This Monday at 8/7c, NBC cues up ,’The Sing-Off,’ a three-night competition in which some of the country’s best a cappella groups perform 100-percent unplugged. What sort of musical magnificence do the groups Beelzebubs, Maxx Factor, Face, Nota, Noteworthy, SoCals, Voices of Lee and Solo have in store for you? Series host and former 98 Degrees front man Nick Lachey sings ‘The Sing-Off’s’ praises and details what the judges – including a boy band vet and one Pussycat Doll – bring to the table.
Why do I have the feeling that ‘The Sing-Off‘ will shatter people’s preconceptions about a cappella groups?
[Laughs] Well, there is a bit of a misconception out there a cappella is this cheesy glee club kind of thing, and I think this show is going to change those opinions. Some of the things these groups are doing will blow peoples minds. They are really, really talented groups.
I’m sure a lot of people hear “a cappella” and envision a barbershop quarter singing “Sweet Adeline.”
Yep, yep. I used to sing in a barbershop quartet, so I had a lot of love for that, but a cappella can be so many things – doo-wop groups, glee clubs, gospel choirs.… Anything.
The eight groups you’ve gathered here sure run the gamut. You’ve got older women, young girls, all guys….
That’s very true. They did a great job of finding talented groups from all around the country, but also groups that represent how varied and wide-ranging a cappella can be.
What does each judge bring to the table?
Ben [Folds, of The Ben Folds Five] is a huge a cappella aficionado – he knows the ins and outs of that style of music, so he brings a lot of technical insight to the performances. Shawn [Stockman], having performed in a group (Boys II Men) that did a ton of a cappella and that we in 98 Degrees idolized, brings a lot of firsthand experience. And Nicole [Scherzinger] is a member of one of the more successful groups (The Pussycat Dolls) from the last four or five years, and is certainly a great singer in her own right.
What kind of songs will we be hearing on ‘The Sing-Off’? Current stuff with a little “Mr. Sandman” sprinkled in?
You know what, I’m going to be as surprised by anyone. Some of the songs [the groups] brought to the table, and then as the series goes along there may be asked to perform songs a little out of their wheelhouse. You’re going to see a wide range of music.
The TV audience seems to have insatiable appetite for this type of programming, as evidenced by the success of ‘Idol,’ of course, and now shows like ‘Glee.’
Yeah, these shows have been successful for a reason. These people are identifiable, they come from neighborhoods like we all do, they’ve held jobs as we all have done, they’ve had struggles like we all have had. But what really separates this show from the other reality competitions we’ve seen is this is all a cappella, and the amount of skill required is phenomenal.
Did you enjoy your run last spring on ‘One Tree Hill‘? Might you ever return?
It’s a difficult thing to play yourself, and you don’t want to come back and reprise that role too often. But it was a great cast and a great crew, a very close-knit group, so we’ll see – maybe one day I’ll return.
Did you catch the acting bug, or is music still your priority?
Music will always be my first love. I’ve enjoyed some acting projects on the side, but music for me is always more familiar. It feels like home base.
Do you, as a singer who has starred in his own series of celebrity weekly headlines, have any advice to offer Adam Lambert?
You’ve just got to be true to yourself. Be true to your heart. Some people might like it, some people might hate it, but at the end of the day you’ve got to answer to one person, and that’s you.