Only five superstar vocal bands remained in this week's episode of "The Sing-Off," and the competition is getting tough. Each group is fighting to win the approval of the judges and to get one step closer to the ultimate prize: $200,000 and a coveted Sony Music recording contract. This week, the show paid tribute to one of the most influential genres of all time: R&B. The contestants took on a contemporary hit, then performed some of the greatest classics in the genre.
The judges weighed both performances in the most difficult elimination yet, and Brigham Young buddies Vocal Point didn't make the cut. Despite the uplifting vibe and stellar choreography that defined their first performance, a disjointed and lackluster arrangement of "Ain't Too Proud to Beg" disappointed the judges and sealed their fate.
The R&B theme seemed tailor-made for many of our contestants, who embraced the challenge of re-interpreting the rhythmic genre. Here are our top five songs of the week:
(5) Vocal Point, "Every Little Step"
Yes, Vocal Point went home this week, but the judges were blown away by this first performance (Shawn even gave them a standing ovation). The boys channeled dance master Bobby Brown by pulling off some very intense, complicated choreography and complex vocal techniques. They proved their potential and had Sara's jaw on the floor. We're sad that this is the last we'll see of the wholesome, hardworking bunch.
(4) Afro-Blue, "We Belong Together"
These jazzy music majors from Howard University had the same results as last week -- one of their performances was incredible, the other a disappointment. This passionate arrangement of Mariah Carey's chart-topper saved them from being sent home and displayed their versatility and sophistication. Kristie, who took the lead, did an impressive job with Mariah's notoriously wide range and difficult lyrics. Once again, Afro-Blue's emotional connection to the song kept them in the competition.
(3) Urban Method, "It's Your Thing"
Hip-hop harmonizers Urban Method are on a mission to bring an urban flavor to what they call "rapapella" -- and the R&B theme suited them perfectly. Although their female members have been criticized in the past for being weak, landing the group in the bottom two, the girls were spotlighted in this song and left us wanting more. As Ben pointed out, Urban Method had to do some smart arranging to keep this simple, two-chord tune interesting.
(2) The Dartmouth Aires, "Ignition (Remix)"
We expect great things from these charming college crooners every week, and despite being daunted by the seductive nature of the R. Kelly song, they came up with a brilliant arrangement by heaping on their signature playful touches. We loved seeing them debut a new soloist, the adorable Xavier, who had Sara blushing from the judge's table. This irreverent, goofy take on the radio hit was the Aires at their finest -- even if the hip-thrusting did have Shawn squirming uncomfortably in his seat.
(1) Pentatonix, "Let's Get It On"
We'd never seen a song strike the judges utterly speechless -- until this unexpectedly refined arrangement of Marvin Gaye's sexy hit by "The Sing-Off's" smallest remaining group. These techno wizards, known for their bag of vocal tricks, dialed it back and smoothly did the song justice. Watching the judges' awestruck reactions was as much fun as watching the performance. Once he was able to speak, Ben expressed it best by saying, "This song pretty much sums up what R&B is about." Pentatonix just might win this thing.
Audiences will be able to cast their votes next week to decide which of our remaining four groups will be crowned champion. The contestants will perform multiple chart-toppers blended into one seamless medley, then a song chosen especially for them by the judges. Will Afro-Blue pull out of their rut? Will Pentatonix stay on top? With so much talent on the table, this is anybody's game.
"The Sing-Off" airs Mondays at 8pm ET on NBC.
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