American Song Contest: Episode 1 Recap

NBC’s brand new talent competition show, American Song Contest, takes it a step further than just singing or performing, but hits home for everyone involved. The contest involves 56 contestants, from not just every state, but the American territories as well, as they fight to represent their state and their sound. Among these competitors are grammy-award winners, country artists, childhood favorites, and even a Kpop star.

Kelly Clarkson and Snoop Dogg host this two hour live premiere, and there could not be a better duo to do so. Our music industry sweetheart and the iconic, rap legend, Snoop Dogg take away from two very different genres but come together as co-hosts to show that all music has one thing in common: passion.


On this particular episode, eleven states and territories compete to see which four will make it out and advance to the next round. Minnesota, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Indiana, Puerto Rico,

Connecticut, Iowa, Wisconsin, Mississippi, Wyoming, and Rhode Island are amongst those

involved. From just this group, we see a range from rap, to country, to blues, pop, and latin

mixes.


Minnesotan band of four, Yam Haus, start us off with their electric performance of “Ready To

Go." By the end of it, we have a greater look into their state, where they come from, and

inspirations that have shaped their musical influence. Watch parties from the artists’ home

states is a nice, heartwarming touch to add to each performance.


Oklahoma rep and Kpop star, AleXa, differs from the typical country narrative you’d expect

from the state, but she lets us know that her dreams did in fact begin with country music,

specifically, Carrie Underwood.


Arkansas gave us a taste of country music star, Kelsey Lamb, who debuted her new single,

“Never Like This” as her first performance on the competition show. She lets us know that she’s born and raised in Arkansas, where even the biggest town, Little Rock, gives her a hometown feel. Lamb tells us that country music comes very natural to her, and calls her personal sound a mix of Blake Shelton and Avril Lavigne.

Indiana offered watchers UG skywalkin and “Love In My City," in which he pays homage not only to his hometown of Indianapolis, but his African heritage with the guitar featured in the song. He describes himself as afro, hip-hop, pop, and country.


Christian Pagán comes straight from Puerto Rico, showing that American pride comes from more than just the 50 states. Not being shy to television, Pagán took the stage like a pro, to perform “Loko."


Grammy winner Michael Bolton hails from Connecticut, where the owner of one of the first bars he played in, Brian Phelps, names him as the “Heart of the Entire State." He serenaded the audience with the equally charming, “Beautiful World” which he says comes from a message he’s learned from growing up in his home state, to spread kindness.


Alisabeth Von Presley from Iowa claims herself as brassy, bold, and hardworking, just like all the women that raised her. She performs her girl-power anthem, “Wonder," which is rooted in pop, but gives off country undertones in it’s powerful and demanding nature.

Wisconsin’s Jake’O is exactly what you’d expect from the state and not at the same time. He grew up working at his family’s cheese factory (not kidding) and lives in an old primary school his grandmother owned, but he places his roots down creating a new sound which he claims to be “vintage, yet futuristic."


Mississippi’s Keyone Starr gave her hit “Fire," which is nothing less than fiery. She shares

that growing up in the church cultivated her sound, and was discovered by Mark Ronson, doing what she loved in her home state. Her southern roots shine through her pop, gospel, and country sound throughout her performance.


Ryan Charles from Wyoming can only be described as an urban cowboy by looks. Growing up going to rodeos and living in the least populated state, he curated his own sound that he says is “cowboy western rap”. His song “New Boot Goofin’” is inspired by that lifestyle of never going anywhere without a pair of boots, and a phrase his uncle said to him growing up. The twist on country sound that Charles introduces, rapping as he performs in rodeo getup, is something that cannot be forgotten.


The last performance of the night hails from Rhode Island, with Hueston. Hueston tells the story of how he rose from the bottom up, losing people along the way, and dedicates his passion for singing to them. His sound is self-described as Chris Stapleton, Adele, and Sons of Anarchy. He meets his performance with intimacy and resilience, singing soulfully for the people he’s known, loved, and lost in his home state.

It’s clear from the moment Hueston starts singing that he’s going to be chosen as the

jury’s selection to move on for the night. In American Song Contest style, one is chosen at the end of every show, and then three more after a series of voting by viewers. Hueston earns this title just minutes he walks off the stage, a win for Rhode Island, and country music enthusiasts everywhere.


American Song Contest is live again with a brand new episode on March 28th, at 8/7c. The

contest is an eight week event, which will crown one grand winner in the end. The show is not only filled with music, but history and heritage that anyone proud in their hometown can relate to.


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