Tuned In

Sing-Off Watch: You Call That Guilty?

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Spoilers for last night’s The Sing-Off coming up:

Competition continued last night on The Most Important Television Event of Our Era, with the six remaining teams in The Sing-Off selecting from “rock songs” and “guilty pleasures.” I had my issues with the elimination, and I question whether “guilty pleasure” in fact means what the show thinks that it does, but first, a moment of praise for Nicole Scherzinger.

Last year during The Sing-Off’s first season I nominated Ben Folds as possibly the greatest reality show judge ever, and my affection for him is unabated. But the Pussycat Doll (and former reality-show participant herself) Nicole has grown on me; while she doesn’t have Ben’s ability to dissect a performance and lay it out technically but accessibly, she’s still direct, perceptive and (once she’s gotten past the urge to say “orgasm” whenever gospel group Committed got on stage) sane.

In fact, as Mrs. Tuned In wondered while we were watching: was Nicole even considered for the Paula (and then Kara) opening on American Idol? She may not be the absolute megastar that Jennifer Lopez is, but she’s arguably closer to the music world that future Idol winners will be entering. (To be blunt, she’s also closer to their age than J-Lo or Steven Tyler.) She’s what Idol could have used, i.e., a not-crazy Paula Abdul, with experience as a recording artist. Perhaps she wouldn’t have wanted the gig (The Sing-Off  is a much smaller commitment, after all), but opportunity missed.

Now for the music. For some reason, The Sing-Off has decided that “guilty pleasure” largely means “pop song from the ’80s,” which, OK, there is some overlap, but it’s not automatic. In what universe is “Love Shack” guiltier than “You Give Love a Bad Name” (The Backbeats)? And if you’re looking for Hall & Oates guilty pleasures, that is why “Maneater” exists. And while the choice of Back Street Boys’ “I Want It That Way” at least went beyond the ’80s, I’m with Nick Lachey: 98 Degrees was way guiltier!

As for On the Rocks’ choice of Mister Mister’s “Kyrie,” man, that was just guilty. For starters, the song is too self-serious and earnest to fall under the “guilty pleasure” heading, and, as more than one judge pointed out, it was baffling that the group then decided to make it the first song they would sing entirely straight. Nor did they seem very comfortable doing it. It just cemented in my mind (and I thought in the judges’) that Rocks is basically a good-time novelty act that doesn’t have the breadth to go far in this competition. Instead, they ditched Groove for Thought, who are not my favorite—their genre is just too inherently dorky for me to appreciate, I admit—but I have to recognize that they’re fairly good at what they do.

Regardless, I still think this is coming down to a faceoff between Committed and Jerry Lawson, possibly with a dark-horse showing from Street Corner Symphony. Anyone have a different prediction?