Top 6 Acts of NBC’s “The Sing Off”

The_Sing-Off_Official_LogoThe Sing-Off returns tonight! The first season aired in December of 2009. Our family watched it as we decorated our Christmas tree and, then, for the next two Christmasses after that. This year, my 6-year-old mentioned it in a school project in which he was to list family holiday season traditions:

“We drink hot chocolate and watch The Sing-Off.”

Then, in 2012, without warning, NBC decided to not bring it back for the holiday season. Fans were outraged. Letters piled into NBC’s programming departments. The network was convinced to return the show for 2013.

This thoroughly enjoyable show is an a capella talent contest. The contestant groups bring every style of music from blues to country to pop to hip-hop. They hail from all over the country; from New York to Puerto Rico to San Diego to Seattle. They’ll have you cheering for them when they advance to the next level and biting a lip when they don’t.

The constructive criticism of judges Shawn Stockman (Boyz II Men) and Ben Folds (Ben Folds Five) will have you smiling and sometimes laughing. Shawn Stockman’s passion for a capella performance is infectious. Folds’ passion for music is clear through his compassionate critiques. There’s no grumpy curmudgeon on the panel to darken the mood.

To watch this prime-time treat is to eventually find yourself a fan of one group or another. In case you’ve missed out on all the fun of the previous three seasons, here’s a list of my personal favorites:

1) PentatonixSeason 3 winners. (Season 3 was the most competitive season yet. Lots of fantastic talent in that one.)

This quintet from Arlington, Texas remains my all-time favorite. Lead singer, Scott Hoying and harmony supports, Kristy Moldonado and Mitch Grassi have known each other since High School. Bass singer, Avi Kaplan and rhythm vocalist Kevin Ovusola rounded out the group in order to help Pentatonix get to the next level. The combination was magic. They most certainly got out of Arlington and onto millions of personal playlists, including my own. This year they even have a viral hit in their hilltop version of the The Little Drummer Boy.

I have this version of “Piece of My Heart”. It’s fantastic.

Pentatonix – Piece of My Heart


2) CommittedSeason 2 winners

This sextet from Huntsville, Alabama was originally focused on sacred music. The group originally formed in High school and takes their name “Committed” in reference to their faith.  Taking on secular music for this contest saw them soar to new heights and earned them dedicated fanboy in Shawn Stockman.

Committed – This Love


3) The Dartmouth Aires (with Michael O.) – Season 3 Runners Up
Like many contestant groups on the Sing-Off, the Dartmouth Aires are a college group with a long standing history and with an ever changing roster. The year they appeared on The Sing Off, in 2011, one of their lead singers was a senior named Michael Odokara-Okigbo, now using the stage name Michael O.

Straight to the point: Michael O belongs on Broadway, stat. Since graduating from Dartmouth, he has apparently moved to Los Angeles to launch a solo vocal career. Whichever path he choses or whatever path finds him, the world needs to hear this young man’s voice.

Dartmouth Aires – Pinball Wizard


4) The Collective – From Season 3

Not a season winner nor even finalist, this group from Nashville, Tennessee remains memorable for me because of the sheer star power of one of its lead vocalists, Ruby Amanfour.   It was assembled from various vocalists from around Nashville, by Jeremy Lister of Street Corner Symphony, Season 2’s Runner Up.  Had The Collective not been competing in the Power Season or had it not made some of the mistakes the made, I’m sure they would have made it to the final three that season.  With competition like Pentatonix and the Dartmouth Aires, they had a tough climb.

The Collective – Rolling in the Deep


5) NotaSeason 1 Winners

Taking their name from the Spanish word for “note”, Nota came to the Sing-Off from Puerto Rico against some considerable odds, including family illness and financial challenges. I missed Nota’s breakthrough performance on the second show. I’d learned of the show late, missing the first episode and even Nota’s appearance on the second episode.  After I’d finally caught up with the show, I was disappointed to find that I’d missed a performance that was to become one of my favorites in the show’s history.

Everything about this group is fun; from the lead singer’s contagious joy to their insertion of a Latin sound into a song made famous by an Asian Londoner.

Nota – Down

Honorable Mention – DelilahFrom Season 3

The Sing Off has its “power groups”; those assembled from vocalists who met on “The Sing Off” as competitors on one season only to return reassembled as a new group for another season. I don’t tend to support these groups as much as the more organic groups, but for Delilah, I’ll make an exception. The eight member group is compromised mostly of vocalists from groups who appeared as contestants on previous seasons, including BYU’s “Noteworthy”, The Berklee College of Music’s “Pitch Slapped” and Lee University’s “Voices of Lee”. However, it was a new member, power alto Johanna Vinson, that made Delilah as awesome as it is.

All female groups have a tendency to sound screechy for their lack of really low bass. Thanks to the inclusion of Jo, Delilah has that deep rooted sound that so often evades female vocal collectives.

I have this performance of theirs on MP3:

Delilah – If I Die Young

Make sure to catch the Season 4 premiere this evening on NBC at 9 PM Eastern 8 Central and prepare for fangirldom.

Image: Wikimedia Commons.

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