'The Sing-Off' is adding a new judge. Who should join the panel?

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Image Credit: Trae Patton/NBC

This fall, NBC’s a cappella tournament The Sing-Off will be premiering earlier than usual — and, as the network announced at their upfront presentation today, it’s also being reworked into a full-blown reality series. But those aren’t the only major changes in store for The Sing-Off. Apparently, NBC is also in the process of adding a new judge to a panel that already includes piano virtuoso Ben Folds, Pussycat Doll (and soon-to-be X Factor co-host) Nicole Scherzinger, and boy-turned-man Shawn Stockman.

As a true Sing-Off fan — I’m so fond of the show that I don’t even feel guilty about how much I like it — I’m a little wary of this news. This competition’s judging panel is already unusually strong; though Nicole rarely has anything critical (or constructive to say), Ben and Shawn have both mastered the art of giving incisive critiques without coming across as unlikable. That’s so difficult to do that some singing contests have done away with useful criticism altogether. In order to prevent the level of criticism from slipping, then, NBC is going to have to find a new judge who knows a lot about music, is well-spoken, and isn’t afraid to say something negative. It couldn’t hurt for this judge to be female as well, since that’d split the panel evenly along gender lines. Oh, and since Shawn is all about R&B, Nicole knows pop, and Ben has the indie scene covered, New Judge should probably have a background in another musical genre altogether. Who could possibly fill all of these criteria?

Here’s one suggestion: Alanis Morissette. The jagged little Canadian is a songwriter as well as a singer, like Ben and Shawn. Her brand of alt-rock is fairly different from Mr. Folds’ piano rock. She’s clearly not afraid to get nasty if the occasion demands it. Plus, like recent reality converts Jennifer Lopez and Christina Aguilera before her, Alanis was majorly famous in the ’90s and the ’00s but has faded from the public eye by now. Being a judge on The Sing-Off would thrust her back into the spotlight — which would be especially helpful since she’s reportedly releasing a new album in October of this year.

If Alanis isn’t available, maybe her fellow Canadian Sarah McLachlan or the more gentle Jewel would be interested in the gig. Or, if my wish list of new judge qualities is totally off-base, Jessica Simpson would be a pretty fun choice; I’d love to see her match wits with Sing-Off-host-slash-ex-husband Nick Lachey again. Finally, if NBC wants to take a risk by choosing someone who doesn’t have enormous mainstream name recognition, I’d like to suggest they go with Tunde Adebimpe, lead singer of TV on the Radio. His band’s song “Ambulance” is one of the most beautiful, haunting pieces of a cappella music I’ve ever heard.

Your turn, PopWatchers: Who do you think would make a good Sing-Off judge?

Read more:
EW’s 2011 Upfronts coverage
‘X Factor’ vs. ‘The Voice’ vs. ‘Idol’ vs. ‘The Sing-Off’: Which has the best judges’ panel?

Comments (72 total) Add your comment
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  • Elijah

    So Nicole is staying with The Sing-Off, even with her new job on The X Factor? I know she’s just co-hosting The X Factor, but still…that’s a lot of reality TV work for someone, especially when both shows air during the same part of the season on different networks.

  • Tommy

    With Nicole doing “X-Factor”, I doubt she’d do this show too. They should replace her with Cyndi Lauper. She would be phenomenal.

    • Carmen SanDiego

      Cyndi Lauper!!!

      • jj

        Agreed…Cyndi would be awesome!

    • Joseph S

      You are right. It’s been said she won’t be doing both shows.

  • Lorraine O’Connor

    It would be good if they add the judges on the panel from the UK X Factor and Britain’s Got Talent such as Dannii Minogue and Louis Walsh.

  • Jerome

    Debbie. Gibson.

  • Khoff

    Ick. Nicole bothers me. I would LOVE Alanis on this show!

  • Kelly

    I read over on TVGuide this morning that Nicole is leaving the show. That means the Sing Off would be looking for a judge to replace her, not to bring the number of judges up to four.

    • kate middleton

      Yeah, that makes a lot more sense.

  • Andy

    Harry Connick, Jr – he was my choice for Idol too. I thought he was the best mentor they had last season. Not a female, though, but maybe he can appear in drag.

    • Ace

      He would be a great choice!

    • kate middleton

      Harry would be great. If Nicole is leaving, they’d probably want a female replacement. But Harry would be fantastic.

    • CandaceTX

      Babyface! He was an awesome mentor this season.

      • gigi

        Co-sign…Babyface would be a great on The Sing-Off or The Voice (if they switch coaches).

  • Ace

    I hope they’ll choose someone who can actually SING, rather than some random auto-tuned pop star. This is the only musical competition show I watch, and I watch it because the competitors and judges (except maybe Nicole) are skilled and knowledgeable musicians who have a deep understanding of the craft, not just questionably talented pretty people who want to be famous.

    I also wish they would keep their current format. The short run is one of the things that makes this show work. It’s less special if it’s not a treat that only comes around once a year.

  • kate middleton

    How can Nicole possibly judge this and co-host X Factor? Even if it were physically possible (which it probably is…look at everything Seacrest does), I wouldn’t think NBC or Fox would allow it contractually.

  • ST

    I love the Sing-Off but I’m slightly worried that the move up on the schedule and lengthening the show could hurt it. Part of what makes it work is that it leaves you wanting more (at least it did for me) and I was kind of getting used to having this on right around Christmas. It seemed festive (I realize that’s not logical at all, just my two cents). However, I’m willing to give it a shot and hopefully they won’t put it up against X-Factor this fall. As for the new judge? I think Jessica Simpson is a great idea. Also, I like Alanis or Faith Hill. They don’t really have the “country” cross section covered and she could be an interesting choice to mix things up. She’s been a huge success in the country/pop crossover and kind of laid low the past few years. Shania is also poised for a comeback so I think she would be a good fit as well.

    • kate middleton

      I completely agree with you, ST. I have enjoyed The Sing Off for the past two years, mainly because it’s short enough that you don’t get tired of it. I think it’s a great treat around the holidays the past two years, as there is less new programming then and it was an exciting change. I really don’t think it’s that well suited to a full blown, season long reality show a la Idol or DWTS.

      • Crystal

        Agree as well. This is truly a case of ‘it if ain’t broke don’t fix it’ but NBC is so desperate for successful shows I can understand their desire to frak with it.

      • kate middleton

        You’re right, Crystal. I just worry that the show will fail and we’ll never see it again after that.

    • jj

      I love the show too and hope making it longer won’t ruin it. I have to say if they brought on Jessica Simpson that would definitely ruin it. Her dumb blonde schtick is just so tired. Plus, Nick Lachey was fun as the host and why saddle him with his dullard ex wife. What might work is his fiance, Vanessa Minillo

  • Birdman73

    Thank you for your astute observation of the relative uselessness of Nicole. When I watch the show, I fast-forward through her critiques, they are so pointless. While I understand the desire the balence the board by genre, I also would like to have someone with a knowledge of music, singing, and the challenges and nuances of a capella. If Nicole should leave, I agree with the suggestion of Sarah McLachlan – a woman with a wonderful voice and a broad knowledge of music. If Nicole stays, while my choice is a bit dated, there are very few people in the world with as much experience and knowledge of a capella music as Bobby McFerrin. He has worked with pop stars and symphony orchestras and has graced the world with his unique combination of tone, harmony, and percussion through every genre of music possible. Another knowledgable (yet also dated possibility) with significant experience in harmony and a capella would be Huey Lewis.

  • J

    Sara Bareilles. Good singer/songwriter with actual a cappella experience.

    • Carrie #2

      Yes!! I wouldn’t say I’m a huge fan of hers but she would be excellent for this.

    • kate middleton

      That’s a great idea! She would bring some extra credibility since she did a capella in college.

  • Topher

    Jewel did do a great job on Nashville Star as a judge but I am scared of this basic revamp of a great holiday show. It feels like NBC got greedy AND it is odd Nicole will be doing both shows.

  • THAT song

    Aaaaaah, that Ambulance song drives me crazy because my brain CANNOT figure out the meter. The bass line sounds like it’s in 6/8, but the rest of it doesn’t match that. It’s like when I listen to the Peanuts theme and just cannot wrap my brain around the correct beat…I can’t combine the syncopation of the melody line with the bass stuff. I don’t know what it is. I’m a trained piano player, I sang in choirs for years, I danced for a very long time…it makes me physically uncomfortable to be so unable to understand a song’s proper cadence.
    But anyway…Alanis could be a great judge, Sarah McLachlan would be fine but she just makes me think of sad puppies in the pound now, and Jewel would be a warm presence. I like Jessica Simpson, but I don’t know that I need to see her interact with Nick Lachey on my TV again.

  • mscisluv

    I agree with those who think that expanding the show isn’t really the best idea, especially with many of the favorites being larger college groups – how can they take that much time off school?

    • kate middleton

      That’s a really good point. Hadn’t thought of the logistical aspect of that.

    • Crystal

      An excellent point! Like km, I hadn’t thought of that, but so true!

    • jarod

      It’s filmed in the summer

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