'The Sing Off' Recap: A Little Bit of Country, A Little Bit of Rock & Roll - Rolling Stone
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‘The Sing Off’ Recap: A Little Bit of Country, A Little Bit of Rock & Roll

Six remaining groups adapt good ol’ American music with mixed results

sing off dartmouth aires

The Darthmouth Aires perform on NBC's 'The Sing-Off.'

Lewis Jacobs/NBC

This week’s episode of the Sing Off has taught us that, if we were sad to see groups leave before, every remaining episode is bound to be a sobfest. Last night, the six remaining groups busted their chops over a rock song and a country song, and the drama mounted throughout: no one could seem to restrain themselves from a whine or two as they previewed their performances. Nevertheless, the night kicked off with an overly polished, very Lion-King-on-Broadway performance of Arcade Fire’s “Wake Up.”

And now for the shakedown. Totally safe this week: Urban Method and Pentatonix. The former completely adapted White Snake’s “Here I Go Again” to their “rap-appella” aesthetic, even substituting melody for Mykal Hudson’s signature rap – which, Folds noted, “took a big chance” – but nevertheless wowed all three judges with the blend of old and new (new being “Wait, where the hell did this insane voice of soloist Katie Turley come from?”). Urban Method’s country song, Carrie Underwood’s “Before He Cheats,” took the WTF to the next level, as the gritty Denver group suddenly transformed into a magical, coed clone of Delilah – the three women of the group “shed their insecurities,” Bareilles said, to showcase their newfound, wildly judge-popular versatility.

Pentatonix, though, might be the favorite for the win this season. With only five members, the group elicits repeated accolades for their impossibly full sound and resourcefulness in arrangements. They tore through their rock song – “Born to Be Wild” by Steppenwolf – despite female member Kirstie Maldonado’s extreme sickness (everything for reality TV! Right, guys?); Bareilles noted their perseverance, saying that, “performances like [yours] make it worth it.” Easy for you to say, Sara. You’re not vomiting backstage. (Trivia time: Folds also enlightened the audience by explaining that “Born to Be Wild” was the song that coined the phrase “heavy metal.”) Pentatonix’s country song, a stripped-down cover of Sugarland’s “Stuck Like Glue,” similarly impressed judges with its simplicity in arrangement (not to mention the fun reggae breakdown). Both performances made it clear that the judges are going to take care of Pentatonix ‘til the end.

Also safe this week were everyone’s favorite collegiate men, the Dartmouth Aires and BYU’s Vocal Point. The Aires kept it Ivy League by losing one of their crucial basses to grad school, but delivered their usual Broadway-esque performance of Twisted Sister’s “We’re Not Gonna Take It” with some minor pitch issues (running around will do that to you). Stockman, also, noted that he would have liked more cowbell. Us too, Shawn, us too. The Aires’ country song, Big and Rich’s “Save a Horse (Ride a Cowboy),” got a similar note about pitch problems on the low end due to choreo. Guys, just don’t try so hard, is what they’re saying.

Vocal Point, always the good ol’ boys, brought two fun performances, the Kinks’ “You Really Got Me” and Rascal Flatts’ “Life is a Highway” to the competition. Judges liked both (obviously), but Folds would have preferred less “Vegas” on the former (a ’60s classic), and Bareilles and Stockman noted some tempo issues with the latter.

Sidenote: stylists, seriously. Fringe is fine. What you did to the Dartmouth Aires’ shirts for their rock number was just destruction of personal property and you know it. That “fringe” looked like animated black spaghetti.

Staying true to its soul-crushing ways, the show tossed two of the best groups into the pit together at the end: Afro-Blue and Delilah. While Afro-Blue nailed their country song, Lady Antebellum’s Grammy Award-winning “Need You Now,” their adapted cover of Tom Petty’s “American Girl” failed to appease the gods – I mean, judges – who felt the jazz ensemble didn’t adapt or relate enough to the rock song. (Ben went as far as saying, “Yeah, WTF with the national anthem interlude?” Or something like that.) Delilah, on the other hand, made off like bandits with their Aerosmith cover (“Dream On”), but fell flat with their country hit, the Band Perri’s “If I Die Young,” which had multiple harmony and pitch issues throughout the song. A double-bummer for Delilah, considering they were sitting down the whole time and couldn’t blame it on choreography.

It was those issues that finally, tragically, sent Delilah packing. Though it was almost worth it to see them perform Destiny’s Child’s “Survivor” as their “swan song,” still…

Why, Sing Off? Whyyyyyyyyyy?

Last Episode: Final Seven Groups Bust Out the Hit Trifectas


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