A new television reality show was launched last night. Initially I wasn’t going to write about it, but the process of selecting a singer and matching the week’s chosen song to their recorded and live performances in 48 hours was riveting TV.
In the premiere five unsigned artists were auditioned. The Revel Boys were up first, but they didn’t wow anyone.
Then came Logan Staats. He’s from the Six Nations of the Grand River, Ontario. In other words, he’s a Native Canadian. His audition was heartfelt. So they decided to record the song with him.
After the break, two more artists were noted but rejected (having no more than the mere mention of their names), and then 14-year-old Vivian Hicks came out. Her audition was impressive, to say the least. These young ones are definitely the stars of the future. They chose her to record the song, too.
Artists & Repertoire
Scott Borchetta is an A&R man. His job is to find and develop new talent for his company, Big Machine Records. His claim to fame is Taylor Swift. He was also on American Idol for awhile. He wants a hit record.
One filmed sequence in last night’s show demonstrated his ‘sensitive’ style. Logan Staats was having a hard time during the taping of his record. Scott said, “What’s wrong?” and Logan gave some technical excuses for his unhappiness. Then Scott said, “What’s really wrong?” Logan had no words with which he could express this thoughts. (The audience knew, instantly: here was a natural born performer with no training in music being directed by the engineer to ‘do this, do that, and do the other’. It was ruining his performance.)
Scott then explained that Logan needed to get out of his head and into his heart. Easier said than done, but Logan then went on to record his own version in his own way, and it worked.
busbee has a prodigious talent for writing and producing hit records. The song may have been his own, which is probably why he was such a stickler for pronunciation. In the recording studio, he was in charge, and the difference between how he handled Logan and Vivian was quite telling: he seemed to be reining Logan’s emotions in, while cajoling Vivian to give it more ‘welly’, as the British say.
I suspect the two individuals were grateful for the time and attention he took, but of the three components of the process, his was the most dry.
Shania Twain needs no introduction. (We Canadians love our stars, and she’s a star of the first order.) Her job on this program was to prepare the two performers for their live presentations of the song. It is the easiest of the three processes because Shania comes with years of performing experience.
Her approach to Vivian was to take her through the song step-by-step, literally. Vivian was a sponge soaking up the advice from this accomplished performer.
She was more ‘hands-off’ with Logan, recognizing that his was a natural ability to perform. At one point she held up the lyrics for him and reminded him to look at the audience. He didn’t even open his eyes, in the end, but that didn’t matter.
Vivian Hicks is already an internet star. The program could have been forgiven for making her the artist to launch the song. They would have been sure of more than 4 million sales.
Her version of the song was almost a complete copy of the original demo. It was ready-made for her, or someone just like her. All she lacked was the emotional ‘oomph’ that the song required. (And her nervous habit of giggling, when she finished her performance, made the lyrics seem hollow.)
But she will be a force to be reckoned with in the future.
Logan Staats isn’t an unknown artist. He’s just not widely known. At 29, he says that this is his last chance to really make it to the next level. If it hadn’t worked, who knows what might have happened.
But his performance was flawless. The emotional level just perfect. And when I checked on the new music trending on iTunes this morning, “The Lucky Ones” was at the number 10 position.
I was skeptical at first when this new show was announced. But, after watching the first installment, I can see that they really want the best version to be launched, not just the easy winner.
Now, I would even say that we are The Lucky Ones.