The Sing-Off, Season 3

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Pentatonix is going to win. It’s easy to see that right now. Barring a pair of horribly out-of-sync and out of tune performances in the same night, they’re your winners. Let’s break this down:

Afro-Blue: Confused group. Great at doing jazzy reimaginings, but often overthink it or get too complicated. They’re up and then they’re down over and over again. Some of this is the judges’ fault. In true Idol fashion, one week they tell the group to cut back on the jazz stuff, then the next they complain they’ve lost their jazz identity. Afro-Blue is confused.

Vocal Point: Some minor pitch issues, too distracted by school, not quite strong enough. What is their sound? They don’t have the lead man everyone will identify with. Nice guys, but not different enough from the pack to stand out as something that will win.

Urban Method: There’s still a problem with the women in the group. Even when the judges praise them — see the country song this week — they still sound a little insecure to me. And that weakness has plagued them throughout. They can’t rely on the rapper to carry them, but he’s their strongest part. He’s energetic, comfident, comfortable on stage, and one of those rare things — a rapper who can smile. I hate rap, but I enjoy watching him work.

Dartmouth Aires: Traditional college group. Will probably make it to Top 2 or 3. But they’re just too big, and their sound often gets lost in a chorus of voices. They have a couple of amazing leads to give them a character to hook onto and an identity (which is what doomed other groups like the Yellow Jackets), but the rest of the group is just sorta there. If you dropped four people, you probably wouldn’t hear the difference.

And, realistically, in setting up a tour in support of an album,bnobody wants to fund 15 band members for a road trip. Brian Setzer can only do it with his orchestra by going to Japan.

Pentatonix: The future of a capella. Small group makes them financially feasible to produce. They have a cohesive sound. They’re not a band slapped together for this show that hasn’t gelled. These guys are for real. Every person is strong and can handle the spotlight. They have the most charismatic, energetic, and creative vocal percussionist on the show. Their creativity is wild, and even when they pull it back – see country week, again – they make it a better song.

Pentatonix will win. They’re the group this show was created for, and the group Sony would be most happy to have.

At this point, if I had to guess, I’d say the eliminations will go in this order: Afro-Blue, Vocal Point, Urban Method, Dartmouth Aires. There’s lot of wiggle room in there, though. The judges are just looking for a reason to bounce groups at this point. They’re all great groups, but if they give the judges a reason to kick them off the show at the end of an episode, the judges will jump all over it. So, one bad performance each week will doom a group.

And it’ll be a lot of fun to watch, because it’s some of the most creative singing television has ever seen, week after week.

When it’s all done, I plan on buying the first season of the show (which I’ve never seen) just to see more of Delilah’s Amy Lynn Whitcomb. She had a very poor choice of hairdo back then, but it’ll still be worth it. Please note that the safest Delilah ever was on this show were the weeks Whitcomb held the lead vocal. The second they let her sink into the background, the group had immediate issues.