My family has been enjoying the Netflix game show ‘Sing On!’ quite a bit lately. If you’ve not seen it, it’s essentially a karaoke singing competition. The contestants take turns singing portions of songs, with the best singer among them taking home a cash prize. The show’s gimmick is that ‘best’ isn’t decided by judges or even the audience; instead, it’s determined by a computer vocal analyzer measuring how closely each singer is in timing and pitch to songs as they were originally recorded.
This all seems great in theory, but the reality is a little messier. There is at least one competitor on every episode of the show who consistently lands among the top scores but sounds absolutely terrible. They’re nailing the notes and the timing, but something about the way they’re singing the song makes them really unpleasant to listen to. So what’s going on here? How can they sound so bad when the analyzer says they’re so on target?