The Sing-Off Finale: Christmas Hookers, Community Service and (Oh, Yeah) Singing

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A satisfying ending to a sleeper (personal) hit!

After what seems like a very short "season," here we are at the finale. The voting already happened, so Monday night's performances were all for show.

As always, they kick off with a group number, this time: "Put a Little Love in Your Heart." Really? What a weird choice. It was all very "meh" until the end when the judges got involved, and one person from each group was pulled out to do a nice little harmonic ending together.

While all of this was going on, I did have time to contemplate fashion choices. What up with The Backbeats always wearing black and hot pink...is it the 80s, and I missed it? [Spoiler Alert: I think the Backbeats would have had a better outcome with better fashion, don't you?]

On to the performances. Since there are three judges, three of the groups got to perform with a judge. Kinda nice that this performing competition has judges that could all, you know, perform.

Committed, from Alabama, sang "Motownphilly" with Boyz II Men.

First of all: Where did all the Boyz II Men go? Didn't there used to be six of them? Only three remain, but despite being only three, they made beautiful music with Committed.

The Backbeats, from Los Angeles, sang "King of Anything" with Sara Bareilles

The kick-off sounded terrible. I wasn't sure what key they were trying to be in. Even to the end, it never really gelled for me. This was the worst number of the night.

Jerry Lawson and Talk of the Town, from Oakland, sang "Ain't No Mountain" with Nicole Scherzinger

Sounded pretty good, but why is poor Jerry using a cane? No explanation. They should explain!!! :( This was OK, but not exactly elevated.

Street Corner Symphony, from Nashville, sang "Gone" with Ben Folds

Fun little doo-wop-ish number. Ben sounded a little rough. If anything, SCS outsang him :) but an all-around great ending.

More music was coming...

Jerry Lawson and the Talk of the Town AND The Backbeats, sang "The Long Road Home" with Sheryl Crow

And Sheryl Crow was...playing a guitar? What up with that? Sheryl, I guess you don't have the guts of Sara Bareilles, eh? Can't perform without the crutch of back-up music? For shame. And BTW: Nothing as unintentionally ironic as Nick Lachey saying, "What an incredibly soulful performance."

There was a nice medley of everyone singing snippets from their favorite Neil Diamond songs. He does indeed have a quality oeuvre. All of which led into:

Committed AND Street Corner Symphony, sang "Ain't No Sunshine" with Neil Diamond

And why was Neil singing this? At least he did it a capella (hint hint Sheryl). Although I bet there was some music playing in his fancy earpiece. Just a guess. Committed and Street Corner Symphony are definitely my two favorites, even if SCS has had the occasional rough performance.

All four groups then shared "what the holidays mean to them." Sigh. Can they announce the winner now please? This is the very definition of filler. And was really not one person going to say: "Nothing, I'm an atheist?" 'Cause that would have been awesome. And hilarious.

Then they sang a cheesy Christmas song with Nick Lachey. And they dressed all the women from The Backbeats up like Christmastime hookers. But it was fun to see Courtney, the female percussionist from The Backbeats, actually sing a lead vocal.

THEN, we still had ages to go, so they had to find some more filler.

So, all four groups went out and did some community service.

And I totally do not mean to sound like a Grinch, but I sometimes get this really uncomfortable feeling when reality shows do their bit to "give back." One of the reasons I get uncomfortable is because, inevitably, they go to needy neighborhoods and help needy people who are people of color. And the first two groups did exactly that. Now at least in this case the folks performing the service also included lots of people of color, but a lot of times it feels like that good old white savior complex is in action. And it feels kind of us and them...let's help the "others." Even while the fact remains that it is not only people of color who are struggling in this economy. </off-topic political tangent>

But just when I was feeling all cynical, Jerry Lawson and Talk of the Town went to a facility for adults with developmental disabilities -- Down's, Cerebral Palsy, etc -- and Street Corner Symphony visited Little Kids Rock in East L.A., and I was reminded that music really does bring joy. Yes, there, I said it...I'm no Grinch. MUSIC BRINGS JOY!

After every clip of "giving back", we got to hear each group sing one more number:

The Backbeats sang "Firework" by Katy Perry

This is actually a Katy Perry song I really like, so I was looking forward to this. And I wasn't disappointed, especially in Kenton. He took a backseat a lot of the performances, but he is a super-talent, and he got to show it off on this number. Ben was right to praise Kenton, and was right to praise the way they bring the emotional foundation to every performance. Lovely.

Committed sang "Hold My Hand" by Michael Jackson and Akon

Really nice as always. They create really rich, full harmonies. I wasn't quite going to go all verklemt like Nicole, but I liked the song.

Jerry Lawson and Talk of the Town sang "Love Train" by the Ojays

This was a nice, and in-tune, performance. Glad they closed it out on a really positive note. But, as always, speeding along. Why do a capella groups do that? (I guess I should know, I've sung in one, but I don't recall singing everything double-time.)

Street Corner Symphony sang "Fix You" by Coldplay, joined by the other three groups

And did a beautiful job. Great build, great money note from the SCS lead. Great dynamic range. Moving song. I always think of two things when I hear this song. One lovely: A moving routine that was performed on "So You Think You Can Dance", but from the sublime to the ridiculous, I also think of when Chris Martin was on Ricky Gervais's show "Extras," and the episode ended with Ricky and Chris sitting together at the piano while Chris tried to sing "Fix You" and Ricky pretty much massacred it. With this lovely performance, I think the sublime will outweigh the ridiculous when I think of this song from now on!

Now the results:

4th place: Jerry Lawson and Talk of the Town (Not surprised at all...as it should be.)

3rd place: The Backbeats (A little surprised, but it looks like boy bands are the thing.)

2nd place: Street Corner Symphony

1st place: Committed

And I think this was the right outcome, and definitely the right winner. They were the most consistent, that's for sure.

But. Ending with "We Are the Champions"? Really?

Um, I could think of better send-offs.

So, folks, I think the right crew won, and all in all this was a regular display of talent that I will tune back in for if it comes around again!

Did the finale satisfy you?

Elisa Camahort Page
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