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The Sing-Off Season Four Premiere Preview: What You Need to Know [INTERVIEW]

The Sing-Off

One of our favorite singing competitions returns to NBC starting tonight. The Sing-Off hasn’t aired since 2011 when the a capella show tried out an expanded format for season three. But it’s finally back and we couldn’t be happier. Host Nick Lachey told us what we need to know about the fourth season:

The Sing-Off is once again a holiday-season event

Photo Credit: Chris Haston/NBC

Photo Credit: Chris Haston/NBC

NICK LACHEY: We were very cautiously optimistic that the show would come back. You know, it was put on the back burner there for a moment. And I really have to give a lot of credit to the very passionate fans of the show out there for really petitioning and clamoring for it to come back. Personally, I think the show worked great in the holiday season. I think we saw that in season two. It’s just such a feel good show and feel good music. It’s the time of year when families are really in the mood to sit down together and watch a great family show, and that’s frankly what The Sing-Off is.

Nick and the judges will get to interact more with the groups

NICK: Well, one of the cool things – and I should mention — we have a new production team in place on The Sing-Off this year. [Survivor and The Voice guru] Mark Burnett came on board and took over the show, and he had a fresh take on what the show should be and really infused some new energy into the show. And one of the things that was changed per Mark’s request was more interaction from both myself and the judges with the groups. So you’ll see as the season progresses, all of us kind of taking a turn and mentoring and trying to give some guidance to the groups as they go through this journey. There’s a lot of information they’re trying to process and taking all the judges’ comments and trying to apply those to the next week or the next show’s performance. And so it was a really cool opportunity for us to – you know, we’ve all learned the hard way a lot of times in this business, some valuable lessons. And for us to be able to pass those along to these groups was a really cool opportunity.

For Lachey, the closer interaction was especially welcome

NICK: There was one group in particular that kind of reminded me of my own kind of past history and they come from a performing arts school in The Bay Area. So you know I had a soft spot in my heart for them, you know, coming from a performing arts high school myself. I really saw a lot of myself in them and so it was cool to be able to kind of pass along a little bit of knowledge and support. These are teenagers down here in L.A., on the big stage with a lot of very, very talented people. And to say they held their own is a gross understatement. So I was very proud of them and very thankful to have the opportunity to give some insight to them, and all the groups. It was just a great opportunity for us to interact with them and mentor them a little bit.

Joining the (arguably) two best reality show competition judges out there — Ben Folds and Boyz II Men’s Shawn Stockman — is Jewel

Photo Credit: yler Golden/NBC

Photo Credit: Tyler Golden/NBC

NICK: Jewel is fantastic. I’ve known Jewel, you know, previous to us doing the show together, but I thought she was a perfect fit for The Sing-Off. She’s incredibly talented, first of all. We all know that. But she’s so well spoken and so relatable. I think what really struck me is how passionate and how caring she was about each and every group and each and every performer in the group. And she really gave her all in trying to nurture and walk them through this process. I just thought she was a fantastic addition, incredibly knowledgeable. Certainly not at all hard to look at from my vantage point on stage. She made my night better just sitting out there.

Watch out for The Ultimate Sing-Off, a new element to the competition

NICK: The judges score all the groups throughout the night and your lowest two scoring groups then have to go into what we call the Ultimate Sing-Off where they duel head-to-head, performing the same song against one another. And not only is it great entertainment, I have to tell you some of the best performances you’ll see in the season come during that Ultimate Sing-Off. It’s a really neat moment in the show.We all have [that] moment where we don’t give our best and we kind of lay an egg on stage. And it gives those groups a chance to redeem themselves for a bad performance. So it doesn’t necessarily take them out of the running of the entire competition. They have a chance to come back at the end of the show and prove that they still belong. And so then when the two low groups have the Ultimate Sing-Off, obviously, the judges have to then decide on one of them to continue on and one of them to go home. But a really cool, dramatic moment at the end of the show.

The Sing-Off might air during the holidays but don’t expect a lot of holiday-related tunes

NICK: There really was not too much of a holiday theme in terms of the music involved in the show. You might see a little bit of that in the finale, because I think that’s kind of how it worked in years past as well. But for the most part it’s – these are songs that everyone will know from this year and years past, some really creative themes like we’ve had in the past, you know, of chart toppers. And we have a movie theme night and so some of the shows have themes that really give them a great kind or arc. But all in all, it is happening during the holiday season but it’s not necessarily a holiday music-themed show entirely. But still as I said earlier, it’s just such a feel good show, it really does lend itself to the holiday season.

You just might see Nick and the judges mix it up with the groups

NICK: One thing we have always had a lot of fun with is myself and the judges kind of being involved musically, performing with some of the groups. So, you know, I can neither confirm or deny that will happen, but if history is any indication, there’s a good chance you might see that.

Other facts you need to know: Season four will consist of seven episodes and will culminate in a season finale set to air on Dec. 23. That’s when we’ll find out which group wins $100,000 and a recording contract. Plus, look for music from this season to debut on iTunes the day of each telecast.

Here are the groups competing:

ACOUSTIKATS (Lexington, KY)

Photo Credit: Chris Haston/NBC

Photo Credit: Chris Haston/NBC

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.

CALLE SOL (Aguadilla, Puerto Rico)

Photo Credit: Chris Haston/NBC

Photo Credit: Chris Haston/NBC

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.

ELEMENT (New York City)

Photo Credit: Chris Haston/NBC

Photo Credit: Chris Haston/NBC

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.

THE FILHARMONIC (Los Angeles)

Photo Credit: Chris Haston/NBC

Photo Credit: Chris Haston/NBC

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.

HOME FREE (Minneapolis)

Photo Credit: Chris Haston/NBC

Photo Credit: Chris Haston/NBC

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.

THE PRINCETON FOOTNOTES (Princeton, N.J.)

Photo Credit: Chris Haston/NBC

Photo Credit: Chris Haston/NBC

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.

STREET CORNER RENAISSANCE (Los Angeles)

Photo Credit: Chris Haston/NBC

Photo Credit: Chris Haston/NBC

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.

TEN (Dallas)

Photo Credit: Chris Haston/NBC

Photo Credit: Chris Haston/NBC

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.

VOCAL RUSH (Oakland, CA)

Photo Credit: Chris Haston/NBC

Photo Credit: Chris Haston/NBC

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.

VOICEPLAY (Orlando, FL)

Photo Credit: Chris Haston/NBC

Photo Credit: Chris Haston/NBC

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.

It’s all about music tonight on NBC. The Sing-Off returns at 9/8c after an episode of The Voice.

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