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'The Sing-Off' recap: From six to one

Season 5 | Aired Dec 17, 2014

Once a year, we gather around the Christmas tree/plate of latkes/what have you to partake in America’s favorite holiday tradition: The Sing-Off.

There’s something special that happens when you put a large number of grown adults on stage and ask them to harmonize as if it’s the most important thing they’ll ever do in their lives. That’s the magic that The Sing-Off gives us, but not just any magic—holiday magic. It all comes to life as Nick Lachey emerges to introduce us to the heart of California/the powerful performance of “Kids in America” that just happened before us.

He welcomes the esteemed panel of judges. Shawn Stockman and Jewel are rudely overlooked for newcomer Patrick Stump, which is unfortunate, because other than the release of a children’s book, this is Jewel’s one public appearance a year. Around this time of year, she materializes out of thin air, and then, just minutes after the finale, a small flurry of snowflakes swirls around her, lifts her into the air, and she disappears into the clouds until next year.

Timothy’s Gift, from Nashville, is a sweet, wholesome girl group that usually sings at … maximum-security prisons. They sing to remind the prisoners that they’re humans, which is just fantastic. But now they’re here, and their audience isn’t a group of inmates, but just a regular audience. They sing “Ghost” by Elle Henderson. They take turns being the lead, but the truth is, they’re at their best when they sing together.

Most important judges’ note: Jewel comments that there wasn’t a lot of bass or beat, which is like “showing up to a ball game without a bat,” but that it was okay.

Next up is a.squared, the electronic a capella group from Yale. Their opening package is overwhelming because they’re using machinery, and that sets off all kinds of a ca-larms. Is it cheating? Should we even listen? The group takes on Pompeii’s “Bastille,” which is ambitious. But almost immediately, the chills begin, because whatever witchcraft they’re using to make their voices sound so layered is mesmerizing.

Most important judges’ note: Shawn feels like that witchcraft and wizardry ultimately overpowered the group’s real vocals.

Following a.squared is Traces. Every season has had an “older” group, which in Hollywood terms means 30 to 45 years old. This is just a group of hardcore working women who have mastered the execution of an understated black-and-gray color scheme. Their signature song is “River Deep, Mountain High.” Praise anything Tina. Their bass line is the strongest of the first three groups, but the vocals aren’t quite able to match up to whoever is spitting those “sick beats.”

Most important judges’ note: Jewel says that she heard Tina Turner and Nina Simone in that performance. Music lovers across the nation simultaneously pumped the brakes. It was good, but it wasn’t Nina-good.

The Exchange from Myrtle Beach is kind of like the One Direction of the a capella world. They were formed platonically from other groups that previously competed on The Sing-Off. Their signature song is “Love Runs Out” by One Republic. If there were ever a dynasty group to watch, it’s this one. There’s a little bit of Freddy Mercury, a little bit of floor gyrating, and some below-angle crotch shots. The entire audience rises to its feet, partly because it’s an amazing performance, partly because sex sells.

Most important judges’ comment: Jewel interrupts the critique to ask one member to do a couple of opera bars.

Following that mammoth of a performance is San Fran6 from San Francisco. They’ve been together for about a month, but they appear to be ready to tackle the biggest a capella stage. Their signature song is “Break Free” by Ariana Grande, performed by their “powerhouse” lead singer. To be honest, the men carried this performance, both in vocal styling and hair game. You can’t really blame the girls, though, because taking on Ariana Grande is taking on the new Mariah Carey. It’s a big job.

Most important judges’ note: It wasn’t quite a judges’ note, but one judge asked the group’s leader if he had any family members in the audience. He pointed out his “rock star” dad. If anyone gets points for excellent use of adjectives, it’s this team.

The Melodores from Nashville is your standard all-male college group from Vanderbilt. They’re working on becoming doctors and lawyers, but in their spare time, they croon their way through all their core classes. Their signature song is “Trumpets” by Jason Derulo. It sounds fantastic because of all the excellent voices—particularly that little blond guy with glasses who hit a note only dogs can hear. Yeah, the choreography is a little sloppy (especially that moment one of them almost falls off the stage), but it is amazing.

Most important judges’ note: Shawn tells “Oggie” that he had a great flugelhorn. I have no idea what that means.

While the judges deliberate on which groups will have their dreams dashed, Pentatonix takes the stage to blow everyone’s minds with a holiday medley. It’s good and real and powerful. You just can’t top the Celine of the a capella world.

But tonight is about the six new groups before us. In no surprise at all, The Exchange moves forward, as well as Traces and the Melodores. We immediately jump into the next round because time is of the essence. Jewel chooses Traces’ next performance. She explains, “I chose ‘I’m Every Woman’ for Traces, because they are every woman.” You can’t fight logic like that.

Traces start on a platform and then Beyoncé-walk across the stage, showing off a confidence that was missing in their first performance. These women are contenders. The reviews are incredibly positive across the board, and while they might not be every woman, they could definitely be champion material.

Following Traces, Shawn Stockman gives “Sing” by Ed Sheeran to The Exchange. The judges think it might be a little “road block” for the group, but poor “Sing” doesn’t stand a chance. There may not be gyrating, and there may not be Freddy Mercury-type screeching, but it is pure vocal genius.

To be honest, it’s a little surprising that The Melodores round out the top three, especially considering that they didn’t even tease the idea of doing a “Shake It Off” cover. Patrick chose “Take Me to Church” by Hozier for them. Sounds intimidating, but the group says their secret weapon is Dan, who is “our littlest guy, with the biggest voice.”

It’s the best performance of the night, and Dan deserves every award possible. After the performance, he falls down on to the stage in an unprecedented “angry gyration.” The judges’ comments do not matter, because we all literally just got taken to church.

As the decision is being finalized, Nick Lachey flexes his host muscle and grants our wish for a Home Free performance featuring Jewel, Shawn, and Patrick. However, Nick’s power is so much more than we originally understood—because out of nowhere, he emerges to perform as well! It really is a Christmas miracle!

But unfortunately, that signals the end of our season. All that’s left is the final decision. There is no second place in The Sing-Off, just a winner, and that winner is The Melodores. Their victory is groundbreaking for the show because no collegiate group has ever won. “Oggie” takes the trophy, and there are man tears. Just like the holiday season itself, The Sing-Off is abruptly over.

What do you think? Did the right group win? And didn’t you feel cheated by this one-night-special business? Let them hear your cry, and hopefully next year, the goodness of a full series order will be gifted to us.

TV Families | EW.com
Mark Harris
February 23, 1990 AT 05:00 AM EST

The Bradys are back, with a passel of 90’s hassles. Do they represent the typical American Family? Did they ever? Who does? Stare and compare!

Kind Of Family
TheBradyBunch 1969-74: Blended
The Bradys 1990-: Enormous
Married…With Children 1987-: Postnuclear
Thirtysomething 1987-: Extended
The Flintstones 1960-66: Modern Stone Age

Family Pet
The Brady Bunch: Tiger
The Bradys: Alice
Married…With Children: Buck
Thirtysomething: Grendel
The Flintstones: Dino

Typical Guest Star
The Brady Bunch: Davey Jones
The Bradys: There’s no room
Married…With Children: Sam Kinison
Thirtysomething: Carly Simon
The Flintstones: Ann Margrock

Expression Of Joy
The Brady Bunch: Groovy!
The Bradys: Ritual hugging
Married…With Children: ”Oh, great.”
Thirtysomething: ”Of course I’m happy for you. Really. But what about me? Why does it always have to be about you?
The Flintstones: ”Yabba-dabba doo

Expression Of Rage

The Brady Bunch: ”Hmmm…”
The Bradys: ”If you back away from something you really want, then you’re a quitter!” (the angriest any Brady has ever been)
Married…With Children: ”Aaagh, God, take me from this miserable life!”
Thirtysomething: ”I’m not angry, OK?”
The Flintstones: ”Willllmaaaa!”

Typical Problem
The Brady Bunch: Marcia and her rival both want to be the prom queen.
The Bradys: Bobby gets paralyzed.
Married…With Children: Al doesn’t buy his family Christmas presents.
Thirtysomething: Nancy gets cancer.
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney are staying out too late.

Typical Solution
The Brady Bunch: The prom committee decides to have two queens.
The Bradys: Bobby gets married.
Married…With Children: They hate him.
Thirtysomething: If only we knew…
The Flintstones: Wilma and Betty decide to follow them.

House Style
The Brady Bunch: Conservative but mod, circa ’69
The Bradys: Conservative but mod, circa ’90
Married…With Children: Roach motel
Thirtysomething: Enviable
The Flintstones: Suburban cave

Clothing Style
The Brady Bunch: Early Osmonds
The Bradys: Made in the USA
Married…With Children: Flammable fabrics
Thirtysomething: Eclectic earth tones; nice ties
The Flintstones: One-piece

Most Annoying Character
The Brady Bunch: Alice’s cousin Emma, the substitute housekeeper (too strict)
The Bradys: Marcia’s husband, Wally (chronically unemployable)
Married…With Children: Steve (supercilious)
Thirtysomething: Ellyn (goes through Hope’s drawers, babbles, changes hairstyle every other week, generally mistreats her friends)
The Flintstones: Mr. Slate (bossy)

Attitude Toward Sex
The Brady Bunch: Never heard of it
The Bradys: Omigod — even Cindy does it!
Married…With Children: Peg: Yes. Al: No.
Thirtysomething: They didn’t get all those kids by accident.
The Flintstones: Prehistoric

How Spouses Fight
The Brady Bunch: They don’t.
The Bradys: Infrequently, but it happens
Married…With Children: Tooth and nail
Thirtysomething: They stop talking
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney go bowling while Wilma and Betty max out their charge cards.

How Kids Get Into Trouble
The Brady Bunch: Greg takes a puff of a cigarette.
The Bradys: Carol’s grandson steals her business cards and sticks them in the spokes of Bobby’s wheelchair.
Married…With Children: By committing felonies
Thirtysomething: Ethan plays with a forbidden toy rocket.
The Flintstones: They don’t.

How They’re Punished

The Brady Bunch: ”It’s not what you did, honey — it’s that you couldn’t come to us.”
The Bradys ”Next time, ask.”
Married…With Children: By the authorities
Thirtysomething: It blows up in his face.
The Flintstones: They’re not.

What Family Does For Fun
The Brady Bunch: Takes special three-part vacations to Hawaii and the Grand Canyon
The Bradys: Has flashbacks
Married…With Children: Exchanges insults
Thirtysomething: Talks
The Flintstones: Attends showings of The Monster at the Bedrock Drive-In

Unsolved Mysteries
The Brady Bunch: How exactly did Carol’s first husband and Mike’s first wife die?
The Bradys: What’s with Marcia’s new face and Bobby’s blonde hair
Married…With Children: What kind of hair spray does Peg use?
Thirtysomething: Why did Nancy take Elliot back? What do Gary and Susanna see in each other?
The Flintstones: How does Barney’s shirt stay on if he has no shoulders? Where do Fred and Wilma plug in their TV?

Worst Behavior
The Brady Bunch: The Brady children once made Alice feel under-appreciated.

The Bradys: Marcia’s son Mickey watches Bobby’s car-crash tape for fun.
Married…With Children: The Bundy’s kill their neighbor’s dog.
Thirtysomething: Elliot has an affair and talks about it.
The Flintstones: Characters don’t wear under-clothes.

Best Reason To Watch
The Brady Bunch: This is what life should be.
The Bradys: They’re all grown-ups now!
Married…With Children: Terry Rakolta hates it.
Thirtysomething (Tie) This is your life. This isn’t your life.
The Flintstones: This is what life might have been.

Best Reason Not To Watch
The Brady Bunch: Blurred vision from rerun overdoses.
The Bradys: You’re all grown-ups now.
Married…With Children: She has a point.
Thirtysomething: After a while, you think it’s real.
The Flintstones: The Simpsons

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