The Sing-Off Awesomeness

Okay, let’s just talk for a minute about The Sing-Off. I watched the first two seasons, of course, because clearly I can’t say no to any reality television show that features singing.* And it was good. But each season gets better and better!

The Sing-Off. A singing competition without any instruments or background music. By all accounts this should be a disaster, right? Just think about some of the a capella auditions on American Idol that we’ve been subjected to throughout the years. Seriously. A ridiculous number of gnarly notes have trespassed into our living rooms. And contestants on other shows that HAVE music backing them up and covering a multitude of sins sometimes STILL cannot stay on key. But these folks (for the most part) do.

The Best Parts of This Show

The Groups

The vocal talent is SO legit. Because the only music these groups produce is with their voices, they have to be SO clever about their arrangements and so in tune with the voices surrounding them. And what happens when they sing is magic. So far the groups that have been voted off weren’t even that bad…they just weren’t as stellar as the remaining groups. A few of my favorites:

The Judges

Last year, the judging panel consisted of Nicole Sherzinger, Ben Folds, and Shawn Stockman. This year, though, with Nicole going over to the big Simon Cowell mother-ship “The X Factor”, The Sing-Off powers that be decided to replace the former Pussycat Doll with Sara Bareilles.

SARA BAREILLES. As in, my favorite artist of 2010-11. Her voice is gorgeous, her lyrics are beautiful turns of phrases, and her music is varied and stunning. Plus, it turns out, she has a background in singing in a cappella groups during her illustrious career. Imagine that! Clearly, I couldn’t be happier to have her on the panel. I think she’s a little dwarfed by the whole judging gig at this point, but she’ll find her way. I’m sure of it.

Her fellow veteran panelists have some musical clout, too. Ben Folds is pretty much a music genius and all you have to do is listen to him for 5 seconds to get that he knows his stuff. He can pick apart anything that has notes and whittle it down to it’s basic parts. It’s kind of astonishing, actually. And he’s likeable and concise…he’s got that I’m-done-with-what-I’m-saying-and-the-host-can-go-to-the-next-judge-now nod down pat. From a critique level, he’s my favorite judge.

Shawn Stockman was in the spotlight with Boys II Men back in the day. Say what you want about one of my generation’s first boy band, but they had some tight harmonies. And clearly, the fashion as well.

The Group Numbers

Are. Phenomenal. It’s so cool to see all the different groups performing, switching off lead vocals, singing with each other. It’s just a celebration of group singing. And you best believe that I dig it.

The Worst Parts of This Show

For every great part about this show, there are a few downsides, too. Since I try to keep it real (and pretend like I grew up on the streets by speaking the “lingo”), I thought it was only fair that you know about these, too.

The Host

Okay, really? Nick Lachey is a nice guy and all. And I wish him well in his non-televised marriage. But, two things:

1. He acts like he’s too cool to be a host. The reason Ryan is SO great at what he does is that he’s not afraid to get in there and mingle with the crazies. He embraces it. He doesn’t take himself too seriously. He responds to other people and lets them shine. Nick? Nope. He’s got this I’m-done-talking-and-now-I’m-going-to-put-my-microphone-down-to-my-side-in-a-totally-jock-type-way-because-I-want-everyone-to-know-that-I-work-out movement that drives me nuts.

2. I get the feeling like he’s mad he’s not a judge. He’s got a chip on his shoulder. I can kind of understand it…as a part of 98 Degrees, I’m sure he feels he has every right to sit on the panel if Shawn can. But Nick. Dude. Get over yourself. And try to be less awkward.

The Intro Videos

One of my co-workers, Johanna, was talking about this show today and she brought up a good point that is the very reason I won’t watch Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. It’s emotional manipulation, pure and simple. Every group has a sob story. A gimmick. A manufactured/real “I want to pull on your heartstrings so I can get your vote and be remembered” video package. We get it. Being a music artist and trying to make it is tough. But let your music speak for you. Stop. Just stop.

But in the meantime, I’ll be watching you anyways. ‘Cause I heart the music. Don’t you?

*I decided that I cannot, in good conscience, also watch “X Factor”. I already watch American Idol, The Voice, The Glee Project, and The Sing-Off. At some point, a girl just has to say “no”.

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