08 May 2022
The first edition of the American Song Contest has been a surprising success. A total of 56 entries that covered all states, Washington DC and several territories, competed over five heats, then two semi finals that contained 11 songs each, and now to the grand final of 10 songs. Song quality has been good and stage presentations have been improving week by week. Not so surprising (if you really think about it) is the diversity of music styles presented. The United States a big country with many cultural influences, and there’s been a bit of everything from country to hip-hop to even something you could only describe as cowboy rap.
If you have a spare 2.5 hours, here’s all the songs from the qualifying rounds:
The contest attracted some well known names, especially if you’ve been around a while. Those names include Jewel, Michael Bolton, Macy Gray and Sisqo. Only Michael Bolton reached the grand final.
The Early Rounds
Before picking my favourites in the grand final, here’s several that missed out.
Alaska – Jewel – The Story
Jewel is one of my old crushes in music, and now the flame burns again once I saw her perform. The Story didn’t stand out from a plethora of other slower songs, especially from the field of country music, nor did Jewel herself stand out from the predominantly younger artists. So what. I was glad to see her again. My first overseas trip was to the USA in 2004, where I toured around on Amtrak for a month. I still fondly recall listening to Jewel’s Intuition album on the plane over and then on the train from Los Angeles to Chicago. Now I’m following her on Instagram.
Nevada – The Crystal Method – Watch Me Now
Easily the best rock song of the ASC, and I was stunned it couldn’t get out of the heats.
Michigan – Ada LeAnn – Natalie
Only 17 years old, and Ada wrote the song herself. It was a really sweet song and performance, and was the jury’s pick (they got one direct from each heat) to advance to the semi finals. Most notable is Ada commented in the ASC Facebook group about the negativity surrounding the contest, and I told her these are a minority of voices, ignore them, and only listen to those that give you strength. She responded it was something she really needed to hear. Then she blasted it out of the park in the heats. That is the performance below. Here is her semi final one. Helping young people achieve their best, I guess it’s a calling.
Others worth checking in the video above of all 56 songs are Rhode Island and Kansas. They were the most unlucky ones to miss out from their respective semi finals. Of course, don’t forget Ryan Charles from Wyoming and New Boot Goofin’. Only in America.
The Grand Final
Alabama – Ni/Co – The Difference
American Samoa – Tenelle – Full Circle
Colorado – Riker Lynch – Feel The Love
Connecticut – Michael Bolton – Beautiful World
Kentucky – Jordan Smith – Sparrow
North Dakota – Chloe Fredericks – Can’t Make You Love Me
Oklahoma – AleXa – Wonderland
Tennessee – Tyler Braden – Seventeen
Texas – Grant Knoche – Mr Independent
Washington – Allen Stone – A Bit of Both
Washington is popular with many with its country feel and quirky artist, and possibly it could go all the way. It’s difficult to really know because it advanced from both stages thanks to being the jury pick. American Samoa has plenty of sentiment for it, mostly due to its unique Polynesian flavour and it is American Samoa. It’s a speck in the context of the American landscape and would be an amazing triumph. Colorado is the most fun entry, while Michael Bolton does what Michael Bolton always has done, except stiffer. Great voice from Kentucky (won The Voice in 2015); the song is a big generic. North Dakota infuses a bit of rock to her country style of song and seems quite popular.
04 Texas – Grant Knoche – Mr Independent
Certainly the most elaborate presentation, especially with the choreography, and the song is catchy, even if it’s a bit slow in parts.
03 Tennessee – Tyler Braden – Seventeen
The best country song in the grand final. Very relatable and it’s rounded off with a nice guitar solo.
02 Oklahoma – AleXa – Wonderland
K-Pop at the ASC? Don’t say why, say why not. Qualifying from the first heat, Alexa made the biggest impact from the start with her catchy song and superb presentation. Others have caught up, and the initial “wow” factor has worn off a little. Compensating for that is the song and overall package is still excellent, and she’ll stand out in this final.
01 Alabama – Ni/Co – The Difference
This female and male duo were adorable and endearing from the start, and their passionate and engaging performances have won many fans. Ignore that the song is formulaic and even cliche; just appreciate the delivery and the magic.
The fact that several advanced with a direct jury pick, it’s not known whether that correlates with the public’s view. For example, Colorado finished last with the jury in the semi finals yet the public pushed them through. The opposite might just happen with the likes of Washington and Tennessee, that the public might not be interested. With country music so huge in America, I actually can’t see the likes of Tennessee or North Dakota flopping. Given this will be decided by the public, and potentially there will be a whole bunch of new viewers tuning into the grand final, and looking at how the contrasting styles will emerge, then it will be a wonderland for Oklahoma, with Tennessee second and Alabama third. North Dakota and Washington in the mix too. Except for Connecticut and Kentucky, it’s difficult to dismiss any.