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Two episodes have come and gone; and I am so thrilled with the new season. My favorite reality singing competition is back with a lot more competitors (16 groups), a new judge (Sara Bareilles replaces Nicole Scherzinger) and loads of raw talent waiting to be discovered.

Last year, I raved about The Sing-Off and enumerated the reasons why this is one of the most refreshing reality shows on television. I was hooked. I am a HUGE fan.

Judges Ben Folds, Sara Bareilles and Shawn Stockman

This year, the show will have more episodes than usual. With sixteen groups competing, they’ve had to divide them into two brackets, each composed of 8 groups. This means more performances, more eliminations and more episodes. In two weeks, however, they’ve already eliminated four groups; so I’m thinking it won’t be dragged out too long compared to other singing competitions.

Of course, with more competitors being featured in the show, there is a danger of not having as many good performers. I was worried for nothing. The talent this year is unbelievable. I can’t imagine eliminating over half of these amazing groups in the next couple of weeks. The bar is set even higher; and it shows. I couldn’t stop thinking, “Damn, they’re good.” or “That’s so cool.” or “What the…” It’s too bad this show is only on once a week. I could not get enough of the a cappella goodness.

The current panel still proves to be the most effective judges ever. Shawn Stockman, Ben Folds and Sara Bereilles make a good team. I liked Nicole; but she was probably the weakest judge last year. Sara B is a wonderful replacement. As usual, all of their input are valuable to the contestants. They continue to give constructive criticism. No theatrics involved. We’re all about the singing, people!

It’s still too early to tell who are the strongest teams based on one performance each. However, I do have my favorites from the past two episodes. Watch and weep.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lkdlny_qkzI]

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aEuOyU1_jkA]