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Artikel Tagged ‘Robert-Jon Eckhardt’

The Sing-Off Season 3 Episode 10 – Highlights

originally posted by Robert-Jon Eckhart on http://a-cappella.robert-jon.nl on November 28th – thanks again RJ, for sharing your Sing-Off experience!

 

Wow. Wow wow wow! We’re coming to a point in the competition where i’m starting to feel uncomfortable criticizing these groups at all. In 10 weeks, we’ve gone from a mish mash of 16 diverse groups of varying quality to four top-quality a cappella groups each with a distinct personality. Since all performances this week were excellent, I’ll jump straight to the gossip-section!

In short, the internet just blew up over the elimination of Afro-Blue. As I expected, Pentatonix and Urban Method reached the finale without any problems. The final spot had to be battled for by two fundamentally different groups: young, playful, energetic Dartmouth Aires and mature, skilled, jazzy pros Afro-Blue. After a truly impressive and emotionally charged encore by both, the Aires were allowed to stay because of them being way more consistent during the entire season. Which, I think, nobody can deny they were.

If you want my outright opinion, here’s what I think happened: the elitist musician awoke in the viewer, filled with prejudice. Surely, a bunch of guys jumping around and having fun can’t be better at music than a serious group of trained jazz musicians? “Good music starts at being able to keep a stable pitch”, writes an indignant youtube-commenter. Well, I’m sorry I have to break it to ya fella, but you’re wrong. Good music starts at people wanting to hear more of it. This has always been the case and if your education has told you otherwise, I’m afraid you have been fooled.

So the judges have been flooded with outrage about this decision (on their twitter accounts mainly, which they all have) and how they have chosen to deal with it once again confirms why I love this show so much. Both Shawn and Ben have blogged, explaining how and why they made this decision. (As air-time is always tight and doesn’t leave much space for thorough explanation.) Ben’s blog stands out most since he openly admits that Afro-Blue was his personal favorite, and that they might’ve reached the finals if the judges had chosen to critique them differently. One night I even found him generously replying and apologizing to people on twitter who were dazzled by his decision. In today’s TV-landscape, it’s truly exceptional to find a judge with more heart for the music than for the showbiz.

This player will automatically play the encores from both Afro-Blue and the Dartmouth Aires. There has been some discussion online as to why The Sing-Off isn’t scoring well in the ratings. One of the suggestions is the unclear format: are two groups leaving per episode? Or just one? Will they have to do a face-off song or not? I personally would’ve liked some more info on why they are choosing to do the elimination as they do, but kinda liked that it changed a little every week. Kept things exciting.

The second video, of the Dartmouth Aires, shows what is maybe my favorite moment of the entire show: The bassist is supposed to stand up after Michael finishes his long note, but Michael just keeps it going for-fucking-ever. After one false start the bassist just stands up and looks into the camera, appearing to say “Yeah I know. Whatever.”. I love it because this is the reality of making music.

And here some more Aires to show how they ab-so-lute-ly belong in the finals. If the judges would’ve given me the task to perform Shout, I wouldn’t have known what to do with it. It has no story-arc or structure whatsoever. But these guys, wow! Who wouldn’t go and see this in theaters?

Let me finish up by posting A change is gonna come by Afro-Blue. Just as a way of saying: I do understand why people are upset they had to go. This might’ve been their best performance of the entire season. This is epic skill time and no-one can deny it.

On the other hand, I must admit this song is just going over my head. It’s good but I don’t like it. Or, as Ben wrote in his blog, it’s a miracle a jazz group has even been able to participate in a mainstream tv-competition for almost the entire season. (And they’re coming back in the finals for a guest-performance as well.)

Let me close on the following note: there’s no such thing as an absolute in music being good. It all will come down to taste eventually. We, as an a cappella community, should be grateful for having a show on television that celebrates the wonder that is music over the cold skill of measuring people’s abilities against set standards. Ben has offered Afro-Blue studio-time in his personal studio and they ultimately will have the same amount of screen-time as the contest winners.

All will be well. See you next week at the big finale.

The Sing-Off Season 3 Episode 9 – Highlights

by Robert-Jon Eckhart, originally posted at RJ’s blog on November 22nd, 2011 – sorry for the SoJam-related delay ;-)

 

Episode nine! We’re getting close to the end of this series and I love how the advantages of a longer season are starting to show. First off, some people are really finding themselves. (I’m talking about Urban Method’s Katie of course. I mean, wow. That’s transformation on a personal level. After watching this episode I even dreamt about her and me being romantically involved with each other. Wait, I wasn’t gonna share that! Help! Cheese. Buildings. What was I talking about?)

Right. What I really love is how the groups are learning from each other and stealing each others’ tricks. While Vocal Point is usually super-smooth, they involved a very cool skipping beat in ‘Every little step’, which before was exclusive to Pentatonix’ clubbing style. Seeing Mitch (from Pentatonix) obviously loving it in the background made the entire thing even more awesome.

But Pentatonix wasn’t just watching passively how other groups were stealing their moves. They came back strong with a signature Committed-style choral breakdown followed by a little à-la-Nota samba beat in their rendition of ‘OMG’. In ‘Let’s get it on’ Avi even brought some Afro-Blue style bass licks. Just fun stuff all around, noticing these little things really gives the show more depth.

Mehr…

The Sing-Off Season 3 Episode 5: Highlights

26. Oktober 2011 1 Kommentar

by our Sing-off correspondent, Robert-Jon “I-adore-Sara-B” Eckhardt (originally posted at http://a-cappella.robert-jon.nl on October 23rd, 2011)

Hey guys! I hate to get all fanboyish up your ass but oh my god did you see that Pentatonix performance? Remember how four episodes ago I wrote that I knew that they could pull off crazy sound effects and skipping beats perfectly? Well, this week’s your proof.

These guys are doing everything right. First off their song choice “Video killed the radio star” was perfect for the Guilty Pleasure theme of the night. I love the silly moves, the 80′s synths and al the crazy sound effects throughout the song. Also, great choice to bring in Mitch for the bridge. He and Scott have distinctly different sounds which makes the entire thing even more interesting. They could’ve done this for 3:30 minutes easily without getting boring.

After broadcasting, the song quickly rose to #160 in the iTunes top 200 charts, which is quite an accomplishment for a two minute live recording. Well deserved.

Next up is Urban Method. They really shine in being the only group with an effective theatrical presentation. What I mean by that is that they take their choreographies beyond just doing dance moves, and actually create a scene on stage with recognizable personas. In this case, Troy has obviously fallen victim to the sultry moves of the three ladies at the center of the stage, while his friend Mike is trying to save him from taking their poison. (Never trust a big butt and a smile!)

Also, I have a soft spot for 80′s rap and dance moves. How I wish I was born 30 years earlier.

And then there’s Vocal Point. They don’t have as many tricks up their sleeves as the previous two groups, but they more than make up for it with plain skill. Two weeks ago they went all classy and jazzy, but this week they pulled off the high-energy “Footloose” just as easily. There aren’t that many groups that can hold up this beat and energy this consistently throughout a song.

The group has quite a few very skilled tenors amongst them. Just listen to the confidence and power in the ending chord, or the high climax around the 1:20 mark. What I wouldn’t give to be able to belt it out like that!

further reading

There has been quite some talking about the elimination of Sonos last week. Debating anything from their skills as singers to the relevance of the show itself. I’ve seen many interviews by Chris Harrison appear, explaining both the group’s and the show’s decisions. I can recommend these to on Digital Spy and Sin3g, the latter one actually being a personal response to a blogpost on Sin3g, rather than a formal interview.

After that, don’t forget to read Shawn’s blog. Ben’s episode 4 blog is online but through some faults in the website, you can’t read it. Again. (Get your stuff together NBC website-folks!) Luckily his episode 5 blog is available here. If you still have time left after that, know that all groups are blogging on the NBC website.

See you next week!

The Sing-Off Season 3 Episode 4 – Highlights

14. Oktober 2011 1 Kommentar

 

by our Sing-off correspondent, Robert-Jon Eckhart (post originally posted at http://a-cappella.robert-jon.nl on October 14th)

Aw man! I’m kinda bummed out. I admit, I was rooting for Sonos because they were one of the few competing groups that I was familiar with before The Sing-Off even started, and I love some of the stuff they are doing online. But alas, they didn’t make the cut this week. They stuck to their signature style, but it just didn’t shine as it’s supposed to without their effects pedals.

Also, what people might not know is that last februari, only a few months before the show was taped, their sixth member left the group. A male voice they decided not to replace, and a male voice they could’ve used so well in all three songs they were allowed to perform. So much of their elimination comes down to choice. Chris was so nice to explain some of their choices in an interview with “Yakkety Yaks”. I’ll post a link to that at the end of this article.

Now let’s get going with this week’s highlights!

Mehr…

The Sing-Off Season 3 Episode 3 – Highlights

by our Sing-off correspondent, Robert-Jon Eckhart (post originally posted at http://a-cappella.robert-jon.nl on October 8th)

Although we’re clearly still in the first phase of the competition, I feel like The Sing-Off finally kicked off this week. I finally got that real Sing-Off feeling in my gut. The feeling that says: “Oh yeahh, this is so goooood!!” I won’t keep you any longer, here are the highlights of this weeks episode.

Lots of class

So. Afro-Blue doing American Boy. I think we can all agree on this one. What a stellar performance. They just did everything right. It’s a total overhaul of the original while keeping it recognizable. It’s full blown jazz while keeping it accessible to non-jazzers like yours truly. And finally a mid-song remix moment with class. After so many cheesy remix moments on The Sing-Off, this one makes me one happy acafella.

I’ve got nothing else to say. Watch it. Listen to it. Love it. Next!

Vocal Point doing Sinatra’s The way you look tonight. Daaaaaaaaaaamn! Who knew a cappella could sound like this? It just doesn’t get any classier. The lead vocal could come straight out of a Broadway production. And all those horns… wow! Those kinda complex arrangements aren’t easy to sing but they pulled it of flawlessly.

It’s interesting to note that this is an all male college group. And while most male college groups get their success from their high fun-factor, goofiness and colorful ties, the guys from Vocal Point effortlessly level themselves with the playing field of the big boys.

The big girls

Delilah might be the most talked-about group, mainly because they are the only all female group participating. And then some because they are awesome. I loved their rendition of ‘Whataya want from me’ because of their innovative way of arranging and presenting it. The line by line stacking of the vocals makes it really easy to get drawn into the song.

But still, I’m going to say it: At the transition from choral-style to track-style, when the beat drops in, I’m missing quite some low end to really get that groove going. The beatboxing is awesome though, and they make up their lack in groove with a great deal of emotion and stage presence.

Conclusion

The competition has started and the first weaknesses are starting to appear. Make no mistake, all these groups are absolutely top notch. But with the magnifying glass of television on top of them, minor flaws will be visible! Also, the judges are starting to be more critical about the performances. I’m finding all of this pretty exciting.

It is on!!

Further reading:

Besides the usual blogs of Ben Folds and Shawn Stockman, have a look at the backstage videos from Sam Tsui, they’re pretty nice! If you’re looking for more info on any group, such as facebook pages or twitter accounts, try Who’s who on The Sing-Off?.

by Robert-Jon Eckhardt, originally posted at http://a-cappella.robert-jon.nl. Check out RJ’s blog, it’s awesome and we can be so happy that he will write about the whole Sing-off season both on his and on Vocal Blog. Keep doing the Sing-thing, my dear co-blogger.