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.
Shawn dug the choreo and says the group figured out how to get screams from the ladies, and they locked in their harmonies. He wants the group to take the song higher and didn't feel they got there. Jewel says she was missing a climax and that's frustrating. The guys point out the obvious joke there. Ben says the rhythm was the issue here--they're better but still have a little ways to go.
Ten has Ike and Tina Turner's "Proud Mary" tonight. The group wisely points out the challenge of this song--sing something iconic and you either bring the house down or sh*t the bed (my words, not theirs). The group kicks things off slow and sultry but does not waste time rolling us all down to the river. Mean groove there and this is an excellent solo matchup. I felt the rhythm got away from them for a second, but they recovered nicely. Excellent call for the group to fall out and let the crowd clap along to carry the beat. Not flawless, but the raw power was there in all the right places to make this song work.
Ben praises Victor's bass guiding the beat early on, and compliments the group for the risks they took with the arrangement, while encouraging them to make more. Shawn gives it up for the solo but also says the group could gone at the song with a little more gusto. Jewel liked the choice to set up a band, backup singers and a lead, but still wanted to hear more from them to prove they're ready to make records.
Home Free presents "Colder Weather" originally by Zac Brown Band. The guys sing this one seated. Very nice soft opening with guys harmonizing under one of the prettiest solos we've heard from these guys, courtesy of Rob. Once again, these guys prove themselves as the group most comfortable in their own skin--not to mention the most ready for a record deal. Though the performance was not overly complex, simple twists like handing off the solo between Rob, Austin, and Tim did a lot to shift the mood and intensity of the song, and the guys pulled off the shifts in the backing harmony absolutely seamlessly.
Shawn liked it a lot but heard some fluctuations in pitch. Ben says some of the best moments in a musical career are the scariest--he sensed a little nervousness on this song and wants to hear them continue to explore outside their comfort zone. Jewel says less is more when you have the talent, and it works for these guys, though she also challenges them to experiment more. She finishes by saying the guys are stars.
Here comes Vocal Rush with Fallout Boy's "My Songs Know What You Did in the Dark." Of all the judges' choices, this is the one I'm most dubious about. I like giving the kids a contemporary song they'll know, but stylistically it doesn't seem like a natural fit for their wheelhouse--but we'll see. The group attacks the chant opening. The group is doing a lot of dancing tonight and the vocals don't sound quite as cohesive to me here. The group looks hot and the flame effects help sell that full tilt. I didn't feel this one really hit its stride until the rap, but thank God that moment was there. The whole group re-entered with a collective lead after that and the energy all around got so. much. bigger. Rocky start, but that finish was absolutely sublime.
Jewel says the group, collectively, sounds like an artist and that's not something you can teach. She comments on the group vocal living up to the pyro blasts. Ben says he was rocking out. He liked the sense of playful drama to the song. He thought the chord before the chorus felt a little weak, but the performance was otherwise fantastic. Shawn says the group takes on every song with reckless abandon, and says they're cute. His only criticism is the group not giving itself enough room to continue building after the bridge.
Jewel may not have reached her climax, but this show has--it's time for the ultimate sing-off. It's The clash's "Should I Stay or Should I Go" in play here. Power songs very much play to Ten's strengths in this format. The Filharmonic doesn't back down, but they're looking a little outgunned here. Still, another fun performance all around--par for the course on the ultimate sing-off format, which I think proved itself once and for all last night.
The Filharmonic is headed home--Ten survives to the finale.
And so, our final three are set: it's Home Free vs. Vocal Rush vs. Ten. Home Free still has to be considered the favorite, but if any two groups from the season are capable of upsetting them in the endgame, it's these two. Should be a heck of a finale and--wait, did they just say Pentatonix is going to be there, too? Must See TV is back on NBC.
Catch y'all on Monday!