5 Changes NBC Hopes Will Make Season 4 of 'The Sing-Off' Pitch-Perfect
Ben Folds, Jewel, and Shawn Stockman in "The Sing-Off"
While "The Sing-Off" was never officially canceled by NBC, things looked grim for the a cappella singing competition, which hadn't aired since November 2011. Luckily for a-ca-ballers and a-ca-followers everywhere, the film "Pitch Perfect" became a box-office beast: Its "Cups" song was omnipresent, "Glee" continued to keep the beat on the small screen, and "Sing-Off" Season 3 winner Pentatonix became a bona fide YouTube phenomenon. We're guessing NBC couldn't ignore those numbers, so the series was saved from certain tone death.
"It's exciting to see what I think is a renaissance in a cappella music and to think the little engine that could, 'The Sing-Off,' has been part of spawning that renaissance," the show's host, Nick Lachey, said during a set visit held last August when the new installment was being filmed. "We all do this because we have real passion for music and a cappella, and it's pretty cool to see what people are interpreting a cappella to be. It's great to be back."
[Related: Get Your Music Fix With Our 'Voice' Recaps]
Judge Shawn Stockman (Boyz II Men) was also thrilled about the show's Dec. 9 comeback. "It is basically putting a spotlight on a culture that always existed but never had a soapbox to show off their gifts."
That soapbox, according to the returning talent as well as new judge Jewel and production team at the press conference, has been tinkered with and reworked in hopes of attracting a larger audience, producing a more exciting project, and scoring at least a few more seasons. Read on to find out the five strategies instituted to make this the new and improved "Sing-Off."
1. Hired a new boss.
Mark Burnett ("Survivor," "Shark Tank," "The Apprentice," "The Voice") and his reality TV Midas touch took over production duties. While the grand prize of $100,000 and a Sony recording contract remain the same, Burnett immediately gave the set an upgrade and made some tweaks to the format (more on that below). But he didn't want to fix things that weren't broken. He explained, "I love working with these guys, and when we sat down with the stars I told them, 'It's your show, not mine. Pretty much do what you want and have fun.' I've tried to be like we are on all our shows [and create] a uplifting, cool environment. We were here until 1 a.m. last night when we were supposed to be finished at 10, but it was such great fun that I honestly left with more energy than when I arrived. I was working but felt like I bought a ticket and was enjoying a show. People are working late but going home happy. That has to translate through the whole show."
Lachey confirmed his approach was working. "Mark is being humble. The energy he brings to the show and the atmosphere he's helped create are incredible."
The Filharmonic performs Bruno Mars's "Treasure":
2. Added new coach with judging experience and street cred.