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We learned back in March that NBC was bringing The Sing-Off back, and a little bit later, that Sara Bareilles would not be returning to judge. This week, NBC has announced that another familiar face (and voice) would be joining the judges panel of the a cappella competition. Coming off the release of her Greatest Hits album, singer/songwriter Jewel is set to join fellow musicians Ben Folds and Shawn Stockman on the returning competition series, which will be hosted by Nick Lachey.
Lachey, Folds and Stockman were all part of the original production of The Sing-Off, which premiered in 2009 with Nicole Scherzinger as the third and lone-female judge. Scherzinger departed the series in 2010 and was replaced by Sara Bareilles, whose recent TV appearance was on an episode of Community. But she's gotten back to working on her music, with a new album and a tour coming up, which leaves one Sing-Off chair empty, and now NBC confirms that Jewel will fill it.
The Sing-Off is set up as a holiday strip to air over several nights later this year. The singing competition features various a cappella groups from around the country who face off against one another to show how well they can cover pop hits without the aid of instruments - besides their voices, of course. It's all about harmonizing and rhythm. And the grand prize is a recording contract and $100,000. One of the things that made the original run of the series so great were the judges, who offered constructive criticism to help the acts tighten up their sound. Both Ben Folds and Shawn Stockman have a background in a cappella, which makes them particularly suited for their positions. And Jewel is well known for her distinctive voice, not to mention a successful music career, so it'll be interesting to see how she fits in at the table and what she has to offer the competition.
Though I consider myself pretty exhausted by singing competitions, I like that The Sing-Off is set up with a much shorter format, requiring a less lengthy time commitment from its viewers and airing during the holidays, which means it probably won't disrupt much - if any - of our regularly scheduled shows, because they'll be on break or wrapped up for the season. The timing seems right for the series to return. Not only is NBC having plenty of success with their singing competition The Voice, but a cappella received a boost of attention thanks to last year's comedy Pitch Perfect. So we'll have to see how The Sing-Off does when it returns later this year.
In the meantime, here's Jewel belting out "Foolish Games" with Kelly Clarkson for her Greatest Hits album.