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'The Sing-Off' finale recap

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Holiday songs! Pentatonix! Benatar! GLITTER BLAZERS! The Sing-Off finale was everything I needed it to be and, yes, I did need it to be something. I needed it to be something my whole family could watch together while I’m home for the holidays. I needed it to be fun and exciting enough to make me think thoughts worthy of writing down later for fellow a cappella knuckleheads to read (“worthy” might be an overstatement, but where better for hyperbole than The Sing-Off?). And I needed it to be, as I think Nick Lachey once said, some damn fine music. And damn fine, it was.

It’s going to be really difficult not to just make this whole thing a Blazer Watch. I seriously couldn’t stop watching the blazers. There was gold and platinum, plaid and tartan, skinny ties and wide lapels, double-breasted and slim-fit; at one point I didn’t think Nick’s had any buttons at all. This is a quote from my notes: “Nick is in maroon! THIS IS THE BEST NIGHT OF MY LIFE!” Again, hyperbole (barely).

EW debuted the opening group performance of “Man in the Mirror” by Michael Jackson last week, and I think it’s only gotten better with multiple viewings. It’s the very best kind of group number: One focused song with simple arm-movement-choreography and, of course, a minor and major key change (“Make a change/WHOO!/Make a change/WHOO!”) . Before I’ve even recovered from Elgin’s final whisper, Nick has transitioned from introducing the judges to singing “It Had to Be You” to Jewel, and then *BAM* she’s up there too, reciting lines from my diary: “There’s lots of television hosts out there and there’s even lots of television hosts named Nick, but for my money, the hardest working dimples in show business, I only have one thought…it had to be you!”

It was the first of a lineup of fun performances throughout the two-hour finale. Pentatonix returned to their mother ship to offer the three finalists some finale advice and show them how the pros do it on Calvin Harris’ “I Need Your Love.” The passion, the percussions, the harmonies; it just doesn’t get much better than them. Also there to show the kids the ropes were Pat Benatar and Neil Giraldo, just crushing “We Belong.” Although I don’t know how they got past security with both a guitar and not a stitch of glitter. Finally, the littlest boy band, 98 Degrees, stopped by to harmonize the mess out of “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” and Nick Lachey was really feeling his oats, making his fellow man band members stand there while he lobbed puns at the judges – “Did 98 Degrees heat it up for you?” – in return for compliments. I can’t believe it’s all over! On to the finalists…

Ten: “Love on Top” by Beyoncé

A Look Back: “Skyfall” has to be my favorite performance, but “Proud Mary” was probably more quintessential Ten.

Blazer Watch: Ten is a back-to-basics tutorial in Sing-Off blazer-ography tonight and, oh, it is luxe. They’re like an upscale jazz club meets Austin Powers up on that stage with every metallic in every variation you can imagine and, perhaps for the first time in Sing-Off history, A CORSET. That’s some next level scherzo.

One Last Shot: I think Jewel speaks for all of us when she tells Emoni, “I kind of want to spank you tonight, that was so good.” Corporal punishment due to divatude aside, this was a great and modern song choice for Ten and their growth as a group has been tremendous. They didn’t come in as a cappella aficionados, but multiple strong leads proved to offer harmonious variety rather than a battle to be heard.

Home Free: “Crazy” by Hunter Hayes

A Look Back: For me, “Ring of Fire” changed everything, but, with an assist from The Filharmonic, “I’m Alright” was certainly the most fun performance we saw from the country gents.

Blazer Watch: Oh, it is a feast. Austin is in a velvet paisley blazer with the collar popped and the most bejeweled leather cuff I’ve ever seen; there are cowboy hats and coordinating floral ties on Chris and Rob; Tim is wearing a belt that simply says, “TEXAS”; and I don’t know if Adam has always been “the dad on a CW show” levels of studly, but he’s really working that all-black suit tonight.

One Last Shot: Austin knocked what I’m sure was a very challenging lead out of the park. The guys somehow gave their most definitive performance yet, while being more natural than we’ve ever seen them. Ben compliments their groove and Jewel thinks that, most importantly, they’ve shown their star quality. And what are we looking for here, if not stars?

Vocal Rush: “Roar” by Katy Perry

A Look Back: Their half of the “Survivor” Ultimate Sing-Off was just about as fierce a performance as this season ever saw, but “Bottom of the River” was also quite the debut.

Blazer Watch: A diva-regulation combination of black, red and gems culminates in Sydney, who is wearing a bedazzled red fitted blazer, bow tie necklace and loose jewels in her hair. If she had on hipster glasses, she would be catering 100% to all of the judges/host’s tastes.

One Last Shot: This song can already feel a little young, so it wasn’t my favorite choice at first, but as Ben said, they can make anything sound smart and their arrangement brought out an unexpected lyrical depth. Usually high school groups seem so temporary that it’s difficult to consider them serious contenders; but each of these students were so passionate and talented that they really came together as one of the most cohesive groups of the season.

Finally, Nick Lachey “has the judges’ final decision right here…HOME FREE!” The winner is, all at once, deserving, expected, exciting and, if YouTube views are any indication, the right choice. The thing about The Sing-Off is that it provides one of the most diverse lineup of singers on television, but the fact that they’re already taking the risk of giving a recording contract to an a cappella group means that they’ve got to go for a similar, sure-thing type of winner every time. And that’s fine. Because it’s a fun ride along the way to the good looking, ready-to-record group taking home the final crown, isn’t it? Speaking of…where IS that Sing-Off crown you promised us, Lachey?! Austin, Adam, Tim, Rob and Chris surely earned it.

Tidbits with Nick & Co.

– The finale featured a lot more audience shots than usual, which made it even more glaringly obvious that all of the bubble-letter neon poster board “fan signs” we see in the audience are being made by the same P.A.

– It was fun to see all of the previously eliminated groups back in their boxes. I was particularly charmed by The Filharmonic looking all grown up in their tuxes, The Princeton Footnotes’ sneaky-good “Deck the Halls,” and Street Corner Renaissance because, duh, Street Corner Renaissance in platinum blazers.

– I really love that to 15-18 year old Vocal Rush, Pentatonix are probably one of the most successful U.S. singing show competition winners they’ve seen come to be. The Sing-Off: making dreams come true since 2009.

– I know it’s ridiculous that Shawn Stockman didn’t get his own Blazer Watch every week, but he just carries his pizazz off so casually. Tonight he’s sporting a crushed velvet crimson jacket, paisley ruffled-tuxedo shirt, lion-door-knocker brooch and striped bowtie. While performing, he wears a scarf that’s been fashioned into a vest with a strap around the back. Like I said, casual.

– Why is Jewel not singing, like, all the time?

– A brief scene outside with Vocal Rush proves what my heart has always known to be true: Ben Folds wears transitions lenses.

– There was simply too much going on tonight to cover it all, but the judges all gave great holiday song performances with the final groups: Ben + Vocal Rush, Shawn + Ten and Jewel + Home Free.

Well, it’s been a fun and silly ride, and I’m dying to know – what did you think of this season? Did the right group take home the “crown?” Will we be seeing more from Home Free soon? And most importantly, will it be two more years before season 5 of The Sing-Off?