Shawn Stockman’s ‘Sing-Off’ Blog: What It Takes To Make It!
Shawn Stockman performing at the 2011 Essence Music Festival at the Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans on July 1, 2011.
LOS ANGELES, Calif. --
Well, that was by far the most emotional night of “The Sing-Off” I had this season.
The show’s outcome, although controversial with the viewers, was based on a few factors. But in order for you to understand what I’m about to say you have to start from the beginning.
Firstly, a cappella, as old as the art form is, still as far as mainstream music is concerned, uncharted territory. Thanks to the show, it’s in a period of re-innovation, and I believe it will inspire others to want to gather up a few friends and start practicing in their houses to come up with something even more cutting edge!
Information passes so quickly nowadays, so if a group already has the ability to sing, there are millions of references to hone their skills! I say all of this to say, when it comes to a cappella music, who the hell knows what will work?!
I was just treated this season by groups who made sounds I never thought was humanly possible to do with the mouth, a group that incorporated hip-hop and actually made it sound cool, a real life college “ska-cappella” type group, a female group who made a cappella look AND sound sexier than it ever has; so many components I would have never dreamed could be possible, I was so pleasantly proven wrong!
But I digress.
For anyone, including myself, to think ultimately that one thing would work over another would be totally self-righteous in my opinion. So when coming down to the final three, you have to look for who was either the most consistent on the show, or the ones who showed the most growth! The final three are the ones who represent those two points. Now, I cannot continue this blog without answering the question that was most asked on my twitter page, “Why did the judges let AFRO-BLUE go?” Here is why:
From the beginning of the show, I LOVED AFRO-BLUE and I still do! They so reminded me of what I grew up on listening to as well as being around groups simmer to that when I was growing up! Amazing, intricate, soulful harmonies, and jaw dropping leads that made me think at first, “These guys can go all the way in this competition”!
As the weeks went by, and we started to go music that took ALL of the groups completely out of their comfort zone, instead of AB taking on the challenge of doing a “rock” or “hip-hop” song, they let the song challenges intimidate them! Just about every group mentioned in the packages before they would perform something like “We never sang a (blank) record before”, but the difference some of AB’s performances was that I felt they weren’t assertive. They let the song beat them instead of them beating the song.
Mind you, far as vocal ability and pure beauty in their harmonies, I’ll put AB up against the best of them any day. But this is a competition!! It’s for the groups to throw all inhibitions to the wind and go for what they know. There were certain episodes where they definitely fell. Now all the groups on the show can tell you, sometimes my co-judges and I would talk to all the groups at once before the show tapings. We would tell them to not be afraid to do what they came all the way to Los Angeles to do and go out there and blow the world’s minds!! Some took heed to that advice quickly, others it may have taken them a bit longer to figure out how to do it. And as amazing and soul stirring AB’s last performances were, in comparison to the other groups who showed growth and or consistency, it was just too late.
And in being a fair judge, you HAVE to award those who showed the most promise throughout the weeks. The breakout group in this whole competition was URBAN METHOD. Form the gate, they had a few strikes against them far as I was concerned: first strike was having a rapper in an a cappella group. In my mind I instantly thought, “This is going to be corny as hell!”
But when I heard my man Myke and saw his conviction and how his group backed him up that didn’t resonate as corny at all, my view on the group started to change, But I STILL wasn’t convinced. Mainly because of their lead vocalist. Starting off they didn’t leave much of an impression, and I felt they were leaning too much on Myke’s charisma to carry them. But with every week they got better, and better. They delivered the songs in a way where it was listenable, fun, had attitude, AND we saw before our eyes Katie, our little female vocalist who was in a conk shell the first few weeks, shed her skin and showed us judges she had some chops and showed some star power! URBAN METHOD evolved, and they never folded their tents and delivered any of their songs flimsy.
THE DARTMOUTH AIRES was just pure entertainment from beginning to end! We’re in a business now where artists these day are signed to what is called a 360 deal, where companies share in the reeve of the artists merchandise, touring AND recordings! When I see the DA’s I just don’t see a recording contract, I see advertising, Broadway, and a standout star in the lead vocalist Michael! They showed depth, range, highs and lows. Consistent from the start.
And of course, you have PENTATONIX! A five person vocal group who has taken this show to another level! Front man Scott Hoying, Mitch and Kristin’s beautiful voices and Kevin and Avi who I nicknamed the “Meat and Potatoes” of the group have opened my eyes to the possibilities of a cappella being more than just some shoo-bee-doos and some wah-wahs! They are what my co-judge Sara says “SICK”!
It’s one thing to declare you’re “this” type or “that” type of group, but it’s another to rise to the challenge and take on a form you never would have thought you could take because of the dynamics of this show! Just ask last year’s champs COMMITTED: Gospel boys, never sang secular music as a group in their lives, whose first song on the show was “This Love” by Maroon 5!! With that performance, they would have never convinced me they JUST sing gospel if I didn’t already know the truth. I look for that commitment in all the groups.
That “throw caution to the wind” type attitude and just go for it! The ability to be diverse! AB definitely has their niche, and I believe they can be successful at that niche. Just like I believe Vocal Point, Delilah, North Shore, DelTones, the YellowJackets, The Fannin Family, Kinfolk 9, Messiah’s Men, The Cat’s Pajamas, The Collective, Sonos, and Soul’d Out have the ability, Hopefully with the experience of being a part of being something even greater than what they even thought.
It’s not about just the competition, it’s about the journey! And as far as my decision to keep AB and my co-judges felt otherwise, I was upset, but I do understand, and I ride with my co-judges! SO, the FINALE is next! I’ll literally be flying from Asia to go straight to set to film this exciting live broadcast! I can’t wait to see my good friends of the cast AND the crew, the best men and women working on television. I have to shout you out because you have made this experience for me INCREDIBLE!!
And congratulations to the FINAL THREE, PENTATONIX, URBAN METHOD, and THE DARTMOUTH AIRES! You truly deserve to be HERE!
Good luck, it’s not in the judges’ hands anymore!
Shout out to Robert Graham, Jed Clothing, the Jordan Company, Nordstrom’s and Adidas for making me look good, and my amazing wife Sharhonda for putting it all together. To my mgr Joe Mulvihill, thanks for making this crazy schedule of mine work, Whitney Fatone for having my back, Joanna Mignano, greatest PR in the WORLD, ICM and of course Joel Gallen and NBC for the love!
The FUTURE of MUSIC looks bright from where I stand!
And it’s because of some crusaders who don’t need music at all!! One more blog and I will see you all for Season FOUR!!
Copyright 2013 by NBC Universal, Inc. All rights reserved.
This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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