In this edition I’m looking at five of my reactions to the first episode of Sing It On.
1. How cool is this? I just saw actual collegiate a cappella get a full one-hour (minus commercials) treatment on national television. I heard the term ICCAs thrown around on national television casually with a very reasonable understanding of what the tournament is.
Equally important, this treatment of a cappella was objectively entertaining. Just as the success of Pitch Perfect hinged on a compelling plot, acting, and direction, Sing It On felt artfully shaped to tell a cohesive and genuinely interesting story, without compromising the integrity of the material at stake. This is reality-based television at its best. And that’s pretty cool.
2. The struggle is real. The depiction of The AcaBelles as a representation of all-female groups everywhere, striving to earn proper recognition and get the members they need was a nice microcosm of an important issue in collegiate a cappella. In my nine years of attending ICCA Finals, I’ve seen only four all-female groups make it to New York, and only one of those groups won the tournament. Moreover, stigmas still exist about all-female a cappella being less entertaining, powerful, or compelling than all-male or co-ed a cappella.
In the world of fictional a cappella, The Barden Bellas are functioning as high profile role models for what women’s a cappella can be, and I’m hopeful that The AcaBelles, who have been performing at such a high level since the late 00s, can be that same type of real-world role model for all-female groups on the whole, and that they might inspire individual female college students to consider joining the all-female ranks.
3. I agree with Michael. With the caveats that The AcaBelles have been one of my favorite a cappella groups since I first saw them at ICCA Finals in 2009 and that I dug their representation on this episode…
I agreed with Michael from All-Night Yahtzee.
Spoiler alert for those who haven’t yet watched the show—one of the key points of dramatic tension in this premiere was The ‘Belles and ANY nearly coming to blows during Aca-Council negotiations, over female auditionees that each group wanted, and, in particular, Amanda.
Amanda auditioned for, and successfully wowed both groups. The overwhelming majority of voices on the show sided with The AcaBelles—that as an all-female group they needed Amanda’s specific talents more than All-Night Yahtzee. Michael, the musical director for ANY, suggested that wasn’t his problem—that he wanted Amanda in his group, and, moreover, it was Amanda’s preference to join his group, and so she should be an ANY-er.
I totally get the argument that it was for the betterment of the a cappella community at Florida State for Amanda to be a ‘Belle. Just the same, I have to say that I don’t understand wedging a singer into a group she’s less interested in, when a group she’s more interested in also wants her.
Michael felt cast as something like a villain in this first episode, but I have to say that I just don’t see it. I’ve got your back, bro.
(Note: I’m sure there’s more to the back story here, and I’m not one hundred percent convinced that there wasn’t some drama conjured for the sake of TV in this instance. That said, I’m making my call based on what Sing It On presented to us.)
4. I can’t take my eyes off The Nor’easters. To put it plainly, I’m a huge fan of The Nor’easters. Watching them on Sing It On only reinforced my love for this group. Watching them go through their selection process for new members felt so real, so agonizing, and ultimately so rewarding.
That, and there was a Shams Ahmed sighting. One of my great fears about featuring The Nor’easters on this show in 2015, is that the timing might cut Shams from the spotlight, and I was so glad to see him find his way onto the screen in a godfather-like turn. Phenomenal.
And then there’s Kevin Mayer. It’s at once heartwarming and heartbreaking to see him in his element with The Nor’easters at this early stage of the school year. I recognize that some readers/viewers may not know where his story is headed, so I’m going to leave it at that for now to avoid spoiling anything for anyone. If you are interested in learning more about this remarkable young man, though, go ahead and Google him to fill in the blanks.
5. Where is Pitch, Please? The Florida State groups and The Nor’easters got ample attention in the premiere. No Comment felt as though it got short shrift on this first episode, but I know they have some bigger, more controversial stories ahead of them (alluded to in the show’s opening montage).
But where is Pitch, Please?
Did I blink and miss them?
This is the featured group I know the least about—I’m eager for them to get some exposure, and to have the opportunity to hear more.
As I hope has come across, I was super-jazzed about and super-invested in the Sing It On premiere. I can’t wait for next week!