Thursday, October 25, 2007

Digicel 'mashing up' Rising Stars

Is it me or has Digicel's Rising Stars competition in the Eastern Caribbean lost much of the hype and excitement it had in the first season? To be fair I know the novelty of any competition will eventually wear off, but I still feel Digicel has done itself harm by tinkering with its season one format.

Back in season one, Digicel had an unbeatable formula for its show: an engaging host, a spirited panel of judges and several contestants with enough talent and attitude to make choosing a winner difficult. Many persons watched just to see what Kimberley Inniss was going to wear/sing next, who judge Anthony "Admiral" Nelson was going to rub the wrong way (on any given night it might have been the host, a fellow judge or a contestant) or if cowboy Shervonne from St. Lucia could sing anything other than country and westerns.

The other judges, Terencia "TC" Coward of Barbados and "Gruvemaster" of St. Vincent were always honest and direct, (although Gruvemaster obviously lived by the credo that if you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all), and while normally I hardly ever agree with anything Admiral has to say, he was right about the contestants most of the time. In all, the three judges brought a balanced perspective to the show.

Imagine my surprise when in season two Digicel not only changed hosts but replaced the judging panel as well! The lively host Lisa Ashby was replaced with CBC staffer Belle Holder, and maybe that was part of the problem. Belle was already the host of CBC's Morning Barbados show, plus she appeared in various features and promos on local television, making her over-exposed. The poor girl tries her best, but to me her 'bubbliness' seems forced. When I spend more time trying to figure out what she's wearing than listening to what she's saying, that's a bad sign.

The three new judges were Antigua’s Algernon "Serpent" Watts, Vynette "Vinnie V" Frederick from St Vincent and the Grenadines and Barbados’ Wayne "Kool" Simmons, or, as I call them, "however", "mash it up" and Guy Smiley. Serpent's trademark word he uses to preface every comment is 'however', and when Vinnie V gets excited over a contestant's performance she exclaims that they "mashed it up". Guy Smiley is self-explanatory. Although Vinnie V has enough personality for the entire group, the new judges lack the collective chemistry of the season one judges.

What saved season two in my opinion was the performance of crowd favourite and eventual winner Kyron Baptiste (left) of St. Vincent, and his rival Omar Mathurin of Antigua. Their song selections were spot on and they made those songs theirs while they were on stage. Even now people must think Kyron originally sang Peter Ram's Woman by my Side.

So here we are in the final leg of season three and frankly, I'm bored with the competition. I can tell from now who's the clear winner based on talent and I'll probably continue to watch it just to see if I was right. I realise they've brought in actor Samud Ali to spice up the show a bit, we'll see how that goes.

Another thing that bothers me about the show is, what becomes of the winners? I'm not expecting the 2005 winner Kiokya Cruickshank (top) or last year's winner Kyron to blow up like Kelly Clarkson or Ruben Studdard did after American Idol, but I haven't heard one song from them on the airwaves.

Anyhoo, the grand finale is Sunday, November 11 and the winner will walk away with US$10,000 and a recording contract with CRS Music. Si dieu veux I'll be watching...unless I have something better to do.

Photo: Kiokya Cruickshank, first winner of Digicel's Rising Stars in the Eastern Caribbean -
Photo: Kyron Baptiste -

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