Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The Sing-Off Season 3: Mastermix Medleys and Judges' Choice (Episode 10)

written by AL
DAM NATION, Contributor 

The Sing-Off Finale is right around the corner, and this episode was the last chance the Top 4 groups had to convince the judges and America that they should be this year's Sing-Off Champion. In the first round, the contestants had to get creative and mix together two songs by different artists. In round two, the stakes were even higher as the groups had to perfectly execute songs picked for them by the judges. I can't imagine how tired the singers must have been after weeks of competition, but here it was do or die. As they made their way closer to the finish line, one more group had to say goodbye.

Group Performance: Bittersweet Symphony, Baba O'Riley, Last Friday Night, Hollaback Girl

Song ratings, ahead!


Forget You/Since U Been Gone
This was a fun little mastermix. I'm not sure the songs really go together that well; the chord progressions are different and when they put them together it resulted in some flat sounding harmonies. I'm not used to that from Pentatonix. The whole time my ear was a little tense, but overall they brought the songs together in an interesting way. 7.5/10

Urban Method
Hot In Herre/Fever
It was a risky decision to mix recent hip-hop with '60s jazz, but the result wasn't as jarring as it sounds. This sexy/sultry mix successfully highlighted some of the group's strengths, but it also pointed toward a major weakness of theirs: their determination to take a cappella places I'm not sure it was meant to go. Awkward. 7/10

I Believe I Can Fly / Fly
This was powerful and inspirational mix. Their arrangement had much smoother flow than the previous two mixes, and of course, they utilized some of their signature jazz chords. Mariah's little Nicki Minaj rap solo stood out nicely. As a group, I felt like their blend wasn't as precise as it has been in past performances, but it was still very good. 8/10

Dartmouth Aires
Sympathy for the Devil / Born This Way
This was the most thematically and musically coherent mix. I enjoyed the way the songs contrasted each other with the evil vs. good nature of the lyrics and how it all came together to sound like one song. The leads were solid as always, and the rest of the Aires did a pretty good job of staying on pitch, too. 8.5/10


Dog Days Are Over
Amazing!! The judges picked a great song for them. It seemed to challenge them as well as play to their strengths. They covered the full range of dynamics and harmonized beautifully while maintaining the intensity and emotion of the song. It was haunting, then joyful, then vulnerable, then powerful, and overall, it was just really exciting to watch and to listen to. Shawn called it audio drama; I call it a rollercoaster of sound. 10/10

Urban Method
All of the Lights
Ok, I will admit, this was their most creative and powerful performance yet. I enjoyed the bit with the sweeping mics. The judges picked a song that really showcased Urban Method's personality. Although they have grown a lot over the course of the show, rap-appella is just not my style, and I can't say that I would buy their album if they were to win. 8.5/10

A Change Is Gonna Come
Afro-Blue shows such respect for their musical roots and it really shows. This had a more doo-wop, R&B, jazzy feel than the soaring instrumentals of the original, but it stayed honest. I kept waiting for it to peak, and it didn't until the very end. I liked the way they put their own spin on the song and the strong finish, it made for a very captivating performance. 9/10

Dartmouth Aires
This song was a perfect choice for Michael's lead, but unfortunately the bass wasn't holding it down. Like in many of their past performances, they sacrificed pitch quality for energy and theatricality. But it was still very entertaining, another epic performance from them, and that's all that really mattered. 8.5/10


The judges chose Afro-Blue and The Dartmouth Aires as their bottom two this week, but they couldn't make a final decision, so each group had to perform their best number on the spot. Afro-Blue did a quick and professional repeat of American Boy, while the Dartmouth Aires performed a pleading and heartfelt version of Somebody to Love. I guess that, coupled with their consistency won Sara and Ben (deciding vote) over, while the more talented but less consistently crowd-pleasing group, Afro-Blue, was sent home, singing We've Only Just Begun by the Carpenters as their Swan Song.

Indeed, this is not the end for them but rather a new beginning, because Afro-Blue already has two albums out (check their homepage: and their time on the Sing-Off has only exposed their college group to a wider audience (including me! I was actually lucky enough to see them perform live at the Kennedy Center in D.C. last weekend!).

I'm really sad to see Afro-Blue go, but now I won't feel bad giving Pentatonix all my votes! The voting is officially open! I hope everyone who reads this will call, text, or go online to vote for their favorite group! You have until Sunday!

Join us next week for the Finale!!!


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