Ah finally, an opening number I can get behind! "Shake It Off" is a wonderful anthem with a great build, and the soloists are all in top form. And tonight's theme is one of my favorites--I always love seeing what the judges think will challenge the contestants. Yet when Nick Lachey (our official mentor for the evening) presents the remaining four groups with their assignments, my heart sinks a little. They all seem so...conventional.
Filharmonic's song, "Baby I Need Your Lovin'," is probably the most interesting selection, a Motown classic that all but demands the group fix the harmony problems that have plagued them in the past several episodes. Their hearts are in the right place, and they do tighten it up, with a clean, slick-looking performance. Jewel, however, is frustrated by the lack of climax. The look Ben Folds gives her is priceless.
On the other end of the scale, slow-pitches-over-the-plate don't come any bigger than giving Ten "Proud Mary," a song that's so firmly in their wheelhouse they could pilot a ship with it. And it sounds exactly they way you'd think Ten singing "Proud Mary" would sound like. Not that that's a bad thing--DeeDee lets fly with her inner Tina--but the judges want them to take more risks beyond being a gospel group. Then why did you give them the gospel-est of all rock songs to begin with?
Giving Home Free "Colder Weather" is kind of in between the two extremes--it's still in their country-western sweet spot, but it's also the kind of low-key ballad we haven't heard from them yet. The group once again shows off those lovely close country harmonies that I enjoy so much, but add a new twist by giving Rob (you know, the bearded guy who gets all the comic relief moments in the bumpers) a chance to shine with a tender solo. Oh Rob, you big adorable teddy bear, I love you. Austin may have the boyish front man looks, but you and Tim can sing everything forever and I'll be happy.
Vocal Rush gets Fall Out Boy's "My Songs Know What You Did in the Dark," which sounds like an obvious choice for the high school group, until it's pointed out that they haven't actually done anything from their generation yet. Thanks, Sing-Off, for reminding me all those classic 80s hits are golden oldies by these kids' standards. Get offa my lawn now. Oh yeah, the song. It's pretty good, with the "light it up" hook nice and solid and some great tempo progressions. Even the cheesy pyrotechnics manage to work somehow.
Home Free and Vocal Rush get the free pass to the finals, which means it's Ten and The Filharmonic for the Ultimate Sing-Off. Three low-rank finishes in a row for Filharmonic--not a good sign. And sure enough, even though Joe kills his solo on "Should I Stay or Should I Go," Ten uses the opportunity to showcase their depth of talent and makes it to the last round. I'm gonna miss those sweet Filipino boys.
I'm sticking to my guns on Home Free--this is their competition to lose. Conventional wisdom says it will be Ten facing off against them for the last showdown, but Vocal Rush seems designed to undermine conventional wisdom. I'm not gonna rule them out.
Located on a small expansion shelf about midway between the Third and Fourth Circles, Musical Hell is presided over by Diva, a minor demon charged with passing judgement on the worst musicals ever committed to film. (She still hasn't figured out if this is their punishment or hers.) Take a seat on the bench and have your earplugs ready, because court is now in session.
New videos posted on the first Monday of the month. Other viewpoints, news, and general ramblings posted when they crop up.