The Sing-Off is back, y’all! Nick Lachey, Ben Folds and Shawn Stockman are back as well, this time rounding out the panel with Jewel. Eh.
This season of the Sing-Off will feature 10 a cappella groups battling it out for $100,000 and a Sony contract. Half the groups will perform before one gets sent to the Ultimate Sing-Off to do the vocal opposite of a Lip Sync for Your Life. The other half of the groups will perform, and a team from that set will also be up for elimination. Six teams will be eliminated before America votes for the ultimate winner, to be revealed December 23.
Monday’s premiere opened with the 10 teams delivering a medley of songs from the band fun. And it was fun. The first five acts to perform were high schoolers Vocal Rush, country group Home Free, the Princeton Footnotes, Puerto Rican combo Calle Sol, and the doo-wop quintet Street Corner Renaissance. The Footnotes and Calle Sol were called to the carpet before Princeton was sent to the Sing-Off.
The second half featured backup singer supergroup Ten, the all-female Element, theme park workers VoicePlay, Filipino-Amaerican boy band the Filharmonic, and Kentucky’s acoUstiKats. VoicePlay and Element had the most to work on, but the women earned a reprieve. In the Ultimate Sing-Off, VoicePlay out NSYNC’d the Footnotes, sending the Ivy Leaguers home.
How did last night’s performances rank?
1. Street Corner Renaissance
This is the most senior group in the competition, featuring five doo-woppers from Los Angeles. They re-imagined One Direction’s “What Makes You Beautiful” as if it were by the Temptations and it worked incredibly well. After the performance, Shawn gave all the singers hugs—so Shawn is the audience surrogate, obvs. As the eldest group, SCR probably has the most performance experience which will give them a huge advantage. Their fashion could use some work, but there’s no doubt they will go far in the competition.
2. The Filharmonic
These boys delivered a boy band version of “Treasure” by Bruno Mars which was instantly engaging. They have solid harmonies and were able to pass the spotlight between members with ease. Ben dinged them for getting a little ahead of the beat at times, but the charisma of this group is infectious.
3. Vocal Rush
This is the youngest group this season, but they handled opening the show like pros. Although there was impressive solo work by a young woman named Jordan, the arrangement of “Bottom of the River” felt more choral than it should have. The performance ended with some step-dancing, which shows that the kids aren’t intimidated by adding choreography to the mix. Of the groups that have things to work on, Vocal Rush received the fewest notes.
4. Home Free
This group of two brothers and three guys typically work the state/county fair circuit. Although they say in their pre-performance reel that they aren’t pop singers, they sing the country pop song “Cruise” by Florida Georgia Line. Vocally, the performance was on-point, but the guys sat on stools for about 80% of the time, which I found quite boring. They also don’t have a coordinated look, giving an overall rehearsal feel. It was an excellent rehearsal, but come on.
I’m actually surprised this ranked so high for me, since my notes on their performance of Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines” included “REPULSIVE.” This group is from the University of Kentucky and they sing to get girls, which is fine but they are anything but charming in their intro video. Although I despise the song, the ’Kats did bring a lot of energy to the stage. I’ll be curious to see how they handle a ballad.