I think I’ve said this before. I’m a sucker for reality TV.
I just watched through a few episodes of the a capella singing competition “The Sing Off“. I thoroughly enjoyed it. The contestants? They’re extremely talented folks. No autotune on these voices. And no instruments!
I can say that my favorite groups are in the finale on Monday. And I’ve cast my vote for one of the final four. They’re all brilliant in different ways! I totally understood how the judges could not pick one to eliminate out of these four (and in so doing, retained their goodwill to the show’s audience).
I love the judges in this show. Shawn Stockman, Nicole Scherzinger and especially Ben Folds. They’re genuinely passionate about music – both the technique and the art – not the marketability, or packaging or niche, or how many records they would sell, or how they will fare in the charts. These judges are witty, articulate and intelligent, honest and succinct in their critiques without being patronizing or condescending.
Case in point: In the very first episode, after Jerry Lawson and Talk of the Town performed “Save the Last Dance for Me”, Ben Folds talked about the back story behind the song (how the songwriter had polio and could not dance with his wife). That’s the kind of information that adds dimension to the song. Not a lot of reality show judges would have the same wealth of knowledge and insight that this guy has, and demonstrate it without seeming like a blowhard or a know-it-all. The comments from all the judges feel tailored to the performances and feel like they’re coming from people who actually listened (Cough! American Idol!)
Anyhow, here are my favorite performances thus far:
From Street Corner Symphony (The country-rock dudes)
What I love about these guys is their laid-back vibe. Just a bunch of buddies hanging out on the porch drinking beer after an afternoon of fishing. They don’t take themselves seriously – none of the elaborate choreography, etc. Just plain good sounding Music. I also loved how they “un-practice”.
From Jerry Lawson and Talk of the Town: (The Godfathers of a capella – a classic-sounding barbershop sextet)
As one of the judges pointed out, these guys have an unfair advantage because of their much extensive experience. But this group is so much fun to listen to. In the latest episode, they sang “House of the Rising Sun”, and they were right on the money. Jerry has been singing for decades. That’s inspiring, because here’s a guy who pursued his passion, and kept on singing because that’s what he loves to do.
From The BackBeats (Members coming from rival choirs to form a group that shines with Pop/Emo ballads)
I must admit – I didn’t really dig this group that much at the start. They’re good individually, but didn’t feel like they really sang well together as a group (they came from rival groups, and banded together to form The Backbeats). Their strength lies in their power vocalists, and that awesome lady percussionist. But they’ve grown on me over the past few episodes.
From Committed (The gospel choir who had felt awkward singing secular music)
What’s remarkable in this number is the fact that the group had a seamless transition in that string of solos. And their voices melded together so well. They seem to be the judges’ favorite. But in a sense, the same could be said of the other groups because again, they’re pretty diverse.
Speaking of diversity, from the runners up, I really like the following jazzy take on Mike Posner’s “Cooler than Me” From Groove for Thought:
The videos might not work on the site. Just click on the Youtube links in the embedded boxes, and enjoy!
Can’t wait until the live Monday finale. Happy weekend everyone!