When NBC’s a capella singing competition The Sing-Off returns this fall, there will be some changes to the judging panel since the series last aired. With Nicole Scherzinger departing for a spot on Simon Cowell’s X-Factor panel, the Peacock Network made the wise decision that longtime VH1 fave Sara Bareilles was the perfect person to join Ben Folds and Boyz II Men‘s Shawn Stockman on the judging panel. Once we heard the news, we decided to give Sara a ring to congratulate her. We caught up with her by phone this afternoon while she was in Missoula, Montana, preparing for a sold-out show this evening. Sara spoke to us about whether her judging style on The Sing-Off will lean more towards Simon or Paula, her new “old soul/kind of Motown feeling” EP that she’s about to record with Ben Folds in the fall, and what director Jonah Hill brought to the next video she’s going to make for her single, “Gonna Get Over You.” (Hint: It may have a “kind of a ’50s greaser vibe.”)
VH1: When did you first hear that becoming a judge on The Sing-Off might be a possibility, and what was it about the project that appealed to you?
Sara Bareilles: I’ve been a fan of the show since the beginning, so it was really exciting to me to have the opportunity to even be considered as a potential judge. A couple of weeks ago, my manager came to me to gauge my interest in doing it. And I was like, “Oh my God, yes, of course.” Then I had a meeting with the executive producers, who are super sweet, and it felt like I was a really good fit for the show. Because I have a background in a capella, it just felt like a very organic, natural, worlds colliding kind of thing. It’s very exciting.
Did you ever harbor any desire to be on television in any capacity other than as a performer?
It didn’t really cross my mind until this show. This is the only way I would sort of consider it, because I can bring something to the show in terms of a level of expertise with a capella performing. I get a little nervous about being put in the position of having to judge people, but I know from experience that we can always improve in our craft. I really love getting constructive criticism from people I respect when it’s put in a good way. To me, it’s all about how you phrase things and how you deliver your opinions. It’s something that I’m going to have to feel out and test the waters a little bit, but I think it’s going to be a lot of fun. The best part is that I still get to watch the show, but now I get to watch it closer.
If you were to describe your judging style, would you say you?re more of a Simon or a Paula?