NBC’s ‘Sing-Off’ highlights a cappella music

Before the movie “Pitch Perfect,” there was NBC’s show “The Sing-Off.” This is where cappella groups, young and old, take the stage and try to impress the judges with their talent and their stage presence.

After the young and unique group Pentatonix won the third season in 2011, The Sing-Off didn’t return right away. It took two years, and plenty of fans’ perseverance, before the show returned for its fourth season in December of 2013.

While Nick Lachey remained as the host, Sara Bareilles did not return to join fellow judges Ben Folds and Boyz II Men’s Shawn Stockman. Instead, country singer Jewel sat on the third chair.

But a new judge was not the only thing that changed for season 4. There were also new types of groups: Vocal Rush (a group made entirely of high school students), The Filharmonic (an all Filipino group who wanted to be the next a cappella boy band), Ten (a group made of singers who have never actually sung together on stage), and Home Free (a country a cappella group).

These groups, plus six others, sang their hearts out in hopes of winning a recording contract and $100,000. And while they all impressed the judges with their unique styles, only one went home with the grand prize: Home Free.

Personally, country is not my favorite genre of music, but I would be lying if I said Home Free didn’t blow my mind from their very first performance (Florida Georgia Line’s “Cruise”) to their last (Hunter Hayes’s “I Want Crazy”).

With their years of experience, the boys of Home Free (Austin Brown, Tim Foust, Adam Rupp, Rob Lundquist, and Chris Rupp) amazingly managed to harmonize perfectly every time they performed. They were naturals on the stage and they knew how to get the crowd going and would always leave the judges in awe. A couple other factors that helped them were Tim’s amazing bass voice and, probably, Austin’s good looks.

After winning “The Sing-Off,” Home Free digitally released their album titled “Crazy Life.”

Not only does the album feature the group’s own twist to popular songs like Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire,” Avicii’s “Wake Me Up,” and a Hunter Hayes medley (“Wanted,” “I Want Crazy,” and “Everybody’s Got Somebody but Me”), it also features some of the group’s original work.

The album starts with “Any Way the Wind Blows,” an original song that makes a promise of going anywhere, any way the wind blows, just to be with someone you love. Along with well-written lyrics, the music behind this particular song is definitely play-loudly-with-the-windows-down material.

On the show, Home Free’s version of “Ring of Fire” blew the judges away. Ben Folds commented that their performance was “perfectly executed” and Jewel described it as “a cappella country reggae.” To make things even better, the version on the album features a special guest: Avi Kaplan from Pentatonix—another young man that blew away the judges with his bass voice.

With these songs and plenty more amazing originals and renditions, Home Free has moved on from their days of singing on cruise ships to signing with Columbia Records and snagging a spot on iTunes’s top 5 albums when “Crazy Life” came out on January 13 of this year.

The album “Crazy Life” is currently only available online, but physical copies will be sold starting on February 18.