Home"The Sing-Off" Season 2, Episode 2: Recap

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Last night on "The Sing-Off", we said goodbye to two great groups. However, we still have eight amazing groups to look forward to. This time, the theme for the show is big hits – pretty much top forty a cappella remixes. So let’s take a look back at the performances for episode two.

The first group up was On the Rocks singing “Live Your Life” by T.I. and Rihanna. It would be impossible to say that the group didn’t have enough energy in this song. OtR really knows how to put on a great show by utilizing the entire stage and playing to the audience. The soloists were great and the background vocals, though basic, were solid. However, as Ben Folds suggested, what this group is really lacking is the artistry – they are certainly fantastic entertainers, but I look forward to them pulling back and focusing on the music on Monday.

Next was Street Corner Symphony. Jeremy and the rest of the group performed their twist on “Hey, Soul Sister” by Train. With an incredible arrangement that featured high flying background vocals, a remixed breakdown of the original song, and some extra southern flare, SCS killed with this song. Their performance was a tremendous step forward from their previous on episode one. This group showed how cohesive they can really be.

Eleventh Hour
took the stage on "The Sing-Off" with Bruno Mars’ “Just the Way You Are.” As the judges said, their arrangement of the song was very ambitious, especially for a group of young singers. There were some definite pitchy spots and I felt like the vocal percussionist may have been trying to do too much. It seemed like there were more than a few spots where he stumbled over his own percussion. Overall, I’m a big fan of the group. Unfortunately, they won’t be continuing on to the next episode.

The return of Jerry Lawson continues as Talk of the Town took the stage as the final group in the first half. The group sang “Mercy” by Duffy. As a throwback to TotT’s genre of music, “Mercy” fit naturally into the group’s unique sound. The song began much like their previous performance on episode one, but soon exploded into a soulful barrage of spirited vocals. Every time these guys take the stage, they steal the show. Fantastic performance, gentlemen!

The second half began with The Backbeats. They took on a song by one of my favorite artists of today – “Breakeven” by The Script, whose lead vocals, sung by Danny O’Donoghue, are challenging to say the least. The group chose to split the solo up into three parts, which I thought was a really interesting take. They showed a lot of promise with incredible vocals, a wide range of dynamics, and some stunning harmonies. However, it seems like the group has clung onto melancholy songs thus far. Personally, I would like to see them branch out from that in their next performance to show they can sing more than just heart wrenching types of songs.

Next up was Committed. This group brought down the house in the first episode and last night would be no different. Committed brought One Republic to the stage with a Gospel/R&B infused arrangement of “Apologize.” The group continues to be the tightest group in the competition with Boyz-II-Men-type harmonies and the incredibly unique style they bring to contemporary songs. The group was so good that Ben Folds melted and became a stammering fool when asked for comment. I am forced to describe this group’s sound as luscious – like biting into vine ripened fruit, this group explodes with sweet harmony. If Committed stays committed (pardon the pun), they will easily walk away with “The Sing-Off” championship this season.

We continue in episode two with Groove for Thought. The group spread their jazzy love onto Mike Posner’s hit, “Cooler Than Me.” The smooth lead vocals were at the center of this song. The most impressive part is the group’s ability to take a song made for the dance floor and make it sound like it was meant for jazz club. The arrangement was fantastic and the group’s sound was just so unified. These guys exude cool. Extra props go to Amanda and her high flying soprano vocals.

The last group of the night was the Whiffenpoofs, who brought Michael Bublé to the stage with “I Just Haven’t Met You Yet.” Traditionally a choral group, the Whiffs brought a classical sound to a contemporary song. The song started off slow, but the group really brought it to a head during the choruses. Splitting up the solo into three parts was a great choice and really showed off three new faces in the group. Somewhat surprisingly, we said goodbye to the Whiffs as they were sent home at the end of the show.

So we lost Eleventh Hour and the Whiffenpoofs. Sometimes it can seem unfortunate how the show splits up the competition into two halves and choose the weakest from each half. Eleventh Hour, as much as I enjoyed them, was the weakest in the first half, though not a weak a cappella group by far. Personally, I think the second half could have gone either way (it came down to Whiffs and Backbeats). I thought that the Whiffs would stay as their sound is more unique, but I think that The Backbeats’ stronger episode 2 performance put them over the edge.

At this point, I think it’s safe to start picking my top groups. Currently and without hesitation, I think the winning group is/will be Committed. Not only do they have a unique sound, a fantastic blend, and a great story behind them, they are also “very marketable,” a phrase I’ve heard Ben Folds use in his NBC “Sing-Off” Blog. I love the jazz sound and I think the audience digs it, but I think there will be more people who fancy the R&B/Gospel sound of Committed.

So that’s it for episode two! Who are your top picks? Do you think the judges made the right choices when sending The Whiffs and Eleventh Hour home? Who are you looking forward to seeing in the next show? Are you going to try out next year? Post your comments below, and make sure to tune in on Monday, December 13, 2010 at 8pm EST (check local listings) for the next episode of NBC’s "The Sing-Off"!

About the author:
Jeeves Murphy: "I've only heard the a cappella version of that song before." If Jeeves had a nickel for every time he's said that, he'd be a rich man. Jeeves has been singing ever since he can remember (even before he was "Jeeves"). He's performed in classical and renaissance a cappella groups, as well as contemporary groups and barbershop quartets.  He helped found multiple groups while he was in college, including the first of its kind at UMBC (The Mama's Boys) where he graduated with a degree in English Literature. Jeeves currently works in Columbia, MD as an ITS Engineer. In his spare time, he is an all around musician - playing piano, bass guitar, cajon, and of course singing Tenor (high-tenor), arranging, and vocal percussion. He's the Maryland State Ambassador for CASA and writes semi-regularly for the site (or at least when the mood strikes). Jeeves' articles focus mainly on performance and CD reviews.