Whoa... I saw Black Swan today.

A couple weeks ago, as I was leaving a movie theater, I overheard two women talking.  They had just seen Black Swan and one of them said, "That movie was fucked up!"  Well, I saw it today, and I can say that she was 100% correct.  Richard Roeper called it the "most whacked out art house movie you'll ever see," and I'd have to agree with him too.  


The movie is about Natalie Portman's character, Nina, a ballet dancer obsessed with perfection and with dancing the lead in her company's new production of Swan Lake.  She gives an outstanding performance, as does Mila Kunis, who plays a new dancer in the company, whom Nina feels is after her role.  Nina becomes quite paranoid and lost in her own mind.  I was on the edge of my seat most of the show, but became really confused about what was real and what wasn't.  I ultimately left the theater thinking, "What the?"  Just FYI, there are some pretty disturbing and bloody scenes in the movie--it's probably not for the faint of heart.   A lot of the movie feels like a horror film.  I wouldn't recommend this to folks who prefer the typical studio movie with a predictable plot and happy ending.


Enough about that.  I would like to change the subject and bring your attention to another blog you should be following.  It's called Catalog Living, and it's "A look into the exciting lives of the people who live in your catalogs."  The blog's creator has created the lives of Gary and Elaine based on photos from various catalogs.  It's hard to explain, so you'll just have to take a look at a couple of examples:

From the Hands of Babes
Going the Distance
Pining for Something

One last thing...if you find yourself in New York City any time soon, I highly recommend seeing La Cage aux Folles, currently starring Kelsey Grammer. HILARIOUS. And there's great music. I left there thinking that I need to buy the soundtrack, which is pretty much the highest praise I can give a show. We also saw Billy Elliott while in NY for the holidays, and while this show is visually a joy to watch, I didn't leave there with any tunes in my head, or the need to buy the music. I did leave thinking that I needed to see the movie again though, so that's on the agenda for the weekend.


The Sing Off finale -- already?!

Tonight's the finale show...and although I like that the show doesn't drag on like other contest shows, I'm kinda sad to see this one go.

The show opens with the final four singing a great rendition of Put a Little Love in Your Heart by Annie Lennox & Al Green.  Toward the end of the song, the judges joined in.  The crowd was on their feet.

After the commercial break and introductions, Committed performs Motownphilly with Boyz II Men.  Only three of the Boyz are there.  I remember there were only three last year too, but I don't think I ever found out what happened to the fourth.  Aw man...they told America to sing along, but I can't--I've lost my voice.  Otherwise I'd be right there.  The guys all sounded great.

The Whiffenpoofs sing us into the commercial break, but I don't know the song.

Next, the Backbeats perform King of Anything with Sarah Bareilles, who also used to sing a capella at UCLA, just like some members of the group.   

Nicole performs Ain't No Mountain High Enough with Jerry Lawson and Talk of the Town.  Nice.  They did a mix of Marvin Gaye/Tammy Terrell's version and The Supremes' version.  Great job.

The high-schoolers, Eleventh Hour sing Justin's Bieber's Baby on the way to the commercial break. 

When the show returns, we see that Ben Folds will be performing with Street Corner Symphony.  They're singing...I don't know what.  I do know that Ben sounds slightly out of tune.  Oh, I looked it up--it's Ben Folds' song Gone.  I usually love this group, but I didn't love this performance.  Don't know if it's Ben Folds or the song itself that I don't care for. 

Jazzy group Groove for Thought sings Mike Posner's Cooler than Me into the break.

Next, the Backbeats and Jerry Lawson and Talk of the Town accompany Sheryl Crow on her song Long Road Home.  Uh-oh...is that an instrument I see?  Sheryl's playing her guitar.  They all sound good though.  Jerry got to do a little duet with Sheryl at the end--it sounded great.

I guess Neil Diamond is coming out next.  Nick Lachey says everyone has at least one Neil Diamond song they love to sing.  Um....I don't really have one, as I'm not a big fan--but that's besides the point.  The groups and judges go through their favorites:  The Backbeats sing Cherry, Cherry.  Ben Folds sings Cracklin' Rose.  Jerry Lawson et al sing Song Sung Blue. Shawn Stockman -- I have no idea what song it was.  I can't even look it up.  Oh wait...I listened again.  It's Holly Holy.  Committed sings I'm a Believer.  Nicole sings I Am...I Said.  Nick Lachey sings America, and Street Corner Symphony sing Sweet Caroline.  (Well, someone had to sing it.)  Neil Diamond takes the stage and performs one of his favorite songs, "Ain't No Sunshine" from his new album, Dreams.  Street Corner Symphony and Committed are backing him up, nicely I might add.  Especially when they got to "I know, I know, I know".....sounded fantastic! 

Next we have a "Special Holiday Treat."  Nick Lachey and the Final Four are performing What Christmas Means to Me by Stevie Wonder.  Fun performance.  I think Stevie would be proud.

Nick tells us that the holidays are a time to give back to the community, and we're shown a little clip of the groups working in the community, and that each group will perform songs of hope.  The Backbeats go to Hope Gardens to spread holiday cheer.  Hope Gardens is transitional housing for single moms.  The group helps the kids decorate a tree.  They also perform.  Very sweet.

Next, the Backbeats perform Katy Perry's Firework. They do a nice job--all that's missing is fireworks shooting out of their chests.  The judges reflect on the season, and Ben says they have so much texture and nuance in what they do.  He likes that they bring the emotional content to the song each time.  Ben and Shawn both commented that we had to wait this long to hear Kenton (the guy who put the group together) sing.  Are they forgetting Love Shack???   Anyway, Shawn likes that they have so much depth and such a diverse group of people.  He gives Kenton hats off for putting the group together.  Nicole blathers on about ice cream sundaes.  They're like all her favorite flavors of ice cream, and Kenton is the bananas, Joanna are the rainbow sprinkles and Courtney is the cherry on top.  Okaaaaaay.

Men of Note take us to the break with Billy Joel's The Longest Time.

After the break, we're taken along with Committed as they visited  Suva Intermediate School to surprise the After School all-stars.  After School is a national program that serves kids from low income families in inner city areas.  The group played rugby with the kids, learned some dance moves and performed for and with the kids.

They then perform Hold My Hand by Michael Jackson and Akon.  I really hope these guys win.  They are so great.  Ben says he learned some new vocabulary to describe this group:  buttah, dope, stupid dope, sick and bad ass.  When we get to Nicole, she's in tears--she said she was really moved by the song.  She likes their message of love and light.   That puts tears in some of the guys' eyes too.  Shawn says they're the embodiment of why The Sing Off is the best TV vocal show right now and that they're awesome.

Next Jerry Lawson and Talk of the Town visit Ability First, who work with adults with physical and developmental disabilities such as autism, cerebral palsy, and down syndrome.  The group painted ceramic ornaments and performed and danced for, and with, the members.

For their song of hope, they sing The O'Jay's Love Train.  Great performance.  I love these guys too.  Nicole, holding back tears, said they are "our teachers, and show us that there are no limits to who we can be in our lives.  I feel like what you're doing up there is beyond music.  You inspire us all and I just wanna say it was a true honor to share the stage with a legend."  Shawn said that everything built in this world has a foundation, and these guys are the foundation.  He said they're here because they're good at what they do--it has nothing to do with age--and that they make the show what it is.  Ben says that whenever they sing, he forgets it's a competition because they always put the song first.  He said, 'I think you young men are going to have a fine future."

Next, Pitch Slapped perform I Got the Music in Me, by the Kiki Dee Band, into the break.

And finally, the guys from Street Corner Symphony visit a middle school in East L.A. to hand out some guitars donated by Fender to a group called Little Kids Rock which provides music education for students across the United States.  The guys and the kids have a jam session, and the guys give some singing lessons.

They perform Cold Play's Fix You.  This song will forever remind me of Robert & Allison's beautiful  performance on SYTYCD that was choreographed by Travis Wall for his mom. [Sorry I couldn't embed the video here--embedding is disabled.]  Anyway, SCS does a great job with the song.  They're joined by the other groups too.  Beautiful.

Shawn says you can not have a heart and not have been moved by that performance.  He said their harmonies are pure and the Jeremy is the ultimate perfect front man.  Nicole says they're authentic, real musicians.  Ben says they're bridging the rock world and the a capella world.  He added that what made the show for him is that every one of the ten bands on the show is talented in their own right.

Results are coming.  First they'll announce the top two groups, and the other two will sing their swan songs.  My prediction:  top two will be Committed and Street Corner Symphony.

Ok, America has voted, the first group to leave the competition is:  Jerry Lawson & Talk of the Town.   Nick asks for final thoughts and Jerry said it's been a wonderful experience to sing with Talk of the Town and he gave props to all the groups on the show.  He said they're family and there are no winners or losers, because they're all winners.  For their swan song, they sing Hit the Road Jack by Ray Charles.  Class act.

The next group to go is:  The Backbeats.  Committed and SCS are American's top two groups.  Courtney said the group is grateful to be where they are.  Their swan song is, Goodbye to You by Michelle Branch.

I'm so proud of America.  This is just how it should be.  I'm really pulling for Committed, but will be happy either way.   We take a look at each group's climb to the top.

My faves from each:

Street Corner Symphony singing Creep:

Committed singing Apologize:

On the Rocks sings Final Countdown before the results are announced. 

After the break, it's the "moment of truth."  The group that has won the cash prize, a Sony music contract, and the Sing Off title is: 

[insert dramatic music and LONG-ASS pause here.]


WOO-HOO!!!  I'm SO happy for them! 

It's time for Street Corner Symphony's swan song, which is Drift Away by Dobie Gray--perfect song for them.   Bye guys.

And finally, Committed performs a soulful version of We Are the Champions, and they're joined by the rest of the groups. 

Aww....season's over.  *sniffle*  Great show!


The Sing Off - Top 5 perform

The group starts off with a gorgeous version of Joe Cocker's A Little Help From My Friends.  The best word I can use to describe it is "rousing."  It was fantastic!  And Jerry Lawson hit a high note in the middle that made me say, "Whoo!"  I watched it three times before I moved on.

Nick Lachey introduces the groups, then the judges and then tells us that the groups will first be doing "superstar medleys" and then they'll do "judges' request."  After tonight only three groups will remain, and then it's time for America to vote.

Time for superstar medleys. 

On the Rocks will be performing a medley of Elton John tunes.  They start with The Bitch is Back, then move into Benny & the Jets and finally into Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me.  They sounded good, but I didn't love their performance.  Nicole loved it.  Ben said they had problems with the groove--they needed to slow it down.  I think he's right.  Shawn liked that we got to see some other guys singing lead.

After the commercial break we're treated to Committed's version of Joy to the World.

Back to the competition.  Committed will be performing an Usher medley of DJ's Got Us Falling in Love Again, You Got It Bad, and Love In This Club.  All three songs were great, but when they did You got It Bad, it sounded like a recorded studio version with a band.  It could play on the radio.  These are the church boys and Ben said they've taken a journey from "birth control music to that."  He also said, "I didn't miss any instruments, you held down the groove, you were making records on stage."  That's pretty much what I meant.  Shawn loved their transitions, and that they kept the "bounce" that Usher has in his songs. 

Street Corner Symphony takes on The Beatles.  They start with Eleanor Rigby, move into Help, and then sing my favorite Beatles tune, Hey Jude.  Great harmonies!!  The guys look great in spiffy black suits.  Great job.  Shawn thought it started tough, but they picked it up and got better with each song.  Ben agreed. 

Time for another holiday song...this time it's The Backbeats doing I'm Dreaming of a White Christmas. 

For the competition, they're singing Lady Gaga.  We have Poker Face, Paparazzi, and Just Dance. Something about Poker Face was a little off.  Paparazzi (sung by my favorite, Joanna) was great.  Just Dance was pretty good too.   Ben complimented Courtney (the beat box) for the Paparazzi groove.  The judges all liked the performance.

Jerry Lawson and Talk of the Town sing Otis Redding.  They start with Sitting on the Dock of the Bay.  Next Try a Little Tenderness (my favorite Otis song) and then Respect, where they brought the gospel.  Great job guys! 

Uh-oh.  The first of two eliminations is coming up.  Based on tonight's performances, I'd let On the Rocks go.  And that's just what the judges do.  In saying goodbye, one of the guys said, "We've all really grown from boys to men and we've shown the nation that we're not just a bunch of pussycats anymore.  I'm just really proud that we haven't been folding under pressure, and I just wish the judges would give us one more night...una noche."  That was great. [In case you're just joining us, the judges on the show are Shawn Stockman from Boys II Men, Nicole S. from the Pussycat Dolls, and Ben Folds.]  For their swan song, they sing The Final Countdown by Europe.

The second part of the show will feature songs that the judges selected for each group to showcase each group's talent & personality.

For Committed, the judges selected Al Green's Let's Stay Together.  In interviews the judges talked about Committed's natural talent, great harmonies, and soulful sound.  Shawn also pointed out that Al Green transitioned from gospel to soul, just as this group is doing.  What a great song choice.  Five of the six guys took turns singing lead (all except the guy maintaining the bass line)-- it was soooo nice...so smooth.  I loved it.  Shawn said it was perfect. 

Street Corner Symphony's holiday tune is Auld Lang Syne.  Nice.

For the competition, the judges talk about their laid back sound like they're sitting on a porch and select Credence Clearwater Revival's Down on the Corner.  Awesome performance.  This one had me up and dancing.  I loved how in the bridge of the song, they threw in their group name.  ♬♫"Down on the corner....♪out in the street...♬ down on the corner ♬....Street Corner Symphony.♫♬"  Ben loved it and was proud of the judges for choosing the right song.  Shawn said it was "playful, soulful, fun, tight, funky...it was funky.  You white boys got funky out there!"  He said it could be called "arena a capella" and Ben chimed in, "arenapella." 

The Backbeats are up next.  The judges talk about Joanna bringing the house down in the their first performance.  Nicole says the judges chose Landslide by Fleetwood Mac because "The Backbeats really shine when they're singing intimate and emotional songs."  Joanna's in the lead and does a great job.  It was beautiful.  Courtney was crying by the end.  The judges loved it and are going to have a tough decision to make later. 

And last, but not least, it's time for Jerry Lawson and Talk of the Town.  First, their Christmas song is Silent Night, Holy Night.  Lovely.

The judges' choice for this group is House of the Rising Sun by the Animals, because they like their classic sound. Fantastic!  The bass made the song.  Oh my god...so good...so haunting.  How are the judges going to choose?   Shawn said he thinks the Animals meant for the song to sound like that.  He said it was soul-stirring.  Ben agreed.

For this decision, I have to take the whole season into account.  You can't send any of these groups home based on these performances.  So, thinking about all the performances, I'd have to let The Backbeats go.  On this last song they were amazing, but last week they had some slips.  Plus, I just like the other three groups SO much! 

Nick Lachey announces that these groups are going into the finale:  Committed.  Street Corner Symphony.  The Backbeats.  I was like, OH NO...they let Jerry Lawson go?  And then Nick says "And Jerry Lawson and Talk of the Town!"  All four are going through...the judges felt they all deserved to be in the finale and they're going to let America decide.  Good decision!

Voting closes on Sunday, December 19 at 9:00am eastern.  So, if you want to vote, here's the info (limit 10 votes per method; message and data rates may apply for texting.

Committed:  1-877-6-SING-01 (1-877-674-6401) or text 1 to 97979

Street Corner Symphony: 1-877-SING-02 (1-877-674-6402) or text 2 to 97979

The Backbeats:  1-877-SING-03 (1-877-674-6403) or text 3 to 97979

Jerry Lawson and Talk of the Town: 1-877-SING-04 (1-877-674-6404) or text 4 to 97979

The finale's on Monday, December 20.  Should be great!


The Sing Off - Top 6 perform

The groups open tonight with Green Day's "21 Guns."   Nice job.

Two themes for tonight.  First, the groups will sing rock hits, next, they'll take on guilty pleasures.

First up are the Back Beats singing Bon Jovi's You Give Love a Bad Name.   I decree that Joanna Jones should sing all leads for this group.  The young lady singing lead tonight isn't nearly as strong as Joanna and could be a weak link for the group.  (In my opinion, of course.)  The background harmonies are great though.  The judges liked it, but for the first time for this group had quite a bit of constructive criticism.  They thought it was a little fast, and the song was better in the 2nd half than at the beginning.

Street Corner Symphony performs Creep by Radiohead.  It's amazing how six guys can sound like a full band with just their voices.  Wow, they really built up a crescendo to lead singer Jeremy Lister hitting an amazing note during the chorus.  I watched this performance three times.  The first time I thought they Jeremy was singing too low, but then I realized that's part of what makes it so great--and then that crescendo!  I also think Jeremy had tears in his eyes when it was over.  The song ends with "I don't belong here."  Maybe he's feeling that for some reason.  They absolutely belong there!  The judges loved that there was no choreography because that would've made it cheesy.  Nicole thought the background accompaniment was even better than the original recording.

Next is Jerry Lawson and Talk of the Town.  Should be interesting to see how they handle a rock song since their sound is so R&B.  They're doing The Rolling Stones' Satisfaction.  Perfect.  Uh-oh...Jerry's out there shaking his hips!  Very nice--they do a bluesy-gospelly version, which is really the sound rock-and-roll derived from in the first place.  I loved it!   Judges loved it.  Ben Folds shared a little TMI...he used to listen to an Otis Redding album when he was a kid and he'd put the speaker on the floor so it would shake his butt.

On the Rocks comes out to perform Def Leppard's Pour Some Sugar on Me.  Great percussion on this song!  I loved the background sounds.  Guys!  This is a family show.  No writhing around on the floor like Madonna singing Like a Virgin!  Haha!  They were really good and it's obvious they were having fun.  Nicole wanted the lead singer to "own it a little bit more."  I'm not sure what she meant by that.  Shawn said he needed a little more edge, which I guess is what Nicole was talking about.

Groove for Thought is up next.  They've got the jazz sound down pat, so how will they do with  a rock song?  Tonight they are performing David Bowie's Changes.  I have mixed feelings about their performance.  On the one hand, they sound good--great harmonies and the lead singer Amanda has a great voice.  On the other hand, it was just kind of dull compared to the performances we've already seen.  Shawn gave them props for their great voices, but said he was hoping they stepped away from their jazz sound just a little bit and make changes to their style.  I agree with him completely.  And so does Nicole.  She said she's looking for more diversity in their sound.  Ben said it wasn't "rocking out" exactly, but he was moved by their performance.

And now the gospel group comes out for their turn.  Committed sings Every Breath You Take by The Police.  I love these guys, but I didn't love this performance.  Ben said that on the one hand, it was a beautiful performance, but on the other hand, "the judges wanna rock!"  Shawn points out that it was a problem with the arrangement.  Instead of being so upbeat, Shawn wishes they'd captured the haunting loneliness of the song.  Nicole agreed too.

Before we move on, I wanted to share Committed's performance from last week--this was fantastic:

Okay, back to the show.   Now it's time for the guilty pleasures.

The Back Beats take on Love Shack by the B-52s.  They were great this go around.  I loved their retro outfits and and dance moves, and, they sounded great.   I think it'd be hard to go wrong with that song.  Ben said, "that's more like it."  Shawn said, "That's what I'm talkin' about..hot and fun.  Hot and fun."

Time for Street Corner Symphony's second performance.  They sing Come on Eileen by Dexy's Midnight Runners.  That was a fun performance.  This isn't my favorite song in the world, but the guys did a good job with it.  Judges loved it.

Jerry Lawson and the Talk of the Town sing The Commodores' Easy.   They guys say they'll be singing to the ladies.   Mmm.....I dunno.  They didn't melt this lady, but they sounded nice.  Judges loved it.

Next up, Groove for Thought do Hall & Oates' You Make My Dreams Come True.  They were good...did a little hip hop beat in the middle that I liked.  Judges loved their performance.  [Sorry...I wasn't paying much attention here, and didn't feel like rewinding.]

On the Rocks performs Kyrie by Mister Mister.  They're hoping this performance will be the bridge between entertainment and artistry that Ben Folds was looking for.  I think they accomplished it.  That was a great performance.  I'm not sure about their choreography, bu they sounded great.  Great harmonies.  Judges loved it, even though Ben and Shawn hate that song.

Committed does a boy band song so Nick Lachey is really happy.  They choose Backstreet Boys' I Want It That Way.  During rehearsals they're trying to pump up the sexy--something they don't typically do while singing in church.   They threw in some hips that were pretty sexy in my opinion!  I have a crush on one of these guys.  (The lead singing Apologize in the video above.)  Ah, Nick Lachey's upset they didn't do a 98 degrees song.  Can anyone name a 98 Degrees song off the top of their heads?  I can't think of one right now.  Judges liked it.  They redeemed themselves from the first song.

Now it's time for someone to go home.  If it were up to me, I'd let go of Groove for Thought.   Judges agree with me AGAIN. 

The group's swan song to say goodbye is Frank Sinatra's That's Life.  Great song choice.

Looking forward to Wednesday's show.


Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk by David Sedaris

Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk: A Modest BestiarySquirrel Seeks Chipmunk: A Modest Bestiary by David Sedaris

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is David Sedaris' collection of essays about animals with human characteristics--i.e., they talk, go to beauty salons, philosophize, are selfish, or are braggarts, etc. I have to admit there were a couple of essays that I didn't quite "get," but for the most part, I found myself laughing out loud at least once in each story. Not just a laugh-out-loud, actually--more like a snort because each time, the laugh was completely unexpected. You're just reading along and all of a sudden you see a baboon complain to a cat that she's grooming about how she hates dogs because they lick themselves and the cat defensively responding, "It's good to have a clean anus." Ha! (Okay, maybe you had to be there.) Anyway, David Sedaris is very clever, and I admire how he pulled these stories together.

View all my reviews


The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga

The White TigerThe White Tiger by Aravind Adiga

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I liked this book...didn't love it, but liked it. It took me more than a month to read it, so I certainly wouldn't call it a page turner. While I felt it was well-written and interesting, I just never felt compelled to pick it up. As the jacket says, this is the story of Balram Halwai, a "Servant. Philosopher. Entrepreneur. Murderer." It's told in first person from Balram's point of view and describes how he moved through these various stages of his life. The descriptions of India and the caste system left me feeling kind of depressed, and I could understand why Balram did what he did, but I never really sympathized with him.

View all my reviews


I wanna do this

The good folks at Photojojo.com brought my attention to this website called Young Me/Now Me. People recreate photos from their childhood, and I'm completely fascinated. This is my favorite so far.

I immediately sent a note to my sister that we have to do this. I have just the picture in mind...I'm about four, and she's one-ish, and I'm giving her a hug, but her face looks like I might be squeezing her too tight. It makes me laugh and I think it'll be fun to recreate. I hope she's game.

Update: Found another good one that I had to share.


The Sing Off - night two

Is it Wednesday already. Thank goodness for Tivo--I forgot The Sing Off was on again tonight.

The remaining eight groups opened the show with a great performance of Kings of Leon's Use Somebody. This group sing is SOOOOOO much better than the group sings they do on American Idol. Everyone actually sounds good together. I just love this show.

Nick Lachey tells us that the groups will be performing "monster hits" this evening.

First up is On the Rocks performing T.I. and Rihanna's Live Your Life. Their challenge, according to the group, is that they're an a capella group doing a rap song. They did a really good job.

Street Corner Symphony performs Hey Soul Sister by Train. They said their challenge would be all the high notes in the song. They give a little hip hop feel in the middle song--love it. I really like this group a lot.

Next is the high school group, Eleventh Hour performs Bruno Mars' Just the Way You Are. They had a nice performance...the harmony was off slightly toward the end, but it wasn't too bad.

Jerry Lawson & Talk of the Town perform Mercy by Duffy. They point out that though it's a modern song, it's a throw back to the type of music they like to do. [BTW...Duffy has a new album out!] Awesome! I thought they were a little rushed at the beginning, but then they found their way, and got a standing "O" from the audience, the judges, and the other contestants.

Time for the first elimination. Based on these four performances, I'd keep all but Eleventh Hour. And the judges elected to send them home.

Their swan song was Leavin by Jesse McCartney.

Last years' champs, NOTA perform next. I loved these guys last season. (Here's one of their performances from last year.)

Tonight they sing The Black Eyed Peas' I Gotta Feeling. Nice. They slowed it down toward the end with a little reggae beat...awesome.

The Back Beats are up to perform Break Even by The Script. They were great...lots of great voices in this group. Nicole gave props to Courtney, who is the only female voice percussionist in the whole competition.

Next is Committed performing One Republic's Apologize. The lead on this song is so cute. I digress. They sound AMAZING and this song was perfect for them. So far...this is the best performance of the night. Shawn seems to be having another musical orgasm tonight, and Ben says he understands that feeling, and says, "there's so many great things going on in that." I had to rewind and watch it again.
Nicole said she even had a musical climax during their performance.

Groove for Thought and their jazzy sound take on Cooler than Me by Mike Posner. The guy doing bass with his voice pantomimed with his fingers like he was playing a bass. They have a nice sound. I enjoyed their performance. Shawn said they "did the song justice and then some."

The final performance is from the Whiffenpoofs. They sing Michael Bublé's Haven't Met You Yet. They're a talented group, but I didn't enjoy their performance as much as the first night, nor as much as the other performances tonight. Nicole mentioned their chorale sound and I think that's what I didn't care for...the choral sound with a Top 40 hit just didn't work for me. The judges seemed to like it, though Shawn said the leads weren't as strong as he would've have liked.

If it were up to me, I'd let go of the Whiffenpoofs. And...the judges agreed with me. For their swan song, the Whiffenpoofs sing Home Sweet Home by Mötley Crüe.

The show will be back on Monday and the remaining groups will perform guilty pleasure songs.

Can't wait!


The Sing Off

I'm so happy that NBC brought "The Sing Off" back for another round. For those who don't know, the show is an a capella singing competition. It's a fun show and it's like watching Glee on stage. Judges are Ben Folds (as in Ben Folds Five), Nicole Scherzinger (from The Pussycat Dolls) and Shawn Stockman (Boys II Men). Nick Lachey is the host.

Ooh--the second group up tonight is called On the Rocks and did this performance of Lady Gaga's Bad Romance that I saw on YouTube several months ago:

They did Bad Romance on the show tonight too. Great performance.

I'm debating whether to do a rundown of the whole show or not. I guess I may as well introduce all the groups, though I don't know that I'll do a full run down each week. We'll see.

So, On the Rocks was 2nd up. First up was a high school group called Eleventh Hour. They did a nice rendition of Justin Bieber's Baby. They were cute because they compared themselves to The Breakfast Club, not because they met in detention, but because they're made up of an artist, jock, and honor roll student, a computer whiz, the homecoming queen, etc. They admitted that they probably wouldn't talk to each other at school if it weren't for the love of a capella music.

Next is Groove for Thought which has a jazzy sound. Four of the group are teachers. And then one guys' daughter joined the group as a lead singer. Tonight they perform Stevie Wonder's I Wish. They remind me of Manhattan Transfer. Nice sound.

Pitch Slapped is next. They're a bunch of musicians from The Berkeley College of Music in Boston, which we hear is the #1 contemporary music school in the world. They sing Good Girls Go Bad by Cobra Starship. This group's "percussion" was great--it's hard to believe there wasn't a drummer on the stage with them. Instead, they had someone beat boxing.

Jerry Lawson and Talk of the Town come next. They're the seniors of the show's cast. Jerry Lawson says he's been singing for 61 years, and he was part of a group called The Persuasions. He fell on hard times, and then he found Talk of the Town and started singing with them. The group had been singing Persuasions' songs for thirty years and then a guy from the Persuasions actually joins their group. How cool is that? Tonight they sing The Drifters' Save the Last Dance. They ended with a little cha-cha-cha hip shake. Cute. I really enjoyed them. Ben Folds mentions that Doc Pomus wrote the song, he was in a wheelchair from polio, and he wrote the song for his wife, who could dance. Very poignant.

So, we've seen the first five groups. The judges only get to keep four. Of the four, I'd say that I would let Pitch Slapped go. The judges agreed with me. Pitch Slapped is going home. They perform their "Swan Song" which was Kiss Him Goodbye (they substituted "us" for "him") - otherwise known as "Nah nah nah nah, hey hey hey, goodbye."

Time for the second half of the show.

The first group in this half is called The Whiffenpoofs from Yale University. The original group was founded in 1909. One of the guys very arrogantly announces that The Whiffenpoofs were the first a capella group in history--"we invented it." Since 1909, the group has performed in white tie and tails, and the guys tonight do the same thing. They perform Mika's Grace Kelly. I wasn't familiar with that song, but they were good. I didn't want to like them, but I liked the lead singer. HA! Shawn Stockman called out the arrogant dude from earlier. He said, "Stefan, I would like to thank you, and the Whiffenpoofs for inventing a capella. We would not be here if it wasn't for you. And we appreciate you gracing us with your presence."

Next is Men of Note. They like to go to the mall and literally "serenade the ladies." A little creepy, but also kind of sweet. I'm trying to imagine walking through the mall when a group of eight guys starts following me while singing doo-wop. They sing Billy Joel's For the Longest Time. Nice job--maybe a little dull. Hmmm...Shawn says that he and Boyz II Men used to do the same thing to girls at the mall.

Street Corner Symphony hails from Nashville, TN. They mix bluegrass and southern gospel into their sound. One guy said they like to "un-practice," which means they get together, they don't sing, and they drink beer. Love it. They sing Tears for Fears' Everybody Wants to Rule the World. I love their performance--mostly because of how they broke it down at the bridge. (Though Ben Folds didn't care for the cymbal sound they put in at that part--it's what I loved. Oh well...what do I know?)

Next is The Back Beats. Their group is a mixture of various rival a capella groups. Two of the girls performed in a group on the show last season. They sing Beyoncé's If I Were a Boy. I don't like this song much, but this group did a good job. The lead female's voice was fantastic.

And finally, we have Committed is next. They're committed to God, their music, and each other. They've got the gospel sound going on, and they're new to singing Top 40 music. They sing Maroon 5's This Love and they were awesome! I think Adam Levine would be proud. The judges loved them. Nicole said that Shawn was having a "musical orgasm" during the performance.

Time for the judges to choose four more teams to move forward. My vote is for all but Men of Note. And again, the judges agreed with me. Thanks judges.

For their Swan Song, Men of Note sing Rihanna's Take a Bow.

Good show. The next episode is on Wednesday. Yay!