Now that both Simon Cowell and Kara DioGuardi are off the American Idol judges’ panel for next season, we’ve been hearing countless rumors about potential replacements. You know who I think deserves a shot? Nick Lachey. The former boy-band heartthrob may best be known for 98 Degrees—not to mention a memorable three-year run on Newlyweds: Nick and Jessica with now ex-wife Jessica Simpson. But Lachey showed charm and style last year as host of NBC’s The Sing-Off, a reality singing competition that highlighted a Capella groups across the country. With the show returning later this year, I spoke to Lachey about what to expect from Season 2, a potential 98 Degrees tribute, and whether or not he’d make the leap to that other singing show.
TV.com: This will be your second season doing The Sing-Off. What first brought you to the show, and what made you decide to stick with it?
Nick Lachey: I’m a huge fan of a Capella music. It’s been something I’ve done throughout my career, all the way back to high school. I was in a barbershop quartet and sang in an amusement park called Kings Island, and in 98 Degrees, we obviously did a lot of a Capella. So it’s always been a style of music that I’ve really appreciated and loved. I thought it was great that the show was going to celebrate that, and I wanted to be a part of it. So I’m very, very excited about Season 2, and thrilled that America as a whole has really taken to what a Capella's all about.
What did you learn from Season 1?
I guess I learned that there are some really, really, really talented groups out there. We weren’t sure what the talent level would be of these groups. Obviously, a Capella music in my opinion is probably the hardest genre to pull of well, ‘cause there’s nowhere to hide. There’s no instruments, there’s no big production to hide behind. It’s really just you and your voice and your talent. You know, I was just blown away and shocked by how good these groups were, from the very first episode, the very first performance. It really just kind of blew me away.
What can we expect from Season 2?
I think the format’s gonna remain largely the same. I mean, obviously the groups are going to be brand new and different, and that’ll be a change for us all. There’s no way to know how any of it’s going to play out until they get on stage and start singing, which is kind of the beauty of a show like this. As opposed to four two-hour episodes, we’re going to have actually five two-hour episodes this season, so we’ll have a little more content, and that may end up resulting in a few more participating groups. But I think the big difference is really the style, the background, the performances of the groups. That’s just the big unknown.
And have you locked down the judges? Will they be the same?
They are, yeah. It’s going to be Shawn Stockman [of Boyz II Men], Nicole Scherzinger, and Ben Folds again, who I thought did a great job. Really, I think they are all so accomplished in their own right, and they’ve had such successful careers and bring all of that inside knowledge and wisdom to the table. I think it was a really invaluable thing for those groups to be able to get some constructive criticism from them and apply that to their performances. I thought the judges did a great job last year, so they’ll all be back.
So after you’re done hosting The Sing-Off, will you by trying out for a spot on the American Idol judges’ table?
[laughs] You know, I have not had any conversations about that at all, as of yet. But you know, obviously that show’s been hugely successful, and I have to say that whoever ends up being the new judge, the bar’s been set so high. The success of the show has been so consistently great, they’re all tough shoes to fill. So it’ll be interesting to see how that all plays out.
I’ve got to say, though, you guys do a great job of distinguishing yourself from other music competition shows. The Sing-Off definitely brings something different to the table.
Yeah, thank you. I think it’s a completely different style. We’re dealing with groups and we’re dealing with a Capella, so in my mind—I’m a little biased—if you can pull off a Capella music convincingly and pull it off well, you can do anything. That’s the hardest thing in the world to do, in my opinion.
I wanted to close by asking—any chance we’ll be hearing a 98 Degrees a Capella cover this season?
[laughs] That’s a good question. I’d love to see a 98 Degrees song covered a Capella. You know, that was something we always took a lot of pride in as a group, was doing a Capella well. So it would certainly be a flattering tribute if someone were to do that, and we’ll have to see what happens. You never know; you might see a 98 Degrees reunion on the show, for all we know.