“American Song Contest” seeks the nation’s best song


“American Song Contest” is the latest music performance show slated to grace U.S. televisions. The show, hosted by rapper Snoop Dogg, and singer and “The Voice” coach, Kelly Clarkson, will feature solo artists, duos, and groups from each of the 50 states, U.S. territories, and the District of Columbia. The performers will perform each week until one of their songs is proclaimed the best song in America. “American Song Contest” will debut March 21, 2022, 8 p.m., Eastern Standard Time, on NBC.

“American Song Contest”: European origins

While “American Song Contest” sounds uniquely American, with each state vying for musical representation, the show idea is borrowed from Europe, where “Eurovision Song Contest” has run for 65 years.

According to NBC.com, the spirit behind “American Song Contest” is, (or should be?) like that generated by sports events. What that means is, each section of the country is represented by a team, and those at home watching and listening, will cheer for their region.

Of course, there will be a switch in support if viewers do not like the genre or specific song chosen to represent their home state or territory. The other problem with the premise is that there are no regionalized differences in most genres, except for hip-hop.

From early clips, it seems that this show will be different from “The Voice” and “American Idol” in that there are no critiques, no coaching, therefore the performers are simply expected to be good enough to pull off the songs for their states.

“American Song Contest”: Is America ready?

With “The Voice,” “America’s Got Talent,” and “American Idol,” has America heard and seen its fill of performance shows? What might work in the favor of “American Song Contest” is the sports-like atmosphere of the show. There is also the idea of capturing audiences who do not identify with sports teams, but who do like music. But the “vote for your favorite” aspect is not new. And, supposing there is a second season of this show, can states not be represented twice in a row by the same genre? The rules are not forthcoming about this feature.

With its fancy presentation – – the stage (at least in the promo) is created by raised, glass platforms, that as the camera widens the view, is shown to be the map of the 48 contiguous states.

Famous artists are also involved with the show. They will also represent states alongside the artists who are better known in their home regions. For example, Macy Gray is to represent Ohio. Three rounds of performances will lead to eliminations and the declaration, eventually, of a winner. At any rate, there is enough newness in this show to garner attention. Whether “American Song Contest” has enough going on to recommend it for future seasons remains to be seen.

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Dodie Miller-Gould is a native of Fort Wayne, Indiana who lives in New York City where she studies creative nonfiction at Columbia University. She has BA and MA degrees in English from Indiana University-Purdue University, Fort Wayne, and an MFA in Fiction from Minnesota State University, Mankato. Her research interests include popular music and culture, 1920s jazz, and blues, confessional poetry, and the rhetoric of fiction. She has presented at numerous conferences in rhetoric and composition, and creative writing. Her creative works have appeared in Tenth Muse, Apostrophe, The Flying Island, Scavenger's Newsletter and elsewhere. She has won university-based awards for creative work and literary criticism.

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