The growing popularity of a capella (singing without the use of instruments) over the past few years shows that at least one of the fine arts still remains popular in high school, college and beyond. With the success of Pitch Perfect and now the return of NBC’s competition show, ‘The Sing-Off’, a capella appears to breaking through to the mainstream masses.
The opening of season 4 last night marked the show`s return after two years of being off the air. Ben Folds and Shawn Stockman (of Boyz II Men fame) returned as judges, with a feisty Jewel replacing Sara Bareilles from season 3.
Here`s how the show works: ten groups compete for a $100,000 cash prize and a Sony Music record deal by putting on a cappella performances of cover songs to win over the three judges. In a new segment, for each episode until the final one, the two groups with the lowest rated performances “battle” each other in a true “sing-off” for the chance to stay on the show. The judges then decide which group won the sing-off and thus can stay for the next round, and which group leaves the competition for good.
Last night, this season’s ten groups gave their debut performances, and in singing N’Sync’s “Bye Bye Bye”, the Princeton Footnotes ended up losing the ‘ultimate sing-off’ to Voiceplay. The Princeton Footnotes were incredibly fun to watch, with playful choreography and tongue-in-cheek trash”talk”, but ultimately the less physically dynamic Voiceplay demonstrated more unique vocal arrangements and according to Stockman, “more promise” than the Ivy League crooners.
Other highlights from the show, in my opinion, were the all-male, all-Filipino-American group,The Filharmonic, who performed Bruno Mars “Treasure,” and displayed an effortless charisma and humour in their introductory segment.
Another group to watch out for is also the youngest group in this year’s competition: Vocal Rush from Oakland, CA. They opened the show last with an amazing performance of Delta Rae’s “Bottom of the River”, displaying a soulfulness for someone the collective age of the entire group. That’s a testament to their individual talents at such a young age, and how beautifully they layered and arranged their vocals.
The Sing-Off is playing through the holiday season. The next episode is tomorrow, Wednesday, December 11, at 8pm EST on NBC, so if you haven’t seen it yet, check it out while you can on CTV.