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.
Ben says the piece was perfectly executed and loved “the massive, heavy note” at the end. Jewel talks about the history of the song and talks about the poignancy of the performance, calling it a cappella country reggae. Shawn loved the reggae dance hall beat and calls Austin’s voice smooth as butter. Ladies and gents, your Sing-Off season four odds on favorites.
Voiceplay is singing “Don’t Speak” originally by No Doubt. Nice breath-perc intro. The solo’s a nice fit for Honey’s tone. Straight forward take on the melody—well-executed, but I’d like to have heard something a little more creative from this arrangement, and solid as this group is, I think they were right in their intro video about not carrying heavy emotion well—there might have been better fits for this theme.
Shawn appreciated the different side of themselves the group showed and liked the high note in the middle. Ben says the group benefited from its varying dynamics, and that they made everyone feel it in the chorus. Jewel says Voiceplay showed the audience their hearts and echoes that their use of dynamics was great.
Element is singing ”You Keep Me Hanging On” originally by The Supremes. Hot opening as the group enters piece by piece. The tempo feels a little off to me as the group gets into the verse, but things slide better into place on the chorus. The way they space the stage is phenomenal, though a little more oriented toward the live audience than the camera. I’d like a little more emotion and personality here, which I think remains the Achilles heel for this group.
Ben says the performance was a step in the right direction, but he’d like to see the group get more pissed, demonstrating more emotion. Jewel says the song is about female empowerment and the solo was very sincere. She praises them doubling up on the harmonies. Shawn says the group looks lovely, and he likes what they did but the harmonies felt a little muddy at points. He wanted more change in the song, but he wraps up by saying they are professionals.
Vocal Rush is here singing Bonnie Tyler’s “Holding Out for a Hero.” Killer buzzing bass on the intro and ermegerd Sarah Vela has the solo mic, therefore magic is on the way. I dig the intensity of the intro, spreading layers of tension into the first chorus. The intro to the next verse is electric and I love the infusion of the rap sample to diversify the presentation. I know folks talk about scholastic groups not having a shot at winning this competition on account of recording and touring obligations to follow, and that’s likely true, but putting that aside, this was the best performance of the night so far, bar none.
Ben lauds every aspect of the performance. Shawn says the group is young and has no fear, plus they’re musically intelligent. He says things fell apart just a little bit but they picked themselves up. Jewel lauds the rap and the group’s energy, but says the youthful exuberance can get them ahead of the tempo at times.
Time for ultimate Texas death match sing off. It’s Element versus Vocal Rush riffing on Destiny’s Child’s ”Survivor.” Nice presentation from Element on the opening raising themselves from a bent posture by degrees. Finally some raw emotion from Element, though Vocal Rush very organically out ‘tudes them from the start. Love the transition to the rap. Element may be marginally more technically proficient, but I’ve gotta give this one to Vocal Rush on soul. Plus, when Sarah Vela is your secret weapon in the endgame, you know you’ve got some depth.
The judges do indeed save Vocal Rush. Tough to see Element go this early on, but the talent pool is deep, and out of this foursome it was probably the right call.
That’s all for tonight. Catch y’all again with the next episode on Wednesday!