The Sing-Off

TV review by
Kari Croop, Common Sense Media
The Sing-Off TV Poster Image
Spirited singing contest shows off power of the human voice.

Parents say

age 13+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

age 4+
Based on 4 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.

Positive Messages

Although it's a competition, the show's overarching message is that music -- and the human voice -- can be transformative and inspirational. The contest also reinforces the importance of working together as a group.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The groups represent a broad spectrum of people and offer real diversity when it comes to age, race, ethnicity, sound, and musical influences. Many of the groups also have inspirational stories that illustrate the power of music and its potential to work as a positive force in the community. The judges offer honest feedback and criticism in a way that's meant to be constructive rather than hurtful or snide.


Some groups with more conservative convictions avoid songs with even a hint of sexual innuendo.


Selections include songs by popular artists like Queen, Aretha Franklin, the Beatles, ABBA, Daughtry, and Bon Jovi, just to name a few. The judges and host are active in the music business and sometimes mention their own songs or albums, but there isn't any over-the-top name-dropping. The grand prize includes a recording contract with Sony.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that, aside from some subtle branding and artist name-dropping, there's nothing here to worry about ... although the musical selections might be better suited to tweens and up. The big prize also comes with a recording contract with Sony Music, which could mean marketing opportunities for the winning group down the line.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byMsMediaMom October 18, 2011

The Sing-Off is a winner

Great show. A family favorite, although the stage costumes and song lyrics are sometimes sexually suggestive and/or explicit. Wouldn't recommend it without... Continue reading
Kid, 12 years old May 17, 2014


family-fun might be boring for younger viewers
Kid, 9 years old May 2, 2011

What's the story?

Former pop star Nick Lachey hosts reality competition THE SING-OFF, in which eight a capella groups from across the country compete for a $100,000 prize and a recording contract with Sony. Over the course of five nights, the groups are pared down by a panel of three judges (recording artists Ben Folds, Nicole Scherzinger of the Pussycat Dolls, and Shawn Stockman of Boyz II Men) until only three remain. At that point, the decision is turned over to the voters at home.

Is it any good?

For Glee fans who can't get enough of energetic vocal performances, The Sing-Off will satisfy your cravings for pop songs with a generally positive edge, presented by some truly talented people who love to perform. And for those who don't know much about a capella music, The Sing-Off is a fun introduction to the topic, and it might even inspire some younger performers in your family to give it a try with a school or community group.

It's also nice to see judges who don't shy away from real criticism -- if a group's pitch veers off key, even for a second, they aren't likely to get away with it -- and who are knowledgable enough about music that they can give honest and useful feedback regarding song choices, dynamics, and vocal arrangements. It's a show for music lovers, for sure. But whether there are enough viewers to support future incarnations of a show like The Sing-Off is less certain.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about what makes a capella singing different from other types of music-making. How do different groups use the human voice to mimic the sound of musical instruments? Do you think it takes more talent to sing a capella, without the benefit of a backing track?

  • Do you think the show's creators are trying to take advantage of the success of other popular shows about singing, particularly Glee?

TV details

  • Premiere date: December 14, 2009
  • Cast: Ben Folds, Nick Lachey
  • Network: NBC
  • Genre: Reality TV
  • TV rating: TV-PG
  • Available on: Streaming
  • Last updated: September 16, 2020

Our editors recommend

For kids who love singing competitions

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