The Sing-Off: pure joy

NBC’s The Sing-Off returned after two years last night, reminding us of the power of pure, raw, impressive talent from incredible a cappella groups–and the power of a network competition show that just celebrates and showcases singing.

Besides simple introductory packages for the groups and judging following the performances, there is minimal time-wasting or drama-creating crap. Mark Burnett came on board as executive producer this season, and while I did not stick with the show through its last, over-extended fall season, the only change under his watch that stands out is the fantastic new battle at the end between the bottom-two teams. The face-off, two groups singing “Bye Bye Bye,” was even more fun than the regular performances, which is remarkable since it was essentially a performance by the two worst-performing groups.

The Sing-Off is also brief: this season is just seven episodes over three weeks, which is actually more than it aired its first two December seasons, but still far less than other bloated singing shows. The last time it aired, in 2011, NBC gave it a full season so it could basically take over for The Voice, and that was a pretty big mistake, with ratings dropping significantly.

Most importantly, though, the talent is just awesome, with a diversity of groups and styles. Everything we hear comes from the contestants’ mouths, which is usually very impressive. Even the weaker groups are still pleasant to listen to, and there’s just so much joy that comes from people making music from their mouths. Even the group number was amazing–watch and try not to smile:

Review: Married at First Sight

Marriage At First Sight

In an era of Tinder and Grindr, instant acceptance or dismissal of a potential partner, or instant sex with another body, Married at First Sight offers the thrill of watching strangers deal with the very basics of relationships.

Beyond the headline-grabbing premise, the series has turned out to be a stripped-down, authentic exploration of something very interesting. Read the full review.

about the writer

Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 36, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.