Monday, December 20, 2010

The Sing Off

The Johnny Mann singers were the first a cappella group I really fell in love with. Their KHJ radio jingles from 1965 were fabulous. And then I learned there were groups who sang a cappella songs that were actually longer than three seconds. Then I was really hooked.

When I heard that NBC was airing a show called THE SING OFF I was very excited. I was also surprised to learn this was the second season. Guess all their promos last year were on the LENO SHOW.

When I finally did learn of the show I thought, this will have limited appeal. A cappella singers are probably trending below Hootenanny groups and Polka bands on the list of hot musical acts. And yet THE SING OFF is a hit.

Why? Two main reasons in my opinion.

First - the shows are entertaining. All of the groups are terrific and the hour (or two) is filled with performances, not a barrage of QUEEN FOR A DAY feature pieces on the contestants’ miserable lives, not seeing their high schools and trailer parks, and not subjecting us to endless scenes of emo-crying (like some shows I won’t mention – AMERICAN IDOL). There are no Sanjayas. There are no members of Sarah Palin’s shameless family. We are just treated to talented musicians showing off a unique skill.

Reason number two: Ben Folds. What a revelation this guy is. I knew of him as a successful artist but had no idea how charming, funny, and knowledgeable this Rick Moranis clone is. As opposed to a buffoon like Randy Jackson, who has a smaller vocabulary than the Talking Dora Surprise doll, Ben Fold really knows his music and can articulate his insightful points. Regardless of who ultimately wins the competition, he’s emerging as the star.

As for the rest of the judges, Shawn Stockman from Boyz II Men offers intelligent comments while presenting a likeable quality, and Nicole Scherzinger – how can I best describe her ability as a judge? She has great hair.

But the big surprise is Nick Lachey.  As the host, he's, well... he's, uh...good.  I’m used to seeing him in that appalling reality show where he was married to Jessica Simpson and had to explain to her that “Chicken of the Sea” tuna did not contain chickens.  But Nick can read a teleprompter.  Well played, sir.

Four groups remain heading into tonight’s finale. And America gets to vote. So Jerry Lawson and the Talk of the Town, veteran middle-aged doo wop singers, have no shot. But any of the other three groups would be worthy winners. I’m sure the final determination will be which group has the cutest guys and the hottest girls?

I don’t know what they’re going to sing on the finale, but if I may make a suggestion, I’d love to hear how they all handle the KHJ jingle package.

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