is an American television singing competition
featuring A Cappella
groups. It premiered on NBC
on December 14, 2009, and was cancelled for a couple years after its third season.A Cappella
groups are chosen by audition and advanced in the competition based on judges' eliminations until the finale, where the winners are determined by viewer votes. The winning group receives a cash prize and a Sony Music recording contract.
Unlike many other music-based TV competitions, auditions aren't part of the show, so all the groups viewers see are made up of excellent musicians. The entertainment value comes from the music itself rather than schadenfreude over poor performers. The judges (especially Ben Folds
) often offer in-depth musical critiques
, making the show a treat for knowledgeable musicians as well as general fans.
For the first three seasons, it was hosted by Nick Lachey (formerly of the Boy Band
98 Degrees), with judges Ben Folds
, Shawn Stockman (of the R&B vocal group Boyz II Men), and Nicole Scherzinger, who was later replaced by Sara Bareilles
in the second and third seasons.
It now appears that it's coming back
.Needs Wiki Magic Love
This show contains examples of:
- A Cappella: The show features only these groups.
- Antiquated Linguistics: Ben Folds sometimes employs it for laughs. "Thumbs aloft, gentlemen."
- Author Appeal: More like Judge Appeal; all of the judges have a background working with A Cappella (Ben produced an album of covers of his songs done by college A Cappella groups, Sara was in a college A Cappella group, and Boyz II Men still regularly perform songs this way).
- Brain Bleach: In season 3, Shawn says he needs this after the Yellowjackets perform "Wannabe" by Spice Girls.
- Color-Coded Characters: The members of each group are given coordinated outfits each week, though they switch it up so as to prevent people from identifying the group with just one particular color. Though groups with colors in their names (e.g Afro-Blue, The Yellowjackets) tend to wear the same color each week.
- Commercial Break Cliffhanger
- Consolation Prize: Averted in the conventional sense, but while Season 3's finalists sang in the finale with the judges (and Nick Lachey), almost-finalists Afro-Blue got to sing with Smokey Robinson. That's got to count for something.
- Coordinated Clothes: The members of each group are given coordinated outfits each week, though they switch it up so as to prevent people from identifying the group with just one particular color.
- Constructive Criticism: The preferred method, by far, for the judges' criticisms.
- The Cover Changes The Gender: Done whenever applicable.
- Crowd Song: The opening number each week is a number done by all of the groups (in the first part of Season 3, this was changed to all of the groups in that week's bracket).
- Dramatic Pause: Go ahead, time Nick when it comes down to seeing which of the bottom two groups is to get eliminated.
- Elimination Catchphrase: Variations on "And now please raise your mics one final time for your Swan Song."
- Elimination Statement: Each eliminated group gets to perform a "Swan Song," one last tune as they leave the stage.
- Follow the Leader: While much different in tone, plus the A Cappella gimmick making it distinct, it's unmistakably following in the mold of American Idol.
- Guilty Pleasure: The theme of a Once a Season episode, giving the groups a chance to perform some slightly embarrassing favorites (such as pop hits from The Eighties).
- Incredibly Lame Pun: Nick spouts one in his introduction for every performance, normally relating to the song's title. He'll often pull another once the song is done.
- Incredibly Long Note: Michael from the Dartmouth Aires managed to belt out a high A-flat for so long it messed his own group up. Doubles as a Crowning Moment of Awesome since this performance was in a literal sing-off with another group to help the judges decide who got to go to the finals.
- Judge Stock Phrases: "Pitchy," "beatboxing," "you did your thing," and any instance where the singers are described like non-vocal instruments.
- Neoclassical Punk Zydeco Rockabilly: This can happen with some of the more exotic groups. Pentatonix and Urban Method from season 3 were notable examples, with Pentatonix using electronic influences and Urban Method's "rapapella" style (mixing rapping and A Cappella singing, which worked surprisingly well).
- Once an Episode: After about three episodes, you'll know roughly when Nick is going to say "This is a vocal competition using only their voices" and his other stock phrases.
- Once a Season: Although you can't always exactly predict when, you'll also see Nick bemoan the fact that nobody wants to sing a 98 Degrees song (usually after someone does a song by a different Boy Band).
- Finally subverted in the finale of season 3, when Nick joined forces with Pentatonix to perform (you guessed it) a 98 Degrees song, "Una Noche."
- Perfectly Cromulent Word: Ben Folds is probably the worst offender, but all of the judges use words that sound like they're either music industry insider lingo or ones they just made up ("pitchy," borrowed from American Idol, seems to be the most popular).
- Piss Take Rap: While remarking on a performance by "rapapella" group Urban Method, Ben Folds improvisednote some extremely nerdy freestyle. Hilarity Ensued.
- Power Trio: The judges.
- Product Placement: They are not shy about notifying folks as to when any of the judges are about to have another release.
- Any high school group is going to be greeted with some comparison to Glee.
- In Season 3, Sonos chose Boyz II Men's "It's So Hard To Say Goodbye To Yesterday" as their Swan Song upon elimination. Shawn was visibly embarrassed.
- In Season 3, Michael from the Dartmouth Aires shouted "Sing-Off!" in three of their performances. Four, if you count their audition video.
- Shown Their Work: Ben Folds in particular will show off his familiarity with the mechanics and techniques of A Cappella singing, the other judges as well if less frequently.
- The Sixties: The subject of another one of the theme episodes.
- Technician Versus Performer: Some elements of this, particularly with various college groups falling under the "technician" umbrella.
- Title Drop: Season 3 introduced the first official "Sing-Off," in which the two lowest-ranked groups battled each other for elimination, each performing the same song for the judges.
- Un-Cancelled: Judging by the audition page and the note at the top of the sing-off's NBC website, it's being brought back for a fourth season in 2013.