Now Streaming: Netflix’s “Sing On” promising, but awkward


Streaming giant Netflix has gotten involved in singing shows. In what might look like a performance version of “The Circle,” “Sing On” pits six singers against each other and the metrics that measure accurate pitch. On the surface, “Sing On” holds a great deal of promise, but the first episode does a poor job of explaining how the show will work.

“Sing On”: a show performance fans want to like

For people who have played “Rock Band,” and watched “The Voice,” and participated in or witnessed karaoke night, “Sing On” is a combination of all three. Add to those elements the awkward process of voting each other off (for arbitrary reasons), and host Tituss Burgess’s failing to explain exactly how the show will work, leads to audience confusion. Burgess tells audiences that singers with the least amount of accuracy will be voted off, they believe him. However, singers vote for each other, and they vote based on criteria such as “She’s a strong singer,” and “He will be tough competition.”

While the focus on a lack of accuracy as a reason for voting someone off became an actual development by episode two, on occasion, singers with good voices can be voted off. Singers cannot see each others accuracy, and it is weird watching someone who scored badly discuss someone else’s missed notes. The hypocrisy might be more than some viewers can bear.

There are no judges, just the scrolling representation of notes, Burgess, and the voting singers. There is a live audience, who sing along and seem supportive of singers who are voted off.

The problem with “Sing On” is that the show does not really depend on accuracy. Contestants are still voted off until the second to last round, during which singers will be voted off by virtue of their accuracy scores.

At times, the group singing is a little like bad “Glee.” This is not The Voice. Audiences might wonder how some of these contestants would fare on a show when their actual voices are being judged.

For the winners, which so far have not been the strongest singers, a jackpot is awarded. Burgess for his part is entertaining. He and the live band often carry the show.

Viewers who like singing shows should give “Sing On” a try. For some, the show’s flaws will be easy to overlook. For others, shows with clearer guidelines, and more polished singers can be found elsewhere.

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Dodie Miller-Gould is a native of Fort Wayne, Indiana who lives in New York City where she studies creative nonfiction at Columbia University. She has BA and MA degrees in English from Indiana University-Purdue University, Fort Wayne, and an MFA in Fiction from Minnesota State University, Mankato. Her research interests include popular music and culture, 1920s jazz, and blues, confessional poetry, and the rhetoric of fiction. She has presented at numerous conferences in rhetoric and composition, and creative writing. Her creative works have appeared in Tenth Muse, Apostrophe, The Flying Island, Scavenger's Newsletter and elsewhere. She has won university-based awards for creative work and literary criticism.

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