Are y’all ready for another singing competition? Boyband premiers tonight on ABC at 8 pm ET. With Nick Carter (Backstreet Boys), Emma Bunton (Spice Girls’ Baby Spice) and Timbaland producer, songwriter, rapper), as “architects” (NOT JUDGES!) hopeful 14 to 24-year-old singers will compete to become a member of what producers hope to be the next great boyband. Rita Ora is set to host.
Tonight, thirty of the country’s best male vocalists audition before the “architects,” with 18 advancing to the next round. Next, the remaining singers will be split into boy bands of six. During every live show, each group will have their chance to perform before the judges who will then put two contestants up for elimination.
The chosen two will then perform their solo “survival” song to fight to stay in the competition. Who stays and who goes is up to the voting viewers at home. Each week, the architects will switch up the groups to find the best possible combination of voices. In the finale, five winners will get to perform their brand new single together as a group and receive a recording contract with Hollywood Records.
Next week’s episode cuts back to one hour.
Tonight (NOT LIVE YET) kicks off in an empty studio, where the 30 hopeful singers will audition in front of the “architects”
Chance Perez (19) – Seal Beach, CA – He sings “Somebody to Love” by Queen. He’s got a two year old daughter and is all about giving her the best. He’s not bad. Maybe it’s just me, but the sound in the studio is really weird? He’s obviously singing to a track, but something is off. Nick thinks there’s “more to you.” Chance explains that he “thinks of my daughter” when he sings the song. Timbaland suggests he work on his vocal control. For some unexplained reason, Emma takes the stage to take a selfie with Chance.
Andrew Bloom (19) – Yorba Linda, CA – He covers Chris Stapleton’s “Tennessee Whiskey” while he accompanies himself on guitar. I can tell we’re in for a ton of vocal adlibbing tonight. “You did a great version of that song,” says Timbaland. Apparently, Andrew plays live in clubs a lot. Nick would like to see him dance. Oh boy. “Confident and believable,” says Emma. She thinks he can sing lead.
Matthew Dean (19) – Thousand Oaks, CA – His mom was in a girlband and his dad is “Dino” of “I Like it” fame. They were both super cheesy artists back in the 80s. He sings “Beautiful Soul” by Jesse McCartney. These singers sound like they are performing underwater. This dude, despite genetics, is fairly unremarkable. Emma likes his look. But she caught some nerves. “You need to have talent,” Nick says, flatly. OUCH! There were some “missing elements” he says.
Montage: Michael Conor, rapping violinist. OK this is pretty weird, Cam Jackson singing Ordinary People, Timbaland is a big fan. Emma cried after Dorian Tyler sang “A Change is Gonna Come. “It touched me,” she said. JHype a beatboxer is next. His beats are better than his vocals. Timbaland insists J Hype was “cheating” beatboxing against a bass track. He takes the stage to create a vocal baseline for J Hype to perform against. Emma is surprised to learn he’s only 14.
Marcus Pendleton – (16) – Nashville TN – He claims to be an “all round genre singer.” He’s the father figure at home, he says. We see him helping little bro with his homework. He sings “My Girl” by the Temptations. His voice is very smooth? That’s something. He does the serenading Emma thing. He finishes the song on his knees. Emma, of course, is in love. But she felt him straining his voice. Nick disagrees. He likes the register he’s singing in. Timbaland feels he has the “whole package.”
Miles Wesley (19) – Marble Falls, TX – He was homeless when he first moved to Los Angeles. He finally has an apartment. It’s empty! He sings “Say You Won’t Let Go” by James Arthur. He’s got some distracting vocal affectations. Wow. That was boring. Emma thinks he has raw talent. She loves his look. Timbaland thinks he’s be “phenomenal” between a group of people. He swears he’s always wanted to be in a band, “something bigger than myself.” The panel likes that attitude.
Brady Tutton (15) – Shorewood, WI – He’s an Opera singer as well as Boy Band crooner. He trills a bit for the panel after he sings “On Bended Knee” . Timbaland wants to sample him.
A trio of dudes go by real fast. Jon Klasson, Mikey Jimenez and a third singer, Devin Hayes, serenades Rita with “Closer.” She’s all hot and bothered. “I think he sold me,” says Nick. Timbaland thinks he needs to work on his vocals.
Drew Ramos (19) – Bronx, NY – Drew grew up in the Bronx, where he always had to defend himself. But he’s a mama’s boy. He sings “Stay with Me” by Sam Smith. He can belt it out. And he’s got some charisma. Emma thought he seemed nervous, but she liked when he looked in her eyes. Drew says he developed his love of music through worship. Nick liked everything about that. Timbaland says he found his swag at the end.
Andrew Butcher (17) – Greenwood, IN – He sings “Story of my Life” by One Direction. He doesn’t really have a boy band look, actually. Timbaland remarks on his “unique” tone. “That was killer.” Hm. Emma likes his grit and connection. “Great performance…room to grow,” says Nick.
Montage: Lukas James (15) – Sarasota, FL, Paul Toweh (21) – Liberia, Monrovia, Stone Martin (18) – Hartsville, SC, Gavin Becker (18) – Philadelphia, PA
Sergio Calderon (16) – Redwood City, CA – His parents own a carpet cleaning business. He gave up soccer to play music and his parents couldn’t be more supportive. He sings “Stand By Me” the Prince Royce version. Woah. Slow down dude. That tempo was a little quick. Nick loved it. “You commanded the stage,” he says. Emma thinks he has “brilliant character.” Timbaland liked the bi-lingual touch.
Cameron Armstrong (22) – Columbia, SC – He sings “Treasure” by Bruno Mars. Very nice tone. He also raps and plays a drum box. One of the more musical performances of the night. Emma loved his energy. She suggests he slow down a little. Timbaland thought the vocals could be better? Hm. Cameron whips off his jean jacket to show off his guns. OK then. Emma is very excited. Nick thinks he needs to be “smoothed out” and “toned down.” No he doesn’t? But I guess, when it comes to boy bands, it’s all about “blending in.”
Santino Cardinale (18) – Las Vegas, NV, Gianni Cardinale (16) – Las Vegas, NV, are brothers and audition separately. A bunch of other singers who were so unimpressive, they don’t even get named, round out the montage.
Jaden Gray (16) – Hawthorne, CA – He sings in the youth choir and has been performing since he was six years old. He sings “Hallelujah” by Leonard Cohen, which is an odd choice for a boy band audition. His style is very gospelly. He’s got a big voice with range. Why the hell is he wasting his talent on a boy band? “You got a serious anointing,” says Timbaland.
Everyone has performed. Now it’s time to “Mix and Match” talents. Timbaland pairs the beatboxer J Hype and the rapping violinist Michael Conor. They freestyle for a bit. Nick and Emma are really impressed. “This was great for me to see,” says Timbaland.
Emma requests a duet between Chance Perez and Jon Klassen. They harmonize on “Stay with Me.” Nick says “I saw chemistry there.”
Nick wants Miles Wesley, Andrew Bloom, Andrew Butcher, Stone Martin and Jaden Gray to bust some moves to “Backstreet’s Back.” Nick takes the stage to teach some choreography. He encourages everyone to end the routine with their own special boy band pose. Cheesy! Timbaland takes the stage to show the boys a few old school moves.
Next it’s the “war room” where the architects choose 12 boys to eliminate. The panel members stare at a wall full of contestants. Of course there are “disagreements.” Rita declares “WE’RE RUNNING OUT OF TIME!!!” She counts down from 10. Ha ha. Right. Finally, the 18 finalists are chosen.
All 30 hopefuls are on stage. The architects will call out the Top 18 in 3 groups of 6. Each group will rehearse together. After the performance, one boy will be eliminated. Each group has the opportunity to name themselves.
First up is Uplift. Tim Davis is a guy I totally totally recognize from Glee social media. He’s vocal producer for this show. Tim is a hard ass with the boys. One dude expects Tim to teach them their parts. THINK AGAIN DUDE. He also gives the boys vocal training as needed. J Hype, a beat boxer primarily, is having issues with the vocals. Adam Blackstone, the musical director, takes the group through their paces. Tabitha and Napoleon of SYTYCD and World of Dance (BUSY COUPLE) are choreographing the boys’ routines.
Finally, there’s a studio audience as Uplift prepares to perform. Nick is looking for stage presence. They sing “That’s What I Like” by Bruno Mars. Geez. The reverb on the mics are ridiculous. The audience is filled with screaming girls. It’s like the entire audience is “the pit.” This is pretty bland? But then what do I know. The architects are super excited. Nick compliments the group effusively. He liked Sergio, particularly. Emma compliments Cameron’s moves. Timbaland loved J Hype’s breakdown, but “don’t hide behind the beatbox.” He tells Drew that he already looks like a star.
AMERICAN IDOL COMMERCIAL WITH KATY PERRY THIS IS NOT A DRILL.
Back from break. Time to eliminate a singer. Sergio, Marcus, Drew, JHype, Devin are safe. Cameron Armstrong is eliminated. Seriously. That dude was the best of the night! Maybe too good. Gotta bland it up to be in a boy band. Also, he is an old man, at 22, compared to the rest who are teens. So…there’s that.
Reverb will perform next week.
Chance Perez (19)
Michael Conor (17)
Andrew Bloom (19)
Marcus Pendleton (16)
Mikey Jimenez (17)
Andrew Bloom (19)
Dorian Tyler (15)
Jon Klaasen (19)
Jaden Gray (16)
Cam Jackson (19)
Brady Tutton (15)
Sergio Calderon (16)
Gavin Becker (18)
Cameron Armstrong (22) – Eliminated
Drew Ramos (19)
Jay Gilbert “J Hype” (14)
Devin Hayes (17)