Grammy Nominations: Jay-Z Leads, Diverse “Album of the Year” Hopefuls

macklemore_ryan_lewisFriday night, CBS aired the Grammys Nominations Concert with performances from all over the world (even with Ms. Swift all the way in Australia!) to celebrate the year in music and announce the nominations for the upcoming January award show. Interestingly, no act garnered nominations in all four major categories of song, album, record, and new artist of the year. That said, Jay-Z picked up the most nominations of the night with nine nominations, while Macklemore & Ryan Lewis hip-hop duo garnered seven.

In Album of the Year, Taylor Swift is the only artist nominated with a previous nomination, where she won for “Fearless” in 2010. Sara Bareilles, Daft Punk, Kendrick Lamar, and Macklemore & Ryan Lewis are sure to give her a run for her money this year. Bareilles is, without a doubt, this year’s dark horse and likely most surprising nomination in this category for those who haven’t picked up her album. For those that have, it’s more so a celebration. You’ll find the nominees in major categories below. For a full list of Grammy nominations, check out GRAMMY.COM.

The 56th Grammy Awards will be held live from Los Angeles on January 26 at 8/7c on CBS!

Song of the Year (songwriter award)

Just Give Me A Reason by Pink feat. Nate Reuss
Locked Out of Heaven by Bruno Mars
Roar by Katy Perry
Royals by Lorde
Same Love by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis feat Mary Lambert

Best Duo Pop Group Performance

Get Lucky – Daft Punk feat Pharrel
Just Give Me A Reason by Pink feat Nate Reuss
Stay by Rihanna feat Mikky Ekko
Blurred Lines by Robin Thicke feat T.I. and Pharell
Suite and Tie by Justin Timberlake feat Jay Z.

Album of the Year

The Blessed Unrest by Sara Bareilles
Random Access Memories by Daft Punk
Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City by Kendrick Lamar
The Heist by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis
Red by Taylor Swift

Best Country Album

Night Train by Jason Aldean
Two Lanes of Freedom – Tim McGraw
Same Trailer Different Park by Kacey Musgraves
Based on a True Story by Blake Shelton
Red by Taylor Swift

Best New Artist

James Blake
Kendrick Lamar
Macklemore & Ryan Lewis
Kacey Musgraves
Ed Sheeran

Record of the Year

Get Lucky by Daft Punk
Radioactive by Imagine Dragons
Royals by Lorde
Locked out of Heaven by Bruno Mars
Blurred Lines – By Robin Thicke

Best Pop Vocal Album

Paradise – Lana Del Rey
Pure Heroine -Lorde
Unorthodox Jukebox – Bruno Mars
Blurred Lines – Robin Thicke
The 20/20 Experience – The Complete Experience – Justin Timberlake

Best Dance Recording

Need U (100%) Duke Dumont Featuring A*M*E & MNEK Adam Dyment & Tommy Forrest, producers; Adam Dyment & Tommy Forrest, mixers
Sweet Nothing Calvin Harris Featuring Florence Welch Calvin Harris, producer; Calvin Harris, mixer Track from: 18 Months Atmosphere Kaskade Finn Bjarnson & Ryan Raddon, producers; Ryan Raddon, mixer
This Is What It Feels Like Armin Van Buuren Featuring Trevor Guthrie Armin Van Buuren & Benno De Goeij, producers; Armin Van Buuren & Benno De Goeij, mixers
Clarity Zedd Featuring Foxes Zedd, producer; Zedd, mixer Track from: Clarity

Best Dance/Electronica Album

Random Access – Memories Daft Punk
Settle – Disclosure
18 Months – Calvin Harris
Atmosphere – Kaskade
A Color Map Of The Sun – Pretty Lights

Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album

Viva Duets – Tony Bennett & Various Artists
To Be Loved – Michael Bublé
The Standards – Gloria Estefan
Cee Lo’s Magic Moment – Cee Lo Green
Now – Dionne Warwick

Best Rock Performance

Always Alright – Alabama Shakes – Track from: Silver Linings Playbook Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
The Stars (Are Out Tonight) – David Bowie – Track from: The Next Day
Radioactive – Imagine Dragons – Track from: Night Visions
Kashmir – Led Zeppelin – Track from: Celebration Day
My God Is The Sun – Queens Of The Stone Age – Track from: …Like Clockwork
I’m Shakin’ – Jack White –

Best Metal Performance

T.N.T. – Anthrax – Track from: Anthems
God Is Dead? – Black Sabbath – Track from: 13
The Enemy Inside – Dream Theater – Track from: Dream Theater
In Due Time – Killswitch Engage – Track from: Disarm The Descent
Room 24 – Volbeat Featuring King Diamond – Track from: Outlaw Gentlemen & Shady Ladies

Best Rock Song

Ain’t Messin ‘Round – Gary Clark Jr., songwriter (Gary Clark Jr.)
Cut Me Some Slack – Dave Grohl, Paul McCartney, Krist Novoselic & Pat Smear, songwriters (Paul McCartney, Dave Grohl, Krist Novoselic, Pat Smear) – Track from: Sound City – Real To Reel
Doom And Gloom – Mick Jagger & Keith Richards, songwriters (The Rolling Stones)
God Is Dead? – Geezer Butler, Tony Iommi & Ozzy Osbourne, songwriters (Black Sabbath)- Track from: 13
Panic Station – Matthew Bellamy, songwriter (Muse)

Best Rock Album

13 – Black Sabbath
The Next Day – David Bowie
Mechanical Bull – Kings Of Leon
Celebration Day – Led Zeppelin
…Like Clockwork – Queens Of The Stone Age
Psychedelic Pill – Neil Young With Crazy Horse

Best Alternative Music Album

The Worse Things Get, The Harder I Fight, The Harder I Fight, The More I Love You – Neko Case
Trouble Will Find Me – The National
Hesitation Marks – Nine Inch Nails
Lonerism – Tame Impala
Modern Vampires Of The City – Vampire Weekend

Best R&B Performance

Love And War – Tamar Braxton
Best Of Me – Anthony Hamilton – Track from: Back To Love
Nakamarra – Hiatus Kaiyote Featuring Q-Tip – Track from: Tawk Tomahawk
How Many Drinks? – Miguel Featuring Kendrick Lamar
Something – Snarky Puppy With Lalah Hathaway – Track from: Family Dinner Volume One

Best Traditional R&B Performance

Please Come Home – Gary Clark Jr. – Track from: Blak And Blu
Get It Right – Fantasia – Track from: Side Effects Of You
Quiet Fire – Maysa
Hey Laura – Gregory Porter – Track from: Liquid Spirit
Yesterday – Ryan Shaw – Track from: Real Love

Best R&B Song

Best Of Me – Anthony Hamilton & Jairus Mozee, songwriters (Anthony Hamilton) – Track from: Back To Love
Love And War – Tamar Braxton, Darhyl Camper, Jr., LaShawn Daniels & Makeba Riddick, songwriters (Tamar Braxton)
Only One – PJ Morton, songwriter (PJ Morton Featuring Stevie Wonder)
Pusher Love Girl – James Fauntleroy, Jerome Harmon, Timothy Mosley & Justin Timberlake, songwriters (Justin Timberlake) – Track from: The 20/20 Experience – The Complete Experience
Without Me – Fantasia Barrino, Missy Elliott, Al Sherrod Lambert, Harmony Samuels & Kyle Stewart, songwriters (Fantasia Featuring Kelly Rowland & Missy Elliot) – Track from: Side Effects Of You

Best Urban Contemporary Album

Love And War – Tamar Braxton
Side Effects Of You – Fantasia
One: In The Chamber – Salaam Remi
Unapologetic – Rihanna
New York: A Love Story – Mack Wilds

Best R&B Album

R&B Divas – Faith Evans
Girl On Fire – Alicia Keys
Love In The Future – John Legend
Better – Chrisette Michele
Three Kings – TGT

Best Rap Performance

Started From The Bottom – Drake
Berzerk – Eminem
Tom Ford – Jay Z – Track from: Magna Carta…Holy Grail
Swimming Pools (Drank) – Kendrick Lamar – Track from: Good Kid, M.A.A.D City
Thrift Shop – Macklemore & Ryan Lewis Featuring Wanz – Track from: The Heist

Best Rap/Sung Collaboration

Power Trip – J. Cole Featuring Miguel – Track from: Born Sinner
Part II (On The Run) – Jay Z Featuring Beyoncé – Track from: Magna Carta…Holy Grail
Holy Grail – Jay Z Featuring Justin Timberlake – Track from: Magna Carta…Holy Grail
Now Or Never – Kendrick Lamar Featuring Mary J. Blige – Track from: Good Kid, M.A.A.D City
Remember You – Wiz Khalifa Featuring The Weeknd – Track from: O.N.I.F.C.

Best Rap Song

F***in’ Problems – Tauheed Epps, Aubrey Graham, Kendrick Lamar, Rakim Mayers & Noah Shebib, songwriters (ASAP Rocky Featuring Drake, 2 Chainz & Kendrick Lamar) – Track from: Long.Live.ASAP
Holy Grail – Shawn Carter, Terius Nash, J. Harmon, Timothy Mosley, Justin Timberlake & Ernest Wilson, songwriters (Kurt Cobain, Dave Grohl & Krist Novoselic, songwriters) (Jay Z Featuring Justin Timberlake) – Track from: Magna Carta…Holy Grail
New Slaves – Christopher Breaux, Ben Bronfman, Mike Dean, Louis Johnson, Malik Jones, Elon Rutberg, Sakiya Sandifer, Che Smith, Kanye West & Cydell Young, songwriters (Anna Adamis & Gabor Presser, songwriters) (Kanye West) – Track from: Yeezus
Started From The Bottom – W. Coleman, Aubrey Graham & Noah Shebib, songwriters (Bruno Sanfilippo, songwriter) (Drake)
Thrift Shop – Ben Haggerty & Ryan Lewis, songwriters (Macklemore & Ryan Lewis Featuring Wanz) – Track from: The Heist

Best Rap Album

Nothing Was The Same – Drake
Magna Carta…Holy Grail – Jay Z
Good Kid, M.A.A.D City – Kendrick Lamar
The Heist – Macklemore & Ryan Lewis
Yeezus – Kanye West

Best Country Solo Performance

I Drive Your Truck – Lee Brice – Track from: Hard 2 Love
I Want Crazy – Hunter Hayes – Track from: Hunter Hayes (Encore)
Mama’s Broken Heart – Miranda Lambert
Wagon Wheel – Darius Rucker – Track from: True Believers
Mine Would Be You – Blake Shelton – Track from: Based On A True Story

Best Country Duo/Group Performance

From This Valley – The Civil Wars – Track from: The Civil Wars
Don’t Rush – Kelly Clarkson Featuring Vince Gill – Track from: Greatest Hits: Chapter One
Your Side Of The Bed – Little Big Town – Track from: Tornado
Highway Don’t Care – Tim McGraw, Taylor Swift & Keith Urban
You Can’t Make Old Friends – Kenny Rogers With Dolly Parton

Best Country Song

Begin Again – Taylor Swift, songwriter (Taylor Swift)
I Drive Your Truck – Jessi Alexander, Connie Harrington & Jimmy Yeary, songwriters (Lee Brice) – Track from: Hard 2 Love
Mama’s Broken Heart – Brandy Clark, Shane McAnally & Kacey Musgraves, songwriters (Miranda Lambert)
Merry Go ‘Round – Shane McAnally, Kacey Musgraves & Josh Osborne, songwriters (Kacey Musgraves) – Track from: Same Trailer Different Park
Mine Would Be You – Jessi Alexander, Connie Harrington & Deric Ruttan, songwriters (Blake Shelton) – Track from: Based On A True Story

Best Gospel/Contemporary Christian Music Performance

Break Every Chain [Live] – Tasha Cobbs – Track from: Grace [Live]
Hurricane – Natalie Grant
Lord, I Need You – Matt Maher – Track from: All The People Said Amen (Live)
Overcomer – Mandisa – Track from: Overcomer
If He Did It Before… Same God [Live] – Tye Tribbett – Track from: Greater Than [Live]

Best Gospel Song

Have Your Way – Calvin Frazier & Deitrick Haddon, songwriters (Deitrick Haddon)
If He Did It Before… Same God [Live] – Tye Tribbett, songwriter (Tye Tribbett) –
Track from: Greater Than [Live]
If I Believe – Wirlie Morris, Michael Paran, Charlie Wilson & Mahin Wilson, songwriters (Charlie Wilson) – Track from: Love, Charlie
A Little More Jesus – Erica Campbell, Tina Campbell & Warryn Campbell, songwriters (Erica Campbell)
Still – Percy Bady, songwriter (Percy Bady Featuring Lowell Pye) – Track from: Kingdom Inspirations

Best Contemporary Christian Music Song

Hurricane – Matt Bronleewe, Natalie Grant & Cindy Morgan, songwriters (Natalie Grant)
Love Take Me Over – Steven Curtis Chapman, songwriter (Steven Curtis Chapman) – Track from: The Glorious Unfolding
Overcomer – David Garcia, Ben Glover & Christopher Stevens, songwriters (Mandisa) – Track from: Overcomer
Speak Life – Toby McKeehan, Jamie Moore & Ryan Stevenson, songwriters (Tobymac) – Track from: Eye On It
Whom Shall I Fear (God Of Angel Armies) – Ed Cash, Scott Cash & Chris Tomlin, songwriters (Chris Tomlin) – Track from: Burning Lights

Best Gospel Album

Grace [Live] – Tasha Cobbs
Best For Last: 20 Year Celebration Vol. 1 [Live] – Donald Lawrence
Best Days Yet – Bishop Paul S. Morton
God Chaser [Live] – William Murphy
Greater Than [Live] – Tye Tribbett

Best Contemporary Christian Music Album

We Won’t Be Shaken – Building 429
All The People Said Amen [Live] – Matt Maher
Overcomer – Mandisa
Your Grace Finds Me (Live) – Matt Redman
Burning Lights – Chris Tomlin

The Backbeats: ‘Repeat Listenability’

To kick off 2012, one of the brilliant groups from NBC’s The Sing-Off recently released their debut album after making it to the Top 3 teams of the show’s second season. The jubilant harmonies you heard in season 2 were products of the first time the men and women of the Backbeats had ever made music together – and what glorious music it was. The self-titled debut album features a variety of honest, wholesome, and explosive covers of some of today’s most popular hits. The emotion the group put forth in crafting the album is clearly displayed through the tones and energy emitted in each track. The texture of songs like “Firework” and “Need You Now” demonstrates the group’s devotion to making music they love and making it their own. Staying true but unique to the sounds of Adele, Coldplay, Lady Gaga, Beyonce and more, The Backbeats work to expand the art that is a cappella. With the help Sing-Off judge Sara Bareilles, the Backbeats also tackle “Uncharted,” the latest hit from the a cappella queen, in true a cappella form.

Bringing together all of their unique harmonies, tones, energies, and passion for music, The Backbeats use the camaraderie they developed throughout their season of The Sing-Off to spring forth a collection of unique and one-of-a-kind covers that can only be a promising preview of tunes to come from this colorful bunch.

The Yak recently had the opportunity to pick the brains of members of the Backbeats and we want to share with you the thoughts directly from the artists themselves. The depth behind the answers they provided further demonstrate their passion to make music that not only entertains but also speaks. Also hidden below is a way for YOU to win a FREE copy of this album – one we guarantee you’ll listen to over and over.


What was the group’s inspiration in choosing which songs made the album cut?
KENTON: To be honest, it was an incredibly hard decision. We ran ideas past each other for weeks before recording, and even while we were recording one song, we were wrestling with the next song to pick! On the show, we were best known as the group who rocked the powerhouse ballad – and we wanted to pay homage to that, but we also wanted to showcase all the different styles and voices that really makes The Backbeats what we are. With Turning Tables and Need You Now, I think we really got to the emotional songs, but Born This Way and Cry Me A River really let us have fun!

Funny story about our title track, Thinking ‘Bout Somethin’ – our “inspiration” came from seeing one of our friend’s posts on our Facebook News Feed! We all watched the music video together and fell in love with the song. And who knew Hanson was still around, making really good music??

Now that you’ve been off of the Sing-Off for about a year, how has life changed for the Backbeats? Other than making music in the studio, what have been the new challenges to adapt to?
KELLEY: Our biggest challenge as a group is coordinating our busy schedules. While on the Sing-Off, we had time set aside for rehearsing and performing, but now that we are back to our “real” lives, it’s hard to come together sometimes. Some of us work 9-5 jobs and some of us travel for work, and often we don’t know what the future holds.

How much did talk for original music come up in recording this album and can we expect original music in the future?
JORDAN: We thought about it and talked it over but I think for this album we wanted to give our fans a similar taste of what they saw from us on the show with some new songs to switch it up a bit. Original music in the future is definitely a possibility and something I think we would love to also share with our fans, so we will see what the future holds.

What are the Backbeats plans for 2012?
RACHEL: We’re going to continue riding the wave in 2012! There is a lot of excitement circling the release of our album, so we’re busing marketing and promoting it with online campaigns and various appearances. We’re elated with the amount of support we’ve received from our family, friends and fans who’ve purchased the album and our listening to our music. We’re also continuing to gig here and there– we’re traveling to New York and Florida in the month of February!! So 2012 is off to a good start! We’re hoping to make some more great music and memories this year!

We know the Backbeats formed for the Sing-Off last year and we also know that many of the members went back to their respective schools after the show was over. How has it been adapting to being in different parts of the country, especially while recording an album and making plans for 2012?
COURTNEY: It was definitely an adventure for me to be in a different state than most of the group after the show was through. I basically just learned how to pack a suitcase really well! When it came to making the album, we were really good about communicating about mixes and things via the internet, and I was able to record all of my percussion up here in Oregon with Peter Hollens, so it worked out really nicely. Overall, I feel like I get the best of both worlds with this deal, because I get to perform with some of my best friends all around the country, but I still call Oregon home.

How was it recording with Sara Bareilles, a seasoned performer and recording artist?
TODD: As mind-blowingly unreal as you’d think it would be. We had the good fortune of getting to share the stage with Sara in the finale of Season 2 for “King of Anything.” Getting to do it all over with “Uncharted” was a dream come true… for a second time. I remember when the idea came up during album discussions, we all thought there wasn’t a chance it would actually happen, but it was worth a shot to ask. Then it happened. And then Sara was chosen as Nicole’s successor for the open judge’s chair. Then we were invited back for the finale… Soon, it was like old times, which is weird to say. At the stage we’re at, you never really get used to people like Sara, Shawn and Ben being a part of your lives.

For a chance to win a FREE copy of The Backbeats debut self-titled album, tweet your favorite BackBeats performance to @yakkityyaks with #YakWithTheBackBeats. One randomly selected fan will be chosen as our winner!

Amusing anecdote: During choreo rehearsals for our “King of Anything” performance on Season 2, Sara was touring and unavailable to rehearse until the day of the show (!). So in her place sat a chair that we all danced and sang around, acting as if it were her. We called this lucky seat “Chair-a Bareilles.” Needless to say, the real Sara was a much more pleasing upgrade from hotel furniture.

How about the group’s inspiration in choosing which voice to showcase on a particular song?
EITAN : As a group, we have always felt that The Backbeats represents a group of eight lead vocalists – never one soloist with seven back-up singers. Because of that, it was important to us that each member in the group was able to contribute his/her unique vocal style and interpretation as a soloist to at least one track on the album. It’s what keeps the album fresh and gives it “repeat listenability.”

To directly answer the question, song selections for the album went hand in hand with the selection of the soloists. We always chose a song with a soloist in mind.

What has been the moment you feel like you’ll cherish the most since finishing The Sing-Off? Just something you never thought you’d experience at this stage in your life?
KENTON: Probably the greatest moment I remember is the moment we all (the contestants) met each other for the first time in the hotel. Before all the glitz and all the production, we were, at the very basis, musicians and friends. There were 90 or some odd number of us, and our first rehearsal of the opening number was quite hectic – but when it locked! The harmonies, the dynamics, the vocal talent; we knew we were in for something amazing.

I never thought I’d be able to say at this age that I can go almost anywhere across the country and call up someone to stay with or hang out. It’s a great feeling, to have family all across America!

RACHEL: I could honestly answer this question in about a hundred different ways because there have been so many moments that I’ve cherished since finishing our run on The Sing-Off. We have had the incredible opportunity to do some amazing amazing gigs that I will never forget– the NBA All-Star game, gigs in Vegas, Christmas Tree lighting television specials, etc. We’ve also created friendships that will last a lifetime, with each other as a group, and with our friends from the show. And probably the cherry on top is that we’ve been able to make an album of our music with a record label and a major distributor… that’s something that doesn’t just come about every day of someone’s life. We’ve been blessed and lucky to have experienced all of these things this year, it’s really just incredible!

The Backbeats Complete Track Listing:
12. UNCHARTED (Feat. Sara Bareilles)

The Sing Off’s Sonos: “If [music] makes you happy, it’s doing its job”

Last night on NBC’s The Sing-Off, judges Sara Bareilles, Shawn Stockman, and Ben Folds made a tough decision and eliminated Award-winning Sonos from the competition. After making it past Round 1 with their performance of Chris Issac’s “Wicked Game,” Sonos knew they had to work hard to build upon the judge’s critiques and come back a new group in the next round! Unfortunately, in a crop of highly talented groups, Sonos found themselves eliminated. Even with their awards from the A Cappella Recording awards and the A Cappella community awards, Sonos wasn’t able to wow the judges enough to stick around. Earlier today, YakkityYaks had the pleasure to chat with Chris Harrison from Sonos. Read on to find out the story behind the name, plans for the future, just what those effects pedals really are and what’s up next for the latest talented group to be eliminated!


The Yak: Hey Chris, thanks for taking the time to talk to us today. We’re happy to talk to you but not happy at the same time. {laughs}

Chris, Sonos: {laughs} Haha, ya. Thanks, and no problem.

The Yak: So, let’s start with the name Sonos. Can you tell us a little bit about where that came from?

Chris, Sonos: Sure. It actually comes from a book I saw one day in the library. Before we even became a group, I had been in the library and this green and orange book popped out at me on the shelf. The name of the book was Sonos. So, being the nerd that I am, I went and opened to book since the title intrigued me. Well, the book was written in French. I don’t speak French, so that just made it more mysterious. When I got home, I googled “sonos” and didn’t find anything about the book I picked up, but I did find a Greek meaning of the word, which related to sound. I thought that was cool and the name can be flipped around without changing it’s spelling. So when it came time to pick a name for our newly formed group, I threw it out there and everyone dug it. We really like the mystery and meaning behind the name.

The Yak: Wow, that’s really cool. What a good message to encourage kids to go the library. Look at where you ended up from picking up a book. {laughs}

Chris, Sonos: {laughs} Ya. Never thought of it that way. Haha

The Yak: So did you know that Sara Bareilles was going to be a judge before you auditioned or was that a total coincidence that you two had worked together in the past?

Chris, Sonos: No, we agreed to do the show and then several weeks later they announced that Sara would be the replacement judge. I kinda laughed about it. It makes sense with her a cappella background and the community loves her music.

The Yak: How did you find being on the other side to where she was judging you instead of working with you on stage?

Chris, Sonos: It was surreal. It was kinda funny and strange because it’s someone I know. But at the same time it’s someone’s opinion I really respect. In college we sang in an a cappella group together at UCLA and she has an ear and a brain for this kinda stuff, so I really enjoyed it.

The Yak: Did you guys get a chance to be mentored by the judges or were the critiques and feedback all that you had to go off of to better yourselves in the competition?

Chris, Sonos: No, there was no mentoring sessions. The only time we ever interacted with the judges at all was when we sang for them and heard their comments. That was all the exposure we got.

The Yak: How does that affect your planning on what you’re singing for the week and how you’ll approach it?

Chris, Sonos: Well, when we performed Wicked Games in our first episode, the feedback was really helpful. It was things we already knew coming on the show, like putting away our effects pedals. We have five voices, three female and one beat boxing leaves out a low end. That was our primary concern in the first place and well, they figured out that was our primary problem. {laughs} So it forced us to be more creative in our process on the show.

The Yak: Now you brought up the effects pedals, but a lot of people are questioning why audition or sign on for a show like this when you can’t use the effects pedals if they’re one of your strengths in making music.

Chris, Sonos: Well initially, we were informed they weren’t going to be a problem and that we could use them. When we first had conversations about auditioning, we were being encouraged to do it exactly as our own live show as we’re used to. They were very supportive about what we were making and the way that we make it. At our actual audition, we used our pedals and they liked it. After discussions the network was having with themselves, they decided it would be a little too unfamiliar for the audience to see 16 groups singing and one of them comes out with these boxes on the floor and the sound is different. It’d be confusing, they thought. It wouldn’t look quite right with no explanation. It was put to us that we think you’re wonderful but if you could put them down when you’re on the show, you’re welcome to be a part of it. You know, when a band or lead singer puts down their guitar and does a stripped version of the song, you don’t get the full effect as they intended it, but you get a piece of it. If that’s something you like, you’ll go look into something they do as a full band and we thought that’s what we’d do. If you decided to search for us on the internet, you’d see what we actually do. From the get go, we didn’t think of the show as a competition. We knew we were fish out of water on the show and we didn’t think we’d win. We thought it’d be a good opportunity to showcase what we do. We were honored to be invited.

The Yak: It was our pleasure to listen to you guys! So is there a song you wanted to do that would help share your story?

Chris, Sonos: I feel like “I Want You Back” did that as much as possible. It’s one of our signature songs. It sounds relatively close to how we sound in our live show. That drastic type of reworking of the songs is what we do to set ourselves apart and gets people thinking “wow that’s weird. I kinda like it.” I’m trying to think … Hmmm … The song we were planning on doing for the guilty pleasure episode was “Video Killed the Radio Star,” and our friends at Pentatonix went ahead and did that one that week and gave us a shout out. It was kinda sweet.

The Yak: You mentioned being happy performing “I Want You Back,” but ironically it may have led to your elimination. {laughs} Was there an internal struggle among the group to perform it as your signature performance vs infusing the familiar tune the judges said they missed?

Chris, Sonos: {laughs} Good one. We personally didn’t struggle at on. We’re grateful the show exists; it’s healthy for the a cappella world. In a round about way, we’re an a cappella group even if we use random pedals on the floor. In the context of the show, we knew either we’d be drowned out by the sheer size or energy level of the other groups. The approach of the show is Top 40 Pop songs that everyone will know, which makes perfect sense because it’s a TV show for everyone, so we’re this group who does quiet, weird, strange reinventions of lesser known songs. We’re kind of like the boutique band of a cappella. The likelihood of us sitting here and thriving isn’t great. but isn’t it nice that they opted to take a shot and hear what we had to say. I think we’re much more satisfied that we said what we had to say the way we had to say it. We just had to leave things behind and appeal to the competition.

The Yak: Can you talk more about the effects pedals actually? A lot of people may not know they play a role in the evolution of a cappella this day in age.

Chris, Sonos: Oh, absolutely. I’d be more than happy to. The philosophy in the beginning in using them was, as you know coming from a nerdy recording mixing engineer, when any group makes a record, in almost every situation, they are inplementing effects like this. They’re implementing an octave pedal for the bass, letting the guy sing bass reaching the depths and hit notes the human voice can’t hit. That gives it the lower end that’s strong and sturdy as rock records. In the chorus, you splash background with a delay, something to add to the texture of the sound. You really flush it out and give recording more highs, lows and extra richness. I was doing that with my livelihood until we put the group together. I knew how to take this level of production to a live show, so I wanted to do just that. There’s no point in not doing that. If you sing badly, its not gonna hide that if it’s affected. For the first year, I think it was very difficult for the group to listen and tune and blend the way a group that’s completely a cappella would. But we pushed through and did it and it’s an essential part of our live show. The things we use in our live show, the things we were naked without, was the octave pedal. It takes the incoming note and lowers it one octave. In our case, it allows the women to sing bass. In our live shows, in “I Want You Back,” Kathy sings bass with an octave pedal. She’s a fantastic alto to begin with. She’s probably our best bass actually. {laughs} Another key pedal we had to leave behind was a loop station. That really helps when you have 5 people. In certain songs, it loops 2 bars per beat. You would do vocal percussion for 5 seconds or something, kick the pedal twice and it’ll play back what was just done in time. You can sing over it, so you can sing a second male part in our case with Ben. You can turn it on and off depending on the section. That really helped us to have more voices handy. Without that, it’s like wow, we’re just 5 people.

The Yak: Thanks for elaborating on that. As a musician, that was really cool to hear. I’m sure others will enjoy that. Are you rooting for anyone in particular?

Chris, Sonos: We feel a kinship with Pentatonix. We gravitated to them early, as they’re in our bracket. Scott, the tall blond guy, went to school and sang in the same a cappella group as Rachel in our group, so there’s a brother/sisterhood there. We’re really impressed with them. They’re not only the sweetest & most fun, wacky kids on the show. They’re a blast. They’re very impressive and they’re all about reworking song too. They do really drastic reworking of songs they cover and they’re really good at it.

The Yak: What’s next for you guys?

Chris, Sonos: When we left, we went right back to work. We’re in Seattle right now for our tour. We were in Alaska just last week. Tomorrow we’ll be in Idaho then moving on to Athens, Georgia, I think. We’re working on a record with all original songs. We’re about half way through that now. It’s really fun writing original songs. It feels a little trailblazery. There are certainly some, but there aren’t a whole bunch of bands making records of just original songs.

The Yak: When can we expect a release?

Chris, Sonos: We’re in the middle now. Should we get to 12 songs and we see its taken a turn to the left and its now of this fiber, we need interstitials. We need to write, it almost feels like a concept album. Let’s take it that much further and fill in the spaces there. Our hope is to finish principle recording later this year. Hopefully very early next year.

The Yak: With The Sing Off bringing a cappella to focus in America, do you have any advice for groups or aspiring singers/songwriters?

Chris, Sonos: Ya, I think if you love it enough and you’re thinking about it all the time, do it and love it and don’t worry about criticism. Take the constructive aspects and interpret that. If it makes you happy, it [music] is doing its job.

The Yak: If The Sing Off did a season of all stars would you guys consider doing it?

Chris, Sonos: If they invited us back. We’d be honored.

The Yak: We can only hope then.

Chris, Sonos: Thanks man. It was nice talking to you.

The Yak:Thanks, Chris. Same to you. Good luck!

If you want to keep up on all things Sonos, you can keep up with them on their website,

The Sing-Off airs Mondays at 8pm EST on NBC. Next week, the brackets merge and the Top 10 take a shot at advancing. Two groups will be eliminated!