'The Sing-Off': And the Winner Is...

"Eight groups entered the competition, three groups are still in the running, and now one of them will be proud champions," said Nick Lachey, host of The Sing-Off, last Wednesday. That means that in tonight's finale (8 PM ET, NBC), viewers will experience only the crème de la crème of the a cappella world.

And that's my cue to tune in. Some people prefer the early episodes of TV talent shows. When American Idol debuts next month, lots of viewers will set their DVRs to catch the daffy, talentless Idol wannabes; they enjoy seeing the contestants who have no idea that they sound like whales with indigestion (and who grow indignant when Simon Cowell tells them so). Me, I'd rather jump in after the crowd thins out, and everybody left is great.

All eight of the original a cappella groups on The Sing-Off were purported great already, prescreened by producers who combed the country for the best vocal groups around. That may be true, but in tonight's live, two-hour finale, the three remaining contestants are at the very top of their game. If you haven't tuned in yet, just read this primer on the top three, and you'll be ready…

The Beelzebubs: These are the baby-faced, clean-cut schoolboys from Tufts University. Their admittedly corny motto is "fun through song." But before you dismiss them for that, just check out this clip of the boys in their neat letter sweaters and ties, singing Neil Diamond's "Sweet Caroline."

The Bubs didn't mention it, but Red Sox fans regularly belt this song out at Fenway Park, in the group's hometown Boston. Normally, I would roll my eyes at the lead singer and his hokey wink at the audience, but I didn't. Sometimes, it really is hip to be square. As judge Shawn Stockman of Boys II Men put it, "I felt like I was in a nice cheesy seventies movie, and it felt really good."

Nota: These are the guys from San Juan, Puerto Rico, whose urban attire (jackets with lots of zippers, leather, sunglasses, etc.) is about 180 degrees away from the Beelzebubs. But they are every bit as talented. There's obviously an artistry to making voices sound like music, but even when precisely imitating the discord of a construction sight, these guys make it seem easy. Watch this clip of them performing Peter Gabriel's "Sledgehammer."

"It was amazing that all those sounds were coming from your voices," said judge Nicole Scherzinger from the Pussycat Dolls. That's a cappella at its best.

Voices of Lee: This is the 10-member, coed, self-proclaimed "vocal orchestra" from Cleveland, TN and Lee University. "We come from a faith kind of background," said one member. "And putting that behind our sound would hopefully set us apart." The judges seem to have taken hold of that tidbit, directly or indirectly referring their religious background several times. "[With] that second song [The Beatles' "Oh! Darling"], I think you all brought us to church," said judge Scherzinger, leading me to wonder if she's ever been inside a church. Check out the clip.

Dressed in bright colors, their sartorial style was all over the place (cardigans, sequins, boots, ties, no ties, bows, tights); but their voices were soulful, and I love their southern accents.

Still, I think the two finalists will be The Beelzebubs and Nota. As for the overall winner, I'm rooting for the Bubs, but I think that both groups deserve it. 

Plus: The Sing-Off: Glee in Real Life?

Which group do you want to win?  Chime in below!

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