maxx factor the sing off 320 'The Sing Off': Voices of Lee get second chance and Maxx Factor learns new tricksThe second day of competition was a tight race. While Nota and the Beelzebubs continued to deliver on some well-executed performances, we saw weaknesses in The SoCals and Noteworthy. Other groups showed they could adapt to the competition to earn a spot in the third episode of “The Sing-Off” tonight.

Group 1: Beelzebubs (Boston, Massachusetts)
Hit song: “Right Round” by Flo Rida
I’m not at all surprised that the Beelzebubs performed a rap song. All my dorky guy friends love their rap. Plus, if the “Bubs” are going to do rap, then “Right Round” is the perfect rap song for them. Let’s face it, it’s not exactly “gangsta.” I was really impressed by the group’s dedication to the song and the work it took to create the a capella dynamic. At times the group’s rapper got a bit jumbled with the words and you could hear him gasping for breath, which was distracting. Once again, the choreography was fun, appropriate for the song and each member owned it.
 
Ben Folds (Ben Folds Five) said the group was “no novelty,” since musically, they know what they’re doing. He said the solos weren’t that strong, though. Nicole Scherzinger (Pussycat Dolls) said she had so much fun and the track was “live.” She asked, “Can the ‘Bubs’ be sexy?” To which the audience screamed. Shawn said they created a new category: “hip-hopella.” He went on to say that they “rocked it” and, once again, kept it entertaining.

Guilty pleasure song: “Come Sail Away” by  Styx
Alright, the Beelzebubs really won me over with this one. They did some cool formations in their choreography. The lead singer had range and personality. I loved it when he sang those silly high notes. The background vocals blended so well that they didn’t distract me at all. This was a very cool rendition of a classic anthem.

Ben felt “guilty” for thinking it was really good.  He said they created a really good record. Sean had to laugh before he declared the song “cheesy,” but he said the group “grated it into a fine mozzarella.” Not sure what that means. He added that he liked seeing them sing, not just hearing them sing. Nicole thought Matt, the lead singer, had the voice of an angel.

Group 2: Noteworthy (Provo, Utah)
Hit song: “Viva La Vida” by Coldplay
When I heard their choice, I said, “Oh no.”  I was right. The song seemed too big for them. I didn’t like the choreography. It was all over the place and it distracted more than helped in the song’s performance. I wasn’t a fan of their short skirts with ill-fitting black pants underneath. Unlike last night, that was a bit “Big Love.”

Shawn loved that they ventured out into a “warmer” style and felt the lead singer, Courtney, worked it out. He did add that some parts in the low register were off. Ben complimented them on their charisma, but said that if they moved some of the harmonies, the song would “open up.” He gave props to the bass singer, Amber.  He would like to see them add more “dynamics” to their performances.  Nicole liked their outfits, saying they were “very Pussycat Dolls/Schoolgirl.” Felt they did a good job adjusting to the male song’s lower register, but she felt it was a little too low for them. She liked when they “broke down the beats” in the song, though.

Guilty pleasure song: “Hold On” by Wilson Phillips
Alright, the BYU gals are back on the map with this one. They all sounded really good and their choreography was inventive and fit the song. There was a part where they broke it down with some beat box when I thought, I’m pretty sure no one has ever made Wilson Phillips so hot. The ‘tude was back on this one. Very sexy, girls. Oops. I mean absolutely appropriate for young women and totally not provocative, girls!

Nicole felt they needed more blend in the beginning, but loved when they broke it down and the crowd began to clap their hands. She said it was overall really good. Ben liked that they let loose and felt that was a great improvement, allowing a lot of the lead singers to really get into the song. He said Courtney’s “mouth drums” were fantastic. He’s referring to the beat box, people! He said that it was a good way to make up for having a bunch of “chicks” on stage. He felt they could improve on their dynamics, since at times he misses that they don’t have a band. Shawn felt there were moments where there was too much “treble.”

Group 3: Voices of Lee (Cleveland, Tennessee)
Hit song: “No one” by Alicia Keyes
Their lead singer tore it up. Their scaled down style worked for this song, since it’s really about the main singer.

Nicole thought it was really beautiful. She liked that the group just cushioned Candace, the lead singer. Shawn believed the lead was feeling it. Ben agreed with them and said that he didn’t miss the band. Felt like they showed a high level of skill in their harmonies.

Guilty pleasure: “Freedom” by George Michael
The group’s harmonies are really strong in this performance and the lead vocal is very smooth. It seems like they’ve overcome the understated style and stiffness they had yesterday by expanding their choreography. This was quite a well-rounded performance.

Ben called the performance “slick.” He complimented the group’s bass, but felt the chorus could have used more of it. He was freaked out by the “killin’ sopranos. No relation to HBO’s (I know, bad joke.) Nicole felt “a sense of freedom” and liked the emotion behind the performance.  She also liked their warm gospel choral sound. Shawn thought it was nice to see a different side of the group. He felt the three-part harmonies were really nice, but he thought that they were missing a “mid-range” in the performance.

Group 4: Nota (San Juan, Puerto Rico)
Hit song: “Down” by Jay Sean
Their lead singer kills me. The group has so much natural dance rhythm (which I can’t say for the other groups).  I’m not talking about choreography, it just seems Nota’s dance moves are more like the ones you’d see in a club, then on an a capella stage. Once, again, they threw in some salsa, which seemed to liven up the crowd and brought Nicole to her feet.

Shawn seemed speechless for a second, then said that the guys were “dope” and made it all look effortless. He felt their Puerto Rican pride really shined through. Ben  declared that the show is “getting good now.”  He felt the performance was “really, really, really well done.”  He described the lead singer David’s voice as a “rock star voice.” Nicole liked that, on one level, the song was what we were familiar with, but on another level, the guys added their own beats to it.

Guilty Pleasure song: “Staying Alive” by The Beegees
Nota really brings the falsetto on this one! While there isn’t much choreography to speak of (except for some requisite disco pointing), I don’t miss it.

Shawn claims the ladies like a “well-placed” falsetto and tells Dave, the lead, that he “did his thing.” He goes on to call them solid and “the bomb.” Nicole felt it, saying it was funky. She tells them if they “keep singing like that, they’ll be staying alive in this competition.” Ben says that the group is infectious, because they know they’re good. He adds that the groove is there and that the drum and guitar vocalizations were great.

Group 5: The SoCals (Los Angeles, California)
Hit song: “Already Gone”  by Kelly Clarkson
Tonight was a battle of the lead singers and I think The SoCals drowned out theirs. It seems all the groups so far have really showcased their leads. The SoCals’ lead singer isn’t strong to begin with, plus she had to live up to Kelly Clarkson’s monster voice.
The Socals background vocals, in my opinion, competed with their lead vocalist. Surprisingly, the judges disagreed with me. What do I know? I’m no singer. I liked that the choreography was more scaled down, which did help to focus on the lead singer.

Shawn felt they “stepped their game up” and that Kelly was perfect. He felt like he could have heard more bass. Nicole loved the song choice and felt Kelly’s voice was beautiful. Ben thought the harmonies were pretty and that Kelly nailed it. He agreed with Sean that there could be more bass.

Guilty pleasure: “Nothing’s Going to Stop Us Now” by Starship
The duet vocals are really strong and the choreography is appropriately silly. I really felt the drum vocals were top notch. Oh, there’s a, um, “Glee” kiss at the end.

Ben likes the “musical theatre edge” they bring to their performances. He also appreciated that they started off slow, leaving them lots of options on where to go. He told them they did about as much as they could do with the song. Shawn felt they totally brought the melodrama this song asks for. He adds, “Silly works for you guys.” Nicole loved it. She felt they “had lots of fun with it without making too much fun of it.” She also appreciated the very 80’s choreography.

Group 6: Maxx Factor (Baltimore, Maryland)
Hit song: “Love story” by Taylor Swift
I don’t know what it is about the moms, but I love their style. Maybe, it’s because they are the underdogs. Maybe, it’s the fact they bring so much feeling to their songs. Maybe, it’s because they’re really talented singers. I enjoyed their version of  “Love Story.” When the lead broke away from the “Barbershop Quartet” style to sing the verses, the group proved that ol’ gals can learn new tricks.

Ben felt they were really good and that they’re inventing their own style. He liked the “ensemble” lead and felt they really sold the song. Shawn felt they were pleasant. He complimented them on their unity. Nicole said they were “so tight” and that their “blend is really beautiful.”

Guilty pleasure: “Rehab” by Amy Winehouse
These ladies are geniuses. They’re provocative and self-effacing. They just make me smile. About half way through the song, though, I needed something in the performance to change. It was beginning to grate on my nerves a bit. Overall, I think they’re fun to watch. It feels like when your mom is acting silly and you keep telling her to stop, but, really, you just want her to make you laugh forever.

Shawn said the group did a good job, but he has heard them sing better. He felt Leslie was a bit pitchy.  He suggested they change their name to “Cougar-ville.” Nicole said “they did their thing” on the song. She loved the personality the song brought out. Ben loved the song choice saying, “it’s definitely a guilty pleasure.” He said they lost their harmony in the bridge, though.  He did say that when they’re in ensemble, they kill.

Elimination: It was no surprise that Noteworthy and Maxx Factor were in the bottom two. They both split their songs with one good song and then another with some faults. Who goes? Noteworthy ended up singing a very nice swan song. I almost wish they sang that song in competition. They were great on it. I’m happy, though, that Maxx Factor will move on. They seem to be really adapting their style to this competition and I’m excited to see what they come up with next.

On tonight’s episode: Five groups move on to perform medleys from some of music’s greatest artists, including The Beatles, The Jackson 5, Journey and The Who. Also, the phone lines open, so America can start voting on the winner.

Do you think the judges got it right by sending the BYU gals home? Or, would you have sent one of the other groups packing?

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