NBC’s “The Sing-Off” is the best singing competition this season

By Tom Comi

If you want to watch a fun singing competition instead of Simon Cowell’s American Idol wannabe on FOX, I would highly suggest you tune in tonight to NBC’s under-the-radar The Sing-Off.

Let me warn you first, though. You’re not going to get a high-end production like you do with Cowell’s The X-Factor, there isn’t an ounce of hype surrounding this show, and you surely won’t tune in more for the judges than you will the singers. If that’s your thing, then by all means The X-Factor is probably the better bet.

But if you are a fan of great voices that aren’t drowned out by amplified instruments, The Sing-Off (airing tonight at 8pm ET) is right up your alley. In fact, instruments are not even allowed, because this contest is strictly a cappella, which means no music whatsoever is permitted other than what the singers can manufacture with their mouths.

And therein lies the magic. Some of these ensembles are so brilliant at creating the sounds of drums, brass instruments and a bass that you don’t even realize there is no accompaniment. Hosted by Nick Lachey, the show is now down to a Top 10 after starting with 16 groups a few weeks ago. The last one standing will get a Sony Music recording contract and $200,000.

Viewers will ultimately have a say in who walks away the winner, but the three celebrity judges will continue to determine who advances for now. And the great thing about Ben Folds (Ben Folds Five), Shawn Stockman (Boyz II Men) and Sara Bareilles (singer of “Love Song” and “King of Anything”) is that they are never mean-spirited in their critiques. Unlike Cowell, they are capable of offering feedback without being cruel. This trio realizes the show is about the musicians on stage and not them.

Tonight viewers will get to see the groups sing their favorite guilty pleasures, which should make for some interesting entertainment when you consider the size and age ranges of the various acts. North Shore (pictured above) is comprised of five older gentlemen, while the YellowJackets features 15 students from the University of Rochester.

Regardless of what anybody sings tonight, count this show as one of my guilty pleasures.


Credit: Lewis Jacobs/NBC


  1. Lori, I actually liked Simon a lot when he was on “Idol,” but I think his act and formula have grown a tad stale. He almost seems like a caricature of himself. “The Sing-Off” can be very cheesy, but there is also something genuine about it compared to “The X-Factor.”

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