprising that they were one of the first groups eliminated, especially after watching Committed perform.

On the Rocks (Eugene, OR)
These students from the University of Oregon had a nerdy charm going for them, but their decision to go with the almost cliche choice of Lady Gaga's "Bad Romance" was a misstep in my opinion. Yes, I know the song made them a YouTube sensation, but their Sing-Off performance was the weakest of the bunch. Maybe it's because I still prefer Glee's version. I cannot see On the Rocks going far, but at least U of O is playing for a BCS Title.

Pitch Slapped (Boston, MA)
Great name, but piss poor attitude. Before their performance, Pitch Slapped's promo package just oozed douchiness and it made their actual singing a lot less enjoyable. I liked how they told a story while putting on Cobra Starship's "Good Girls Go Bad", and they sounded fine, but their elitist attitude was too much to overcome. I was shocked, but pleased that they were eliminated instead of the less impressive On the Rocks.

Street Corner Symphony (Nashville, TN)
These good ole boys from Tennessee apparently did a good enough job singing Tears for Fears "Everybody Wants to Rule the World". I remember thinking it was a bold choice, but I was only half-watching their performance, so I really cannot comment on it.

The Whiffenpoofs  (New Haven, CT)
I know that the Whiffenpoofs are supposed to be a cappella royalty, but to be honest I wouldn't have known who they were if it weren't for Gilmore Girls. The group itself came off as too full of themselves, and I was glad when Stockman took them down a notch. Their version of "Grace Kelly" (another song I had never heard of) was suitable, but nothing special. I really want these guys to get eliminated quickly mostly because of the vibe they gave off.

Usually, I'm not a huge fan of reality shows, but my hesitence has been diminishing thanks to shows like America's Best Dance CrewSo You Think You Can Dance, and now The Sign-Off. I'd still prefer to watch Chuck on Monday nights, but this show's a fun way to kill a few hours.


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