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Thursday, December 5, 2013

A Cappella Fans Cheer Return Of ‘The Sing-Off’

The panel of judges on NBC's "The Sing-Off," an a cappella competition. (NBC)

The panel of judges on NBC’s “The Sing-Off,” an a cappella competition. (NBC)

On Monday, NBC’s a cappella competition “The Sing-Off” returns for a fourth season on Monday, Dec. 9.

Ten teams (list below) will compete for a recording contract and a $100,000 prize.

Executive producer Sam Weisman and judge Ben Folds joined Here & Now’s Robin Young to preview what’s ahead, and to highlight a few of their favorite groups from previous seasons, including Beezlebubs from Tufts University, Afro Blues from Howard University and Pentatonix from Arlington, Texas.

“A cappella music is very team-oriented,” Folds said. “It’s almost not in an a cappella group’s nature to be extremely competitive, so the irony is that they are on a competition show, which ends up reading almost like a musical performance show.”

On a cappella’s commercial viability, Weisman cites the commercial and social media success of Pentatonix, a group that competed on “The Sing-Off.” They have had an album in the Billboard’s top ten records, and have over 200 million views on YouTube.

“Ultimately you’re talking about inventing a form,” Weisman said. “Moving forward, they have tremendous commercial appeal.”

Beezlebubs from Tufts University

Afro Blue from Howard University

Pentatonix with Lindsey Stirling

The 10 Teams Competing

Descriptions provided by NBC

  1. ACOUSTIKATS (Lexington, KY): This collegiate group has been serenading sorority girls all over the University of Kentucky campus, but now it’s their time to make it on the big stage. With their southern charm they hope to win over America’s hearts.
  2. CALLE SOL (Aguadilla, Puerto Rico): From the island of Puerto Rico, this group of six professional musicians has only been together for a few short months. Their Latin style is sure to bring a flare to the competition.
  3. ELEMENT (New York City): This all-female group brings a New York attitude to the stage. They all work day jobs and pursue their showbiz dreams in the concrete jungle during their time off. These powerful female voices hope to bring a buzz to the a cappella world.
  4. THE FILHARMONIC (Los Angeles): This locally based group is made up of male Filipino singers. Their knack for ’90s R&B, mixed with their Filipino culture, is sure to bring a new twist to the music of the past.
  5. HOME FREE (Minneapolis): This all-male group has already been on the road touring the country and the transcontinental journeys have made them all very close. Their years of performance experience add to their refreshing country sound.
  6. THE PRINCETON FOOTNOTES (Princeton, N.J.): A 50-year-old tradition is holding strong with this Ivy League group — classically trained, perfectly polished and technically great. Although they stick to tradition, they also like to mix a modern flair.
  7. STREET CORNER RENAISSANCE (Los Angeles): This soulful group put aside their dreams of becoming musicians to raise their families. Now it’s time to shine. Their roots are in doo-wop and they strive to pay homage to this classic sound.
  8. TEN (Dallas): Many of these eclectic artists have experienced traveling with professionals in well-known bands. Their group leader brought them together. The gospel influence and impressive backgrounds produce a perfected sound.
  9. VOCAL RUSH (Oakland, CA): The youngest group in the competition is a force to be reckoned with. They have won the high school a cappella groups’ international championship two years in a row. Their pop and R&B influence are sure to put a spin on modern chart-topping hits.
  10. VOICEPLAY (Orlando, FL): These three best friends have been together since high school and expanded their group to six, added the influence of a female voice. They toured the U.S. and ended up back in Orlando performing before auditioning for “The Sing-Off.” This pop-inspired group blends the male and female voices perfectly.

Guest

  • Sam Weisman, executive producer of “The Sing-Off”
  • Ben Folds, musician and judge on “The Sing-Off”

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Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson host Here & Now, a live two-hour production of NPR and WBUR Boston.

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