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

The bad news: Glee is off the air until April 2010. The possibly good news: Tonight begins NBC's four-night series, The Sing-Off (8 PM ET)—which pits eight a cappella groups against one another for a recording contract.

No, they're not a bunch of real-life Gleek clubs, but there are similarities. "The comparisons to Glee are pretty natural, because you see that they're doing choreography, and we're doing choreography, and they're coed and we're coed," says a member of one competing group, the SoCals. "But I think one of the main differences is we are all a cappella. It's just eight voices."

The contestants will perform over the course of three nights—tonight, tomorrow and Wednesday. After Wednesday's show, viewers vote. The winner will be announced on Monday, Dec. 21, during a live finale. The host is—or might I say, the role of Ryan Seacrest will be played by--Nick Lachey.

As these shows do, The Sing-Off includes lots of human interest anecdotes and back stories. By the time Solo performs, we'll already know about their hardscrabble journey to the stage. "Growing up in North Omaha was extremely difficult because of the violence, no income, no funding," says one group member. "Everything was going downhill."

When BYU Noteworthy, from Provo, UT take their positions, we'll already know about their religious background and that, as one member says, "if there is swearing or any type of innuendos [in a song], we just don't do it."

But there's one thing that all eight groups have in common: They want to change your perception of a cappella singing. "When I say I'm in a vocal group, people are like, 'Oh, like barbershop or doo-wop?'" says a member of Face, from Boulder, CO. "We don't do wop. Face's style is in-your-face wall of sound. It's a rock band without instruments." That claim in itself is worth checking out.

Plus: Watch our exclusive clip of the Glee cast playing musical chairs!

Do you think The Sing-Off will be a good substitute for Glee? Chime in below!

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