Eurovision fans on the North American side of the Atlantic have patiently waited for their very own version of the contest. And now the time has finally arrived, with the American Song Contest set to debut its week one qualifier round on Monday 21 March.
News about a US version of Eurovision was first presented by producers Christer Björkman and Ola Melzig announced during a press conference in Tel Aviv, Israel, in 2019. Three years later and the American Song Contest is now set to air on NBC at 20:00 EDT (01:00 CET).
The American broadcaster revealed the full line up of 56 competing artists at the start of March. During the contest’s debut show, 11 of them will compete to win some state/territory pride and advance to the next round.
These 11 competitors offer a variety in music genre, style, and experience. So lets get to know them a bit more.
?? NBC has released song previews for the 11 acts in Week 1 of the #AmericanSongContest.— wiwibloggs (@wiwibloggs) March 18, 2022
? Which preview excites you the most so far?
American Song Contest: Week One Acts
Arkansas — Kelsey Lamb
Born and bred in Little Rock, Arkansas, singer-songwriter Kelsey Lamb has been performing since the age of ten. Since moving to Nashville, Tennessee, to pursue her dream of making it in country music, she has attracted attention due to her poignant lyrics, enchanting melodies, and southern charm. With a voice influenced by country artists such as Alison Krauss, Miranda Lambert, Carrie Underwood, Thomas Rhett, and Tim McGraw, Kelsey has been called a “star in the making”.
Despite the obvious challenges 2020 and 2021 presented due to COVID, Kelsey has released a succession of successful singles, including “Talk to Me,” “Where Do You Go,” “Little By Little” (which has been streamed over one million times), and “They Never Loved You,” a duet with now-husband and fellow artist Taylor Goyette.
Beyond her music, Lamb has also found success on the small screen — she’s appeared in multiple movies, including Hallmark’s Christmas in Homestead and Traces, and UPtv’s A Very Country Christmas. In the latter, she acted alongside country star Deanna Carter (the film also featured several songs from her debut holiday EP Christmas with Kelsey).
You can follow Kelsey here:
- TikTok: @kelseylambmusic
- Youtube: Kelsey Lamb
- Facebook: kelseylambmusic
- Twitter: @kelsey_lamb
- Instagram: @kelseylambmusic
- Website: www.kelseylamb.com
Connecticut — Michael Bolton
Michael Bolotin, known professionally as Michael Bolton, is a singer-songwriter born in New Haven, Connecticut. He originally performed in the hard rock and heavy metal genres from the mid-1970s to the mid-1980s, both on his early solo albums and those he recorded as the frontman of the band Blackjack. He became better known in the late 1980’s and 1990’s, as his gritty voice and heart-filled songs won him legions of devoted fans.
With six consecutive multi-platinum albums (two of which reached #1 on the Billboard 200) and nine #1 hit singles on the Billboard Adult Contemporary chart (producing such classics as “How Am I Supposed to Live Without You” and “When a Man Loves a Woman”, which both climbed to #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart), Bolton has sold more than 75 million records worldwide. He has also won six American Music Awards and two Grammy Awards.
However, in recent years he has become more known for his charity work, as his self-titled Michael Bolton Charities assist women and children at risk from the effects of poverty, as well as all forms of abuse. With no new music releases since 2019, ASC could connect him to a whole new generation of fans.
You can follow Michael here:
- TikTok: @themichaelbolton
- Instagram: @michaelboltonpics
- Youtube: Michael Bolton
Indiana — UG skywalkin
Josh Kimbowa, who performs under the professional name UG skywalkin, is a hip-hop artist with a world-wide following who is known for his charismatic persona and electrifying performance quality. His music includes influences from pop, Afropop, R&B and other genres.
Originally from Uganda, Kimbowa’s family came to the United States when Kimbowa was 8 years old, ultimately settling in Greenwood, Indiana, after his father received a liver transplant. Josh became a standout athlete at Center Grove High School, fielding football scholarship offers from colleges throughout the Midwest. He eventually received a scholarship to the University of Indianapolis but left after a few years in to pursue music.
Over the past decade, he’s put out dozens of videos on YouTube — some as a solo artist, and others as part of various collaborations.
You can follow UG skywalkin here:
- TikTok: @ug_skywalkin
- Twitter: @Ug_skywalkin
- Instagram: @ugskywalkin
- Youtube: SKYWALKIN SMG
Iowa — Alisabeth Von Presley
Born in the small town of Marion, Iowa, (and now calling Cedar Rapids home) Alisabeth’s musical career began when she won the blue ribbon in a local talent show at nine years old. More than a decade later, Alisabeth would be wowing judges in another talent show, drawing the attention of Randy Jackson, Nicki Minaj, Mariah Carey and Keith Urban on Season 12 of American Idol in 2013, which saw her advance to the Hollywood Round.
A pop rock artist known for her flair for the theatrical, one musical critic wrote, “when Alisabeth sings, the neon rainbow melts into a swirling puddle.” She believes in promoting a “real women” body image, the power to help instil confidence in our youth through music, and the belief that your wildest dreams are achievable if you put in the work.
You can follow Alisabeth here:
- TikTok: @alisabethvonpresley
- Facebook: AlisabethMakesMusic
- Instagram: @alisabethvonpresley
- Youtube: Alisabeth Von Presley
- Website: www.alisabethvonpresley.com
Minnesota — Yam Haus
Yam Haus invites everyone to embrace their neon-hued, dancefloor-tailored alternative pop. The Minneapolis quartet’s friendship dates back to high school in the suburbs of Minneapolis. Lars Pruitt [lead vocals], Jake Felstow [drums], Zach Beinlich [bass], and Seth Blum [guitar] fuse together intimate songcraft with stadium-size ambition.
During 2017, Lars wrote a handful of songs and started to record them. So, he reached out to his old buddies. Impressed by what they heard, the guys quit their respective day jobs – Jake departed a healthcare company, Zach decided to forego a master’s program, Seth bailed from his pre-med studies, and Lars left a music gig at a church.
After independently amassing nearly 15 million total views and streams, playing to sold out crowds at legendary venues such as First Avenue (the most hallowed venue in Minneapolis), and building a fervent fanbase, they have graced bills with the likes of Kacey Musgraves, Tori Kelly, Adam Lambert, Bishop Briggs, and Andy Grammar. Their single “The Thrill” has gathered 948,000 Spotify streams and paved the way for The Band Is Gonna Make It EP in 2020.
You can follow Yam Haus here:
- TikTok: @yamhaus
- Instagram: @yamhaus
- Facebook: yamhaus
- Twitter: @yamhaus
- Youtube: Yam Haus
- Website: www.yamhaus.com
Mississippi — Keyone Starr
31-year-old Keyone Starr (pronounced “KEE-YAW-NAY”) originally hails from Jackson, Mississippi, and will be flying the flag for her home state (though she now lives in Duluth, Georgia). Inspired by the Mississippi blues, she is said to perform soul music like a “rock star”.
Keyone is a Grammy-nominated singer, songwriter, and producer. She was prominently featured as the female lead vocalist on English mega-producer Mark Ronson’s song “I Can’t Lose”, from his 2015 album Uptown Special (for which they both earned a Grammy nomination, though they lost out to Taylor Swift’s 1989).
You can follow Keyone here:
- TikTok: @keyonestarr
- Instagram: @keyonestarr
- Facebook: Keyone Starr
Oklahoma — AleXa
The daughter of a Korean adoptee, AleXa (also known to fans as Alex Christine) was born and raised in Tulsa, Oklahoma. A lover of dance her whole life, AleXa competed in Season 2 of Rising Legends (a popular Korean talent show) in 2016, where nearly one million fan votes determined her the winner.
Shortly after being signed to ZB Label, she beat out thousands of contestant hopefuls and was one of the 96 chosen to participate in Mnet’s PRODUCE 48, the most competitive audition show in Korea.
In 2019, AleXa made her multilingual K-pop debut with “Bomb,” which hit #7 on Billboard’s World Digital Song Sales chart and launched her into an award-winning international career at just 22 years old. AleXa will be looking to the ever-growing K-pop fanbase in the US to help carry her to success.
You can follow AleXa here:
- TikTok: @alexa_zbofficial
- Instagram: @alexa_zbofficial
- Twitter: @AleXa_ZB
- Youtube: AleXa
Puerto Rico — Christian Pagán
32-year-old Christian Pagán was born in Yabucoa, and now lives in Humacao, both towns in eastern Puerto Rico. Interested in music from an early age, he began his career as a member of the rock band Ultima Ciudad. He then launched his solo career on Idol Puerto Rico, winning the first season in 2012.
Christian’s first solo album, entitled De Miles a Uno, peaked at #1 on the Billboard Latin Charts. After a second successful album, Christian branched out and made his acting debut, playing Cristian León in the Telemundo telenovela Guerra de Idolos in 2017. Christian’s songs pay tribute to the music he heard on the streets growing up.
You can follow Christian here:
- TikTok: @christianpagantiktok
- Twitter: @Christian_Pagan
- Facebook: christianpaganmusica
- Instagram: @christian_pagan/
- YouTube: Christian Pagán
Rhode Island — Hueston
Cory Hueston is an artist, songwriter, and producer originally from North Kingstown, Rhode Island. Although currently based in Lake Worth, Florida, he’ll be representing his home state proudly in this competition. Previously the frontman of the indie/alternative duo The Blancos, Cory has since shifted his sights to his very first solo project, rebranding himself as Hueston.
With a voice that has been called “mysterious” and “gritty”, he has been described as “a soul tested and strained in an orchestration of raw individualism mixed with emotional storytelling” with a voice of a “mystic Viking”. His new sound is said to reflect the hard-working people of his hometown.
You can follow Hueston here:
- TikTok: @iamhueston
- Instagram: @iamhueston
- Facebook: @iamhueston
- Website: iamhueston.com
- YouTube: HUESTON
Wisconsin — Jake’O
Jake’O grew up in Loreto Ridge, Wisconsin, and now lives in the town of Plain. He calls himself the originator of the “Nuvo-Retro” sound, which combines vintage vibes, modern motifs, and futuristic flair by fusing Rock ’n’ Roll, Blues, Rockabilly and R&B.
He finds inspiration in the land, sky, and eccentric personalities of the people that make Wisconsin home. The electric performer is said to have an “unmistakable” reverb drenched guitar tone and “signature” baby blue brand that has helped build his following in the Midwest.
You can follow Jake’O here:
- TikTok: @jakeomusic
- Instagram: @jakeomusic
- Facebook: jakeOmusic
- Website: www.jakeomusic.com/
- Youtube: Jake’O
Wyoming — Ryan Charles
Western rapper Ryan Charles originally comes from Buffalo, Wyoming, which was once termed “the most lawless town in America” (The wild Johnson County War — a dispute over land, livestock, and water rights — unfolded at the town’s feet from 1889 to 1893).
Ryan combines the cowboy lifestyle with ’00s rap rhythms and attempts to bring an inventive style and light-hearted twang to his high-energy performances.
You can follow Ryan here:
- TikTok: @ryancharlesmusic
- Instagram: @jiggybuckaroo
- Facebook: westernertinktonk
- Youtube: Ryan Charles
Which artists are you most excited to see perform at the American Song Contest? Who do you think will qualify? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!
why no metal?
Cassie Opeia from Melfest this year wrote Alexa’s song for Oklahoma
We’ve got: K-pop (AleXa) Elvis Presley style rock ‘n roll music (Jake ‘O) Indie pop/alternative pop (Yam Haus) 2x Hiphop/rap (Ryan Charles, UG Skywalkin) Country ballad (Kelsey Lamb) 2x (Indie) pop ballad (Michael Bolton, Cory Hueston) Pop rock (Alisabeth von Presley) Soul rock (Keyone Starr) Dance Latino pop (Christian Pagan) And people are complaining it isn’t diverse enough? This seems quite diverse so far. I hear your thinking: “But, there is a lot of pop, so it isn’t diverse.” If pop makes a contest not diverse, then Eurovision isn’t diverse either, because modern Eurovision usually has lots of subgenres within… Read more »
Well, you are not wrong about Eurovision. The truth is that ESC isn’t as diverse as it could be yet, exactly because of the reason you mentioned. Fourtunately, in the past few years, and especially in the past two ones, it seems to show a huge progress in terms of diversity and personally I can’t be more happy about it! Still, we should never stop aiming for better and continue advocating for even more diversity, because, just as you said, pop still forms the majority of the line up on Eurovision, while, as this NF season has showed once again,… Read more »
So why exactly should one of these entries perform at the final of ESC? Since we let Australia participate, Americans also really want a slice of this cake. so annoying. In May USA will only steal a spot from an European country that should be in the final instead
They shouldn’t, and there are no plans for that to happen. At least not public plans.
So, don’t watch then. Simple as that.
The ASC winner will be decided a week before Eurovision finals. So I don’t think they will have time to come and compete.
Don’t worry the sanctity of Eurovision will still be preserved. For now lol.
PREDICTED QUALIFIERS: JURY picks CONNETICUT (I dont likeit but the juries willl go for it just because of michael bolton). the 3 other states advancing are OKLAHOMA, PUERTO RICO, and RHODE ISLAND.
MY QUALIFIERS: MINNESOTA, OKLAHOMA, PUERTO RICO, and WISCONSIN.
I’m actually starting to really like the American Song Contest. Some people are complaining that it’s not as diverse as Eurovision, but I think that is quite refreshing. This whole contest wouldn’t be a lot of fun if it was just Eurovision 2.0. Anyways, “Wonderland” is my favourite in this heat and I like quite some of the other songs aswell.
It’s so different to the Eurovision contest… so what exactly did NBC pay money to the EBU for? They don’t own song contests.
They did use clips from 2021 ESC during promos, so possibly they had to pay for those.
That’s the thing with adapting formats, you have to make sure it fits with the TV norms of the country you’re localizing a format in. Making an exact replica doesn’t exactly work if you’re expecting the same kind of reaction as you would with an audience that have been familiar with Eurovision for several generations.
ESC itself wasn’t the three-night megasized event that it is now when it firs began 6 decades ago.
From the previews, I don’t really see any strong hit. This sounds like a combination of Bjorkan’s Melodifestivalen and US mainstream pop (even in songs which aren’t really pop). Unlike in Eurovision, there doesn’t seem to be any willingness to go outside the comfort zone, which may destroy the show’s potential. Not surprising, but said as this was a once in a lifetime opportunity. Stating also feels a bit cheap and bland.
But we haven’t seen the entire show and entire performances so I stand to be corrected.
It’s only Heat 1.
I know. Does that change my point? If anything, I would assume they would want Heat 1 to be the strongest as they’re launching a new show.
I don’t believe it is happening. Don’t judge me but I will give it a try.
Also, I wish there were more states in the final. Only 10? Come on.
I think the show would need to last seven hours if there were 25 songs. Ads.
But a lot worse
3 quick questions
1. How many acts qualify
2 How many quarter finals are there?
3 When will Europeans be able to watch it ? I mean we are around 8 hours ahead
A total of 5 heats (quarter finals) and 4 acts qualify from each heat (quarter final). I believe the selection process is 3 chosen by public voting and the 4th is chosen by jury (56 total jurors, one from each territory/state). There will then be two acts chosen by the jury and called “redemption acts” so the total number of acts that qualify into the semi-final will be 22. There will then be two semi-finals, 11 acts each semi-final. The selection process is the same as the quarter finals where 3 are chosen by the public and 1 by the… Read more »
Some countries are showing it, possibly in tape delay. Like they always say, check your local listings.
I’m excited to see the results of this semi as ultimately it will decide the future projection of the show and the general age of the viewers.
The K-pop song is clearly the frontrunner. If it doesn’t qualify, it shows that the boomer demographic is the majority of viewers. That’s not a good look for the show. Fingers crossed the show launches with a solid start.
Everyone act like Alexa and Mr. Bolton is some world famous superstars. But tbh, these two are the only one I never heard of. I have heard about the 54 other artists.
“When a Man Loves a Woman”
“Go the Distance”
Kid, you’re showing your age. Ask your parents who Michael Bolton is.
I haven’t heard of AleXa before, but I have an open mind and will give her a chance.
And now for something completely different, Azerbaijan has finally released their song. It’s called Fade to Black. I hope an article gets posted soon on it.
Huge NQ vibes
#YAMHAUS – these boys are gonna make it!
So it turns out AleXa’s “Wonderland” is just another version of Emmy’s “Witch Woods”… I expected more, but I do like it though and it is the most Eurovision-like entry in this semi…
Nothing really interesting so far. I really don’t care about radio-pop in a contest like this. So boring.
Well, I’m sure you can find something to do and we will call that boring, okay? Don’t be mean.
Au contraire mon frère.
We can’t wait!
w e d o n t c a r e b y e ee eeeee
You cared enough to comment, so…
*Insert side eye emoji*
I don’t know what to think about this. I feel it’s weird somehow. I mean.. it’s the same country! It can absolutely not be compared to ESC. This is only a song contest to me. There are no different countries, langueges or cultures. That’s why this is less interesting. Björkman come back to Sweden!
Have you even looked at the artists or the songs revealed so far? If you can recall the Eurovision tagline ‘celebrate diversity’, this contest is doing exactly that for America. This heat alone has black, latino, and asian american music. With only 7/40 songs this year not being English or part English and very few of those showing off their traditional culture, it sounds like you’re just trying to be contrarian for the sake of it. America is a wide and diverse place and not just ‘American’ like a lot of people here want to believe as it’s all one… Read more »
Sorry? United States is one of the most diverse countries in the world.
This was a chance to show that. Have they?
And they have.
We have different cultures in all countries. Still, I believe it’s America against America. Can’t be compared to Europe.
How many are gonna qualify to the finale?
4 I think and there’s a second chance also. The format is more similar to Melodifestivalen than ESC imo.
In this round 3 acts will qualify by voting and 1 by jury alone. The jury then also picks 2 for the second chance round. Semi 1 and semi 2 will both have 50/50 and 5 acts will qualify, so the big finale will have 10 acts total.
I’m really excited for this even though I can’t watch it (where’s Peacock in the Philippines when you need them? But that’s besides the point). Aside as serving as an interval for Eurovision, we’re getting more music and a new music tradition. I hope this goes successfully and grows more into having it’s own identity, although I do think they need to introduce a person on stage limit rule soon. That being said, here’s my favorites (and prediction) for tonight: (Favorites) 1. Oklahoma (I’m literally obsessed with this song) 2. Puerto Rico 3. Minnesota 4. Arkansas (Prediction) 1. Oklahoma 2.… Read more »
Kaya naghahanap ako ng pagpipiratahang stream para makanood nito. Hehe
You can watch it on nbc I think
Obsessed with Wonderland by Alexa
Several broadcasters in Europe have picked it up for airing. As far as I know: SVT, ERT and SUV got the rights to air it. 🙂
RTVE in Spain too.
Does that include SVT Play by any chance?
*Erratum: I meant to write RUV (Iceland).
My favorites from the rehearsal snippets right now are Wyoming and Oklahoma. But I’m quite skeptical of the fact that there are more than six people on stage. It kinda looks messy because of that. I don’t know what to expect from this week. I don’t know if I’ll be able to watch it in the first place ( I’m so used to the Eurovision/NF timings that it’s kinda confusing for me, 20:00 EST is 5:30 am tomorrow here 🙁 )
Ugh, I just forgot, don’t I need a VPN to watch? Guess I can’t watch it 🙁
I think you can through nbc website
Nope it’s geoblocked
Never mind it’s on YouTube I’m saved :))
So far my only standout is AleXa but I want to hear them fully and properly. When are the actual live shows?
First one starts today around 4pm Eastern US time/midnight CET. The following qualifying rounds are the next 4 weeks with semis and final during the 6th week of the contest
What’s that in European time I can’t do the math 🙁
Super excited. ASC will surprise the skeptical Europeans.
A question, who qualified?
No one has. It hasn’t started yet. Tomorrow is the first day. There will be 5 weeks (5 rounds).
Get to know the singer representing your state the night before they perform just seems weird to me. I hope if this returns next year they think of a better way to get each state more excited for their entry, although i understand its harder to do this with 50+ acts.
The more details are revealed, the more I start to think the states are just an excuse to have lots of entries in the contest… I’m sure they won’t restrict people from the same state to vote for their own too lol.
I feel like the self-voting block is the most fundamental part of voting. I mean I like a lot of entries because it shows what eurovision could be on such a scale and whether that would work or not (we’ll find out in due time), but it also exposes people to new music, some of which people might like. I think until it’s finished, we can’t complain about it.
“The viewer votes will be weighted, with each state and territory be worth 12 points much like in Eurovision, thus giving all regions equal voting power while preventing populous states like California and Texas from dominating the voting process” from Wikipedia. They’ll probably use some sort of area codes from phones
When you sign up to vote in their system, they ask for zip codes. Probably based on those, they can tell who to block from voting for each state.
It’s already confirmed you can’t vote for your own state.
Besides my own opinion on the ASC (which is unfavorable), what a mess those flags from the US states are!
Then you got lucky with Mississippi having just had their state flag changed less than two years ago.
Wow, hatred of our flags?! Take your hate elsewhere!
So Michael Bolton thinks he doesn’t need any rehearsals to get through the qualifying round huh? Interesting…
Do we know if he didn’t rehearse or just didn’t want the clip posted due to technical issues or something? I mean to be fair his name will probably get him through the first round but we’ll wait and see how far he goes in the live shows.
Yes, I know, the flags of the American states are a headache contrast to the European/Israeli/Australian flags XD.
All jokes aside, judging from the artist selection and the performance snippets (which have much more than 6 people onstage), this is surprisingly promising, even if it will never reach ESC level. Looking forward to seeing the ASC’s debut tomorrow!
How did they manage to have Michael Bolton and AleXa this is huge I-
lots and lots of money.
Michael Bolton had 18 Billboard Hot 100 Top 40 hits and even 23 singles charted on Billboard Hot 100.
He debuted his single Your Love in 1975 and his first entry on Billboard Hot 100 was 1983’s Fools’ Game.
Michael Bolton discography – Wikipedia
He also co-wrote “I Found Someone”, which was originally recorded by Laura Branigan (who also recorded the original version of “How Am I Supposed to Live Without You”, also co-written by Bolton), but Cher’s version of it (released in 1987 and whose music video also featured her then-boyfriend Rob Camilletti) was the bigger hit. (And he recorded his own version of it as well.)