"Rising Star" debuted Sunday night on ABC with its live season premiere. The singing competition with a twist, which makes the viewer the immediate judge is a combination of “American Idol” and “The Voice," complete with superstar panel and mentor/host Josh Groban. But will this summer fill-in end up a television success?
Many music insiders, with voices that surpassed those seen on the debut episode of “Rising Star,” didn’t audition for the music competition, as rumors swirled that producers were looking for YouTube sensations and those with a foothold already in the business. The gossip rang true with many of the contestants that performed on the June 29 episode having much success with YouTube views and some with “mutual friends” of the panel. This was the case for Maneepat Molloy, the 16-year-old from Bangkok to Los Angeles, who sang “Con Te Partiro” in Italian. The young YouTube star received 73 percent of the votes, although Ludacris voted no. However, even with millions of hits, “The Wall,” billed as the star of “Rising Star,” didn’t rise for all of the competitors.
The premise of “Rising Star” is simple; download the free app, login to social media prior to each contestant, and vote up or down for the singer or singers. Performers need to “go hard or go home” said Ludacris, one of the panel members, along with Kesha and Brad Paisley. Each of their votes allot for seven percent towards the performers' overall votes. The contestants, comprised of solo artists and groups, have one minute and thirty seconds to sing and reach 70 percent or more votes, which will raise “The Wall” and move them on to the next round.
As is typical with all other reality TV competitions to stardom, everyone has a story, and it seems those with the harshest receive the most votes. But this interactive series had a “twist;” a contestant was “randomly selected,” “unaware” of her fate, from the audience based upon her “unrehearsed” Instagram audition. Macy Kate, the 16-year-old from St. Petersburg, Florida then prepared with Ray Chew from “Dancing with the Stars.” Her version of “Me and My Broken Heart” raised “The Wall” with 93 percent of the votes, the most for the night.
Of the 10 to launch “Rising Star” four did not equal enough votes to lift “The Wall” and only six contestants moved on to the next round. Long Island’s own Jesse Kinch, the 20-year-old from Seaford almost had the highest votes of the night, having reached 92 percent with his version of the Jay Hawkins’ classic, “I Put a Spell on You.” Tune in next Sunday night to see which contestants get closer to “Rising Star’s” coveted prize, a contract with Capitol Records.