Switching Channels

Is there room for another talent search contest?

Apparently, Queen Latifah and her co-producer David Broome (of "The Biggest Loser") think there is.

Their new show, "The Next," joins a seemingly overloaded field that includes  "American Idol," "The Voice," "America's Got Talent," "X Factor" and "Duets."

On its premiere night on Monday on ETC (Channel 14 on Sky and 9 on terrestrial TV) two episodes were aired. Locally, the new show goes up against GMA's "Protégé," ABS-CBN's "X Factor" and TV 5's "Artista Academy."

What sets "The Next" apart?

How it's different

First, the show concentrates on talents who already have a following in their respective cities. The premiere episode took place at the House of Blues in Orlando, Florida where four outstanding artists chosen by the producers competed for a slot in the semifinal round. The second hour was devoted to the competition at the Hippodrome in Baltimore, Maryland.

Second, mentors Gloria Estefan, Joe Jonas, John Rich and Nelly do not vote, unlike other talent competitions. Their only job is to train and give advice to their assigned contestants. I also noticed that the mentors are kinder to the performers. There are no Simon Cowells in the group.

Third, plenty of airtime is spent on the coaching sessions since there are only four singers per episode and they only do one song each. Each mentor spends 72 hours before the actual performance with his or her ward.

Fourth, mentors devise different exercises to get the best performance from their talents. Nelly had his contestant sing while on the treadmill. Joe Jonas asked his to sing while playing basketball. Gloria Estefan advised her ward not to close her eyes while singing so she can connect with her audience. And John Rich surprised his contestant in the showers to find out how he was doing with his vocals.

Fifth, winners are known on the same evening contestants perform. The live audience in the venue texts their votes. More than a thousand votes were tallied in the House of Blues.

How it's the same

Four more winners will be chosen in New York, Chicago, Dallas and Los Angeles. Those who lost in the cities where auditions were held will still have a chance to compete because a nationwide vote will determine who will be the seventh contestant. Up for grabs is a recording contract with Atlantic Records.

The eight contestants who participated in the first two episodes did well but no one really stood out. The two who won were good-looking guys who probably attracted the votes of the female-dominated audience.

It would be interesting to find out how the four aspirants are chosen in each city. I understand that social networking sites are also used to discover the most popular talents in each location.

Editor's note: The blogger's views do not represent Yahoo! Southeast Asia's position on the topic or issue being discussed.

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