TV Review: The Sing-Off, Season 5

The Sing-Off is back! Shawn Stockman and Jewel are back. Ben Folds is... woefully missing. But Patrick Stump from Fallout Boy is here. And, wait, Pentatonix is, too? Neat!

Opening number is Kim Wilde's "Kids in America," led off with The Exchange before the groups rotate through and team up. Does The Sing-Off have the best opening group numbers in reality TV? No question. Slickly executed, and a nice little sample of what each of these groups is about.

TV Review: The Sing-Off Season 4, Episode 7

Here comes the season finale!

Ten, Vocal Rush, and Home Free start things out with Michael Jackson's "Man in the Mirror." They all sound fantastic per usual, but if you look at the opening number as a de facto competition, I've gotta give this one to Vocal Rush for sincerity points.

And the entertainment keeps coming with a series of previously eliminated groups chiming in to back up Nick Lachey as he serenades Jewel with "It Had To Be You," focusing on her being the natural pick for the new judge spot this year. Jewel handles another mic to riff off the performance and eventually team up on the lead. Harmless fun, and I liked the pseudo-impromptu take on it.

The AcoUstiKats take us into the first commercial with "Jingle Bell Rock."

Interesting format so far this episode, consistent with the tone of the collaborative sing-offs and whatnot: the show much more focused on generating the best entertainment the collective cast can, as opposed to the competitive element of the show.

TV Review: The Sing-Off Season 4, Episode 6

Here we go with judges' choice night!

Our opening number is Florence and the Machine's "Shake It Out"--interesting tonal shift here to something a little less mainstream, with a little darker core than we've grown accustomed to for the opening number. This song about redemption and recovery really should be a spotlight song for Ten and I'm glad to hear them get the biggest parts of it.All that said, for me this is still is, and may always be an a song that belongs to The Florida State University AcaBelles circa 2012 in the a cappella world.

We're down to the final four. Nick Lachey is the unofficial coach and tells the groups about the songs the judges have assigned to them for this episode.

The Filharmonic kicks things off with "Baby I Need Your Loving" originally by The Four Tops. I love the old school moves and look on the intro. The low end is certainly carrying its weight here, and the guys are as charming as ever. This is a tricky performance to assess fairly because it's relatively lightweight fare, but, for better or worse, that's The Filharmonic's style and the judges recognized that in assigning the song. This is very enjoyable to listen to and watch, but I just don't think it was impactful enough to hang with the competition this late in the season.

TV Review: The Sing-Off Season 4, Episode 5

Strap yourselves in--it's time for episode five, "Movie Night!"

The opening number de jour is "I Had the Time of My Life," with the Home Free bass rattling our bones on the intro. While I hate to see groups go home, these opening numbers do get more cohesive as the season progresses.Interesitng hcoice for a mixed selection of group members to make their intros collectively, rather than having the groups cordoned off from one another as they typically have been up to this point.

Six groups left and there will be no fewer than three ultimate sing-offs tonight with two groups going home. Jewel is the coach/challenge levee-er this go-round.

Home Free sings Roy Orbison's "Pretty Woman." Hot perc lead-in, and Austin's owning the lead early on with a bass backing lead midway through the verse. I love the choice to spotlight Tim--whether anyone expected it or not, he's approaching Avi Kaplan-level breakout star of the group.Very nice fallout moment where the soloist breaks away to serenade Jewel and the guys shift to soft, stacatto instrumentation in the background before the drum solo leads off a sprint to the finish, featuring their most traditional take on the song's original hook.

TV Review: The Sing-Off Season 4, Episode 4

The opening number is a medley of “Talkin’ Bout My Generation,” “We Will Rock You,” “It’s Time.” Per usual the best opening numbers in reality TV are located right here.

Ben Folds is our challenge giver/coach this episode. VoicePlay understands the immensity of this situation. Chart toppers from the groups’ respective generations is theme of choice.

Home Free opens things up with Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire.” Soft, slow choral opening with a bass spotlight. Soulful stuff happening here, then the VP makes its entrance and we’re off to the races. Bass solo here—good call to put the group’s budding star front and center. I love the stage presence of these guys—able to own the performance space with simple movement, rather than choreography per se. Impossibly low note on the finish.

TV Review: The Sing-Off Season 4, Episode 3

Here comes episode three. The roster is split in two, and we're on to #1 hits night.

The group number of the night is Peter Gabriel's "In Your Eyes." the Fliharmonic kicks things off, followed by Street corner Symphony, then The AcoUstiKats, then Ten--one rep stands front and center from each group while the rest of the masses remain in back and the judges sing along, un-miced from their table. Very nicely executed. One by one another representative of each group steps up to bring the song to its climax.

Shawn Stockman steps in to coach the groups this week. A Street Corner rep notes that he watched Boyz II Men grow from boys to men, and reminds us of that group's aca-days.

Here comes Ten with Aretha Franklin's "Chain of Fools." Love the set up here withe soloist front and center, the rhythm section set up in back, the rest of the group on either side back up singing and dancing. Solid groove. And then CHURCH! The group upped the tempo, ripped loose and went all gospel on everybody in the audience. Hot finish there!

TV Review: The Sing-Off Season 4, Episode 1

The wait is over, The Sing Off is back on NBC! A heads up--this review will be a little more stream-of-conscious than most of my live event reviews on account of wanting to get it posted tonight and it being a school night and all.

For the opening number we've got "Some Nights" originally by Fun. Well, the show's been off for two years--guess they had to make up for lost aca-time with one of the favorite songs for groups to cover over the last two years. It's hard to choreograph for a cast this large--admirable effort here. Typical Sing-Off fare with the groups rotating through the soloist. The performance medleys-on-up into "We Are Young" and "Carry On." Man, this is Fun. Pun intended, but really. I'm so happy right now that this show is back.

Nick Lachey is back in the hizouse, reminding us The Sing-Off is all vocals, no instruments. The theme for the night is signature songs that represent the group best. Ben Folds, Jewel, and Shawn Stockman occupy the judging table. Ben is glad to be back after being kept in storage for two years with the sets. Shawn calls the show a wonderful experience. Jewel says, "What's a cappella?" JK. She says Lachey's dimples are working hard and then self-references her snaggle tooth. Not gonna lie--a more charismatic start than I expected from the new judge. This has potential.

Vocal Rush is HERE! Let me rephrase that: the best high school a cappella group in the world is here. The reigning ICHSA champs lead off with Delta Rae's "Down To The River." Unified stomp perc to lead us in. Slick groove into the perc part as the tempo picks up. Holy bo-jangles, check that bass. Starmaking solo here. What's this? Stomp routine. Oh no they didn't. Good gosh this group is where fun meets talent to have a gaggle of beautiful love children.