‘The Sing-Off’ is Back! And It’s More Pitch-Perfect Than Ever
Two years ago, NBC's little show that could, "The Sing-Off," almost didn't. After its third season tanked in the ratings, the a cappella talent competition was canceled, robbing viewers of some truly fantastic singing — and, more tragically, of the wit and wisdom of Ben Folds, the greatest reality TV judge of all time.
But a lot can happen in two years. Ironically, Season 3's winner, Pentatonix, went on to huge success, with their two albums respectively debuting at number 14 and number 10 on the Billboard chart. The sleeper-hit comedy flick Pitch Perfect put a cappella on the pop-culture map. "Sing-Off" fanatics started a grass-roots "Save the 'Sing-Off'" campaign to revive the show. And now, "The Sing-Off" is finally back.
And you know, it's even better than I remember.
Sure, "The Sing-Off" is cheesy enough to be jointly sponsored by Kraft and Velveeta. But beneath that gooey layer of TV cheese, it's probably the most intelligent, highbrow talent show this side of "So You Think You Can Dance." Much of this has to do with the judges, who never talk down to contestants or viewers. Ben Folds phrases his critiques like he's a music theory professor giving a lecture at Berklee. Boyz II Men's Shawn Stockman and new judge Jewel (stepping in for recent Album of the Year Grammy nominee Sara Bareilles) dole out actual advice about actual singing techniques, instead of just tossing off pre-scripted one-liners (like "Idol's" Steven Tyler), telling everyone they're "amazing" and "fabulous" ("The X Factor's" Britney Spears, "Idol's" Mariah Carey, every single "Voice" judge), or being cruel for cruelty's sake (I'm looking at you, Simon Cowell). "The Sing-Off" is genuinely educational! It's edutainment! When people describe this as "family viewing," it's because kids could actually learn a thing or two about music from this show.
So on Monday's big two-hour premiere, 10 very diverse crews competed, and then the bottom two engaged in a suspenseful "Ultimate Sing-Off." (Keep in mind that "Voice" producer Mark Burnett is now at the "Sing-Off" helm, and Burnett loves a good battle.) In the end, the judges, being smart 'n' all, sent the right two crews to battle, and sent the right crew home. Hey, let's have Ben and his cronies judge all singing shows from now on!