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The One, July 18: Season Premiere, Who Will Be “The One?”by Donna Reynolds -- 07/19/2006
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Welcome to The One, the latest entry into the wacky world of reality/talent shows. This show promises to take us “behind the scenes to see eleven talented performers share the opportunity of a lifetime as they learn from successful music business professionals, while competing for a major recording contract.” We will have a chance to watch as these talented artists work go through hours of preparation for their weekly live performances. Viewers will be able to vote by phone, text, or online, and the results will be announced the following night. Sound familiar?
Before we begin, let’s run down the list of key players for The One.:
The contestants include: Nick Brownell, 21, Sandusky, OH; Austin Carroll, 23, Memphis, TN; Michael Cole, 22, Winston-Salem, NC; Aubrey Collins, 18, Littleton, CO; Caitlin Evanson, 27, Seattle, WA; Scotty Granger, 19, New Orleans, LA; Jadyn Maria, 21, Nashville, TN; Adam McInnis, 25, Jackson, NJ; Jackie Mendez, 23, Miami, FL; Syesha Mercado, 19, Sarasota, FL; and Jeremiah Richey, 25, Waxahachie, TX.
The One will also offer us a panel of “music experts” (i.e. judges). Kara DioGuardi is a songwriter who has worked with Christina Aguilera, Kelly Clarkson, Gwen Stefani, Santana, Ashlee Simpson, Celine Dion, Jewel, Paris Hilton, Enrique Iglesias, Hilary Duff, Kylie Minogue, and The Pussycat Dolls. She is also lead singer for "Platinum Weird" with Dave Stewart of the Eurythmics. Andre Harrell is the former president of Motown Records and founder of Uptown Records who has worked with Jessica Alba, Halle Berry, Mary J. Blige, Jodeci, Heavy D and the Boyz, 98 Degrees, and Sean "Puffy" Combs. Mark Hudson is a songwriter, vocal director, musician and record producer who has worked with Celine Dion, Ozzy Osbourne, and the legendary Ringo Starr. He co-wrote Aerosmith's Grammy award-winning "Livin' on the Edge,” and is also a former member of the 1970s group, the Hudson Brothers.
Rounding out this cast of characters is the “artist development team,” including vocal coach Roger Love, choreographer Tina Landon, stylist Jennifer Rade, piano teacher rad, personal trainer Mark Jenkins, and guitar instructor Ray Fuller. Our host for this ten-week journey, which is patterned after Spanish Endemol series The One: Making a Music Star, will be George Stroumboulopoulos. Confused yet?
And, we’re off. The show opens with a quick rundown of the audition process. Very quick! We are told that one week ago the final 11 entered the "One" camp where they will live together under one roof and “learn from the best.” Mark Hudson tells us about his credentials saying, “Music to me is life.” Kara hopes to be “whatever these kids need me to be.” She talks about how she is going to push them. Andre is there to “find their individuality.” He says that music is the “soul of the generation” and that he once had an intern named Sean (Combs). Tonight, he says, they will perform on the “biggest stage of their lives.”
George Stroumboulopoulos (this is the last time I’m spelling out his name!) is overly enthusiastic as he hits the stage. He tells us that the winner will be signed with the Interscope label, and quickly describes the voting process.
The contestants kick it off with a group number, Foreigner’s “Feels Like the First Time.” It’s as cheesy as any Idol group number, which really isn’t saying much. The band is a bit thin. Hey, is that Kellie Pickler? No, sorry. Pardon me as I fumble through this opening show! Can I say that this is weird, very Idol-esque and familiar, while at the same time totally alien. One guy is wearing a Mario Vazquez hat! But some of them are playing instruments, which is kind of neat.
The audience is enthusiastic and the contestants leave the stage. George returns and tells us that the contestants are surrounded by the best in the business. He introduces the “music experts.” Mark Hudson, who I should point out has a blue beard, says, “Each and every one of them has it.” “Music Mogul” Andre Harrell thinks that the most challenging thing for any artist is to be an individual. He looks forward to it. Kara DioGuardi says, “You guys have set the tone for an amazing show.” Oh really? I don’t know that I would go that far, Kara.
Now we are getting down to business with the first performer, Jackie Mendez. Her parents are Cuban and she grew up in Miami. She wants her music to be a “fusion of the music she grew up with.” Jackie says that she was very close to getting where she wanted, but was labeled as another Latina pop star ala J’Lo. Mark asks her what she will do to separate herself, and she cries. She says that she knows what she wants but wonders whether or not whoever she is working with will understand. “I want this so bad,” she tells us.
Jackie sings “Hot Stuff” with a Latin flare. The keyboard is stronger than she is, actually, and the song doesn’t really work… at all. She has a nice voice, but if she wants to separate herself from the J’Lo vibe, she probably should lose the Latin beat. Simon would call her cabaret. I call her inexperienced and colorless.
Andre thinks her presentation was spectacular. He says that she looks like a Cuban dessert. Mark was worried, but says she almost changed the color of his beard (which, may I remind you, is blue). Kara says Jackie was great and points out that she “nailed the ending.” Meh.
George returns to the stage and tells us that on this show, the contestants will have to live together in one house (ala Rock Star). At the house, there are guitars all over the place, and a piano that Ray Charles used. There’s a quick rundown of all the benefits of living in the house, and hijinks ensue as they take out one contestant’s (Jeremiah Richey’s, we later learn) bed.
Nice segue into Jeremiah’s bio. He plays drums and guitar, and tells us that his father left when he was very young. To him, music is about feeling and meaning. He wants to reach people and have them feel what he’s feeling. He’s here to find out where he is musically.
Jeremiah is singing Foreigner’s “Waiting For a Girl Like You,” accompanying himself on guitar and wearing his Mario Vazquez hat. He has a strong voice, nice edge, and a lot of passion. But he is holding back, and the song is a tad boring. I am not overly wowed, but see his potential.
Kara says that Jeremiah did well, although she tells him that there were some pitch issues. Mark can relate. He tells Jeremiah that his father left him at an early age, and that he can see what goes on in Jeremiah’s head. Andre thinks Jeremiah’s performance was shaky in the beginning, but says that by the end, he was “like a movie star from Texas playing Jeremiah.”1 2 3 Next-->
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