We got a look at all the competition before we saw the acoUstiKats on Monday’s Season 4 premiere of The Sing-Off. And by the time they got to the University of Kentucky male a capella ensemble, judges Ben Folds, Jewel and Shawn Stockman were falling all over themselves to praise the technical dexterity and entertainment value of the group’s rendition of Robin Thicke’s Blurred Lines. They were even inventing phrases like “acousti-krush” and “acousti-shower,” prompting host Nick Lachey to say they may need to go to an “acousti-commercial.”
It was about as resounding an endorsement as any group got Monday night, sending the acoUstiKats safely to Wednesday night’s competition. They will be the only collegiate group as long as they stay in, as the group from Princeton University was eliminated Monday, following a showdown with Orlando-based Voice Play.
There are now nine groups in the running for the top prize, which will include cash and a recording contract with Sony. Other standouts Monday included the Los Angeles doo-wop group Street Corner Renaissance, Texas gospel group Ten and L.A.’s The Filharmonic.
The next show is at 8 p.m. Wednesday (two hours) and then 8 p.m. Thursday (one hour).
Entertainment Weekly’s Sing-Off blogger Jodi Walker, who led her post with a picture of the UK group, was favorably impressed with the Kats. After taking issue with all the acousti-puns that were being thrown around in the intro video and the banter with the judges, she wrote, “but an acousti-crush is a very real thing. I’ve had one, I have one and I’ll have them again.” Actually, I think it’s acoUsti-Krush, but we quibble.
I may have an acoUsti-Krush on the judging panel. After years watching talent competition shows with moonlighting pop stars as judges with nothing really substantive to say, just trying to burnish their fading stars, Folds, Jewel and Stockman were really taking their roles seriously. No declarations of “pitchy-ness” here. That may have worked to the Kats advantage, because while the Twitterverse was slightly more mixed on the group — song choice (Blurred Lines has come under fire for its lyrics and video), style and the puns turned some people off — the judges zeroed in on the vocal work making strong observations about their technique and training within the revelry. Ron Wilbur, in particular, was singled out for his astonishing range. UK choirs director Jefferson Johnson had to have a big grin on his face.
And of course, if you missed it, there is video:
This post was updated from an earlier version to correct Street Corner Renaissance’s name and the Filharmonic’s home base. I apologize for the errors.