Here it is. The moment we've all been waiting just over two weeks for. The finale of the second season of The Sing Off aired on Monday night and it was a doozy. Allow me to get my major gripe out of the way right now: there was no need for a live finale. It was actually a disservice to the groups as the sound mixing for every performance was atrocious. The treble was raised up high, as if the person in charge of sound thought the soprano or tenor line had to be the melody in every song and no one watching at home cared about harmonies. Good luck picking out anything lower than Middle C in the episode; that's a shame, too, since only one group has any female singers left. The show opens with Jackie DeShannon's "Put a Little Love in Your Heart." It wins the award for worst choreography of the season. They just kind of clump together, sway occasionally, and look lost. The soloists for each group decide they're Mariah Carey because they're on live TV and Ben Folds attempts a beatboxing solo. At the very least, you can take comfort in Courtney (lady beatboxer from The Backbeats) once again outperforming everyone else. She is the reason I call The Backbeats "The Ringers."
The final four groups in performance order are: Committed (gospel sextet), The Backbeats (post-collegiate a cappella), Jerry Lawson & Talk of the Town (the real winners of the season no matter what America said), and Streetcorner Symphony (they'd rather drink than practice). Each group gets three performances before the results are revealed.
Up first are Committed doing back-up vocals for Boys II Men on their song "Motel Philly." Why invite the guest stars if it means the competitors are relegated to back-up singers? As great as Committed were on the arrangement, I didn't stay with the show to watch them become The Pips to Shawn Stockman's Gladys Night. Just assume I say the balance is off for every single performance as I'm not wasting my time repeating the same criticism for ten full performances and six excerpts.
The Whiffenpoofs [of Yale] sing a few bars of "Just Haven't Met You Yet" leading us to break. It still sounds better than most of the groups left in the contest.
The Backbeats get to duet with former a cappella ensemble member Sara Bareilles on her song "King of Anything." By former ensemble member, I mean she literally sang with some of these people in the same college group before her popular music success. Courtney the Lady Beatboxer kills it on the breakdown before the chorus, but the arrangement is bland (like the song). The costumes are ridiculous, however. It's like the girls were tarred and Bedazzled before heading onstage. They, too, were just back-up vocalists. Congratulations! You made the live finale. Now sing back-up for a mid-level pop star.
Jerry Lawson & Talk of the Town pull the short straw and sing "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" with Nicole Scherzinger. But a Christmas miracle six days early as Nicole worked hard and managed to turn a bad concept into a stellar performance. It's great from the bridge to the end of the performance. She plays off of Jerry Lawson quite nicely. Too bad the sound mixers thought no one wanted to hear Talk of the Town.
Eleventh Hour sing a snippet of "Baby" after their lead inhales a carton of menthols. The boys in the group are all a foot taller than they were two weeks ago.
Street Corner Symphony get the perfect match for their awkward staging, Ben Folds, on a performance of his "hit" single "Gone." It's everything you've come to expect from Streetcorner Symphony, only with a different lead vocalist. I believe I scrawled in my notes it was "bland as porridge in a Victorian work house."
Nick Lachey decides to put on glasses and pretend to be Ben Folds, using a bunch of big music words he doesn't understand. While I was able to tolerate the hosting bot the first four episodes, this pushed me to use the following clip every time he talks from now on.
Groove for Thought sing a bit of their "Cooler Than Me" arrangement. They've all gotten so fat. Amazing how much weight you can gain over a two week series (I just strained my eyes from rolling them so hard).
Sheryl Crow comes out with a guitar to sing with Jerry Lawson & Talk of the Towns and The Backbeats because she doesn't know what a cappella music is.
Neil Diamond sings "Ain't No Sunshine" with Committed and Streetcorner Symphony. I'm liking the network's strategy on the live show regarding Streetcorner Symphony. They are not allowed to sing a whole song entirely by themselves the entire night. I'll send them a muffin basket later today.
Stay out of it, Nick Lachey: A Christmas Performance, wherein Nick Lachey sings lead the entire time. Except for when the bass/beatboxer of Committed and Courtney of The Backbeats prove that they're the two best young singers on the damn stage. I know they're your beatboxers, but you could do a beatbox-less song once in a while to let them sing lead and make you sound better.
The Backbeats perform Katy Perry's "Firework." They reset it as an intimate duet between a male lead (and he sings, too) and a female lead and it works beautifully. Why couldn't any of the guys sing lead on the show? Oh, right: the producers pick who sings lead for each song. It's funny how The Backbeats always underestimated their dancing abilities when they consistently out-danced the self-proclaimed "good dancers" of On the Rocks.
Men of Note sing an excerpt of "For the Longest Time" and again prove their elimination was a joke. They also all grew a foot taller in two weeks.
Committed perform "Hold My Hand" by Michael Jackson and Akon. It's still not a great song (ok at best), but they do a nice arrangement. I think. Sound mixing and all.
Jerry Lawson & Talk of the Town sing "Love Train" by The O'Jays. They are in their element and kill it. They're also the only group I believe the producer-guided charity work from. Each of the final four groups were sent to a different LA-area charity for a day of volunteer work and performance. Jerry Lawson talks about how the group has worked with similar organizations for ten years and they all seem at ease working with handicapped adults. It's heartwarming in a way NBC wished all the volunteer segments could have been.
Pitch Slapped prove why they were the first group eliminated singing a snippet of the season opener "I Got the Music In Me."
Streetcorner Symphony perform "Fix You" by Coldplay. I was just listening to them while writing and thought it was strange they magically sounded like a strong ensemble. Then I looked up to see literally everyone left in the contest taking over the song. It's like Streetcorner Symphony's microphones were shut off (sans the lead vocalist) and it sounded wonderful.
The first group eliminated from the finale is Jerry Lawson & Talk of the Town. They almost derail the production as they insist on getting their full arrangement of "Hit the Road Jack" out, complete with Jerry Lawson talk-singing to people in the audience, howling, and laughing at the show. That starts at around the 3:00 mark on the video link. It was the single most magical thing I've ever seen on live TV. We'll miss you, best group in the competition.
The next group eliminated are The Backbeats. They are too serious about this competition to threaten to do anything interesting during their swan song.
At this point, the producers decide to let "On the Rocks" sing a little bit of "The Final Countdown" and it's as awkwardly timed as you can imagine. They also still can't dance.
The winner of The Sing Off (after an eight minute season recap for the final two groups) is...Committed! They win a janky looking trophy, but at least that janky trophy didn't go to Streetcorner Symphony. Committed are forced to sing "We are the Champions" by Queen, which...is not a good a cappella number for anyone.