So am I good, or am I good? Let's go back to my post after the first episode. I picked three teams, Committed, Street Corner Symphony and the Whiffenpoofs. Now, the latter team I selected because my son's former freshman roommate was a member of the group, so I'm not sure that counts as an official pick. Favoritism, bias, hearing with my heart and not my ears -- something else was at play. But the other two groups -- made it to the top two. And the winner is...
But first. Let's have a bunch of songs highlighting our featured guest performer while the purported stars of the show, the a cappella groups, are relegated to background singing. Committed is overpowerd by BoysIIMen and the Backbeats barely get noticed even though they have a 15-to-1 advantage over Sarah Bareilles (for the record, I spelled Bareilles right on my first try, but not Sarah) on her song King of Anything.
But then it's the producer's favorite, Jerry Lawson and the Talk of the Town and suddenly the contestant group gets a co-lead on the song Ain't No Mountain High Enough. Shocker. Jerry actually did a nice job and I thought maybe giving him such a big role was not because they've been pimping him from day one but because they worried Nicole Sherzinger couldn't stand up to comparisons with Diana Ross (hey, who could)?
When Street Corner Symphony came out with the adorable and talented, but let's not add singer, Ben Folds, and were only given the job of backup, I was dumbfounded. Someone must have heard Ben's "voice" and realized he needed a lot of vocal support, not subtle background harmonies. He's talented and gifted, but from the Neil Young/Bob Dylan school of I don't have to be great at everything.
So the winner is...
But first, we have two more guest performances. First, by Sheryl Crow, in the spotlight. What's that in her hand. IT"S A GUITAR!!! Call the police! This is an a cappella show and I may not know what a cappella means (to hair?), I know what it doesn't mean -- with instruments. She has violated the sanctity of the show, she has made a travesty, sham and mockery of an all singing competition. Yes, this performance was an actual traveshamockery! Actually she sounded pretty good and looked even better. Over not in the spotlight, sitting on a stool, a familiar looking left handed guitarist. It's Doyle Bramhall, II, getting no mention as he was not assigned his own spotlight. He toils in the darkness with his six string as Talk of the Town and the Backbeats sing all around him.
If you're looking for a new drinking game, take a swig every time the cameraman hits a close up of Courtney, the beatboxer from the Backbeats. You'll be in a coma before the end of this song. There are some thirty, forty other members of the Backbeats (or maybe ten) and four of them could go undercover right now and pretend to be atonal mutes because no one has ever seen their faces! Courtney, on the other hand, has been on my TV more than the Geicko gecko.
The next superstar song was fronted by newly elected Rock'n'Roll Hall of Famer Neil Diamond. After discussing which was the favorite Neil Diamond song for the various singers and realizing that Neil Diamond has written every song recorded over the last thirty-five years, host Nick Lachey announces Neil and company will be singing -- Ain't No Sunshine, by Bill Withers. Go figure.
They did a tremendous job on the song and you can tell why Street Corner Symphony and Committed would later be the top two teams. They have seamless transitions, sparkling harmonies, good backing percussion and strong lead vocalists. I was waiting for the obligatory Courtney close up, but my cup remained untouched for two entire minutes.
And the winner is....
But first, one last performance from each of our groups. Except when it got to the last group, Street Corner Symphony, who sang Coldplay's Fix You better than the original, the other three teams were allowed to come out and steal their thunder, I mean join in the song. It was beautfiul and moving, but I felt that their moment was taken away. But not to worry, it probably meant that they were going to win the whole thing.
So it's time to announce the winner. And the winner is....
Well, it's not Jerry Lawson and Talk of the Town or the Backbeats, because those two teams are given the bad news first. Jerry et al. go out in style with the most perfect exit song ever, Hit the Road Jack. Now that they didn't win and all the producers' efforts to shove them down my throat is over, I really appreciate how talented they are. They don't really do current a cappella, it's more old time doo wop, but they have great voices. And after hearing Paul McCartney try to sing on SNL, I realize that being able to sound that good when you're not in your prime ain't easy. So kudos to the old guys!
I also want to offer a shout out to the Backbeats. I ragged on them big time for their first two performances. I felt their lead singer (who isn't Courntey, but have you seen Courtney, cuz there she is, and there she is again) was overwrought when she sang and her forced angst took away from her voice. As soon as she turned it down, she improved. And when they spotllighted other singers in the groups -- look, there's Courtney, gulp -- you realized they weren't just blowing smoke when they described themselves as a supergroup. The leader, the mastermind who put the group together, took his first real lead (joking around on Love Shack doesn't count) and showed what an amazing voice he has as well. All really fine singers -- especially those from UCLA!!!
And now for the winner. No, seriously, there's nothing left. I was hoping for Street Corner Symphony. Jeremy Lester's story of his hard times trying to make it the first go around with a record label made me root for the underdog, but when they announced the winners were Committed, I wasn't that upset. Okay, I tweeted one Boo, but that's it. And I rallied quick. Committed has a lot of depth, has some of the purest voices I've ever heard and seem like really nice guys. So congrats to them!
And congrats also to the runners up. I really liked you, even if you sing that country-flavored music that is all the rage right now. I liked how Ben Folds correctly identified you as the sort of rebels in the group. You have a little rock in your soul -- stick with it. Keep pushing. You've made a lot of fans, don't let them down. Hey, the plus is, you don't have to sign with Sony! :)