The Four: Battle for a Superstar Season 2 premieres tonight on FOX. Musician, record producer and songwriter Sean “Diddy” Combs, record-producing hitmaker DJ Khaled, and recording artist and songwriter Meghan Trainor return to the show’s “panel of experts.” Pop star Fergie is back 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 of Season 2 are: R&B singer Carvena Jones, hip hop artist Sharaya J, Latin pop singer Stephanie Zelaya, and former X Factor UK contestant (member of boyband Stereo Kicks) James Graham. Will these artists be able to hold on to their spots in tonight’s competition? Find out as we live blog the premiere.
The Four reminds us about winner Evvie McKinney, but Also Zhavia who nabbed a record contract and a song on the Deadpool soundtrack.
“We are back baby…bigger and hungrier than ever!” says Fergie before introducing The Four. Stephanie plans on bringing the “Latin spice.” She’s famous in the Spanish speaking world. Carvena sang background for James Fortune. But she’s not interested in a Gospel career. And James Graham. He claims he was in a boy band that was on the way to be the next One Direction, but it wasn’t for him and he left. Uhm. Anybody who watched that season of X Factor knows better. Their first single flopped. The end. (They sucked, too). Sharaya J is a hip hop singer. She was recently diagnosed with breast cancer. Wow.
Here come the challengers!
Chris Vanney – 24 – Winter Garden FL – Wild Thoughts by DJ Khaled – He’s came to the US from Puerto Rico at 10 years of age. He became a father at 19. He’s got two kids and loves being a dad. Oh he dances too. Khaled is flattered to be covered, rather than wary. This is OK…He could bring more energy to the stage. Khaled calls the song “the biggest record in the world.” Hm. “You gotta come with it!” he says. “The bar is high.” Meghan calls him “cool.” She says nix the dancing. Diddy reminds him that its season 2. Ha. They hate the dance moves. They were pretty spastic. The panel will decide if Chris will be a challenger. The vote has to be unanimous. There goes Fergie with her spins! The first ring is blue. But the second is red. Buh bye Chris! Khaled tells him to keep hustling. – Eliminated before the challenge.
Majeste Pearson – 21 – Tulsa OK – Someone Like You by Adele – She grew up singing in the church. Her father is a “world renowned” evangelist. OH THIS GUY. I just read a thing about this guy…where was that? I’ll try to dig it up. ETA: I read it in Slate! He came to believe that hell did not exist. And his fellow fundies ostracized him. He’s been labeled a “heretic.” His church shut down. They lost everything. Her family is in the audience. Uh oh Adele! She changes up the melody and really makes it her own. It’s a very gospelly arrangement. She’s decent, but could use more polish. The band and chorus is drowning her out and she has pitch problems. Khaled calls the music business a “cold world.” Meghan liked it though. “You killed it…I’ll never hit those notes.” She gave Diddy goosebumps. Carvena starts talking trash to Majeste. “ARE YOU READY TO GO TO CHURCH” she says. Diddy stands and throws off his jacket. Sigh. Majeste receives Three blue rings
Challenge! Majeste challenges Carvena
Carvena Jones – Love Don’t Live Here Anymore by Faith Evans – Oh. She grew up in a strict church. I bet HER father believes in hell. Her parents forbade secular music, but she used to sneak Miley Cyrus, Jonas Brothers etc. The music resonates with her. She began writing music at 14. She went viral on Youtube. Diddy started following her. Oh. Carvena’s got a very different style from Majeste. She’s got a jazzy Anita Baker thing going. She’s silky and smooth. I actually prefer this. She walks straight up into Majeste’s face for the last verse.
Majeste Pearson – Chandelier by Sia – There are seeds of great things here, but her performance is unwieldy. She’s shouty and uncontrolled. Some folks might like that though. In a competition situation, it might win the day.
Khaled calls Majeste “incredible.” Meghan thinks they’re both amazing. But she’d pick Carvena if she were choosing right now. Diddy didn’t like either performance–didn’t care for the song choices. “I felt like I was in a Broadway play at times.” He doesn’t want “yelling matches.” I agree. The audience votes! Majeste won. Not surprised. Those big notes get ya votes.
Majeste Pearson advances. Carvena Jones is eliminated. We hardly knew ye Carvena. She walks away PISSED. “I know I’m a better singer than her,” she grumbles.
Christina Castle – 22 – Los Angeles – Side to Side by Ariana Grande – She’s from Sydney Australia. At 14, she was in a singing competition in Australia. Afterward she made an EP, and was kinda famous for awhile. After she moved to LA, she really struggled. She reminds me of Cher Lloyd. She got an island vibe going with a bit of rap thrown in. She’s a good performer? Maybe if she had the right producer? IDK. I was bored. Khaled says she’s moving like a new artist that wants it. She hated being manipulated in the business. Diddy thought the run was good. But she can’t beat any of The Four. She insists she could beat any of them. James is down for the challenge. LOL. She got THREE red rings. BYEEEEEE. – Eliminated before the challenge.
Quinton Ellis – 17 – Conway AR – U Got it Bad by Usher – He describes himself as an R&B and soul artist. His mom is his rock. He’s got a “side hustle” selling sneakers online. He’s ready to eat! “You’re just a baby…You’re so cute!” gushes Meghan. Diddy wants some sneakers. He’s got those Usher hip swiveling moves. TOO YOUNG TOO YOUNG. He’s green and unformed, but there is potential there. Good stage presence. Not blown away, though. The panel are on their feet. “Incredible job,” says Meghan. “You’re so confident you scare me.” Diddy worked with Usher and thinks he did a good job covering the song. Khaled loves the energy. “I want to hear more.” – Quinton receives Three blue rings.
Challenge! Quinton challenges Stephanie
Stephanie Zelaya – 26 – Me Gente by J. Balvin – She’s a number one artist in Guatemala, where she’s from. She was close to her grandfather, who passed away. She’s a pro singer. Way more experienced than Quinton. But who can resist a cutie who sells sneakers? I think the crowd will go for Quinton. As she finishes the song, she gets right in his face. Could that be considered child abuse? She’s OK but no Jlo. I’m waiting for somebody to bring it. So far…nada.
Quinton – So Sick by Ne-Yo – Aw. He’s adorable. He’s green compared to Stephanie, but he’s appealing and RELATABLE.
Diddy felt Quinton’s first performance was better than his second. He felt Stephanie truly defended her seat. Khaled calls Quinton a “young king” but notes Stephanie’s confidence and how it will only get greater. Meghan calls her the “Guatemala queen.” But she sees the potential in Quinton.
Stephanie advances. Quinton is eliminated. Huh. I’m a little surprised. Welp. Quinton could always audition for Idol this summer! Heh.
Rebecca Black – 20 – Bye Bye Bye – N Sync – Anaheim CA – Yes she’s THAT Rebecca Black. Of Viral “Friday” fame. When she was 13, she filmed “Friday” through a company her parents hired. The song blew up, but for all the wrong reasons. She was bullied online. She tears up remembering the experience. “You should never let anyone tell you doing what you love is wrong.” Meghan is freaking out. “I’m fangirling so hard!” Rebecca sings a slowed up version of the song. She’s a decent singer, actually. Not autotuned this time! But she needs to work on dynamics. She’s got no range, actually. Meghan got so many chills, “Tell all the haters Bye Bye Bye!” Diddy says he’s not sure he can put her through. That’s after quoting Muhammad Ali. OK then. But in the end, Diddy says yes. Rebecca receives Three blue rings.
Challenge! Rebecca challenges James
James Graham – 21 – Chelmsford Essex UK – A Song For You by Leon Russell – He wanted to be a soccer player growing up. But Michael Jackson inspired him to pursue music. He talks about being “put into a boy band” Stereo Kicks. That “sold out tour” he talks about was actually the X Factor UK tour. Of course, James never mentions that LOSER show FOX cancelled, X Factor. Ha. I love how he characterizes the demise of Stereo Kicks as just a thing he wasn’t into, rather than an enterprise that failed. James has a strong voice. But he oversings. Dude, dial back the runs. You’re just showing off. The performance would be much better without the embellishments. Nevertheless, poor Rebecca is toast.
Rebecca – Torn by Natalie Imbruglia – Rebecca has a nice tone, but no power. There’s no way she could even come close to matching James acrobatics. A perfectly nice performance but probably won’t cut it.
Khaled felt both were amazing. Meghan is proud of Rebecca. “That song did not define you.” She feels “we really need artists” like James on the radio. Diddy felt the song was too tricksy. I agree. Meghan disagrees. Diddy congratulates Rebecca on her strength.
James advances. Rebecca is eliminated.
After, Rebecca cries. The audience cheers for her. “It means so much,” Rebecca says about having the opportunity to show the world her grown up self. The panel put aside their cynicism to give the young singer props and a hug.
Ohhh. Adam Blackstone is the musical director. Ricky Minor didn’t sign up for another season? Or was he not hired back. Hm.
Here’s where we stand: Stephanie Zelaya and James Graham successfully defended their seat. Carvena Jones lost her seat to Majeste Pearson. Sharaya J was not challenged this week.