BOISE (Idaho Statesman) — Hard-working hopefuls will go head to head with famous singers in a new NBC reality series that premieres tonight.
And Gem State pride is on the line.
Performing original songs, 56 acts will compete on “American Song Contest,” which airs from 7 to 9 p.m. Over the next eight weeks, they will represent their home states (plus surrounding territories such as Puerto Rico and Guam) — “competing to win the country’s vote for the Best Original Song,” NBC says. Hosted by Snoop Dogg and Kelly Clarkson, “American Song Contest” is inspired by the long-running “Eurovision” international songwriting competition.
Several contestants will be familiar to viewers. Michael Bolton will throw down for Connecticut. Macy Gray will represent Ohio. The Crystal Method (Nevada) and Sisqo (Maryland) also will compete. Jewel will croon for Alaska. (Even if her whimsical “No Z in Boise” song made her an honorary Idahoan when she sang it at the Idaho Botanical Garden’s Outlaw Field in 2010.)
Most of the acts won’t be household names, though — including Idaho’s representative: singer-songwriter Andrew Sheppard.
Sheppard, who lives in Boise, has spent years rocking locally and touring. He grew up in Hailey. Maybe you’ve seen him on a Boise bar stage, or at a past Treefort Music Fest.
Sheppard began making albums in 2009, his bio says, “and has been touring and recording ever since. His last album, ‘Steady Your Aim,’ was released in 2018. Andrew’s music is often described as heartland rock. No matter how his music hits you, it’ll give you a glimpse of where you’ve been and where you’re going.”
“American Song Contest” will be broadcast live from the NBCUniversal lot in Universal City, California. Viewers will see 11 performers during the initial qualifying rounds (and 12 one week).
How will musicians advance to the finals? And how will a winner be chosen May 9? “American Song Contest” will use a combination of public voting and a 56-member jury. Viewers will be able to vote at nbc.com/ascvote, or by using the NBC App or on TikTok.
The way it’s set up, states with bigger populations supposedly won’t have a voting advantage over smaller ones, either. The New York Times wrote that “Eliminations are made based on a complex points system in which, according to NBC, ‘every state and territory votes with equal power, regardless of population.’ ”
Still, it should be interesting to see if viewers tend to roll with famous names over local musicians.