The Sing-Off – A Cross Between American Idol and Glee?

A conflict with the Jennifer Hudson Holiday special made me miss the first half of the new NBC singing competition, The Sing-Off until half-way through. But, what what I managed to catch was pretty entertaining.

Billed as a cross between American Idol and Glee, the best thing about this show, a competiton for a cappella groups, isn’t the singing–it’s judge Ben Folds’ incisive and funny critiques. Folds is an indie musician, and judge on a reality singing competition is the last place I would have expected him. But, I’m glad he’s there.

Various amounts of pitchy singing plagued all the groups I saw–some more than others. And can I say I despise barbershop harmonies? No offense to the nice middle-class moms who made up Maxx Factor, but just…NO.

Not the best singers, but definitely the most entertaining were Beelzebubs, who performed a cheeky version of the Beatles “Magical Mystery Tour” and since they’re from Tufts University, right here in Boston, I think I shall root for them!

I’m not going to be able to watch the entire series, but I’ll catch parts of it where I can. The show runs tonight and tomorrow night at 8 pm, with the finale scheduled for Dec. 21. Two groups are eliminated by the judges at the end of each show. The winner gets a recording contract and $100, 000. The ex-Mr. Simpson, Nick Lachey is host.

Watch Beelzebub after the jump.

  • And you can watch all the performances (not the judges comments, sadly) HERE.

Video after the JUMP…

About mj santilli 33696 Articles
Founder and editor of, home of the awesomest fan community on the net. I love cheesy singing shows of all kinds, whether reality or scripted. I adore American Idol, but also love The Voice, Glee, X Factor and more!


  1. GO BUBS!!! My wife went to Tufts. I’m an honorary Jumbo. I saw many a Bubs gig. Hell, we may even own a few of their CD’s. ;)

  2. But I have to say that I don’t remember the Bubs looking so young… which made me feel really old. I also didn’t remember Ben Folds looking so old. Which made me feel ancient. Also, when Nicole Scherzinfergerberger from PCD acted like she had to sing live during her career (when she had a career for, like, five minutes) I literally choked on a pretzel, GWBush style. Stragery.

  3. Overall, not a bad show… I liked the Puerto Rican group, the Beelzebubs, and the middle aged women’s quartet the best.

    Also, some inside info: here’s a group that made the Top 30 of the show (not shown, clearly) before being cut. Their version of “Whatcha Say” is far better than the group who did it last night IMO:

  4. I didn’t know that college accapella groups were participating in this! Loved going to these concerts when I was in concert — and I remember the Tufts group coming to perform with one of the groups at my college. I’ll have to watch when it is on next time.

  5. Oh, the second half was painful. It looked like the best groups sang on the first hour, except for the Bubs. I cannot listen to Barbershop. UGH!

  6. That was awesome! Thanks for posting! I just sent this link to my hubby. He majored in music in college, and was a part of several singing groups during that time. Plus, he loves the Beatles (who doesn’t?)

  7. oh my gosh, I only saw a few groups and what I saw was terrible. Really made me yearn for AI.

  8. I happened on this show last night and it kept my attention because of the a cappella aspect of it. I’ve never seen a competition like this.

    I think the ‘Beelzebubs’ were very entertaining but I enjoyed the “Nota” group the most.

    And I agree with you, MJ…….No. Just No….to the nice ladies of Maxx Factor!

  9. We watched the whole thing, and kept asking why AI can’t replace their judges with the two guys from this show, who actually gave useful, informative, and technical feedback. They reminded us of the Canadian Idol judges — Ben reminded us of Jake in particular.

    Pussycat Dolls Girl, not so much.

    Some ragged singing here from a few of the groups. Naturally, despite their good critiques, the judges sent home the wrong group out of the first set of four — that Face group was one of the best of the night.

    The “middle-class moms” who specialize in barbershop definitely deserve to go home — they weren’t very good. But what’s with you barbershop haters? Do you hate the Beach Boys’ harmonies too? I just don’t know what’s wrong with you people… :-)

  10. If MJ missed the first have, she missed two of the best performances. I loved Nota!!

  11. This type of stuff was bad in high school, miserable in college, and beyond belief excrutiating in middle life. A group of mediocre singers getting together does not make a good musical act, ever.

    Choirs and group sings are nice in church and at Christmas time….other than that…nah. Choruses are relegated to the back of the stage in musicals for a reason. Just ugh!

  12. Ben Folds Five’s “Brick” is one of my fav songs of the 90s. Quite the pianist & lyricist, Ben also has a clear bright pop voice, the kind you hear in acapella groups.

    I didn’t know Nicole no longer had a career… Wasn’t PCD’s last hit just last year?

    Boys II Men were soo cool back in the day. I think I have their Xmas album, lol… Of the three, Shawn should understand acapella harmonies the best.

  13. I enjoyed this last night, but, I agree that the first hour had better singing. I really liked Face, who got sent home at the end of the 1st hour. They reminded me of Rockapella, who were the house band for Where in the World Is Carmen San Diego? back in the 90s. Do it, Rockapella!

    I thought Ben Folds mad a great judge too. He reminded me of Jake, from Canadian Idol. The judging overall was better than Idol’s. It really helps that they’re all performers. I was sad that we don’t get to vote, though. Maybe if it’s a success they’ll bring it back as a weekly series. There must be college groups all over the country that could take part, and I know there’s lots of barbershop and church groups.

  14. But what’s with you barbershop haters? Do you hate the Beach Boys’ harmonies too?

    The Beach Boys harmonies, to my ear, don’t have that grating barbershop sound. The BB’s sound is rich, warm and complex. Barbershop makes me want to poke pencils in my ear.

  15. I thought they sent the wrong group home in teh first half – Face was a lot of fun – I oprobably would have ranked them #4 for the night – it’s too bad they couldn’t send home Solo and Maxx Factor and kept Face.

  16. I gave it a try but once was enough. I didn’t know that gal from The Pussycat Dolls is from Hawaii. She is very beautiful and likable.

  17. I thought they sent the wrong group home in teh first half ‘“ Face was a lot of fun ‘“ I oprobably would have ranked them #4 for the night ‘“ it’s too bad they couldn’t send home Solo and Maxx Factor and kept Face.

    I agree with you. Face is from here in Colorado, one of them is a chior teacher here in my home town of Longmont. They are amazing live, and I was sad to see them go home so soon.

  18. I missed them last night, so this is great, MJ.

    The Socals are better singers but these guys are way more entertaining.

    (and I used to live in an apartment at Tufts, so . . . you know . . . hometown).

    And I LOVE Ben Folds. LOVE. I wish he’d listen to me and give me advice!

    (I also love jambajim. Do you think he’ll ever read this?)

  19. I was kinda hoping that American Idol Top 24 guy Luke Menard’s acapella group would show up. I know their name had six in it. Chapter Six? Something like that.

  20. I used to sing in choirs, so it was cool to have this show,:-). Reminds me of “Clash of the Choirs” that Nick Lachey was part of, which the Gospel Music Channel had picked up and was airing not long ago. I agree with carolinacharms that mj missed 2 of the best choirs in the first part of the show. I, too, loved Nota, in part because I have Puerto Rican family, and they were indeed good. The second one, for me, would be Voices of Lee. They are from Phil Stacey’s alma mater, Lee University. Bragging on the school a bit, Phil and Jay DeMarcus from Rascal Flatts are graduates from there, and the group’s director, Danny Murray, was in the Lee Singers with Phil’s own dad, :-D. So Phil was excited to see friends on TV, per his tweets. He said that he also knew the one member of Solo named Michael Lawson.

  21. Thank you for posting this, MJ! I had seen Ben Folds was a judge and really wanted to see the show, but missed it…thanks so much.

  22. I’m glad you’re covering this, mj, so I can catch anything good that may come out of it, but after slogging through two hours last night, I thought this show seriously rivaled NBC’s version of Nashville Star for the worst reality show singing contest I’ve ever watched. (America’s Got Talent doesn’t count because I’ve never gotten past the first five minutes of that show.) I thought this was awful. Even Ben Folds couldn’t save it for me. I found all the judges rather patronizing. The Bubs were the only redeeming thing, and not for their singing.

  23. Agree! Ben Folds was the best part of the show! I hope tonight’s singing is better.

  24. I won’t even lie. I watched this show for Ben Folds. I’m a huge fan and I saw him in concert in September for the first time and he’s just amazing…I’m amazed the man still has fingers!

    Although even though I only watched it for Ben Folds, I was actually engaged!

  25. I enjoyed the show, even though I suspect it has something to do with missing AI immensely, and that I’m already going through Glee withdrawals.

    I really liked Shawn and Ben, their cc was respectful and insightful. Also liked Nota the best, great harmonies.

    A couple of things that I squirmed through were: Anything Nick Lachey said, just anything; the judge in the middle from the pcd, seems like a nice person, I just couldn’t deal; and the need to add personal tragedy to the backstories, very cliche. Oh, and I wanted to like Maxx Factor, but I think they’re in the wrong venue all the way around.

  26. One of the guys from the Beelzebubs went to my high school! So cool.

    I actually didn’t like most of the singing… SO MUCH PITCHINESS. Nota was good though.

  27. I was really disappointed last night. I just didn’t think the performances were that good. I was really looking forward to the show.

  28. My husband loves acapella so we have this on – these ladies are screwing around with Taylor Swift but they got a standing O from the audience or some such – I just didn’t really like it.

  29. I missed this last night, but I have it on right now. I’m guessing that it sounds much better there in the studio than over the tv, because I’ve been cringing through the performances, then the judges all seem to love them. My daughter just said, “They need Simon Cowell on there to tell them they sound like bad karaoke” lol

  30. The Voices of Lee have good harmonies. Idol tie-in= Phil Stacey’s old group

  31. Too bad you missed the first half, MJ — Noteworthy was the best. I’m impressed that an all-girl group can pull that off!

  32. Well I’ve just watched my first episode and my last episode. Without giving too much away, hopefully, the group that got to stay when it was down to two? Bollocks. Complete and utter.

  33. Well I’ve just watched my first episode and my last episode. Without giving too much away, hopefully, the group that got to stay when it was down to two? Bollocks. Complete and utter.

    100% agreed – we’ve picked the Top3 in our house and 2 of them advanced 1 and 2.

  34. I think Nota blows everyone else away. Those guys really have it all goin on. I do hope they win the whole thing. I think their recording would really sell. I also like Beelzebubs for pure guilty entertainment value. Also truly Ben Folds is a blessing on the show.

    If you listen till the end, which I did, they mentioned that the audience will be voting to decide the winner. Up till now its been only the judges voting.

  35. They’re more Glee than Idol except for the presence of judges and the need to inject some sort of personal tragedy for at least a member of each group(which really isn’t necessary).

    I like Nota,Beelzebubs(they remind me so much of the UNC Clef Hangers where Anoop came from–lots of energy) and SoCals(altho they could have done better with Somebody to LOve).

    Shawn and Ben know their stuff.

    And I think–because it’s a capella….it’s easier to spot “pitchiness” here and there….but the show’s entertaining enough and I see real talent here and there….

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