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The ACB Sing-Off Power Rankings, 2011: Round 4

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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 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 they’ll shoot to number one, but it is likely that they 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. Pentatonix (1) A good, intense week for Pentatonix. Though I still find their sound a little thin and their main soloist strong but not exceptional, I seem to be in the minority as the Internet is blowing up over them and the judges just can’t seem to get enough. Pentatonix and The Dartmouth Aires are now the only groups not to show up in the bottom four. Couple that with a healthy dose of judge love, and consistent signs of improvement, and Pentatonix have to be considered the favorite to take it all at this point.

2. Afro-Blue (2) Despite a phenomenal showing last week, Afro-Blue still somehow found itself in the bottom two. The group was not daunted, coming back with a version of “Killing Me Softly” that was heavily influenced by the group’s jazz roots, with just enough lip service to The Fugees to make it also fit the hip-hop mold. In my estimation, Afro-Blue has been the most consistently solid group of this season, though I worry they will need to construct or steadier bridge between their musicality and mainstream appeal if they’re going to have a shot at winning this.

3. Vocal Point (3) OK, so Vocal Point turned in what was, musically, its most suspect performance of the season this week. And at their musically weakest they almost made Ben Folds cry. The guys succeeded in showing off their vulnerability this week; as long as they get back to covering their fundamentals in these next couple episodes, they should coast into at least the top five. Incidentally, with a Halloween-themed episode on deck, I’m craving a reprise of their iconic reimagining of “Thriller” (see below).

4. Delilah (8) The ladies emerged from their free fall in the rankings this week to take a stand with Lil Wayne’s “How To Love.” If you read my review of the show or The 3Gs, or my Facebook postings, you already have a sense of how much I dug this. In case you didn’t, the second half of this 13-second video is a good approximation of my reaction:

There are some big question marks hanging over the ladies’ heads about whether they can sustain this level of excellence and make an earnest push toward the finals. For the first time in weeks, it looks like they have a chance.

5. Urban Method (4) On the episode that Urban Method should have owned, an uncomfortable truth came to light—they’ve been rapping every week and have yet to show us they’re anything more than a respectable rapper and a cool sound effects guy. I’ve considered Urban Method the most overrated group this season since episode one, and it looks like the cracks are starting to show for real as they arrived in the bottom four for the first time this week. Can they reinvent themselves enough to stay vital? Or is this the beginning of their end?

6. The Dartmouth Aires (5) Although The Aires have dodged the bottom four bullet every episode, their performances are on a steady decline, and the judges have taken notice. Can the guys reassert themselves and get back in the mix with all-male, on-show rivals, Vocal Point? A Halloween-themed episode should be less restrictive on their style than the last two weeks, so there is hope.

7. The Yellow Jackets (7) The YJs just keep hanging around, but their bottom two sing off against The Collective brought them perilously close to the elimination. The hip-hop theme did not do this group any favors, but it will be interesting to see if they can rebound in earnest. They’ve pulled some rabbits from their hats before; they’re going to need something special to make it to episode 8.

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