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The ACB Sing-Off Power Rankings, 2011: Round 6

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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) The Pentatonix machine will not be stopped. This year’s runaway leaders did the unexpected this week, by not just showcasing the phenomenal rhythm section that’s carried them this far, but also by highlighting the secret weapon female soloist who has been criminally (but perhaps ingeniously) underutilized up to this point, so that she’s breathing new life into the group at this late stage of the competition when so many other groups are flagging. At this point, it would be shocking for this group not to be a part of the final voting for Sing-Off champions.

2. Vocal Point (2) Vocal Point just keeps rolling along, doing its thing on irresistibly entertaining and deceptively musically intricate numbers. The real danger for Vocal Point at this point is to resist the temptation to slip into cruise control, and keep showing us new sides of themselves. There’s no time for rest with The Aires nipping at their heels.

3. The Dartmouth Aires (4) The Aires are defying all expectations by refusing to succumb to fatigue and, instead, getting actively better at these late stages of the show. The Aires’ cover of “We’re Not Gonna Take It” was positively inspired this week, and though their country number was a bit more forgettable, they still served it up with enough vigor to keep them plenty safe from the bottom two. If the guys can maintain their momentum, they have every chance of sneaking up to the number two spot.

4. Urban Method (6) Although I thought Urban Method made one of the worst artistic decisions in Sing-Off history with their reinterpretation of “Here I Go Again” the judges dug it. Then came “Before He Cheats” at which point, the women of the group stepped up to the plate, shaking off the doubts of weeks past to deliver a stirring performance that was unlike anything else Urban Method has sung up to this point. The strength of the competition means this group can’t truly be called safe, but it seems like they’re back in the hunt for the finals.

5. Afro-Blue (3) One-time frontrunners Afro-Blue looked sadly lost on “American Girl,” awkwardly sampling “The Star-Spangled Banner” midway through, and never quite finding a way out of jazz, into rock. To their credit, they recovered quite nicely with an inspired, emotional take on “Need You Now.” The big question moving forward for this group is whether they can strike a balance between confidence, their signature musical complexity, and mass-audience accessibility. I hope the answer is yes, but the clock may be running out and momentum is not on this group’s side.

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