Let’s Rank The Sing-Off Season 4 Episode 2 Performances: Party Anthems

The Sing-Off (Photo: NBC)
The Sing-Off (Photo: NBC)

On Wednesday’s edition of The Sing-Off, the nine remaining groups reinterpreted party anthems for our listening pleasure.

It’s night two of The Sing-Off and we still have nine teams in the competition. Since there is an odd number, the groups will compete as a full set rather than in two halves, so everyone is at risk for ending up in the Ultimate Sing-Off.

Here is how the performances ranked for me. You’ll notice I disagree with who Ben Folds, Jewel, and Shawn Stockman sent to the Ultimate Sing-Off (though not with who ended up going home).

1. Ten

This group earned the Most Improved from Monday’s episode award, as this spot atop the rankings indicates. The group took on Nelly’s “Hot in Herre” and had the most memorable performance of the night. Everyone eased up on the intensity, allowing for a better blend of vocals. Things did get a little scattered toward the end as the group incorporated a lot of choreography and melisma, but those are easy problems to fix. Shawn points out that the group is more cohesive than before, but there may be a sleeping giant waiting to emerge. I agree.

2. The Filharmonic

’90s dance anthems is in this group’s sweet spot, so delivering a solid performance of “This is How We Do It” should not have been much of a surprise. The group passed the lead singer baton smoothly throughout the performance, though the choreography and excitement was at the sacrifice of some flats and sharps. They too lost some steam toward the end, but as the photo above illustrates, they were doing more than singing in terms of physical activity on-stage.

3. Vocal Rush

The high schoolers opened the show again with a track that pre-dates their existence: “Gonna Make U Sweat” by C+C Music Factory. Dear God, I’m old. The costumes were serving Jazzercise realness and the vocals sounded a bit too much like a track from Dance Dance Revolution, but this was a good opening performance. The solo opportunities were good showcases, but the kids need to watch out for tempo problems.

4. Home Free

Like I said in Monday’s comments, Vocal Rush and Home Free are virtually tied in my estimation. Where the tie-breaker lies for me is how telegenic the performances are. This is where Home Free falls flat, as the guys still do not have a unifying look, nor do they have much movement in their staging. This performance of “Life is a Highway” had more cutaway shots to the judges and audience reactions (Note to NBC: STOP IT) than any of the other acts. Although this is intended to be a vocal competition, it is one that’s one television, so the guys need to think visually in what they do. If tonight’s performance is just as flat, expect the judges to say something.

5. Street Corner Renaissance

It breaks my heart, but this performance of “Do You Love Me” by the Contours was not good. The opening was off-tempo and subdued, which set the tone for the rest of the performance. However, the guys do have a unifying look (black suits with red gator shoes) and do have some moves in the dance break. What disappointed me was that the judges completely sidestepped offering any sort of critique about the performance, praising the fashion (Shawn is becoming the Paula Abdul of the panel) and talking about charisma rather than bum notes or a lack of momentum.

6. acoUstiKats

The boys from Kentucky brought in the mom of one of the group members to help out with the choreography for “Hey Ya.” I thought the vocals were an improvement over Monday and the overall performance was less frantic, even with a Soul Train styled dance break in the middle. The judges were less enthusiastic, pointing out a number of technical issues and mentioning Ron has been taking on a lot of the vocals in their performances.

Although this didn’t seem as problematic at the time, I was genuinely surprised this group found itself in the Ultimate Sing-Off. The panic did not help their performance, with bum notes all over the place, the continued dominance of Ron, and some bizarre vocal choices. I mean, “Stronger” by Kelly Clarkson is not exactly suited to the voices of a dozen guys from Lexington, but their performance was a mess. They’re on notice.

7. VoicePlay

This group rebounded slightly in terms of stage presence, but boy oh boy do I hate this group. Honey, the lead singer, sounds like Jackee Harry’s character from 227 when she sings, and they seemed way too focused on the idea that “white guys can’t dance.” This group is dead to me. Despite my hatred, the next two groups were objectively worse.

8. Element

Element’s video package featured more excuses setting themselves up for failure. Tonight’s additions: they are a newly-formed group (tell that to Ten) and “it’s hard to be a female group in this competition.” I realize there’s this risk this could be your group’s only chance to get on the show, but if you’re not ready for the reasons you’re stating, that’s your own fault. They do Pink’s “Raise Your Glass” (not “Razor Glass” as I thought they were saying at first). This one was fun to watch because Ben and Jewel were pulling some faces. Ben looked befuddled and Jewel was doing that forced smile you do when someone is bombing a presentation. The judges call out the group for being too choral, not sharing the spotlight, and taking on a track that was too technically ambitious for all of their self-declared inadequacies.

9. Calle Sol

Oh, Calle Sol, you were too innocent for this competition. They took the note from last time about filling out the mid-section by having one of the guys swap in and having one of the women beatbox, even though she hasn’t done it before. That’s basically this team’s issue: rather than focusing on the one or two things they are good at, they are trying to do everything at the same level. The problem: if you are a 0 in one area and a 10 in another, you’re averaging out to a 5, which isn’t going to cut. Add in that they did an X Factor balladization to “Livin’ La Vida Loca,” and you have nothing but sadness on the stage. One of the singers was crying by the end of the critiques.

Frankly, I thought Calle Sol delivered a better Ultimate Sing-Off performance, but the judges are looking at the competition holistically rather than a by-performance basis. They started “Stronger” from a shouty place, but they eventually eased into the performance and I thought their group work was more cohesive than the guys. However, Calle Sol was in over their heads and were mercifully let go.

Tonight on The Sing-Off: Chart-toppers!

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About Mike McComb 656 Articles

Mike has been writing about TV online since 2008, when he started the blog WTF Little House on the Prairie? The blog was a project to practice writing about television analytically prior to getting an MA in Television-Radio-Film from Syracuse University, or as he likes to call it “TV Camp.” After a lengthy stint at TVLatest, Mike wanted to launch a site that brought in classic TV, diamonds in the rough, and the shows everybody watches. E-mail: mike@whatelseison.tv