REVIEW: Does ‘Rising Star’ have enough star power to keep fans?

Now that the latest singing competition, ABC’s ‘Rising Star, has premiered, the question is: Will it last?

The answer: I hope so, but I’m not sure.

The concept of the show is unique — people download and use the “Rising Star” app to vote in favor or against each contestant. The results are instantaneous. If a contestant receives at least 70 percent of the support, a large digital wall is raised (#RaiseTheWall) and the contestant moves on to the next round of the competition. If they don’t, they pack their bags and go home.

During Sunday night’s premiere, six contestants made it through. Four were sent packing. During the next two weeks (Yes, the shows will still be two hours long), America will be introduced to 20 more contestants who will audition and hope to #RaiseTheWall. From there, the competition turns into head-to-head duels, quarterfinals, semifinals and then the August finale. How will the later parts of the show work? We weren’t told that yet, but I assume contestants will sing and have to get 70 percent of the vote.

My concerns:

How were these 10 people selected to audition during the premiere? In the weeks leading up to the show, there were several commercials asking people to send in 15-second clips via Instagram. However, I didn’t see any of those clips in the stories, nor an figure on how many people actually applied to be considered for the auditions. Not to mention, the “surprise” audition by Macy Kates couldn’t have been any more planned. During Sarah Darling’s performance Paisley said the had “mutual” friends. Coincidental? Could be, but I’m sure it raised a eyebrow or two with the viewers.

– The experts (judges) are still trying to find their places. Ludacris was an animated, arrogant jerk during the premiere. Perhaps, the energy and atmosphere got the better of him. However, I thought his animated full-body “thumbs downs” (while the contestant’s parents are sitting a mere 30 feet away) was a bit classless. As for Kesha, she’s going to be the “Paula Abdul” of this judge’s panel. I’m not sure she offered any relevant piece of advice to any contestant. And, although I’m a huge fan, Brad Paisley just looked uncomfortable. People don’t want to listen to the experts talk for a 2-3 minutes, but feel free to give the singer 10-30 seconds of solid advice.

Why so many commercials? This was probably the biggest complaint of the show on social media. Those who tuned into the show were forced to watch several commercials after every. single. performance. Like other blogs have mentioned, with 10 90-second performances that’s 15 minutes of actual singing time. It was a two-hour premiere. Commercials and awkward banter filled the remaining 105 minutes.

East Coast vs West Coast? The show is aired live for those living in Eastern, Central and Mountain time zones. Those viewers vote in real time. However, those on the West Coast, also vote in “real time” during the show’s playback. But, as Groban said at the end of the premiere, those votes can be used to “save” an act that the East Coast viewers sent home. We’ll have to wait and see how that unfolds.

Will the novelty wear off? During the show, Groban said the “Rising Star” app had reached its millionth download. So, that means at least one million people have the ability to vote during each performance. But remember, if you don’t “check in” before a performance, you can’t vote. And if you do check in, but don’t vote, it’s automatically counted as a “no” vote. The United States has over 300 million people. The other singing shows boast their voting numbers near the 5-,6-,7-,8-,9-,10 million range. Will people continue to download and use the app to vote, or will they simply just delete the app and tune in for the performances?

Considering this was the show’s first night, it opened and closed without any major technical glitches. The app worked. The votes were instant. Perhaps as the week goes on, the show will address these issues so next week’s show doesn’t feel so long, the judge’s banter is constructive and tightened, while also better explaining how the competition will progress.

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