"The Sing-Off" hit a high note this week with a double challenge for our six remaining groups, who faced their most difficult elimination yet in the last episode. The contestants performed a legendary rock n' roll hit, and then switched gears to take on a country-music chart-topper in the second half of the night. The challenge made for some high-energy performances, but many of the groups struggled to work in the unfamiliar genres.
Superstar darlings Delilah, an all-female group composed of "Sing-Off" alumni from past seasons, didn't make the cut this week after pitch problems haunted their stripped-down, simple performance of "If I Die Young." Too many weeks in the bottom two convinced the judges to send them packing. In a twist, their spunky "swan song" ended up being one of their best moments:
Despite the difficulties of trying on new genres, there were highlights from the rest of our contestants, who took on the challenge with gusto. Here are this week's top five songs:
(5) Vocal Point, "You Really Got Me Now"
These buddies from Brigham Young faltered on hip-hop week, but proved that they can handle a genre shift with their powerful performance of The Kinks' classic. Front-man Ross really carried the tune, adding in the rock n' roll element with a sexy, growly lead. We haven't seen much of him in the competition, but we're hoping Vocal Point brings out this secret-weapon soloist more often in the weeks to come. Although Ben Folds wished that they had turned down the hair-metal element and made it less "Vegas," the judges agreed that Vocal Point had once again hit a home run.
(4) Urban Method, "Before He Cheats"
This smash radio hit was a gift to street-savvy Urban Method, who managed to capture all the spunk and sass of the country tune. As the judges have pointed out, the female members of the group are Urban Method's weakest link, so it was a risk to put them out front as the soloists for this performance. Channeling fellow reality star Carrie Underwood's attitude helped the girls shed their self-consciousness and make this a performance worth watching.
(3) Dartmouth Aires, "We're Not Going To Take It"
We saw a fierce, rebellious side to the lovable Aires this week. They attacked the Twisted Sister hit with Broadway-worthy precision, adding in just enough rowdiness to make it really rock n' roll. Shawn once again singled out Michael, their incredibly versatile front-man. Even if the Aires don't make it to the end, we expect great things from him. Ben pointed out a few pitch problems around the bridge, but conceded that The Dartmouth Aires were, as usual, pure fun.
(2) Pentatonix, "Stuck Like Glue"
Texas' Pentatonix, known for their futuristic vocal remixes, are the only group left on country-music night who are actually from the South, although you'd never be able to tell after watching this reggae-infused interpretation of the Sugarland song. We've never been blown away by Pentatonix's sole female member, Kristie, until this performance. Her lead stood out with the frankness and feistiness that the song demanded, preserving Pentatonix's position as one of the leading groups, despite their small size.
(1) Afro Blue, "I Need You Now"
Afro Blue had a lot to prove moving into the country portion of the night — they had once again disappointed the judges earlier by performing an arrangement of Tom Petty's "American Girl" that was too complex and ambitious. They were saved from going home by this slow, beautiful, tear-jerking arrangement of Lady Antebellum's "I Need You Now." Sticking to the emotional roots of the song and heaping on the sentiment succeeded in swaying the judges to give them a second chance. As Sarah observed, this jazz group is always out of their element on this show, but still manages to wow us week after week.
The competition gets even stiffer next week, when the five remaining groups will battle for the judges' points and the ultimate prize: $200,000 and a career-making Sony Music recording contract.
"The Sing-Off" airs Mondays at 8pm ET on NBC.
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