Shocker: the winner of Rising Star was a WGWG who was the frontrunner from the get-go. Was ABC’s music competition experiment worth the effort?
Sunday’s finale of Rising Star offered very little by way of surprises. Jesse Kinch, the rocker with a distinct point-of-view who blew up the voting on the show’s premiere episode, took home the $100,000 prize and a contract with Capitol Records. His opponent, Austin French, tried his best, but a ballad is not going to compete with pyrotechnics. The other two finalists, Dana Williams and Audrey Kate Geiger, were gracious in their defeat, despite the shenanigans of not getting to perform with their mentors at a real concert the way their male counterparts did.
But that’s not what I want to discuss. What kept my interest throughout the series was how the app was used. Other shows have used a second-screen experience to gather viewer feedback, but Rising Star was one of the first to use that feedback to determine outcomes on the show. My primary interest was in how the show would be able to overcome the timezone dilemma. Overall, I think the concept and execution of the West Coast Save worked, though the West Coast had zero say in the outcome of the finale unless viewers checked-in and voted blind. Granted the way the duels of the finale were stacked—Dana vs. Jesse, Austin vs. Audrey Kate—set up the foregone conclusion that it would be two dudes in the final duel.
My favorite part of the app was how it kept almost all the clutter from the first screen relegated to the second screen. Banal tweets from randos on the interwebz didn’t fill the lower third of the screen, results were recapped at the end of the episode, and music was downloadable following the show. I didn’t experience any problems checking in or casting votes, which might be more of a negative indication of viewer apathy rather than well-maintained servers and bandwidth.
I don’t expect Rising Star to return for a second season, but I don’t feel like my time was wasted with this series. Josh Groban proved to be an engaging host, experts Kesha, Ludacris, and Brad Paisley offered thoughtful critiques, and it’s not like there was much else on anyway. As with many of my votes, I will swipe right even though the act in question is doomed.