If you're tired of The Voice, burned out on The X Factor, and just can't face another season of American Idol, here comes The Sing-Off, back to restore your faith in TV singing competitions. The show returns for a fourth season Monday night with host Nick Lachey, and judges Ben Folds, Shawn Stockman of Boyz II Men and new judge Jewel, replacing exiting judge Sara Bareilles.
The competition, which will only last for seven episodes, features 10 a cappella groups competing for a $100,000 prize and a record contract. New this season is "Ultimate Sing Off": at the end of every episode, the bottom two groups, as decided by the judges, will face off against one another and perform the same song; one group will be eliminated from the competition. The finale is set for December 23.
Asked what advice she can offer Jewel, Sara tells ABC News Radio that she thinks her replacement should be a bit tougher on the contestants.
"I think it's okay to be maybe more direct than I was," she says. "I think I just cared about the contestants, and I just wanted them to feel uplifted every time. So I don't think I was -- I don't want to say critical -- but I probably held back on my critique to a certain level, because I just didn't want to hurt anyone's feelings."
Sara says she and Jewel have already chatted on Twitter about the show, and adds, "I wish her the best...she's awesome. I'm actually really curious; I'm excited to see the show." Jewel, meanwhile, says she's excited to join the panel of what she calls "the nerdy glee club show."
"I love it," she tells ABC News Radio. "It's really a fun show because we get to be very articulate about music and about our feedback. We're allowed to give specific feedback." As opposed to some reality show judges, who Jewel thinks don't help the contestants at all with their lame attempts at critiques.
"I hate vague [stuff], like, 'You didn't bring it!' 'I didn't feel it!'" explains Jewel. "If I was a contestant I'd be, like, 'Give me something I can work with! I don't know how to go back to my room and practice "feeling it!"'"
Jewel has already served as a mentor on The Voice, and she also judged another competition called Platinum Hit. She says she feels it's her duty as a musician to help others succeed. "We're a very fractured industry. Artists very rarely talk to each other and we suffer for it," she tells ABC News Radio. "If not musically and creatively suffering, we really suffer on the business end, because none of us went to business school."
That's why, she says, she jumps at the chance to mentor whenever it's offered to her.
"I take any opportunity I can...I take that really seriously, it's a pleasure for me." she explains. "I was mentored by my heroes: Bob Dylan and Neil Young and Merle Haggard all took me under their wing and gave me advice that I really needed to hear, and I love repaying that."
Catch the premiere of The Sing-Off on NBC Monday night at 9 p.m. ET.
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