For the four groups that rose to the top of "The Sing-Off's" competitive a cappella battle, tonight was the final push. Only three groups from the original 16 secured a spot in the finale, and each one is now vulnerable for elimination through America's vote (voting closes Sunday, 11/27 at 9am ET). The performers faced their trickiest task yet this week: mastermix medleys. Their challenge was to combine two hits from completely different artists into one seamless, show-stopping mash-up song. Then each vocal band returned to the stage to perform a "judges' choice" tune -- one that the judges felt would showcase their unique talents.
Each group delivered incredible performances this week, and the tension was high when charismatic college kids the Dartmouth Aires and sophisticated Afro-Blue faced off in the bottom two. Both performed a segment of their most memorable performance in a last-ditch effort to sway the judges, but to the dismay of their fans, Afro-Blue was sent home. This elimination was the season's hardest to watch, because the stellar arrangements this week showcased the staggering talents of all the contestants. Here are our top five picks of the week:
(5) Pentatonix, "Since You've Been Gone" and "Forget You" Mastermix
Last week, pint-sized techno masters Pentatonix brought the house to its knees with their unforgettable rendition of Marvin Gaye's "Let's Get It On." They wowed us again with this sassy mash-up that told a story through the lyrical arrangement and choreography. Avi and Kevin, their rhythm section, shone in this song, and Shawn called them the "meat and potatoes" of the group. The judges weren't speechless, but still appreciative.
(4) Afro-Blue, "A Change Is Gonna Come"
The judges couldn't have hand-picked a more fitting last song for these sophisticated scholars of highbrow sounds. Afro-Blue was in its element with this classic tune, which resulted in its best performance yet. Soloist Kristie even brought tears to Sara's eyes. A performance like this makes us sad to have seen the last of Afro-Blue, but the group fails to be consistent when challenged with unfamiliar genres.
(3) The Dartmouth Aires, "Shout"
The judges selected this Isley Brothers tune to showcase the Dartmouth Aires' playful enthusiasm, and the band somehow managed to up the energy even further with its crazily animated arrangement of "Shout." This song made soloist Michael the star of the night: He sunk into the splits, interacted with the judges, and did acrobatics without missing a note. The shock on Michael's face was visible when judge Ben Folds told him that he hasn't heard a singer as convincing as him since his childhood -- a truly amazing accolade from a performer as accomplished as Ben. Michael's star power saved the Dartmouth Aires at the end of the night when pitch problems landed the group in the bottom two.
(2) Pentatonix, "Dog Days Are Over"
The judges worried that Pentatonix, famous for its risky, futuristic arrangements, would run out of vocal surprises by the end of the competition. They were proven wrong by this haunting, dramatic version of "Dog Days Are Over," which was a simpler arrangement than Pentatonix usually puts together, but just as satisfying. The highlight was Mitch's striking solo nestled in the middle of song, a beautiful, poignant moment that stunned the judges. These master remixers let the song's tension build slowly and artfully, winning themselves a spot in the finale.
(1) Urban Method, "Fever" and "Hot in Herre" Mastermix
Hip-hop daredevils Urban Method have had a few rocky patches so far in the competition, but this sultry, gritty mash-up was the best they've ever been. Despite being from completely different genres, the two songs sounded like they had been written together on purpose. Mike's rap fit perfectly, and Liz stepped forward as the soloist on "Fever," proving that her raspy alto has front-woman potential. We also loved the Broadway-worthy choreography. This was a playful, sexy side to the Denver-based group that we've never seen, and we're finally convinced that it deserves a place in the finale.
Texas techno wizards Pentatonix, Ivy League crooners the Dartmouth Aires, and street-savvy Urban Method will face off Monday in a spectacular live finale that will reveal the results of America's vote. Only one vocal band can be crowned "The Sing-Off" champion, and tensions will be high as each deserving band gives what could be its final performance.
Get a sneak peek at next week's season finale right here:
"The Sing-Off" airs Mondays at 8pm ET on NBC.
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