Even though the American version of Sing On! was likely produced around the same time (pre-pandemic) as its Spanish and German sister shows, Netflix decided to release the American version last. Were they trying to gauge interest in the live karaoke game show format? Who knows? But, judging by how fun the other two versions are, it seems likely that a Tituss Burgess-hosted American version would just as fun. Read on to find out…
SING ON!: STREAM IT OR SKIP IT?
Opening Shot: Entering a studio with a crowd already in a party mood, Sing On! host Tituss Burgess (Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt) comes in, wearing all white and shades displaying lyrics. He’s singing Justin Timberlake’s “Can’t Stop The Feeling”.
The Gist: After Spanish and German versions of Sing On! debuted on Netflix, we finally get the American version of the streamer’s karaoke game show. Burgess is the host here, and the format is the same, except the potential pot is worth $60,000. From our review of the Spanish show, we’ll repeat the gameplay:
The format is pretty straightforward: Six contestants try to sing a song as accurately as possible; the percentage of notes that they got right is calculated by a “voice analysis system,” which compares the notes to the original recording. The percentage of notes the contestants got right determines how much of the available money for that round ($10,000 or $20,000) gets put in the bank that gets awarded to the winner of the episode.
At the end of the song, the singer with the highest percentage of made notes moves on and can’t be voted off. Then the remaining contestants lock in their votes to see who should leave the stage. The contestant with the highest vote total leaves the stage, but is invited to hang out and party on the second level. The strategy employed is to either vote for the strongest competition or vote off the weakest singer, hoping that the strongest singers will make the pot bigger.
In the final two rounds, who’s eliminated is determined purely on the score the voice analysis system gives them. During the final round, the contestant who did the best job during the previous round gets to pick one of two songs for both of them to sing. Also included are “Tituss Bucks,” a $500 bonus that Burgess gives to a contestant he thinks knocks their performance out of the park, and in one round, if each contestant can hit and hold their designated “golden note,” they each get a $1000 bonus.
Every episode has a theme; one is “Movie Night,” another is “’80s Mixtape” (sounds right up our alley!), “Country”, “Summer Anthems,” “Chart-Toppers” and more. The first episode is called “Party Playlist.”
What Shows Will It Remind You Of? Sing On! Spain and Sing On! Germany, of course.
Our Take: Sing On! is pretty much identical to its Spanish and German cousins, right down to the set (they’re likely all filmed in the same studio). Burgess is a natural pick to host a show like this, because he’s a great singer, and can improvise very well. He gave every contestant equal amounts of emcee love, and was able to get the crowd into the show right away, a key to the party atmosphere this show is supposed to foster.
What’s interesting is that, despite the fact that all the songs are in English, as opposed to the other versions’ mix of American and native songs, the American singers had more problems hitting the right notes than the singers did in the Spanish version, for instance. Remember, the voice analysis system isn’t interested in riffing; it just registers people who come in on time and match the melody. In the first episode, out of a possible $60,000 pot, only $39,550 was at stake for the winner. That translates to about a 66% accuracy percentage — actually less, given how the final two money rounds were worth double the first two rounds. You could hear that most of the singers were too busy trying to hit notes than to actually sing well, despite having decent voices.
Like with the Spanish version, we were more interested in the meter and percentage at the bottom of the screen, distracting us from people’s performances — each contestant is given a random set of lyrics to sing, then there are sections where they all sing. What we do know is that the Spanish version felt more fun, and the contestants felt more together, than they did in this version. And don’t get us started on the voting; at least here, the contestants more consistently tried to take out the best singers, despite the fact that the best singers would help make the pot bigger. We’re not sure which strategy we’d go with; we guess it depends on how confident we are in our ability to win.
Like with the Spanish version, though, the best two singers ended up competing for the pot, so in the end it came out the way we expected. But getting there was a bit on the awkward side.
Sex and Skin: Nothing. Like with the other versions, this is something the whole family can watch.
Parting Shot: The winner wins, the other contestants congratulate the winner, and Burgess says there are more songs and contestants coming right up… because Netflix will just roll into the next episode if you don’t hit “Watch Credits.”
Sleeper Star: The band brings the party up a notch, just the same as the band at a bar’s live karaoke night might do.
Most Pilot-y Line: Nothing stands out.
Our Call: STREAM IT. Like its international counterparts, Sing On! is light and fun and a show that you can easily binge if you just want to enjoy watching people singing for prizes.
Joel Keller (@joelkeller) writes about food, entertainment, parenting and tech, but he doesn’t kid himself: he’s a TV junkie. His writing has appeared in the New York Times, Slate, Salon, RollingStone.com, VanityFair.com, Fast Company and elsewhere.