ABC is taking another stab at finding the next blockbuster singer with Rising Star despite last summer's fail with Duets. This go around, the all-important-things are the app where viewers vote and the 70-foot wall that needs to be raised for the singer to advance.
The show is live, allowing viewers to immediately vote in who will advance. The singer performs behind a gigantic wall, and it's up to them to be revealed to the audience. The singers will need 70% of the votes, and the votes by the music "experts" -- Brad Paisley, Ludacris and Ke$ha -- count for 7%.
On the premiere episode, the show throws everything at us: a foreign language singer, a duo, a boy band and even one singer who's plucked from the studio audience. She was brought in as an audience member but is forced to sing live after she "auditions" with an Instagram video.
Overall, the show starts off a bit sluggish. Thank goodness there's a live voting portion. On to the performances:
Joshua Peavy ("(Everything I Do) I Do It for You" by Bryan Adams)
The 28-year-old youth and music pastor from Georgia kicks off the show -- with a yawn and a sigh. Seriously, could they picked someone with a more corny performance? The voice is just okay, but it's nothing memorable, and this show is already kind of annoying.
He raises the wall with 87% -- 87%! -- of the votes, including all the judges.
Brad talks about moonshine, while Kesha says the performance was honest, genuine and touching. Um, okay.
Lisa Punch ("How Will I Know" by Whitney Houston)
This 21-year-old from Brooklyn is originally from Ghana and is the only one with one of those personal backstories that these shows try to make you shed a tear with. Thirteen members of her family who all came to America share a two-bedroom apartment in Brooklyn. I'm worried that her landlord is going to find out or something. Fingers crossed.
For her age, she has a strong, mature voice and good stage presence. There's this infectious quality about her that I like. She makes it through with 80%. I thought she would get more.
Brad advises her to watch her pitch, while Luda says she's the whole package.
MonnePat Molloy ("Con Te Partiro" by Andrea Bocelli)
This 16-year-old originally from Thailand but now in Los Angeles apparently had a song on YouTube when she was 8 that received 3 million hits.
I really wish she would've picked something more age appropriate. I mean, unless she wants to be an opera singer in life, then by all means, don't deviate from who you are. She does have a nice voice, but I want to see more.
Luda mentions her lack of presence, and he's right. She just stood there and it was stiff -- only her eyes and lips seemed to move. Brad says he voted on her potential, and she juuuust snakes in with 73%.
Daniel and Olivia ("Counting Stars" by OneRepublic)
They're a dorky couple, and this will either go really well or suck. We get a preview of their fate when Josh tells them during practice that he doesn't feel the passion.
So she's a vocal coach and he's an aspiring singer-songwriter and they could not have had a more awkward and generic performance. They're butchering a completely fine song, and America responds with a 6% approval. Yikes.
Luda looks like he flat out does not like them. He commends them on having fun but says it sounds as if they were drunk and at a karaoke bar (gonna need multiple shots to have ever thought that was good). Brad says the performance was unpleasant but sweet. Kesha says the energy and enthusiasm was sweet. She also tells them not to quit, which is a nice sentiment.
Jesse Kinch ("I Put A Spell On You" by Screamin Jay Hawkins)
This 20-year-old old soul seems like he wouldn't even dare dreaming about killing a fly. But he lets out his "beast," which is what his singing voice is referred to as, and he has an amazing classic rock voice while bringing out his alter go. His performance is nothing like what you'd expect from him as a person as I love that.
He gets 92% of the votes.
Beyond 5 ("Wake Me Up" by Avicii)
Why would you come as a boy band and not sing a boy band song? At least give us some feel-good nostalgia because they're really not doing it with this song. It doesn't help that the lead singer isn't doing them any flavors. Their harmonies are actually nice, but if this soloist is the best out of the group, that's saying a lot about them.
It's all amateurish in general. This song shouldn't be sung by a boy band and it shouldn't have choreography. Thank goodness America doesn't vote in five boys because they might be cute, with only 46%.
Sarah Darling ("Merry Go Round" by Kacey Musgraves)
Snore. It's all nice and pleasant but it stays in the same range for pretty much the entire song. But maybe that "country vote" is pulling her through because she gets 87% of the votes. It's the most forgettable 89% performance we'll see. And her voice breaks when she finally does hit a high note.
Apparently she and Brad have mutual friends. How convenient.
Colin Huntley ("Sing" by Ed Sheeran)
This 16-year-old is such an Ed Sheeran mini-me that of course he would sing one of his songs. It's very ambitious, and he should be commended for even attempting this tough song, but it's just too much, and he doesn't make it through with 38%. His guitar playing was better than the singing.
Summer Collins ("Classic" by MKTO)
Brad comments about the quirky part of her personality, and that's about the only nice thing about her performance. It feels like she starts on a good footing, but it gets worse as it goes on. She's consistently pitchy.
The wall stays down with 40%. Kesha does vote for her saying she sees her potential and that she has energy. And here is where I realize the show's conundrum: Are we voting on potential or what they can do? America is right in not putting her through based on this performance, but would she have fared better with a new song?
Macy Kate ("Me and My Broken Heart" by Rixton)
It's the "non-rigged" portion of the event. You think they'll let the final singer of the night go home? There's a reason why the best performances close the show. She's the one who was pulled from the studio audience near the beginning of the show, and she worked backstage to put an arrangement together before she was thrown on stage.
She's the female powerhouse of the season, I'm assuming, channeling her best Xtina in the process. It's a little too much though, and she can use better control. She's about the first person to move around on the stage. Her high notes also need some fine tuning.
But -- no surprise -- she makes it through with the highest percentage of approval of the night at 93% of the votes.
We heard 10 performances tonight -- a little too much. If I'm saying that for the series premiere, it just might be a long season.
Rising Star airs Sundays at 9pm on ABC.
(Image courtesy of ABC)