On Monday, Dec. 6, as holiday music pops up on street corners and in malls, NBC celebrates the power of singing with the premiere of the sophomore season of the a cappella group competition "The Sing-Off."
Former 98 Degrees member Nick Lachey is host of the five-episode show -- after the premiere, it continues on Dec. 8, 13 and 15, concluding on Dec. 20 -- and judging the contestants are Ben Folds of Ben Folds Five, Shawn Stockman of Boyz II Men, and Nicole Scherzinger of the Pussycat Dolls.
The season-one winner was the Puerto Rican group Nota, which nabbed the $100,000 prize and Sony recording contract. During a taping of one of this season's episodes, the Nota members make an appearance and also break into spontaneous song in the greenroom.
"I couldn't be happier for them," says Lachey. "I know that feeling when you're about to go out, and your first album's getting released. I'm excited to see that process come full circle."
In contrast to the up-and-coming Nota, included in this year's roster is Jerry Lawson & Talk of the Town from Oakland, Calif., fronted by the former lead singer, producer and musical arranger of the a cappella group the Persuasions, which began in Brooklyn, N.Y., in the early 1960s.
"For the performers, the judges, myself," says Lachey, "to be around someone like Jerry who's had so much success and experience was really a thrill for all of us. It gave some of the younger performers the opportunity to watch and learn from a guy who cut his teeth, so to speak, doing this for a number of years."
The other groups contending are Committed from Huntsville, Ala.; Eleventh Hour from Kettering, Ohio; Pitch Slapped from Boston; Groove for Thought from Seattle; Men of Note from Cherry Hill, N.J.; the Backbeats from Los Angeles; On the Rocks from Eugene, Ore.; Street Corner Symphony from Nashville, Tenn.; and the Whiffenpoofs of Yale from New Haven, Conn.
'The Sing-Off': Nick Lachey hosts as voices rise