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'The Sing-Off' recap: Hit it!

The eight remaining groups on The Sing-Off return to sing hits of today, which should be fun.

We kick off with all the groups performing Kings of Leon's "Use Somebody" to great effect. Why aren't the Idol group performances like this? (This is not saying it's totally free of the Idol cheese; not true. Especially when part of the choreography is for them to semi-awkwardly place hands on one another's shoulders. But the singing! Love.)

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The first group on stage is On the Rocks from University of Oregon (GO DUCKS!) with T.I. and Rihanna's "Live Your Life," which involves one of the guys (Jeff Rogers) rapping. It's entertaining, especially all the choroegraphy, but I kind of wish they weren't doing rap. Judge Ben Folds seems to agree, saying that right now they are like 90 percent entertainment and 10 percent artistry, and he wants to see more artistry from them. He says they are full of energy and a joy to watch and listen to, especially the harmony. He liked Peter, who did the Rihanna part. Nicole Scherzinger says she wasn't sure how they would pull this off, and they did, especially connecting with the audience. She appreciated the vocal effects. Shawn Stockman says they had a lot of fun, though they lost a bit during some of the transitions, but the entertainment made up for it.

Streetcorner Symphony is taking on Train's "Hey, Soul Sister." The first thing I think is how much better they sound than Train did when they recently performed on some reality show or another. It's astounding, really. And again, their sound is so big for so few guys (six), and they do some great effects, including a record stop. Shawn says they were a lot of fun and that Jeremy's voice is just amazing. Ben thought the blend was beautiful and he thought it was inventive and cool. He also praises Jeremy's vocal. Nicole finds them "cozy, warm and cool" and a great example of why the show is "so awesome and so credible."

Eleventh Hour chooses Bruno Mars' "Just the Way You Are" as its hit. They do a lovely job with it, but I think there are a couple of things going on with the lead singer. She seems kind of nervous, and the first part of the song feels a little low for her, and in combination, it is a bit shaky at the beginning. But she and the rest of the group rally and get through it just fine.  Nicole says they did a good job, especially with a song she likes so much. She does wish they blended a little bit more, but they do have a relatively small number of people. Shawn says they have a purity and sweetness to their performances. He was impressed with the intricate nature of the arrangement and how on point they stayed. Ben thought it was clever, but at times it came apart at the seams a little bit. He thought they were overall great, but he does feel bad that their last chord wasn't quite in tune.

Jerry Lawson and the Talk of the Town are getting a little meta with Duffy's "Mercy." The throwback group does a tremendous job with a modern song with a throwback vibe. Ben tells "Jerry ... Mr. Lawson" that he is cool. He thinks that they all sang full-out like lead singers and it was amazing. Nicole thanks them for showing us how it's done, for breaking it down, and for being so yummy. Shawn calls it another classy performance by some classy guys. They're so good, there's not that much to say!

First of the results: Jerry Lawson and Talk of the Town are safe. Streecorner Symphony is as well. On the Rocks is still in (OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!), and Eleventh Hour is out and has to sing its swan song.

Next, there's a guest performance from last year's winners, Nota. They've been working on their album and performing all over the world. They perform "I've Gotta Feeling" from the Black Eyed Peas.

Backbeats are doing "Breakeven" by the Script.  They sound like what they are -- an all-star group. Joanna kills the lead vocals again. Shawn likes that they added others on the lead this time and thinks they have a lock on melancholy harmonies. He thinks that pain evokes honesty and when Joanna sings, he believes it. Ben thinks the group has good chemistry and good dynamics. He was worried at times that it was going to fall to pieces during the high dynamic, but they brought it back around. Nicole says Courtney (the percussionist and previous competitor) is amazing and the only female percussionist in the whole competition. She says they have enough depth to have that many lead singers, but they still sound like one voice.

Committed performs OneRepublic's "Apologize" and give it an astounding amount of depth. Shawn is falling out of his seat at the judges' table. Ben says there are so many great things going on in that, he doesn't even know what to say. He loved the violins and cellos and the bell tones and -- basically, it was amazing. Shawn says they take him back to being in high school with a choir of 75 people who could all sing, and they bring him back to that feeling of that soul-stirring time. Nicole is worried what might happen to Shawn if they stay on the show. She says they moved everyone tonight and that they are here for a special reason.

Groove for Thought give a jazzy feel to Mike Posner's "Cooler Than Me." They sound really great, but I don't love them for some reason. Shawn says they really did the song justice -- and then some. He adds that they are so cool it hurts. Nicole: "Whatever Shawn just said, ditto." She loves Peter's tone and Amanda's soprano sax. Ben thinks they set them all up with all the teacher stuff, so they could say, oh, your big brains got in the way, but nothing is getting in their way. He says the harmonies were "to use a technical term, sick."

The Whiffenpoofs say they are doing a fusion of old and new with their take on Michael Buble's "Haven't Met You Yet." But ... it's Michael Buble, not Ke$ha. They don't do vocal percussion because they say they don't need it, and it's fine without it. They do a fantastic job with their classic approach. Nicole loves them and she loves the choice of song. She adores their choral feeling and thinks they're lovely together. Shawn enjoys their quirkiness, their zeal, their enthusiasm. He doesn't think the leads were as strong as he'd hoped (except I think he means they weren't all that strong, but I think the redheaded singer sounded great the whole time). Ben compares it to a Broadway show, then clarifies that he means that in the best way.

More results: Committed is safe. So is Groove for Thought. The Backbeats are safe, which means The Whiffenpoofs are out. Wow, I'm actually kind of shocked.

What do you think about the results tonight?

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