The Four: Battle for a Superstar premieres tonight on FOX. Musician, record producer and songwriter Sean “Diddy” Combs, record-producing hitmaker DJ Khaled, Recording artist and songwriter Meghan Trainor and record label executive Charlie Walk will sit on the show’s “panel of experts.” Pop star Fergie has been tapped to serve as host.
Four artists, spanning all music genres, will fight each week to defend their coveted seats on the show, as determined newcomers challenge them and try to knock them out of the competition. The singer who is the last standing at the end of the competition will earn the ultimate prize: the panel of industry experts becomes key players on the winner’s team, along with a record contract and a lucrative spot as one of iHeartRadio’s On the Verge artists.
The first four artists are: Elanese Lansen, Blair Perkins, Ash Minor and Alexis “Lex Lu” Boyd. Will these artists be able to hold on to their spots in tonight’s competition? Find out as we live blog the premiere.
Before Fergie introduces the panel, she declares that each episode will be like a FINALE. Clips previewing the season emphasize the “Hunger Games” aspect of the show. It looks like the panel won’t be suffering any fools gladly.
Next Fergie introduces THE FOUR. They perform a group number. HOORAY. They’re covering “Can’t Stop the Feeling” by Justin Timberlake. It’s a little messy. “Lex Lu” breaks into a rap.
Fergie explains that challengers backstage are ready to take the singers on. First up…
Tyler “Ty Alexander” Griffin – 24 – “Talk Dirty” by Jason Derulo -A song he wrote was picked up by a local politician for his campaign, and it became somewhat of a local hit. Khaled asks him “ARE YOU READY…Don’t play yourself.” before he launches into a rap intro. DANCE BREAK IN THE MIDDLE. Yeah. This is the kind of stuff you don’t see on other shows. Let’s just say…he wouldn’t get a turn on The Voice. Tyler is more of an entertainer than a singer. Khaled liked that he had the crowd involved in his performance. “But you gotta be great.” Diddy says that he made him smile. Charlie said, “You were good…” points to The Four sitting in their cubicles. “But they are great.” Meghan’s gonna be the Paula Abdul of the group, I think. Charlie warns, “THIS IS REAL LIFE GUYS.” ALL of the panelists have to say yes in order for the artist to be able to challenge a singer. Three yeses….and then a big fat no. The crowd boos. Charlie wasn’t feeling it. I have to agree. The dude is ordinary – Eliminated.
The panelists votes are revealed anonymously, as the floor lights up in colored concentric circles that ring around Fergie and the contestant. A camera set above the stage films the anonymous reveal. The panelists may or may not say how they voted afterward. A blue ring means yes, red ring means no. All in all–it’s pretty gimmicky.
Zhavia – 16 – Los Angeles – “Location” by Khalid – She’s a 16 year old R&B singer from Los Angeles. Her mom sang in a metal band. Her parents divorced, which meant hardship. She and her mom moved around a lot. This performance was featured in a preview. She wants to buy her mom a house one day. She’s a confident singer, soulful. Nice tone. The cameras cut to The Four LOOKING WORRIED. “This is why I’m here,” gushed Khaled, “You’re swag is incredible.” He compares her to a young icon. Charlie calls her “the future.” Meghan says The Four should be nervous. Diddy doesn’t think she can take on the others. Zhavia takes that as a challenge and Diddy GETS ALL EXCITED. He reminds the audience that The Four isn’t like THOSE OTHER SHOWS. This is a battle show, he says. Unsurprisingly, Zhavia receives Panelists Vote Yes. Zhavia Will Choose a Contestant to Challenge.
The Challenge. Who you coming for Zhavia? We’ll have to wait until after the break. For those who watched the preview, we know she challenges Elanese. They exchange some trash talk before Elanese takes the stage: Zhavia taunts Elanese, suggesting that she looks “a little scared to challenge me.” Elanese bites back, “Sweetheart, I ain’t scared of nobody.”
Elanese Lansen – She’s Latina and from Boca Raton FL. She’s performing in Spanish. Hoo boy. I SMELL CANNON FODDER. She’s OK. She’s a pleasant singer, but not very charismatic, even with the “sexy” moves. Oh. Now Zhavia is going to sing again.
Zhavia – Unforgettable by French Montana – Her deep tone is radio ready. Long blond dreads, she got a look. Welp. BYE ELANESE WE BARELY KNEW YE. But why does the challenger sing twice? It seems unnecessary. OH. Not much in the way of panelist critique before The audience decides!
And of course, Zhavia wins the challenge. Elanese is eliminated. Charlie says she just did not compete at the highest level.
Zhavia’s seat is locked for the rest of the show. The producers are still taking auditions! As early as next week, YOU could be a challenger. Go to The Four’s official website.
Anthony Hall – 28 – Delray Beach FL – Feel It by Portugal The Man – A singer/songwriter, at 19, he was signed to a record label. Nothing happened, he was dropped and wound up back at square one. Diddy noted that he looked like “White Jesus.” OK then. His deal was with Universal Republic, Charlie’s label. Eh….I don’t know about this. He’s not a great singer? But he’s got a vibe? His phrasing is…different. He complains that he recorded a lot of songs that “fell on deaf ears.” Charlie reminds him that “you are the boss of you.” He’s a hard ass. I LIKE IT. Meghan loved his rendition. “You need to step into your superstar,” Diddy advises. Anthony has something EXCITING lined up for next time, if only they’d vote him through. Dang. Two yesses, Two nos. Charlie doesn’t think he’s an “arena artist” but he’d definitely go see him in a club. Ouch. Diddy felt he didn’t bring everything that he had to the stage. Anthony says….I agree. And I respect you – Eliminated.
Illakris – 21 – Dallas – At 12, his parents got him a mixer and he’s been producing his own music ever since. He’s worked a ton of odd jobs. He doesn’t last long. I’m not sure what he’s singing. He’s manically rapping over an Earth Wind and Fire sample? I think. He needs to calm down, really. Meghan loved his stage presence and originality. Charlie thinks he’s interesting “for other shows.” Damn. He’s HARSH. I love this dude. “Not for this show,” says Charlie. Diddy disagrees, “You did you!” Khaled didn’t get any “feeling.” Lex Lu wants him to go through, however. “He’s looking like a cake walk,” she says. Illakris swears he is “ready to go.” Diddy asks him if he wants to “eat.” The crowd is chanting EAT EAT EAT EAT. Yeesh. They really encourage a Roman Coliseum like vibe in the studio. All four rings turn blue. Hm. Methinks Charlie is looking forward to the slaughter. – Panelists Vote Yes. Illakris Will Choose a Contestant to Challenge.
The Challenge: Illakris challenges Lex Lu. SURPRISE. Not.
Lex Lu – “Wild Thoughts” by DJ Khaled – Los Angeles – She started as a professional dancer. She gave that up to be a solo hip/hop artist. She has a young son, Sebastian. She’s a rapper and she’s GOOD. The crowd is going wild. Poor Illakris–a baby lamb sacrificed to the singing show gods.
Illakris – Special Delivery – This is a better performance. He’s a fast, energetic rapper. I still think he could calm down a little. I wonder what his original rhymes are like. Khaled agrees that the 2nd song was better than the first, but “it gotta be greater.” Diddy doesn’t think Illakris did enough to take Lex’s seat. He’s not particularly happy with her performance either, but he doesn’t say why.
Of course LEX LU WINS THE CHALLENGE. She’s locked in for the night. Charlie says Illakris should never have been advanced in the first place.
Valentina – 19 – Los Angeles – Green Light by Lorde – She produced a music video that was picked up by Vogue. Her Brazilian dad, also a musician, totally supports her. This isn’t an easy song to sing, and she’s nailing it. Having said that, she’s not bringing anything new or unique to her rendition. Solid performance, though. Charlie works with Lorde…and he was impressed. He calls her a “real artist.” Meghan calls it a “beautiful performance” but she didn’t love her sound. Hm. She felt that her phrasing was affected. Diddy “didn’t like it one bit…I think you can do better.” Yeah. I agree with Diddy and Meghan. Her vocal was a bit ham-fisted. It was decent but not great. “Give the girl a chance!” says Charlie. Diddy asks Zhavia what she thinks. She basically calls it karaoke. “You have to sing the song better than the original,” she says. Two blue rings. Two red. Diddy and Meghan were the no votes. “THAT PERFORMANCE WAS BAD,” Diddy insists when Charlie complains about his no vote. Wow. – Eliminated.
Saeed Renauo – Run to You by Whitney Houston – He’s one of 21 kids. A songwriter, producer and vocal coach–he’s been in the business for 15 years. He won a Grammy for work on Lalah Hathaway album. But you’d never know it looking at his bank account, he says He’s got a very sweet, smooth old school tenor. He’s like the second coming of Ruben Studdard, in all ways. Meghan has to wipe away a tear. “That was insane,” she says. “You are securing the bag,” says Khaled. “If anyone says no on this panel, I’m out of here.” Charlie thinks there’s a place for him in the music business. Huh? That performance was straight out of the 80’s. Diddy wants to see a challenge. Panelists Vote Yes. Saeed Will Choose a Contestant to Challenge.
The Challenge: Blair and Ash remain as possible challengers. Blair says he has no plans to give up his seat. Saeed has other ideas. Saeed challenges Blair
Blair Perkins – 25 – Stay With Me by Sam Smith – He’s an R&B performer and YouTube star. He opened for Stevie Wonder. AND he co-wrote and co-produced Demi Lovato’s “Made in the USA. Saeed is a better singer, but Blair is more current. And isn’t that what this show is about? Finding a MARKETABLE artist? Having said that, Blair might not get a chair turn if he were auditioning for The Voice. Just saying.
Saeed Renauo – Love Me Again – John Newman – OK. Now Saeed is showing the audience he can go current. It’s not as good a vocal performance? But in this instance, it’s more important to show a contemporary side to his artistry. I take back everything I said before, basically. Khaled is EXCITED. He asks Saeed if he’s ready for the big time. Is Blair ready for success. You know he is! Charlie thinks Blair needs to keep his seat. Diddy doesn’t think Blair went far enough. Meghan also prefers Saeed.
And the winner of the challenge is…Saeed. Blair is eliminated
Two keep their seats, two are eliminated. The new FOUR are:
Alexis “Lex Lu” Boyd– (Original four, won her challenge)
Ash Minor – (Original four, not challenged this week)
Zhavia – (Challenged original four contestant, Elanese Lansen, won challenge)
Saeed Renauo – (Challenged original four contestant, Blair Perkins, won challenge)