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ACB Preview & Predictions: An exclusive look at the 2010 edition NBC’s The Sing-Off

Newsline

This Monday, December 6, NBC will launch season two of The Sing-Off, with an expanded set of five episodes to take us into the holiday season.

Last year’s show saw collegiate powerhouses like The Beelzebubs, Noteworthy, The SoCals, and Voices of Lee go head-to-head with barbershop champions MAXX Factor, and professional groups like Solo, Face, and the eventual champions, Nota. While the show was not a smash ratings success, it did draw approximately six-to-eight million viewers per episode, providing a much larger audience than a cappella has ever had before.

And so, we arrive at season two, featuring 10 groups. Nick Lachey is back as the host, and Ben Folds, Shawn Stockman, and Nicole Scherzinger return as judges.

The A Cappella Blog will be reviewing each episode of the show, but for now wanted to offer up some insights into what viewers can expect from each of the show’s competing groups. Without further ado, here’s what we know, and what The ACB predicts.

Group Name: The Backbeats
Hailing From: Southern California, including USC and UCLA alumni
Group Type: Post-collegiate, Mixed
Number of Group Members: 10
Founded in: 2010
The Skinny: Don’t let the group’s recent founding fool you—by all appearances, it’s a super group of talents from the two-time ICCA champion USC SoCal VoCals, USC’s Trojan Men, and UCLA Awaken. Particularly when it comes to competition, viewers have to keep in mind that The SoCal VoCals and their alumni are machines—churning out pitch perfect material on which they turn up the volume and the theatrics to full-blast. Keep an eye out for 2010 USC alum Kenton Chen, who positively brought the house down at last year’s ICCA Finals with his solo on Stevie Wonder’s “Living for the City.”

backbeats

Predictions: It’s unfair to equate The Backbeats with last year’s fourth place finishers, The SoCals. However, it’s hard to ignore the similarities—cherry-picking top alum to create a group ostensibly for the purposes of winning The Sing-Off. Ultimately, we expect this group will learn from their predecessors’ mistakes (focus on the music and keep the theatrics in check) arrive in at least the top three of the competition.
Learn more about the group: here.

Group Name: Eleventh Hour
Hailing From: Kettering Fairmount High School, in Kettering, OH
Group Type: High School, Mixed
Number of Group Members: 7
Founded in: 2000
The Skinny: High school kids will enter the Sing-Off fray for the first time with this talented Midwest group. The group has already earned top recording honors from the Contemporary A Cappella Recording Awards and placement on multiple Best of High School A Cappella compilations, and were touted by Scott Leonard of Rockappella as “the best high school a cappella group I have ever heard.”
Predictions: Eleventh Hour is no joke, and putting them up against collegiate and post-collegiate powerhouses isn’t quite the mismatch that some spectators might assume it to be at first glance. Their rigorous level of live and recorded performance will serve them well on the Sing-Off stage. Nonetheless, the group won’t be accustomed to quite this level of competition, and won’t have quite the vocal development or experience level of their most experienced opponents. We don’t expect them to be first group eliminated, but also don’t see them making it much past the halfway point.
Learn more about the group: here.

Group Name: Pitch Slapped
Hailing From: Berklee College of Music, Boston, MA
Group Type: Collegiate, Mixed
Number of Group Members: 12
Founded in: 2006
The Skinny: The question is, can the surprise darlings of the 2010 ICCA Finals, who nearly upset The SoCal VoCals, transition that level of performance to the Sing-Off stage? The group demonstrates the same sort of sense of humor that served The Beelzebubs so well in last year’s competition, while pairing it with some unreal musical chops (for anyone who hasn’t heard the solo on Beyonce’s “Halo,” the YouTube clip is required
viewing). This group is professional, cool and quite sure of itself.

Predictions: Questionable song selection really hurt Pitch Slapped in the ICCA Finals last year. If they can find a way to let their good humor and personality shine through a more serious set, the group has a very real chance of taking the Sing-Off crown. At the least, we expect them to finish in the top three.
Learn more about the group: here.

Group Name: Groove for Thought
Hailing From: Seattle, WA
Group Type: Professional, Mixed
Number of Group Members: 7
Founded in: 1998
The Skinny: This group has a lot going for it—a silky smooth professional sound, small group size, and the benefit having performed together for over a decade in a variety of settings. The group’s sound tends to skew a bit old-school, which may or may not play to the sensibilities of the judges.

groove

Predictions: Last year, Nota demonstrated the ability of a well-tuned, small-sized professional group to make some real headway in this competition. We do not expect for Groove for Thought to win this year’s competition, but do peg them to make it at least halfway through the show.
Learn more about the group: here.

Group Name: The Men of Note
Hailing From: Cherry Hill, NJ
Group Type: Post-High School, All-Male
Number of Group Members: 8
Founded in: Unknown
The Skinny: The Men of Note made a huge splash on the high school a cappella scene when they won the International Championship of High School A Cappella for three years in a row from 2006 to 2008, taking the top prize in decisive fashion each time out. The version of Men of Note that will take the Sing-Off stage will be eight alumni of the group, composing something of an all-star squad to make a run at much bigger recognition.
Predictions: Although The Men of Note blew away the field in high school competition, the harsh truth remains that the best of their best incarnations would be competitive at the collegiate level, but probably wouldn’t win any international championships. We expect The Men of Note to put on a fine showing for themselves, but not to progress very far in the competition.
Learn more about the group: here.

Group Name: Streetcorner Symphony
Hailing From: Nashville, TN
Group Type: Professional, All-Male
Number of Group Members: 6
Founded in: 2010
The Skinny: The group of southerners got together for the express purpose of competing in The Sing-Off. It includes the McLemore brothers—Jon and Mark—who have recorded together and with others before, and earned multiple Contemporary A Cappella Recording Awards.

symphony

Predictions: This is one of the groups we know the least about. It’s tough to count out a group of talented professional singers, but given their limited time as a unit and unproven track record on a live stage, we don’t expect for them to make it very far in the competition.
Learn more about the group: here.

Group Name: On the Rocks
Hailing From: University of Oregon, Eugene, OR
Group Type: Collegiate, All-Male
Number of Group Members: 15
Founded in: 1999
The Skinny: On the Rocks walks into The Sing-Off as the most famous competitors, building off a string of viral videos, the latest of which saw the guys covering Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance.” It’s fair to say that this group has done it all, from arriving in the International Championship of Collegiate A Cappella Finals in back to back years in the early 2000s, to getting onto the Best of Collegiate A Cappella compilation and nearly wining a Contemporary A Cappella Recording Award in 2004. Their emergence as YouTube sensations is only a further marker of the group’s ability to evolve and excel in the latest medium available.
Predictions: On the Rocks is red hot coming into this competition, and we’ll be very surprised if they don’t crack the top three. If they can translate their campy collegiate appeal to a mainstream audience they’ll be a real threat to win it all.
Learn more about the group: here.

Group Name: Committed
Hailing From: Oakwood University, Huntsville, AL
Group Type: Collegiate (sort of), All-Male
Number of Group Members: 6
Founded in: 2003
The Skinny: This group started out as high school friends, then carried on the act into their collegiate careers at Oakwood University. Groups that like one another and have a wealth of experience performing together tend to be very, very good.

committed

Predictions: We haven’t heard much from Committed before, but their back story is promising. We expect them to progress through at least the opening rounds of the competition, but probably not reach the late stages of the show.
Learn more about the group: here.

Group Name: Jerry Lawson and the Talk of the Town
Hailing From: Oakland, CA
Group Type: Professional, All-Male
Number of Group Members: 6
Founded in: 2001
The Skinny: With ten years of performing together, this group may seem formidable. Consider that the group members have decades of professional experience behind them prior to that point, though, including Lawson landing five albums on the Billboard charts, and you realize that this group is real force to be reckoned with. The guys have an old school, Motown meets spiritual sound.
Predictions: This group should offer up the experience, poise and musical skill of a group like MAXX Factor, and their more accessible, familiar sounding style will probably make them all the more palatable to the judges and audience. We expect them to arrive in the top three and be contenders to win the whole competition.
Learn more about the group: here.

Group Name: The Whiffenpoofs
Hailing From: Yale University, New Haven, CN
Group Type: Collegiate, All-Male
Number of Group Members: 14
Founded in: 1909
The Skinny: While the actual members of The Whiffenpoofs may not have the level of experience of Jerry Lawson and company, no one has a longer lineage than the latest incarnation of the nation’s oldest collegiate a cappella group. The group, historically, has performed around the world, but its worth noting that it’s a University seniors-only club, and so this particular grouping has only been around for one year. Nonetheless, the sheer distinction of being selected for the group marks them elite musicians.

whiffenpoofs2034

Predictions: Can young men make old school work? The tuxedo-clad young men with a repertoire that includes very few songs from the last decade is going to have a real challenge when it comes to connecting with the audience—they may be the class of the competition, or they may come off as a strange anachronism. We’re pegging them to fare respectably well, but not to progress much beyond the top five competing groups.
Learn more about the group: here.

Publishing note: All information and images were derived from the official Sing-Off website, the individual group websites, Wikipedia, and ACB archives.

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