If you're not watching The Sing Off you're missing more orgasms than in the entire Linda Lovelace oeuvre. The only difference is these expressions of intense excitement and are for real. Some of the talent in this a cappella music contest is so exquisite that the judges, and the audience, just can't help themselves but get caught up in the moment.
Who knew you could do so much with just your voice? That is the premise behind the no-instrument, all a cappella talent show, now in its second season. Down to eight teams, the show opened with a joint production of Kings of Leon's Use Somebody. There was not a sour note in the bunch and as the camera went from solo to solo it was impossible not to be awed by having so much raw talent on one stage.
As if reading my mind, the song opened with singers from my two favorite groups, Street Corner Symphony and Committed. You can stop the competition now and just have these two groups perform for the rest of the series and I'd be fine. But judge Shawn Stockman would probably need therapy, or have to be put in traction, because Committed does something to him that is very special and should probably be on a cable channel much, much later at night.
The strange thing this show does to my TV is it brings people outside the seemingly requisite 16-25 pop demographic on my screen, making the revolutionary argument that you can have talent regardless of age or relative hotness. So oldie McOldster Jerry Lawson and the so uncool he's cool teacher from Groove for Thought rocked their solos as did the cute and young singer from the high school group Eleventh Hour.
The theme for the night was to put a new spin on a popular song from the past five years, and this they did. The University of Oregon goofsters opened withLive Your Life by T.I. and Rhianna and it was cute and they showed that they could rap without completely embarrassing themselves, but I yearned for a Randy Jackson "it was just a-ight for me, dawg" because it left me underwhelmed. They're funny and entertaining, which is not to be minimized, but they're a little lacking on vocal pipes. By the way, did you notice how they all seemed sunburned? Does the sun never shine in Oregon? NBC, chip in for some SPF 50 for these guys.
Next were Street Corner Symphony and they took on Train's Hey, Soul Sister which has been played and covered to death. So the fact that I loved this performance is even more unexpected. But the sweet, crystalline vocals of their lead Jeremy Lister supported by just five other dudes that fill the stage with beautiful harmonies and intricate percussion is a marvel. Then they broke out another lead singer, energetic bald guy, who really rocked his part.
The youngest group, Eleventh Hour, performed followed by the oldest, Jerry Lawson and Talk of the Town. Eleventh Hour is really all about the cute blonde lead -- she's a star in the making. They were sent packing which is for the best because now she won't be saddled with her responsibilities to her classmates and can go do her own thing. The rest of the group is just there and I'm imagining her using this tape for her college apps when she'll have a chance to drop these losers and head for the big time.
Jerry Lawson is similarly the star of his group, yet the others have the talent to back him up. Their take on Duffy's Mercy was solid, but I wasn't as wowed as the judges. The problem I have with this group is that it doesn't fulfill my concept of a cappella which is making the band sound like more than just voices. Talk of the Town is a great 50s-era bebop, doowop or some other nonsense syllable sounding group. But it's not inventive or new or anything anyone really wants to listen to. It's stunt casting.
Lest this seem like a musical love fest, I cannot believe the judges put through The Backbeats, the so called supergroup made up of former rival Trojans and Bruins. Now I have to sit through another week of their lead singer's uber serious, constipated, mush mouthed singing. If she could just find a consonant and spit it out the way it is indicated in her local dictionary, I'd be eternally grateful. If she could do it without looking as if she were passing a kidney stone, that would be even better. Please, get off my TV.
Back to unicorns, puppies and ice cream. Committed was up next and watching them is the closest I've ever come to wanting to convert. They have so much talent, it almost hurts to listen to them. They sang Apologize by OneRepublic and it was transcendent. I didn't want it to end. It was so powerful and emotional and meaningful, it was a great way to help you locate your heart. Why something grabs musically you and doesn't let go is a mystery, but you know it when you feel it. And when they sing, I feel it.
It was unfair for any group to have to follow them, but the teachers of Groove for Thought did a great job -- sadly in a musical genre I'm not a huge fan of. They sang Cooler Than Me by Mike Posner and were all jazzy cool and the lead singer has a smooth, silky voice. But it just wasn't for me.
Last up were Yale's The Whiffenpoofs and it's a good thing their have their trust funds and Ivy League education to fall back on because they were woefully out of touch about what this show is about. They took a boring song, Haven't Met You Yet by Michael Buble, and sang it well but without any flair or elan (with their 800 Verbal SAT scores, I figured they'd know that word). One of their leads actually sounded like a budding Pavarotti -- not exactly current. They were schooled by the state school Ducks who showed that, unfortunately, entertaining is more important than singing (maybe the show's name should be changed?). So the talented, but less dynamic, Elis were shown the door.
With one of my favorites gone (as I predicted in my first post) I still have two in the running -- Street Corner Symphony and Committed. Come back next week and we'll see how they did.