Nick-Lachey-Taking-the-Stage-MTV-320.jpgLast December, NBC aired the first season of the a cappella singing
competition “The Sing-Off,” ultimately crowning the six-man
Puerto Rican group Nota as champions.

The second season
doesn’t air until late this year, but auditions have been underway
to find the new competitors, concluding with a day-long audition session
this Saturday (June 5) in Burbank, Calif.

Former 98 Degrees
member Nick Lachey returns as host for the show, as do judges Ben
Folds
(of the band Ben Folds Five), R&B singer and Boyz II Men
member Shawn Stockman, and Pussycat Doll Nicole Scherzinger (below),
herself a reality-competition star following her win on the most recent
season of ABC’s “Dancing With the Stars.”

Nota signed a contract
with Sony Music US Latin and is currently recording its first album.nicole-scherzinger-gallery.jpg
Although singing paired with musical instruments is the norm, Lachey
sees a continuing presence for a cappella singing (voices without
musical accompaniment).

“When I was in 98 Degrees, we did a lot
of a cappella,” Lachey says. “Back then, you also had Boyz II Men. I
thought we were the few groups out there that still did it.

“But
as we saw on the show, there are quite a few groups out there doing it,
and doing it in unconventional ways. You’ve seen a cappella evolve so
much over the years, with the barbershop sound and the more structured
sound. Now you’ve got full percussion and a lot of creativity happening,
which is great for the art form.

“We take styles from barbershop
to the more glee-club style to the more R&B harmony style. The
groups are anywhere from 4 to 12 people, and the ethnicity, the
background, of the groups is always different.”

Lachey believes
the success of FOX’s show-choir comedy-drama “Glee” will do a lot to
boost interest.

“It’s a huge plus,” Lachey says. “to see the way
that music is celebrated on that show. The success of that show clearly
shows that there’s an appetite out there across the country for singing
and for performing.

“Oftentimes, people go up through high
school, and it’s not necessarily the cool thing to do. But over the last
few years, we’ve seen that really change. We’ve seen singing and
performing, and even show-choir-type performing, become a lot more
celebrated and a lot cooler.

“The success of ‘Glee’ and any other
show like that is real positive for performing and for singing.”

Thumbnail image for Glee_Gym2.jpgWhile
the kids in “Glee” go to a regular public high school in Lima, Ohio,
Lachey was lucky enough to go to the School for Creative and Performing
Arts in Cincinnati, that also boasts Sarah Jessica Parker as a
former student and was featured on the Lachey-produced MTV series “Taking
the Stage.”

Asked if he would have wound up in a boy band
had he been a school like “Glee’s” fictional McKinley High, Lachey says,
“It’s interesting. I have thought about that. I can’t imagine that I’d
be singing. I can’t imagine that I would have been in this business,
frankly, if I’d been in a regular high school.

“My experience in a
performing arts school was a real boost for me in terms of wanting to
get into this business. For me, it was really the most important factor
in me being an entertainer.”

Regarding what else he might have
become, Lachey says, “I’m a huge sports fan, so if I hadn’t gone into
entertainment, I would have gone into the sports world in some capacity,
whether to be a sports broadcaster or sports medicine, something along
those lines.”

One of the big stories in sports right now is the
2010 NBA finals pitting basketball’s Los Angeles Lakers against the
Boston Celtics.

Although Lachey has lived in Southern California,
he says, “I’m not an especially huge Lakers fan, so I’d have to take
the Celtics. This is the time of year when everyone jumps on the Laker
bandwagon. I’m not one of those people. I’m going to go with the
Celtics.”