I first saw an ad for it last November - advertising the second season of a 4 or 5 week acapella song competition. I tire of so many singers who can't actually sing, who rely on auto-tune, etc to make their voices sound pretty. I wanted pure, unadulterated human voice.
I've always been fascinated and enjoyed acapella - from Rockapella on Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego to having a few collegiate acapella groups visit my schools like Colgate 13. To an all acapella musical called Avenue X which captivated my attention in the first 10 seconds, and sent me running to the gift shop at intermission to buy the CD (which I have done once and only once in my theatre-going life).
I thoroughly enjoyed watching last season's Sing Off having been blown away not only by the amazing talent and music but by Mr. Ben Folds. I have always liked his music - but he FLOORED with his musical technical knowledge. He gave real, intelligent feedback unlike his other two fellow judges. Mr. Shawn Stockmann definitely balanced the modern vernacular with musical critique but the same could not be said for their fellow female judge - a member of the Pussycat Dolls... and was nicknamed by me, "The Showpiece". My favorite group, Street Corner Symphony, sadly did not win... but it was a very enjoyable December.
I LOVED "watching" it with my dad. Mom and I "watch" a few shows from afar together like the Tonys or the Oscars... but Dad and I had never had a show that we called each other on the commercial breaks and commented about how AMAZING that piece was or how flat or bad the other piece was. We'd try to correctly predict who would get voted off and compare notes.
This year, with it being a main season attraction, on Monday nights and me being in town(!), we've turned it into a new tradition of watching it together.
If I thought last season was amazing, then this one just blows it away. I can't believe it started at 16 groups and now its down to only 5, as of tonight.
There is one group, Pentatonix, who just continuously blows us away every week. They are phenomenal. Their arrangements are, as Ben Folds and Shawn Stockmann say, sick. They are extraordinarily talented and they have not screwed up yet. And they have definitely been singing out of their comfort zone. 4 guys, 1 girl - and the girl both easily blends in with them and comes sailing out as a rockin' solo.
Groups like BYU's Vocal Point, Howard U's Afro-Blue or the Dartmouth Aires have also consistently brought some amazing pieces and arrangements to the show.
Groups like Delilah or The Collective surprise us in turn and disappoint us in the next which keep us on our toes.
And groups like Urban Method make me appreciate rap mixed in with non-rap music. Especially at this late point in the competition, almost all of the "weak links" have been voted off and from here on out, it's going to be a Very. Tough. Competition. Tonight was the first night that I had trouble ranking the groups. Usually I can pick the top two and bottom two with fairly good accuracy... but it was so ahrd to tell.
It is amazing when you consider what they go through - not only singing and performing a piece learned within a week - but they do their own arrangements.
I won't lie - I have EVERY album of The Sing Off from Seasons 2 and 3. I LOVE re-listening to the amazing work that was done and is being done on this show. Is it all 100% perfect? No... and I like that. It makes it real. I like hearing the flaws. I like hearing them grow. I like them hearing their mistakes and fixing them on the fly.
I only hope that people who never gave acapella a chance before are enjoying hearing it now and will explore acapella listening opportunities in their area.
So thank you, Sing Off and Ben Folds, for bringing great acapella music to prime time television... even if you had to turn it into a reality tv compeition.