NBC’s attempt to bring the magic and spectacle of Eurovision to the United States, where its copy will be called American Song Contest, announced its hosts tonight in a Super Bowl ad.
The reality show, which was originally announced last May, will now premiere in March, a month after its originally scheduled debut; it was originally going to premiere Feb. 21, after the Olympics. But NBC has scheduled a America’s Got Talent spin-off then instead.
American Song Contest announced its hosts that American Idol winner Kelly Clarkson and Super Bowl halftime performer, rapper, and reality TV star Snoop Dogg will host.
In a press release, Snoop said he is “honored to host,” while Kelly Clarkson said, “I have been a fan and love the concept of Eurovision and am thrilled to bring the musical phenomenon to America. I’m so excited to work with Snoop and can’t wait to see every state and territory represented by artists singing their own songs.”
In a preview, she called the show “the biggest televised music event you’ve ever seen.”
American Song Contest’s format
NBC explains how American Song Contest will work:
America’s biggest televised live entertainment event has arrived! Based on the worldwide phenomenon Eurovision Song Contest, organized for 65 years by the European Broadcasting Union and watched by 200 million viewers annually, this amazing musical spectacular combines the competitive spirit of rooting for your favorite sports team with the joy of watching a live performance of an original song.
American Song Contest will feature live new music performances—representing all 50 states, five U.S. territories and our nation’s capital—competing to win the country’s vote for the best hit song. An incredible solo artist, duo or a band will represent each location and perform a new original song, celebrating the depth and variety of different styles and genres across America. The live competition consists of three rounds as the artists compete in a series of Qualifying Rounds, followed by the Semi-Finals and the ultimate Grand Final where one state or territory will emerge victorious.
NBC also said “The 56 artists will be named on a later date,” which is a curious choice. Part of the spectacle of Eurovision is the lead-up to it: the song contests in each country, and the songs getting traction before the event.
But Eurovision—which has been on for 65 years—is typically just three episodes of television during one week, while American Song Contest will last for eight weeks, premiering in March and concluding in May. So that’s one considerable difference in the formats.
American Song Contest’s producers come from The Voice (Audrey Morrissey, Amanda Zucker, Kyra Thompson) but also Eurovision itself (Anders Lenhoff, Peter Settman, Christer Björkman and Ola Melzig, who Eurovision’s website says have “the experience of over 20 Eurovision Song Contests between them”), which is promising.
Will it just be a bigger version of The Voice? Or will it find the kind of joy and creativity that Eurovision does?
I find the title, American Song Contest, to be super-uninspired and bland—even though Eurovision’s official name is, in fact, Eurovision Song Contest. That’s because “Eurovision,” as a word and shortened title, is far more creative than “American,” which just seems like it’s trying to latch onto whatever goodwill and name recognition American Idol still has.