In the crowded universe of singing competition reality TV shows, one of the most easy going and, yes, fun might be “The Sing-Off.” The judges know what they’re talking about and somehow manage to be nice without melting into useless marshmallows (we’re looking at you, Paula Abdul, wherever you are). There’s no voting from home, which means the best singers (as judged by people who know) win instead of the whole show devolving into a popularity contest. The host, Nick Lachey, appears to be neither overcaffeinated nor miserable. Even the competition itself seems friendly enough (at least there’s a lot of hugging). But, this is a competition show like any other in that only one can win, and that means kicking people to the curb, week after week.
This week, “The Sing-Off” featured one of those dreaded double eliminations, which are especially painful this late in the game. The field was winnowed from six to four, and ironically, the Ultimate Sing-Off didn’t serve much purpose (or, at least, it didn’t offer much of an advantage), as the two groups sent home competed against one another. VoicePlay and AcoUstiKats, R.I.P.
Ultimately, it wasn’t so much what either group did wrong as much as what the other groups did flawlessly. Ten’s rendition of “Skyfall” was sophisticated, stunning and featured an arrangement Adele would envy. Vocal Rush showed a depth and maturity missing in previous weeks with “Against All Odds.” If I were putting money on a winner, I’d pick either of these two groups.
I can’t say I’m as besotted with Home Free as the judges are. Yes, they’re country, but they’re so much like the Oak Ridge Boys I’m not overly impressed. I found their version of “Pretty Woman” lacking in subtlety or a logical build in momentum — too often the group stops on a dime and changes tempo or style in a way that feels like a page of sheet music has been hastily grabbed and shoved in front of them.
But when Home Free paired with Filharmonic for “I’m Alright,” it brought out the best in both groups as well as some of the funniest moments on the show. I know, I know, this is a singing competition, not “Last Comic Standing,” but when Rob actually imitated the “Caddyshack” gopher it was, at the very least, inspired performance. The “Matrix” fighting that broke down into hugging? The easy interplay between the two groups? Comparing this sing-off to the comparatively less inspired AcoUstiKats and VoicePlay challenge, well, those two never had a chance.
Maybe this final four is the best we could have hoped for. I do think Honey of VoicePlay, though she had grown remarkably in recent weeks, still needed help in controlling emotion in her performance now that she knows how to access it. The AcoUstiKats may have overestimated their strength in numbers. But one thing I know — tomorrow night’s elimination is going to really, really hurt.
Do you think the right teams went home? Which team are you rooting for? Which was your favorite performance?