(Hulu) — Twelve groups survived the first round of NBC's fierce a capella competition "The Sing-Off," and six are back to compete for the Sony Music recording contract and $200,000 prize. The stakes are high this week with two rounds of challenges: Each group must first perform one of today's most popular radio hits and then return to interpret a chart-topping tune from the 1960s.
There were high and low notes as the contestants struggled to keep their names on the marquee, but the judges ultimately sent home Hollywood's Kinfolk 9, despite their stirring and well-received performance of The Beatles' "Let It Be."
Kinfolk 9's stiff competition this week included BYU college buddies Vocal Point, girl-powered Delilah, rap-infused Urban Method, soulful Afro-Blue, and Rochester's high-achieving YellowJackets. Here are our top five songs of the week:
(5) Delilah, "Whataya Want from Me"
This all-girl powerhouse from Los Angeles stunned everyone with their Week 1 rendition of "Grenade" by Bruno Mars, and although this performance wasn't in the same league, it had elements of the glam ferocity that we loved the first time. The song was almost like a how-to guide for building harmonies, with the girls taking their time and allowing the melody to blossom, without the help of choreography. The judges didn't love their arrangement of the '60s hit "Heat Wave" later in the evening, so this performance saved Delilah from getting sent home this week.
(4) Afro-Blue, "Heard It Through the Grapevine"
Afro-Blue was under a lot of pressure to top their stellar rendition of "Put Your Records On" by Corinne Bailey Rae, which was one of the highlights of Week 1. They didn't disappoint with this complex, unique arrangement of the Motown classic, which let the men of the group step into the spotlight for the first time.
(3) YellowJackets, "Can't Take My Eyes Off of You"
These pals from Rochester University turned up the cheesy charm and made their performance a personal serenade to judge Sara Bareilles, who blushed at the unabashed advances of their baby-faced frontman, Aaron. Aaron's puppy love worked to their advantage, adding a lovable layer to their superb musical execution. The judges -- especially Sara! -- loved them.
(2) Afro-Blue, "American Boy"
Jazzy, sassy Afro-Blue hit another one out of the park, trumping even their inspired '60s performance with this intricate and unexpected arrangement. We never thought we'd hear scatting in a song like this, but they made it work. These Howard University scholars completely re-imagined the song, leaving Shawn Stockman almost speechless and charming the socks off of Ben Folds. They have a lot of fun performing together, and it's easy to get swept along.
(1) Vocal Point, "The Way You Look Tonight"
It's hard to believe that these college crooners didn't step straight out of the '60s. Their slick performance of the classic Frank Sinatra tune was incredibly polished, and Sara said it best when she called it "theatrical without being a caricature." Their charismatic frontman, Jake, effortlessly executed the lead with a level of skill and swank that seemed far beyond his years, making the judges swoon. We'll be looking for great things from this wholesome, earnest bunch.
"The Sing-Off" airs Mondays at 8pm ET on NBC.
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