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The ACB Sing-Off Power Rankings, 2011: Round 2

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Welcome to the ACB Sing-Off Power Rankings! Before we get to the list, a quick review of what these rankings are all about:

•The Power Rankings are concerned with a group’s likelihood of a) surviving for another episode and b) winning The Sing-Off. While overall quality of a group will certainly have an impact on a group’s ranking, it is not necessarily the primary consideration of these rankings.
•The The Power Rankings are, in a sense, cumulative. While the most recent performances will affect movement in the rankings, we still have to keep an eye on the bigger picture of how a group is doing (for example, if a group that was previously in last place gives the best performance this week, it doesn’t mean the group will shoot to number one, but it is likely it will move up).
•The Power Rankings will be based largely upon my personal opinion, but may also take into account judges’ on-air input, live audience reaction, and Internet buzz. Please note that I have not heard any spoilers, so the content of these rankings is purely conjecture.
•The Power Rankings will only consider active groups—that is, groups that have not yet been eliminated from the show.
•The Power Rankings will appear following each round of competition. A round will be defined as one full cycle of each active group performing.
•The number in parentheses after a group’s name indicates where the group ranked in the preceding round’s list.

1. Afro- Blue (3) Afro-Blue was amidst the top five mix last time around. After three songs, they’re now the only group that seems to be above the judges’ reproach, and they’re winning over a larger fan base each time they hit the stage. There are still seven episodes to go before a champion is crowned, but Afro-Blue has pulled off the first decisive lead of the season.

2. North Shore (2) The elder statesmen of The Sing-Off hold steady at number two after another set of inspired performances this week. Can they maintain control of material outside their traditional comfort zone, or has North Shore already peaked? Stay tuned.

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3. Pentatonix (3) Although I am not jiving with Pentatonix’s artistic decisions, there’s no denying that they’re putting forth a consistently good sound, and that they’re hitting all the right notes with the judges and the general audience. There’s a fair argument to be made that, next to Afro-Blue’s jazz instincts, North Shore’s Old School sound, and Urban Method’s dependence on rapping, Pentatonix’s new-wave dance party approach to a cappella may be best-suited to helping them survive the different styles of the weeks ahead to come out on top in November.

4. Urban Method (5) With the group’s rap-appella gimmick, are they a one-trick pony? A second week of performances did nothing to resolve that question. The judges are still solidly behind this group, but, personally, I’m not buying it. It will be interesting to see what another couple weeks of rap might bring them.

5. The Dartmouth Aires (7) Although The Aires only moved up two places in the power ranking, they are second only to Afro-Blue when it comes to improving their group’s standing. While the guys haven’t really dazzled us yet, they’ve had the right mix of solid music and entertaining performance to win over the judges and the audience alike. Bracket 2 was a small group haven, though, where The Aires could sound especially full next to a collection of four-to-five person ensembles. In the land of Afro-Blue, Vocal Point, and The Yellow Jackets (not to mention The Deltones), it will be interesting to see if The Aires still stand out so brightly.

6. Vocal Point (6) After a middling response from the judges week one, Vocal Point responded nicely in their second episode, with renditions of “Never Say Never” and “The Way You Like Tonight.” While they’ve shown greater diversity than The Aires, they have been missing a comparable level of intensity and power. Now that the two groups will appear on the same show, the choice becomes whether to go toe-to-toe with The Aires in the power game, or for the BYU boys to work to underscore their superior musicality. Look for these two groups to continue to duke it out in the middle of the pack for the next two-to-three weeks.

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7. Delilah (1) Oh, how the mighty have fallen. Round one’s frontrunners remain among my personal top three, but the judges sent a message with their bottom-two ranking that the ladies are by no means safe. After sounding a little redundant on “Whatya Want from Me” and getting a tongue-lashing for their girly rendition of “Heat Wave,” where does the group go from here? My answer would be to channel the best of both worlds with some power chick rock or to go the hip-hop route a la 2005 Divisi. One thing remains certain—next week’s episode will be crucial in determining whether they return to contender status or start paving the way to an early trip home.

8. The Yellow Jackets (8) The YJs pulled a rabbit out of their collective hat with by channeling Frankie Valli for their second song last week—a personality-infused performance that saved them from what otherwise almost certainly would have been a trip to the bottom two. The addition of the lower-tier groups from the second bracket should give The YJs a bit of breathing room to survive at least one more week, but the question will remain: how many rabbits do the guys have left?

9. The Deltones (10) The Deltones got by unscathed on their first episode on sheer emotion and song selection. While their second showing wasn’t bad, it was also well short of stellar. Like The Aires, The Deltones benefited from being a big group in land of little guys. The numbers game won’t protect them anymore.

10. The Collective (11) One of the most unlikely story of Sing-Off season three gets a third week to get things together. While The Collective showed significant improvement in their second and third performances, the group still seems to lack the level of complexity, depth and blend of sound that every other remaining group does bring to the table. Couple all of that with the judges placing The Collective in the bottom two last week and, you have a surefire recipe for elimination within the next one-to-two (maybe three) weeks.

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