Wednesday, December 16, 2009


The Beelzebubs (or Bubs) end their rendition of "Sail Away" with a fun, Titanic-like finish.

When I first heard about Sing-off, I thought to myself, this show will never make it. Surprisingly, I love it. Not only am I extremely entertained and delighted by each of the a capella group performances, I'm also learning something in the process about how to improve my own singing technique.

TVgrrrrl (aka Jenny Penny), when she isn't blogging, is also singing in a band, or should I say "shinging," a term coined by Ben Folds when evaluating one of the a cappella group's performances on Tuesday night's show. "Shing" was the actual word the backup singers were singing, but the term picked up new life as the sound the backup singers make behind the lead singer to sound like instruments.

The three judges, Ben Folds, Shawn Stockman of Boyz II Men, and Nicole Scherzinger of the Pussycat Dolls, are incredibly insightful, positive, and intelligent in their evaluations. While I am blissfully entertained, the judges are pinning down specifics of why one group sounds so good and why one group doesn't. Together, they point out the finer details, such as: subtle pitch mismatches, impressive vocal rises, dynamic arrangements, vocal intensity issues, and so on. The lessons a singer can learn from watching this show are good enough to put on a University accredited online education program.

Three groups, BYU Noteworthy, Face, and Solo have been eliminated to date. Remaining in the competition are: Maxx Factor, SoCals, Voices of Lee, and my two favorites, Nota and Beelzebubs.

Nick Lachey of 98 degrees hosts the show.

Sing-Off will air the last of three two-hour, taped competition episodes tonight on NBC from 8PM to 10PM. The live finale will air on Monday, Dec. 21. You can also catch the show online on

Monday, December 14, 2009

Sights Set on Sing-Off

NOTA from Puerto Rico will be competing with seven other groups.

Tonight, Tvgrrrrl will have her TV set locked onto NBC to see Sing-off, the first ever a capella singing group competition from 8 PM to 10 PM (Channel 4 here in Orlando on Brighthouse Cable). I’ve always been a fan of great musical talent and this show strips down the competition to focus solely on the performers’ own God-given talents.

The show is hosted by Nick Lachey of 98 Degrees; and judged by Ben Folds, Shawn Stockman of Boyz II Men, and Nicole Scherzinger of the Pussycat Dolls. All are renowned for their impressive live vocal group harmonies.

While American Idol showcases the Michael Jordans of singing – the superstars whose belting voices scale the ranges of melody accompanied by anything from a lone guitar to a full symphony orchestra – Sing-off will celebrate the team players who together as a group, create magic solely through the harmony, arrangements, and expert manipulation of their God given instruments – their own voices. Judge Shawn Stockman says, “It’s just you and your voice… the whole focus is on you and you alone, no drummers behind you, no guitars, no pyro, no anything. This is pure, raw talent at its finest.”

Eight singing groups from all walks of life and all ages have been chosen to compete:

Beelzebubs – Medford, MA – All male, 12 member former Tufts University graduates who have fun acting out and performing popular songs. (Their rendition of Life Would Suck Without You on youtube)

Maxx Factor – Baltimore, MD – An award winning Sweet Adelines quartet (Their rendition of Little Patch of Heaven on youtube)

Solo – Omaha, NE – Six member coed group of Omaha residents who face difficult challenges in their everyday lives. (I was unable to find a website or video sample of their work.)

Voices of Lee – Cleveland, TN – Religious based coed singing group with 10 members featuring flawless harmonies, professionally coached by Danny Murray. (Their rendition of All Rise on youtube, audio with still photo.)

SoCals – Los Angeles, CA – An eight-member coed subset of both current and past members of the official University of Southern California singing group, the USC SoCal VoCals. (Should be similar to this SoCal VoCals rendition of Footloose on youtube)

BYU Noteworthy – Provo, UT – A talented group of nine women from Brigham Young University. (Their rendition of Signed Sealed Delivered on youtube)

Nota – San Juan, PR – Six men who first began singing together in college. (Their rendition of Billy Jean on youtube)

Face – Boulder, CO – A professional a capella group of six men with a ton of awards already under their belts. (A promo video on their website.)

Unlike American Idol, Sing-off doesn’t pretend that the competitors haven’t already become successful in their own right. Some of the groups are already award-winning artists with huge followings. However, the winning group will get an even bigger prize: a recording contract with Epic Records/Sony Music.

Judge Nicole Scherzinger says, “What’s so wonderful about a capella singing in groups like these, is it’s all about just having a unity and one with the group – a blend – and listening to each other and not just to yourself. If they just have faith in each other and stick through it, they are going to do amazing.”

Judge Ben Folds, known for being one of the hardest working singer songwriters in the music industry, has worked for years to perfect his singing harmonies: “I feel like my job is to help them get to the next show… to help them get to the next step, and not to necessarily tear them down. You can’t move along unless you know what your problems are and so I consider that my job.”

Viewers will be able to cast their votes for their favorite band on Wednesday, Dec. 16 after the last of the three taped competition shows airs. The finale will air live on Monday, Dec. 21 at 8 PM. If you, like TVgrrrrl, have a schedule conflict and will miss one of the three competition shows, you can also watch replays of full episodes online on

At this point, my money is on NOTA. No Face. No, wait a minute, SoCals... But, Noteworthy is awesome, too. Oh, don't forget Beelzebubs... and the list goes on. Guess we'll see what the judges have to say!

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