THE SING-OFF “Radio Hits and 60’s Classics: Part 1” Review

THE SING-OFF “Radio Hits and 60’s Classics: Part 1” Season 3, Episode 3 – After making it though the first round of cuts, the groups returning to The Sing-Off were tasked with arranging and performing a current radio hit and a hit from the sixties. They opened up this stage of the competition with a group rendition of Keane’s “Somewhere Only We Know.”

Vocal Point brought back memories of the boy band heyday with their choreographed performance of Justin Beiber’s “Never Say Never.” Although her statement made me laugh out loud, Sarah actually described their vibe pretty perfectly when she said they were like “wholesome Thundercats.” Shawn’s imitation of their serious ninja dance moves also made me crack up, but Vocal Point sounded great and everyone appreciated that they didn’t seem to take themselves too seriously.

Their follow up performance of Frank Sinatra’s “The Way You Look Tonight” was the complete opposite style of performance and the boys from Vocal Point seemed completely suave and grown up. They prepared a great arrangement of the song and their lead, Jake, really nailed the Rat Pack attitude.

Urban Method’s first performance of the night, The Black Eyed Peas’ “Just Can’t Get Enough” was a little low energy for me. I liked Mike’s theatrics as he performed, but it sounded as if he was singing just a little bit out of his range. All three judges liked their performance though, so maybe it was just me.

Their 60’s song choice, “Dance to the Music” by Sly & The Family Stone, was really incredible. It was as if Urban Method had saved all their energy for this performance and despite this song being pretty much one chord, the performance was vibrant. Kim was phenomenal as the lead singer and you really didn’t miss having a band at all for this a capella performance.

Afro Blue continues to be my personal favorite group from the first bracket of The Sing-Off. They sang an absolutely perfect arrangement of Estelle’s “American Boy” that all at once sounded so familiar and so different from the original. Like Ben said in his critique of their performance, their jazz sound is so accessible and Shawn’s description of their sound bringing to life memories of a Harlem renaissance was right on. This performance was so good that I had to rewind my DVR and watch it a second time.

Their second performance of Marvin Gaye’s “I Heard It Through the Grapevine” also had a great sound, but I think the judges were right in saying that their arrangement was a little over-thought. There was not a single negative comment made about their sound, but the critique of their arrangement reminded me that these vocal groups are not just competing with their voices, they’re competing with the whole breadth of their musical abilities.

The Yellow Jackets returned with their performances of “Dynamite” by Taio Cruz and Frankie Valli’s “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You.” Their second performance included a cute little moment with Sarah and some really great vocal percussion and instrumentals. Overall though, I’m starting to get bored with them and they haven’t shown very much in terms of breaking out of that college a capella group feel. No doubt that they’re a talented group of guys but I’m just not sure they’ve got the versatility to come out on top of The Sing-Off.

Delilah found themselves in the bottom two tonight. Their performance of “What Do You Want From Me” as made famous by Adam Lambert was a really successful arrangement and I loved the way the alto voices sounded with their more choral approach to the song. Maybe because they were largely unfamiliar with music from the 60’s, their arrangement of Martha & The Vandella’s “Heatwave” was simplistic and their performance was rather lackluster. I would have sent this group home tonight, but the judges disagreed.

Although I wasn’t a Kinfolk 9 fan in the first round of cuts, I was so impressed by how well they took the previous notes from the judges and worked to make such major improvements to their sound in one week. They sounded like a unified group and as they performed Jessie J’s “Price Tag” it was difficult for me to believe they were the same group I saw two weeks ago. Their cover of The Beatles’ “Let It Be” was a really powerful show closer and although the group’s sound was small behind Moi’s incredible voice, I enjoyed their soulful performance.

Unfortunately, the judges sent Kinfolk 9 home in this round of The Sing-Off. I sincerely hope that every one of those struggling artists will have found new opportunities from their experience on The Sing-Off because their talent is just too good to waste.