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The Sing-Off Judges Ben Folds and Sara Bareilles on Why Their Show Is Better Than American Idol and The X Factor

While other singing competitions often turn into sparring matches between the judges (yes, we mean you Simon Cowell and Nicole Scherzinger, Adam Levine and Xtina) and America loves every minute of it, Ben Folds and Sara Bareilles from NBC’s The Sing-Off are not entertained.

“I don’t deal well with conflict,” Sara told Wetpaint Entertainment on a recent call. “Watching shows where somebody’s being mean or really hyper-critical, that doesn’t draw me in as a viewer.”

Both Ben and Sara were drawn to the NBC singing competition The Sing-Off — where a cappella groups compete for a Sony Music recording contract and $200 000 — because it felt more focused on the singing than the dynamics between the judges and the contestants.

With only one episode to go before the grand finale, we got their take on other singing shows, the strengths (superpowers!) of the Sing-Off finalists, and what sound effect they’d never put in one of their own songs.

Wetpaint Entertainment: I can’t believe there’s just two more episodes of The Sing-Off left!

Sara Bareilles: I know, it seems like the season has flown by, doesn’t it?

Let’s talk about who you think has most potential to win at this point?

Sara: [Laughs] We can’t tell you because we’d have to kill you.

I though America voted.

Ben Folds: We’d have to kill America.

Sara: This part is good, because we’re happy to hand over the reigns to America, to pick the winner. We whittle it down to the top groups who are competing in the finale, but then it’s up to somebody else to decide, because that decision is really tough.

Ben: They’ve all got superpowers. Afro-Blue’s superpower is that they’ve got great, state-of-the-art of music education jazz vocals. And Urban Method, their superpower is their groove. They’ve got this great groove in their sound. If you’re in the room and you hear them it sounds like a record. The Pentatonix — their superpower is that they can lift cars. All three of them can pick up a car with their bare hands. It’s amazing. Dartmouth Aires can do keg stands, all of them.

Has this experience opened you up to watching the other singing competitions on TV?

Sara: I don’t really watch a lot of television, actually. We’re both touring, in addition to filming the show, so we’re out and about all the time. You end up kind of not catching what’s on TV.

Ben: We watch ourselves.

Sara: I only want to see me on TV, all the time.

So, Ben, you haven’t watched (former Sing-Off judge) Nicole on The X-Factor to see how she is doing?

Ben: I tuned in couple of times so I could see her, and she wasn’t on. So I haven’t gotten to see her. I thought it was a wrestling show.

What’s the one thing people do wrong on singing shows?

Ben: Those shows do really, really well. I don’t see a problem with them, they are what they are. The reason I like ours is because it’s about people singing together, working together and it’s musical. It’s not that competitive. It’s competitive, but…

Sara: It’s competitive, but it’s a really supportive atmosphere on this show. That’s what drew me to it as well. I don’t deal with conflict that well, so watching shows where somebody’s being mean or really hyper-critical that doesn’t draw me in as a viewer.

Ben: Really? What’s wrong with you?

Sara: I know! I’m so not American!

What’s something you would tell a new contestant going into a show like this?

Ben: Don’t make eye contact with Shawn [Stockman]. When you’re singing, look around, but don’t lock eyes with him. [Laughs] We gave them a couple of pep talks and it had to do with being generous. Before the show, we stood up and we talked to them, to motivate them and let them know that this is a big chance on television. They need to absolutely go for it — no holding back. And I think it worked.

Since you’re in the middle of producing a record, is there something you feel is totally being overused in pop music this year?

Ben: There’s always a lot of really crappy pop music, and there always has been. But new music is produced really well these days. I like the beats…

Sara: I think what’s being overused is that laser sound that sounds like it’s going to explode: T-t-t-t-t-t-t-t-t-t….That’s being overused.

So you’re not putting that in your next song?

Ben: We’re going to have to talk.

Sara: Shoot. You’ve just seen our first conflict.

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11.21.2011 / 10:41 PM EDT by Carita Rizzo
Related: News, American Idol, Gossip, The Voice, The X Factor, TV Stars

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