The producers and judges of Platinum Hit clearly do not care about widows and orphans. How else to explain the craven ouster of Nevin James, a self-described “leader of men” and “great artist,” who had grand plans to spend the inaugural season of Bravo’s new competitive songwriting series at the intersection of Late Husband Lane and Motherless Child Blvd.?
In all seriousness, though, judges Kara DioGuardi and Jewel (along with guest panelists Jermaine Dupri and Jive’s Trevor Jerideau) probably made the right move in booting the contestant whose sole contribution to his team’s composition — the line “they want you to lose, they need you to fail” — didn’t showcase the kind of vivid wordplay needed to overcome his prior argument championing the use of clichés in song lyrics.
As for the show itself, I’m not sure I’m ready to pass official judgment just yet. Episode one had the feeling of a movie scene (think The Fifth Element) where a blank-minded character gets strapped into a chair — eyelids pried open — and forced to consume a rapid-fire sequence of words and sounds and images. It was too much, too fast, too relentless — so much so that it was hard to retain any information after the credits stopped rolling and Bravo returned to its steady diet of Surgically Enhanced Women Creating Self-Induced Drama While Living in McMansions. I mean, in the course of a single hour, we had 12 contestants writing a dozen hooks that got turned into four songs and critiqued by a panel of four judges. That’s a lot to take in, and so I’m willing to give the show – with a winning prize of $100K, along with a publishing and recording deal — a second week to hit its groove and work out its various harmonies.
A few thoughts on Monday night’s kickoff:
* I found it a wee bit unfortunate that most of the contestants’ introductory clips made them look like pompous foolios, from unfortunately coiffed Nick Nittoli stating his confidence in eventually being crowned the “next king of pop” to Jes Hudak proclaiming herself an “uber quirky songwriter.” (Side note: When Nick yelled “done!” 30 seconds into the hook-writing challenge, wasn’t that an indicator he was using material written prior to the show? And if so, shouldn’t there be some kind of rule against it?)
* I also wish the opening challenge had centered around a topic a little less trite than “City of Angels.” I mean, yes, every struggling troubadour probably has his or her own “fighting for success while trying not to sell my soul in the bright lights/big city” tale, but as themes go, it’s as threadbare as a three-year-old gym sock, no?
* Granted, it’s a challenge to try to separate the melody and lyrics from the voice that’s delivering ‘em, but to me, Sonyae Elise’s winning hook was as pleasant as getting snared in the gills, reeled onto the canoe, and clubbed over the head with an oar. I’m going to have to agree to disagree with my former nemesis Kara on this one, although her assessment that the final track was “trite, confusing, and uninspiring” was right on. “Poppin’ bottles like an automatic”? 1-800-No-to-the-Nyet.
* I had to agree with the judges that Scotty Granger’s third-place hook was passionately sung and kind of pretty, but it didn’t really hold up as a full-length ditty, especially with that infusion of bongo drums. The thing is, I won’t feel too heartbroken for the dude if he gets booted and has to return to his day job as Jordin Sparks’ creative director.
* If I was a judge, I might’ve booted Blessing Offor from the competition on the awfulness of his “Smile for Me L.A.” snippet alone. (My only note as the catastrophe washed over my ears was “Oh. No.”)
* The winning composition — Nick, Jes, and Karen’s “My City” — was an interesting example of the judges being able to hone in on a reasonably catchy melody and decent lyrics triumphing over nasal, juvenile vocals. Still, the lyric “to Hollywood I move, to seek destroy and prove” felt as forced as a too-small lid on a Tupperware dish. (Okay, fine, my simile’s no less overwrought!)
* Nice to see American Idol Season 8 semifinalist Jackie Tohn (who auditioned for Fox’s ratings behemoth using an original song) getting another shot at success. Her “City of Dreams” featured a few kicky turns of phrase (“I got holes up in my Chucks but they are tied real tight,” “pretty is the city where admission is free”) and a melody that was simultaneously catchy and subtle. And, well, it doesn’t hurt the woman can actually sing.
* I wanted to punch through my TV screen right into Jermaine Dupri’s noggin when he said he dismisses any song and returns to his Blackberry if it doesn’t catch win him over in the opening three seconds. So much for championing subtle compositions and complicated melodies. Why not just wave a banner that says “Death to Carly Simon! Viva Ke$ha!” Here’s hoping Kara and Jewel keep that kind of toolosophy at bay.
What did you think of the Platinum Hit premiere? Did any song or lyric or contestant strike your fancy? Will you tune in for Week Two? Sound off in the comments, and for all my reality news and recaps, follow me on Twitter @MichaelSlezakTV!