In The 5s, an ACB contributor breaks down an a cappella related institution by breaking it into lists of 5. In this edition, we’re taking a look at Five Reasons You Should Watch The Sing-Off Instead of Dancing with the Stars tonight.
1. Emerging stars. One of the reasons why people watch Dancing with the Stars (DWTS) is the familiarity of the cast of characters. You remember David Arquette as Deputy Dewey in the Scream movies or used to while away your afternoons watching Ricki Lake’s talk show. Something about revisiting these familiar faces gives you a sense of comfort.
Stop living in the past.
I enjoy a good nostalgia trip as much as the next guy, but if you’re going to spend two hours watching TV tonight, why miss the meteoric rise of phenomenal new talents in favor of a cast made up of B-list celebrities you may never hear from again? With just a few exceptions, the budding stars of The Sing-Off are younger, higher energy and—what the heck, I’ll say it—more talented than the folks you’re going to see on DWTS.
2. See a show you’ve never seen before. While DWTS features a revolving door of professional dancers performing in styles that longtime fans may have seen on TV as many as 12 times prior to this point, The Sing-Off all but guarantees fresh, new material. The a cappella form, itself, has been far less exploited in the mainstream than ballroom dancing. On top of that, if you have yet to hear Sonos, Vocal Point, or other top acts, I assure you that, by watching The Sing-Off, you will be taking in an a cappella experience the likes of which you’ve never seen (or heard) before.
3. Curiosity. One of the biggest draws to DWTS is the curiosity factor. I know Ron Artest can play some serious defense, but can he waltz? I know Nancy Grace can communicate at least 10 different degrees of indignation in an hour of her show—but how’s her east coast swing? The American public will always be fascinated with the prospect of a familiar fish, flopping out of water. But isn’t it cooler to see someone legitimately excel in his her field of choice? It may be more interesting to see Ron Artest on the dancefloor than in a routine, run of the mill Lakers game, but when he has a truly break out performance, wouldn’t you rather see one of the NBA’s top power forwards snagging rebounds by dozen, as opposed to stumbling through a box step?
The Sing-Off is all about celebrating excellence. In a me-first era of reality TV in which producers shove individual contestants down our throats as underdogs and dream chasers, how about a show that actually showcases people who have worked together toward a dream for a sustained period of time? Take North Shore—a group of five men who won The National Harmony Sweepstakes 20 years ago and have kept singing together ever since, despite flying under mainstream America’s radar. Isn’t it time we celebrate that level of dedication and commitment to excellence? I think so.
4. Shake up the system. DWTS has been an ABC fixture since 2005. In that time, just how many stars has the show created? You can argue DWTS made the judges and professional dancers into household names, and that the show helped inject some life into the careers of a few celebrities of yesteryear. But when you take a look at The Sing-Off, there are literally dozens of people who have had their lives changed through appearances on the show, whether its winners Nota or Committed releasing CDs on major labels, alumni from Street Corner Symphony and The Backbeats touring with Ben Folds, The Beelzebubs voicing The Warblers on Glee, or the number of other groups that have had new invitations come up to perform across the country and even abroad. The Sing-Off has accomplished all of this in just nine episodes to date.
Will The Sing-Off continue to make new stars? The answer to this question may rest in the hands of the TV-watching public. If the ratings for the show's upcoming 11-episode run are strong enough, we’ll see the show again in 2012—and perhaps for even more episodes. The ability to shake the system is going to have a lot to do with what we all do with our remote controls tonight.
5. Ben Folds. Has there ever been a more likeable reality TV personality than Ben Folds? Combine an expert knowledge of music, a keen eye for criticism and an authentic kindness, and you have the winning combination that makes Folds the perfect fit as a reality TV show judge. What truly makes Folds transcendental, though, is the childlike wonder he brings to his role. Watching Folds respond to a great performance reminds us of what it was like when we heard really good a cappella for the first time—awe-struck, intrigued, and ultimately swept up in the power of the music. Likeable as some of the DWTS personalities may be, they just can’t compete with this guy.
Author’s note: I recognize that many of The A Cappella Blog’s regular readers won’t need reasons and justification for making this choosing The Sing-Off over Dancing with the Stars tonight. Consider this an open letter to those who might be on the fence, or for you to forward to your friends for proselytizing purposes.
The Sing-Off airs tonight, Monday, September 19, 8/7C on NBC.