'The Sing-Off' Finale Recap: Lightning Round

Judges and Smokey Robinson join groups onstage to go out with a bang

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Pentatonix reacts as host Nick Lachey announces they have won 'The Sing-Off.' (Photo: Lewis Jacobs/NBC)

Alas! All good things must always come to an end (you know, lest we become totally sick of them). And after eleven weeks of brutal eliminations, countless reimaginations of hit tunes both contemporary and vintage, and more The Sing-Off did just that last night. Kicking everything off with an ensemble performance of "The Way You Make Me Feel," the three surviving ensembles were supported by short transition performances by some of the 13 voted-off groups.

The first block of the night had the final three pair up with an advocate for a charity of their choice: Pentatonix with LGBTQ crisis intervention organization the Trevor Project, Urban Method with the Sickle Cell Disease Association, and the Dartmouth Aires with the American Heart Association's golf-centered stroke rehabilitation program Saving Strokes. The ensembles volunteered with their respective organizations and performed for them – as well as gave them some hot-commodity prime-time free advertising.

The groups then performed songs with sort-of sentimental themes: Pentatonix covered David Guetta's "Without You," Urban Method "Stereo Hearts" by Gym Class Heroes (ft. Adam Levine), and Dartmouth Aires Meat Loaf's "Paradise by the Dashboard Light."

As if to prove their critic chops (or in an act of shameless self-promotion), the judges (and host!) dominated act II of the night, as they joined the three groups for performances of their own hit songs.

The audience didn't have to withstand many awkward jokes from Goofy Lachey before he did the delightfully unthinkable: joining Pentatonix for a nostalgic (and sweaty!) rendition of his own group 98°'s hit, "Give Me One More Night (Una Noche)." As wonderful as it was, something tells us this was outlined very specifically in Nick's Sing-Off contract provisos...

Sara Bareilles stepped up to the plate next, and (frankly) hit it out of the park with Urban Method, who sang her single "Gonna Get Over You" dressed in fancy 1950s prom getups with leather jackets and hightop sneakers (in keeping with Bareilles' wardrobe in the September-released music video for the song).

Then, Ben Folds – of course – had to top everyone, and in an impressively short amount of time, got the audience singing in three-part harmonies along with the chorus of his song "Not the Same," which he sang with (duh) the Dartmouth Aires.

Finally, instead of hearing from Shawn Stockman (cheater!), viewers got a surprising treat: as if to prove that getting booted last week was the best thing that ever happened to them, Afro-Blue returned to the stage to perform "You've Really Got a Hold on Me" with the song's author, Smokey Robinson himself, on lead vocals.

I mean, really, who needs to win a silly competition when Smokey Robinson elects to sing with you on live national television?

All 16 groups from the season's competition then split into male and female teams to face off in a good, ol'-fashioned girls rule, boys drool competition – errrrr, we mean "girls versus boys" competition. The ladies gave possibly the best performance of the season with their divalicious cover of Aretha Franklin's "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman," and then the boys "turned the Sing-Off stage into their man-cave" (according to Urban Method's Mykal Hudson) with a fist-pumping rendition of Bruce Springsteen's "Born to Run." Both performances showcased booted competitors like the (still adorable) dads of North Shore and soulful wailers of the Collective.

Finally, it was time to drop someone from the running, according to America's votes, which have been pouring in over the past week. Instead of breaking it gently by announcing the survivors, Lachey ripped the Band-Aid off quickl – it was Urban Method who fell short and had to sing their goodbye number, Diddy's "Coming Home."

 Then, after a rallying we-should-win-because-we-want-it-more from each surviving group, and after perhaps the longest, most uncomfortable dramatic pause in reality competition TV history, Lachey let the bomb drop: this season's champions (and future Sony recording artists) are the Arlington, TX, robo-geniuses Pentatonix. The quintet performed their astonishingly appropriate victory song (What's the opposite of a "swan song"? The term "ugly duckling song" doesn't sound right), Survivor's "Eye of the Tiger" to play out the show.

 For those of you who simply refuse to believe that the season is over, the happy delusion can continue another week: a Christmas special consisting of performances by all 16 of the season's competing groups will air next Monday night in place of the show itself. God rest ye, merry Sing-Off fans. Until next season.

Last Episode: Final Four Get Serious

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