Here is a fine article from today's Newark Star-Ledger by Vikiv Hyman titled "A Program of Note":
NBCThe Backbeats, an a capella "supergroup," formed to compete in NBC's "The Sing-Off," performed Bon Jovi's "You Give Love a Bad Name" last week.
Brimming with likable, phenomenally talented singers, NBC’s a cappella competition, “The Sing-Off,” is “Glee,” minus the wildly inconsistent plotting, and “American Idol,” without the endless audition cycle, bizarre theme nights, tragic back stories and wildly inconsistent judging.
True, it has a terribly punny Nick Lachey as host. But that’s why God created the DVR, or, more to the point, the fast-forward button.
Ratings have been consistently strong over the show’s abbreviated run, but if you haven’t tuned in, that shouldn’t stop you from enjoying the finale tonight at 8.
Ten groups from across the country (including the Cherry Hill-based Men of Note, the Whiffenpoofs of Yale, the world’s oldest collegiate a cappella group; and the exquisitely named Pitch Slapped of Boston’s Berklee College of Music) have now been narrowed to four by the unusually coherent — by reality show standards — judging panel of musician Ben Folds, Pussycat Doll Nicole Scherzinger and Shawn Stockman of Boys II Men. Okay, so Scherzinger comes off like Paula Abdul on a lower dose; Folds and Stockman know what they’re talking about, dawg.
Viewers determine tonight’s winner of the $100,000 grand prize, and the 2½-hour finale will feature performances by the four remaining groups, each with its distinct vibe.
The Backbeats are a Southern California-based coed a cappella “supergroup,” formed by the stars of the collegiate a cappella circuit. The lead singers are all women who specialize in gutsy, emotional ballads (and skirts so short they deserve an NC-17 rating) — and it’s also the only group left that makes an attempt at intricate choreography.
Committed, which has drawn some of the highest praise from the judges, is a six-member all-male gospel a cappella group from Huntsville, Ala. These nice Baptist boys have gradually added a little *** appeal to their performances, but what hasn’t changed are their intricate, soaring harmonies. Streetcorner Symphony is another all-male Southern ***tet, but this Nashville group is sometimes funky, sometimes haunting and often at its best when the members are softly blending their voices. They also risk ruining those moments when they attempt to dance. The less we say about that ill-conceived kick line, the better.
Finally, there’s Jerry Lawson and Talk of the Town. Lawson was an original member of the longtime a cappella group the Persuasions and joined the San Francisco group Talk of the Town three years ago. Call him a ringer, but Lawson’s smoky voice combined with the group’s straightforward but soulful arrangements get the job done.
They’re all so engaging that judges couldn’t bring themselves to eject one of the groups from the competition last week and sent them all to the finale.
Judging by the pop cultural omnipresence of “Glee” and “The Sing-Off”’s great ratings, it appears there’s a real thirst for glorious a cappella, and I’d love to see NBC re-up the show and perhaps expand the run — as long as they stick to the music and leave out the melodrama.