Peanuts and Popcorn

Josh Grobin and contestant Macy Kate  on last night's "Rising Star." (ABC)

Josh Grobin and contestant Macy Kate on last night’s “Rising Star.” (ABC)

For months, ABC has been touting that its latest singing competition show, Rising Star would be unlike anything we’ve ever seen. Last night, we finally got a chance to see what all of the hub bub was about.

ABC boasted proudly this morning that Rising Star is the network’s top-rated summer series debut in two years. They also boasted that the show was Sunday’s No. 1 “most-social” broadcast series delivering 290% more “tweets” than NBC’s America’s Got Talent. That sounds pretty impressive at first, but Entertainment Weekly was quick to point out that the new show actually delivered less than Duets, the network’s last try of a singing competition show and that while ABC had 5.1 million viewers while NBC’s America’s Got Talent held strong with 8 million. And about that “most social” claim, it only makes sense that the show should receive that title given that voting on an app specially designed for the show is part of that show’s gimmick.

If you were not one of the 5.1 million viewers to watch the over-hyped show, you can catch the episode online at, but you may not want to. Unlike American Idol, the contestants have already been pre-screened. Each are randomly selected to perform a 1.5 minute song in front of a wall with an eager audience waiting on the other side. Each singer has to win over about 75% of the total votes before the wall will come up and allow them to continue through the competition. Each celebrity’s votes counts for 7% each, so if the singer impresses the judges, their score can help launch them forward. Viewers at home must register to vote for each contestant. If a viewer fails to register, their vote will not count. This whole process is supposed to make the show exciting, instead, it doesn’t really add anything.

Star is awkwardly hosted by Josh Groban. He isn’t terrible, but hosting is not his strong suit. Groban was well-prepared for last night’s show, but you would have thought that the network would have picked someone who is better suited for a live show like Tom Bergeron or Ryan Seacrest. You know, someone who actually has experience as a host. Groban is a talented singer but he isn’t witty, interesting and not particularly good with on-the-spot humor.

Brad Paisley, Kesha and Ludacris doing their best to look excited to be a part of the show. (ABC)

Brad Paisley, Kesha and Ludacris doing their best to look excited to be a part of the show. (ABC)

Groban wasn’t the only flaw with the show though. The guest stars, Kesha, Brad Paisley and Ludacris did their best to act like they were very excited for the competition, but only Paisley appeared to be genuine. The three would tease each other trying to act as fun and friendly as the judges on America’s Got Talent. They would pretend to swipe each other’s touch screens, but it looked like someone told them to do that. Other than giving each singer an edge with their 7% vote, it’s difficult to understand what their role is with the show.  After each performance, they gave quick critiques to the singers, but they don’t really serve as judges. Each singer knows at the end of their performance how they did and if they will be allowed to continue through the competition.

Unlike America’s Got Talent and American Idol, there is a lot more talk than there is music and the show’s slow pace just drags. First we meet the contestant via a video. Then we get to see the contestant meet Groban “behind-the-scenes.”  Then, the contestant is brought on stage where Groban greets them again and asks how they are doing and/or if they are nervous to perform, etc. After their performance, whether they passed or failed, they are brought back to the front of the stage to answer more of Groban’s pithy questions. It’s really quite dull.

During last night’s premiere, 16-year-old singer Macy Kate received the highest number of votes (93% East Coast viewers and 91% for the west coast) allowing her to advance in the competition. The show continues with another batch of singers next Sunday from 9:00-11:00 p.m. on ABC.

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