The three-time Grammy nominee Bareilles this season took Nicole Scherzinger's seat at the judges' table for the a cappella singing competition when Scherzinger left to judge Fox's "The X Factor." Bareilles, who is probably best known for her 2007 hit, "Love Song," performs Oct. 11 at the Riviera Theater.
I saw your video for “Gonna Get Over You” that Jonah Hill directed. What was that experience like?
Yeah, it was amazing. It was really fun. This was Jonah’s first music video. He’s directed before, but this is his first music video, so that was really exciting. I’ve known him a long time. Maybe one of my favorite video shoots … He brings an awesome energy to the set—really joyful and really playful and funny.
I remember when you came out with “Love Song,” and it was clear you have a point of view. You’ve described your message as a “disguised f-you.” Can we expect more of that kind of music in the future?
[Laughs.] I’m laughing because I just finished a song which is kind of exactly that. You know what, I think that I’m learning about myself, at least in this chapter of my life because it’s where I’ve processed a lot of my frustrations. I’m not an angry person; I swear I’m not a bitch in real life. I just have frustrations like anybody else. I think that’s how I get through it. It all comes out in the music. I try to process it in a positive way and usually I can get over it faster.
What drew you to become a part of “The Sing-Off?”
I have a background in a cappella music. I went on it last year for the finale and performed, and I fell in love with the process and energy of the contestants and groups. I really loved the show for showcasing this particular genre of music and how difficult it is. The judges were amazing, and it was kind of a no-brainer to me. I wasn’t too worried about whether or not to do it, I was worried about critiquing, worried about whether or not that would be comfortable.
How would you describe your judging style on the show?
I’m coming from a place where I feel I’m in the ranks with them. I really empathize and identify with these groups, where they come from and why they’re singing together. For me, I think I try to be kind. But I want to be fair. I want to be honest. I’m not an [a-hole]. I’m not going to tell them to give up music, I think that kind of criticism is a waste of energy and doesn’t make sense to me. I try to be constructive and highlight what they do well, and tell them what they need to work on.
What do you think of the other singing shows out there?
“American Idol” is the one I’ve seen the most of in years past. I’m sheepishly admitting: I’m gone so much that it’s hard for me to actually watch anything in regularity. I’ve caught snippets. I haven’t seen any of “The X Factor” yet, but I’m curious. “The Voice” I’ve watched with my friend Adam [Levine] as one of the judges. I thought that was an entertaining show. Music competition shows obviously strike a nerve with the American population right now—actually, it’s really more worldwide. Everybody loves that stuff.
If you could make a dream a cappella group of anyone you could want in it, who would you pick?
I think we should make an a cappella group of the judges plus Nick Lachey. It’d be four people that would figure out how to do it well. Me, Shawn [Stockman], Ben [Folds] and Nick. Although I’d find one girl maybe. It’d be fun, we talked about doing something or performing together in some capacity.
SARA's IPOD PLAYLIST
- Elizabeth and the Catapults: “They have a recent album I just have on repeat. I can’t get enough of it. I mean, she is such a brilliant writer. It’s called ‘The Other Side of Zero.’” (The band will play with Bareilles in Chicago.)
- “The new Coldplay. Yeah, pretty into that.”
- Grace Potter and the Nocturnals
SARA'S TOP 3 FAVE ALBUMS
- "Radiohead’s 'OK Computer' cause I think it's brilliant, top to bottom; nothing to say other than brilliant.”
- "Counting Crows' 'August and Everything After,’ just because I think it was a period of my life that loved that record.”
- "Paul Simon's 'Rhythm of the Saints.' I don’t even know why I love it. They just speak to me, that is the one I go back to all the time."
SARA'S TV WATCHLIST
- "New Girl” with Zooey Deschanel: "Oh my God, she’s so precious and great in it.”
- "Dexter” on Showtime: "I’m a huge ‘Dexter’ fan."
- "Modern Family”: "Of course, one of my absolute favorites."
- "Up All Night": I just started watching ‘Up All Night’ with Christine Applegate. I think that’s adorable."
- "Pan Am": I checked out the first episode; I thought that was good. It’s interesting
- "Oh, and '30 Rock'! I DVR '30 Rock.'"