fannin-family-nbc-sing-off.JPG“The Sing-Off” is back on NBC with 16 all new a capella groups ready to wow us with their vocal acrobatics. The eight groups performing during the two-hour premiere are: Yellowjackets, Urban Method, Cat’s Pajamas, Kinfolk 9, Vocal Point, Fannin Family, Afro-Blue and Delilah.

1. Yellowjackets, World Cup Anthem “Wavin’ Flag” by K’naan

This was a heckuva way to kick off the show. How uplifting. Great soloists and the key change was masterful. Excellent job. Some of the choreography was a little cheesy, but the story behind their performance was great. Shawn’s critique that it was “powerful” was right on.

2. Fannin Family, “Who Says” by Selena Gomez

It’s the Von Trapps of the 21st century! I am immediately struck by how well their voices blend, it’s incredible. Youngest sib 14-uear-old Maria is the usual soloist, which is cool. She’s very talented, but you can tell the backups are no slouches either. Another great performance. Ben Folds also cites their effortless blend, which – yeah. They sound like one big powerful voice at times with so many notes.

3. Afro-Blue, “Put Your Records On” by Corinne Bailey Rae

The soloist is smooth and rich and I love their staging, but this seems like a bit of a let down after the first two high-powered numbers. I mean, it wasn’t good, but it didn’t blow me away. I wouldn’t have picked such a low-key number for my debut on the show if I was Afro-Blue.

4. Delilah, “Grenade” by Bruno Mars

This group is interestingly made up of girls from the first two seasons plus two additions as a bass and a vocal percussionist. I sympathize with their hard road as an all-female group – girl groups just do not sound the same as all-male or mixed groups in a capella singing. The group I was in in college struggled with that too (shout-out to Minor Detail!).

Anyway, their choice of song is good because Bruno has a high voice for a man, so they won’t sound so weird. The opening and first chorus is interesting because it sounds like the soloist is really holding back. I’m very excited for them to blow it open. They finally do on the bridge and it’s awesome. The soloist can wail – they must do some Heart, she can handle it. And when they sing in unison on the last “take a bullet straight through my brain,” they blend really well. Excellent. The standing O from Shawn and Sara is totally deserved. Ben Folds compliments the low end, which yes. It was great.

There is now an elimination and I gotta say, I think Afro-Blue was the weakest. But then it’s the Fannin Family! Oh, bummer. I’m surprised. They sing “Tomorrow” for their sing-out song and I immediately rescind my good will. Blech. Go back to the farm, cheeseheads. (I say that as a girl one generation removed from the farm in Iowa, so don’t email me.)   

5. Urban Method, “Love the Way You Lie” by Eminem and Rihanna

I love that they have a rapper in the group – he certainly gives the vocal percussionists a workout. He and the female soloist are pretty solid. They have good chemistry within the performance, like they are actually being the subjects of the song. Another great one. How do the judges even pick, everybody is so good. I totally agree with Shawn that it sounded like a track, not a capella.

6. The Cat’s Pajamas, “Some Kind of Wonderful” by Grand Funk Railroad

These guys win my award for best name, though I fear they are going to be too retro to advance on this show. Everybody else picks a song from the last few years, these guys pick a song from 1974. Not that they aren’t good because they are, but they are very clearly a stage act from Branson. I’d totally go see them in “Forever Plaid,” however.

7. Kinfolk 9, “Secrets” by One Republic

They do a very “Heights” walk up a hill towards the camera with the Hollywood sign in the background, which makes me snicker. Their performance is, for me, the least consistent of the night. The backups don’t blend very well, the harmonies have some issues and the soloist is hit and miss. The female soloist who joins in is better than the guy who started. I just don’t love this. I don’t agree with Sara’s critiques at all (which are all compliments and no substance), but I think maybe she’s afraid to be too critical yet.

I know there are people who just want to hear a capella groups with powerhouses, but I am of the thought that a capella groups should blend as well as they can. In college, I got into the women’s a capella group over several other more talented singers – because they were soloists who were hard to blend with. I’m not. I’m a blender. Sure, every group needs soloists, but the background people should not clash. They should almost be like one voice. That’s just me, though.

The judges keep talking about the frontman’s sad story and that’s too bad and all, but if they advance just because their lives are sad, I’m going to be upset.

8. Vocal Point, “Jump Jive and Wail” by Brian Setzer Orchestra
They have a sad story too, as member Ben has gone back to Australia to be with his dad who has leukemia and isn’t doing well. Ugh. It’s not that I’m not sympathetic, but c’mon. Anyway, I love their staging and choreography for their song, but something about this is leaving me a little flat. It’s just kinda meh for me. They start “breaking it down” and I guess at least they are doing something different but it doesn’t work for me. The modulations are great, loved the ending. Ben Folds also compliments the modulation – yeah, those were awesome.

Man, the first four groups were so much stronger than the last four. I think the Fannin Family could’ve stayed over everyone except Urban Method. That’s a shame.

My vote to go home is Kinfolk 9, but I’ll be fine as long as Urban Method stays.

They send home The Cat’s Pajamas, who definitely are not exactly right for this show, but on the other hand – they were way better technically than Kinfolk 9.

So what did you think, “Sing-Off” fans?

Posted by:Andrea Reiher

TV critic by way of law school, Andrea Reiher enjoys everything from highbrow drama to clever comedy to the best reality TV has to offer. Her TV heroes include CJ Cregg, Spencer Hastings, Diane Lockhart, Juliet O'Hara and Buffy Summers. TV words to live by: "I'm a slayer, ask me how."