THE SING-OFF “Top 8 Groups: Hip Hop Hits” Review

THE SING-OFF “Top 8 Groups: Hip Hop Hits” Season 3, Episode 6 – The opening of this week’s episode of The Sing-Off exposed just how many groups in this competition had decent rapping talent within their ranks. The “rapapella” title has been tied to Urban Method because of their self-professed area of expertise in the hip-hop genre, but after some of the successful performances tonight, that may no longer be enough to make them stand out among the competition.

The Dartmouth Aires performed Flo Rida’s “Club Cant Handle Me” and although I felt that most of the song ended up feeling more choral than hip-hop, the two leads did well. As usual, the group had a contagious energy and although they charted into “polka-hip-hop” territory (as Ben put it), their performance was entertaining.

Afro-Blue’s stunning rendition of “Killing Me Softly” combined the influence of the Fugees and Roberta Flack into one gorgeous arrangement that had me holding my breath until their very last chord. This group is a power house of pure vocals that is so natural and effortless. Where other groups might rely on their choreography to help draw in an audience, their sound alone is utterly captivating and, like Shawn said, you can hear the ease of their performance even without laying eyes on them. This performance had a jazzy, underground hip hop feel to it and it easily put them in the top spot for their half of The Sing-Off this week.

Something was off about The Collective’s blend and I felt like I could hear everyone’s voices individually in both their songs. I find that is frequently my peeve in their weekly performances so this was probably the right time for them to leave the competition. For a group of solo artists that would not have otherwise formed an a capella group without The Sing-Off, they should be proud that they were able to come this far. There’s also a tiny part of me that wonders if they should have been in this competition at all. Their praise tonight was about how much they had improved since the first week and I wonder if there was not some unintentional handicap given to them because they weren’t really an a capella group to begin with.

Part of me wonders if groups like The Collective and Kinfolk 9 truly embody the spirit of The Sing-Off competition. Maybe that’s just because I know too many people who have toiled away year after year in a capella groups to perfect their blend without getting half the attention these solo artists turned a capella groups have received. I’m curious to see if The Collective continues to perform as an a capella group after this competition.

Vocal Point’s emotional performance of Puff Daddy’s “I’ll Be Missing You” suffered from some pitch issues. Shawn mentioned that their performance was lacking a back beat and I think that’s one of the biggest things that kept this performance from feeling anything like hip hop to me.

Urban Method had a lot to live up to in this category of The Sing-Off and while the judges liked their performance of B.o.B ft. Hayley Williams’ “Airplanes”, I felt that their performances in prior weeks showcased more of their distinct hip hop heart than this one did. The girls sounded flat to me, but perhaps it was just a strange arrangement as Ben suggested. The crickets were cute, but there was one girl who kept making this strange sound effect that sounded something like a cat with nasal congestion being stretched like an accordion and screeching “reeeeeuuuurrrr.” I don’t know what that sound was supposed to imitate, but after a while, that was the only sound I could hear and it was really distracting.

Apologies to Kanye, but Pentatonix’s performance of his “Love Lockdown” brought an intensity to the song that I hadn’t remembered in the original. As Ben said, their performance was primal and the judges were hard pressed to offer any negative critique of their performance. In the same way Afro Blue had captivated the audience with their effortless sound, Pentatonix’s modern, angst filled sound was completely hypnotizing and they rightfully took the top spot in the second half of the competition.

Delilah came back with a performance of Lil Wayne’s “How To Love” that started off weak for me, but picked up in the second half as they got more emotional and intense. The soft emotional vocals don’t really do it for me and I think I like Delilah loud and intense.

The Yellow Jackets performed Lupe Fiasco’s “The Show Goes On” and seeing the lead rapper get a bit winded towards the end made me realize how much work it took to sustain his breath for those fast paced lyrics while dancing around the stage. They came in at the bottom of the second half and went up against The Collective in The Sing-Off battle, coming out barely ahead after their performance of Nelly’s “Just A Dream.”

Overall, I was satisfied with the results of The Sing-Off this week and I’m looking forward to what looks like a crazy costume laden Halloween episode of The Sing-Off next Monday.