Friday, March 29, 2013

Sing-Off Season 4
Accepting Applications

On Wednesday, March 13, the producers, cast, crew, and loyal fans of The Sing-Off received the wonderful news that their beloved show had been picked up by NBC for a fourth season in 2013.  A call for applicants to audition was posted and word is spreading among the predominantly college-based a cappella community that group auditions will begin on Saturday, April 27th in Chicago.
Group Audition Dates:
Chicago April 27
Nashville May 4
Los Angeles     May 11
New York May 18

More information can be found online at sing off casting.
The Sing-Off is an a cappella competition show that began airing in 2009 and features all-vocal musical performances of groups of four or more members competing for a $100,000 Sony recording contract. Acts are judged on their live performances by a panel of three experts and are encouraged to perform unique vocal arrangements of popular songs. Microphones are the only equipment permitted and are supplied by the show. The sounds of drums, horns, bass and other instruments are created solely through vocals.

The show had meager beginnings. It was slotted as a season end filler which ran in December 2009 in Season 1, then again in November and December 2010 in Season 2 where it gained high viewer ratings. In the fall of 2011, the Sing-Off was awarded a regular primetime Monday night spot. Unfortunately, it did not compete well against Dancing with the Stars which aired in the same time slot, and therefore was not renewed for 2012, instead being replaced with The Voice. However, confident that they had a healthy fan base, show owner Sony continued to shop the Sing-Off around to other networks.

What is unique to the Sing-Off are its overly enthusiastic fans. After the Sing-Off was not renewed by NBC for a fourth season in 2012, a fan named Dan St. John launched a #savethesingoff twitter and facebook campaign to gather signatures in an online petition to save the show. To date, over 38,000 signatures have been gathered, bringing the popularity of the show to the attention of the network.

During the Sing-Off's one year hiatus, a cappella music as a commercially viable art form has risen from the level of goody-two-shoes obscurity into the popular mainstream, thanks in part, to the Emmy award winning FOX TV show Glee; the hilariously funny $110 million-high-grossing hit movie Pitch Perfect; and the Sing-Off's own Season 3 winners Pentatonix, who have stormed across the country making musicial history by charting on Billboard and itunes.

Money talks, and a cappella is hot!

NBC finally saw the light and on March 13, word was leaked that the Sing-Off would return in 2013. On March 20, NBC made it official in a press release. The show is returning as a regular season ending filler during the holidays.

At the helm in Season 3: Dr. Ben Folds, Sara Bareilles, and Shawn Stockman.

What is unclear is who will head up the helm at the judges desk. Though Sony still owns the show, and Deke Sharon is still a producer and huge contributor, a new executive producer, Mark Burnett of Survivor and The Voice fame, has been brought in to help boost the shows ratings in its fourth season. Burnett may make changes.

In the past, the show's format consisted of three judges who made all of the preliminary decisions on which group shall move forward and which shall stay behind, with audience participation not allowed in the decision making process until the finale. A fourth regular cast member is a host who introduced the acts.

All three judges and the host are well-liked, admired by fans, and have the street-cred needed to be worthy of their roles:

I personally do not feel that the show can go on without the clever quips from "Professor" Ben Folds, who not only evaluates competitors objectively, but also is a veritable encyclopedia of musical and vocal terminology. Folds simply IS the show.

Shawn Stockman has become a regular feature as well, without whom the show could not survive. As an cappella performer with 25 years experience performing with Boyz II Men, he comes in tow with real-life working knowledge.

Sara Bareilles came on board as a judge in Season 3 to replace Nicole Scherzinger, who left to join the X-factor. Bareilles, though new, is a good fit for the show with her recent experience competing as a member of an a cappella group while attending college at UCLA. Her amazing vocal prowess, youth, and star success are a much needed asset. [Update: As of April 5, Sara Bareilles announced that she will not be returning to help judge the Sing-Off.]

The show's host, Nick Lachey, is perhaps underutilized. His 18 years with 98 Degrees have given him real life experience and yet he is given the neutral position as announcer. I am curious – how would he work as a judge? Perhaps he could slide into a judges chair if one of the others is unavailable. Or, perhaps his role could be expanded to help vet the applicants during the auditions before they are chosen to compete in front of the panel of judges.

All four celebrities have cleared their schedules by early August when the show usually begins taping.

Shawn Stockman and Nick Lachey are currently touring together through August 5 with The Package, a three-act power house featuring Boyz II Men, 98 Degrees, and New Kids on the Block. Ben Folds is touring with Ben Folds Five through July. Sara Bareilles is touring through May.

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