Interview with contestants the first qualifier round of “American Song Contest” on NBC by Suzanne 3/21/22
Monday night was the premiere of “American Song Contest” on NBC. This is the new American version of Eurovision that we talked about last week. A small group of us journalists watched the live show and then interviewed all 11 contestants for this first round of live qualifiers. Honestly, I don’t watch most competition or music shows on TV. I just don’t have the time, and I’d rather watch scripted shows. I thought they did a pretty good job with it, though, and I enjoyed watching the contestants and learning about their backstories. I thought that the best song was “Loko” by Christian Pagán of Puerto Rico. The song was very catchy and his performance was great. Clearly, Heuston from Rhode Island also did very well. His song started out slowly and gravel-y-voiced… but got better, and he was aces at singing a ballad that melted everyone’s hearts. He was voted by the judges to go to the next round.
Although my main career is TV journalist and expert, I’m also a singer. I started singing in grade school and was taking voice lessons in high school and all through college. I’ve still been singing and taking lessons for years, and I was in a band for awhile. So, I’m coming at this music contest from that perspective as well as from the TV show. I found it interesting as TV more than as music. This show is not “The Voice.” The singers here are being judged more for their songwriting and their performing than their singing…not that any of them are terrible singers. These are professional working musicians that do well in their local venues (and some nationally).
Mostly, I came here to see and talk to Michael Bolton. His song was not that great, to be honest. I did get to ask him a question, but unfortunately, the sound quality during that part of the interviews on the virtual red carpet was not good, and my recording below is almost unintelligible. I asked him if he wrote the song for this competition, what inspired it, and why he chose it. He gave a nice, long answer, that I can’t make heads or tails of, which is a darn shame. I hope he makes it to the next round, and then I’ll be able to chat with him again. His songs were big hits back in the 80’s when I was in college. I loved his biggest hit, “How Am I Supposed to Live Without You?,” which was also recorded by Laura Branigan. In fact, I have also sung that song many times in karaoke, and I always get a good reaction. His other huge hit was his version of “When a Man Loves a Woman.”
Most of the other recordings came out OK. I hope you enjoy them!
The show itself was fun. Snoop Dogg had a nice kind of laidback attitude to counter Kelly Clarkson’s infectious energy. Stay tuned for more contestants on the next show, Monday 3/28/22 on NBC! If you missed last week’s episode, find it on NBC.
Here are the videos, except for one that I’m missing from Christian Pagán and hope to have tomorrow.
Jake’O from Wisconsin was our first interviewee… I was having great difficulty hearing him… as you can tell by the faces I’m making. He sang a song called “Feel Your Love.” I took myself off video when I wasn’t asking a question because I didn’t want to have to worry about how I looked the whole time! This video clip is from Jamie of http://www.scifivision.com
Here’s Christian Pagán of Puerto Rico! He sang a really fun song, “Loko.” He would be my top pick. My recording didn’t come out, so this is from Jamie of http://www.scifivision.com
Here’s Michael Bolton! He seemed pretty tired, and his speaking voice was not loud enough, on top of the other technical difficulties and background noise. He sang “Beautiful World.” My recording didn’t come out, so this is from Jamie of http://www.scifivision.com
Here’s the best transcription I could get for this, from TranscriptionPuppy.
Moderator: Hi, guys. We have Michael Bolton.
Moderator: Chris, you’re up first; Beth, you’re on deck, and then Jamie.
Chris: Hi, Michael. How are you? Great performance tonight.
Michaeln: Thank you very much. For a timely song [inaudible] it’s getting harder. Things got harder in the real world.
Chris: It really is. I was just curious, what made you decide to be a part of this experience?
Michael: Oh. Well, songwriting is on the very top of my list of the things I love about music through the years and something that is enduring during [inaudible] function as an artist and a songwriter where I plan on continuing to be surrounded by people who love music and love to write. Things that are very wide, very [inaudible] so much really good, and then, of course, there’s Kelly, who’s spectacular, [inaudible] you got to talk to her on the line and it seems that [inaudible] so I ask my agent to find it well to physically [inaudible] whole made sense to happened then, I wrote [inaduble] of just [inaudible] someone who will work tied up [inaudible] and we wrote a song about knowing how intense [inaudible] great [inaudible] it means the world [inaudible] just make perfect sense to me, I love music [inaudible]
Chris: Thank you so much!
Jamie: Hi, Jamie Ruby here, from SciFiVision. Thank you so much for talking to us tonight. I really enjoyed your song So, obviously, you’ve been doing this for a really long time. Are there still new things to learn after doing something like this about yourself?
Michael: That kind of person who [inaudible] in every area of your life. [inaudible] like more [inaudible] for computers.
Jamie: Thank you.
Moderator: Beth, go ahead.
Beth: Thank you. It was so great seeing you, Michael. This is Beth with Hollywood Junket. I really enjoyed your performance tonight. I was wondering, are there any other contestants seeking your advice on their performances or rehearsals this week?
Michael: Everybody seems to be very [inaudible] and [inaudible] of their career. But I didn’t have [inaudible] always frequently, [inaudible] specifically when they’re inspiring [inaudible] somewhere where I can help them, kind of, avoid the dead ends and waste their time in [inaudible] themselves to [inaudible] something that [inaudible] look forward about this really great, really help [inaudible]
Beth: Thank you so much.
Moderator: Suzanne you’re up next, Justin you’re on deck.
Michael: Hi, Suzanne.
Suzanne: Hi Michael. What made you…what inspired you to write the song that you sang tonight, and what made you choose it for this contest?
Michael Bolton: Ironically, we are actually looking at completely different suggestions and this writing a song [inaudible] online [inaudible] start writing a song and [inaudible] create music [inaudible] I don’t think [inaudible] I don’t wanna [inaudible] imagine kind of threat [inaudible] somehow [inaudible] my mind [inaudible].
Suzanne: Alright, thank you.
Ryan Charles of Wyoming was next. He sang a really fun song, “”New Boot Goofin'” He was dressed like a cowboy, but he raps!
Kelsey Lamb of Arkansas was after him. I was pulling for her because I live in that state, but I don’t think her song, “Never Like This” was exciting enough to win the competition.
Next up was Keyone Starr of Mississippi, who sang “Fire.” Great song!
The next artists was UG Skywalkin of Indiana. His first name is pronounced like the letters U.G. (yoo jee) not like UGH! He has an interesting backstory, which I asked him about. His song was “Love in My City.”
AleXa of Oklahoma… she’s part Korean, so she does K-Pop. She put on quite a production, but her song, “Wonderland,” was not very notable.
This girl, Alisabeth Von Presley, of Iowa, sang really well, but I don’t think the song, “Wonder” was very catchy.
Heuston of Rhode Island really wowed everyone with his song, “Held on Too Long.” It was great to chat with him. My husband’s family is from Rhode Island!
Yam Haus is a really enthusiastic group of friends from Minnesota who sang “Ready to Go.” They had a lot of energy. This was our last group to interview.
I hope you enjoyed these interviews!
**MEDIA ALERT** ‘American Song Contest’ Series Premiere Virtual Zoom Room Monday, March 21, 2022
What: ‘American Song Contest’ Live Series Premiere and Virtual Zoom Room
Watch the live show and have the opportunity to speak with the first 11 artists to perform. Virtual Zoom Room to follow directly after the premiere.
NBC’s upcoming music competition series “American Song Contest” features live new music performances representing the 50 states, five U.S. territories and our nation’s capital, who will compete to win the country’s vote for the best hit song. The artists span a wide range of performers, from undiscovered talent, up-and-coming new artists, and rising stars to established and legendary icons.
Who: The initial 11 artists performing on the premiere.
To learn more about these artists, visit here.
- Kelsey Lamb (Arkansas)
- Michael Bolton (Connecticut)
- Alisabeth Von Presley (Iowa)
- UG skywalkin (Indiana)
- Yam Haus (Minneota)
- Keyone Starr (Mississippi)
- AleXa (Oklahoma)
- Christian Pagán (Puerto Rico)
- Hueston (Rhode Island)
- Jake’O (Wisconsin)
- Ryan Charles (Wyoming)
*All talent subject to availability*
When: Monday, March 21, 2022
5:00pm PT Live Show Taping Begins
7:00pm PT Live Show Ends/Virtual Zoom Room begins
9:00pm PT Virtual Zoom Room Closes
About ‘American Song Contest’:
From the producers of “Eurovision Song Contest” and “The Voice,” the all-live music competition series, hosted by Snoop Dogg and Kelly Clarkson, premieres Monday, March 21 (8:00 – 10:00 pm ET/PT) and will run for eight weeks with the Grand Final on May 9.
“American Song Contest” will feature live new music performances – representing all 50 states, five U.S. territories and our nation’s capital – competing to win the country’s vote for the best hit song. An incredible solo artist, duo or a band will represent each location and perform a new original song, celebrating the depth and variety of different styles and genres across America. The live competition consists of three rounds as the artists compete in a series of Qualifying Rounds, followed by the Semi-Finals and the ultimate Grand Final where one state or territory will emerge victorious.
Proofread and Edited by Brenda