THE SING-OFF, THE VOICE, AMERICAN IDOL: Catching up with some alums

I pretty much only watch competitive reality shows and I tend to get rather invested in the contestants.  There are some incredibly talented people showcasing their passions on these shows and I can’t get enough.

I wanted to take some time to highlight some former competitors from these shows who are currently releasing some amazing music and who I feel deserve a much larger audience.

The Sing-Off

NBC’s The Sing-Off is currently my favorite reality show and easily one of the most underrated.  This show sets itself apart from the other singing competitions because it features only a cappella groups.  Many of the groups from The Sing-Off are well known and appreciated within the a cappella community, but this is an entire genre that deserves to be heard by more of America.  Unfortunately, The Sing-Off underperformed this past season and NBC hasn’t announced whether or not it will be picked up for a fourth.  I certainly hope it is, but in the meantime, here are a few groups worth watching.

  • The Backbeats placed third in season two and are known for their clean, professional, catchy pop sound.  They released their self-titled debut album in November.  It was incredibly well received in the community and was recently nominated for two Contemporary A Cappella Recording Awards including Best Pop/Rock Album and Best Pop/Rock Song for Born This Way.  Below is their first performance on the show with “If I Were A Boy” which is also on their album
  • This past season’s fourth place finisher, Afro Blue, is a vocal jazz group from Howard University.  Their harmonies and intricacies are INSANE.  You may not think you like jazz but I would bet this group can convince you otherwise (to test this I’ve embedded one of their performances below).  The group consists of former or current Howard students.  They’ve decided to go professional and are now known as Afro Blue Vocal Band in order to differentiate themselves from the rotating Afro Blue ensemble still at Howard.  They haven’t released an album yet, but keep an eye out for it as it should be outstanding.
  • Finally, we have my all-time favorite Sing-Off alums and current reigning champions: Pentatonix. This quintet turns out covers that are frequently even better than the originals.  They specialize in modern/futuristic sounds – making club-ready hits with only their five voices.  Their EP should drop sometime in April and will feature several originals written by the group!  Recently they uploaded a studio recording of their version of “Somebody that I Used to Know” which is below.  If you enjoy it, I’d encourage you to take some time and watch some of their Sing-Off performances as well.

The Voice

One of the newest singing competitions, The Voice is just now in its second season.  It was an immediate hit when it premiered but its contestants (and even winner) have pretty much faded from view since the season ended.

  • My favorite contestant from last season was Dia Frampton.  She surprised most by being the runner-up in what was a very tight race.  Her album, Red, came out in December and I just recently found it.  This girl is incredible.  Her voice is unique, warm, and adapts to a variety of styles.  She does upbeat dance-able songs, ballads, folk songs, and more.  I can’t get enough of this album and I truly think it deserves more listeners.

American Idol

Yes, I’m even going to talk a bit about the behemoth.  This show has many alums that have gone on to immensely successful careers.  Others though haven’t managed to turn their time on the show into huge sales.  They may be highly successful in smaller markets, but I would love for more people to find them.

  • Brooke White was not one of my favorite contestants her season though I did like her.  She’s now half of a folk-pop duo with Jack Mantranga called Jack and White.  I haven’t yet listened to a ton of their stuff, but what I have I really, really like.  They’ve got two EPs out now: Gemini and Winter.  I’m definitely going to be checking out more of them!
  • Haley Reinhart finished third just last season and her first single just came out about a week ago.  So this is more of a plea that people listen from the start. She has one of my favorite voices (and one of my all-time favorite AI performances), so I need people to help her out so I can have more of her amazing voice.  She performed her single “Free” this past week on the AI results show and OWNED it.

Those are the singing reality alums that I’m currently loving.  Have there been any you’ve been listening to?

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