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Why American Song Contest Was A 'Surreal' Experience For The Voice Champion And Jury Vote Winner Jordan Smith

American Song Contest delivered some unforgettable performances in its first week – ranging from AleXa's K-pop number to Ryan Charles' "New Boot Goofin'" – and the second week certainly didn't pale in comparison. In fact, it featured a contestant who has already won big on a music competition show, with former The Voice champion Jordan Smith representing Kentucky on the new NBC show. He spoke with CinemaBlend and other outlets after performing "Sparrow," and explained that it was a "surreal" experience even for him. 

Jordan Smith is the only performer from Week 2 of American Song Contest who doesn't have to be nervous about elimination in Week 3, as he was the jury vote winner who will be advanced directly to the next stage of competition without his fate lying in the hands of viewers and their votes from home. Coming off of his performance and bringing his experience from The Voice Season 9, Smith shared how it felt to perform on the ASC stage: 

Well, obviously, you know, it's this huge stage. The lights are going crazy. You have the heat of the pyro behind you. It's just this surreal sort of experience. The energy in the room all night was just electric. Everyone's so excited to be there. All the artists are. It's less of like, 'Oh yeah, we're excited, this is fun, we get this really cool opportunity to show off or to make this thing about us.' But it's more of everyone feels honored to be here. It feels like a privilege to be here and represent our people. And it's so diverse, from the genres to the places people are from, to their backgrounds. It's just incredible to see all of the different places represented. It just blows my mind.

Jordan Smith's ASC performance started out with pretty minimal staging and not much on the glitz and glamor, at least compared to some of the others on the night. When the intensity of the song amped up, however, so did everything else on stage. Lights started flashing, sparks were flying, and he was joined on stage by a choir for some supporting vocals. It was impressive to watch from home, and clearly an incredible experience for Smith. 

That's saying a lot considering that he – like American Song Contest co-host Kelly Clarkson of American Idol fame – came into the new NBC show already with experience on a big stage in front of a crowd as well as millions of people watching from home. He continued: 

And so I think everyone understands that this is a celebration of that. It's a celebration of the diversity of our country and how incredible it is. It's just an incredible atmosphere to be there in person and experience it. I know the audience had to have had a great time. I had a great time. I was dancing, I was crying, I was laughing. Like, it was the best time. I'm looking forward, though, to seeing the video of the performance and how it translated at home because the camera work and the angles and the way that they do it is just absolutely incredible. So I'm excited to see that too.

Jordan Smith spoke with outlets from the ASC red carpet after the episode ended, before he even had the chance to watch his performance back and see just what had earned him enough votes from the jury to guarantee him a spot beyond the live qualifiers without having to wait for viewer votes to be tallied. He's also not the only Voice veteran who was on stage for American Song Contest Week 2, as Kelly Clarkson is one of the show's coaches. 

Smith won Season 9 under the mentorship of Adam Levine (who has since left The Voice) before Clarkson arrived, but it was still fun to see them on ASC together. In fact, Clarkson's co-host Snoop Dogg – who had a touching gesture for singer Jocelyn from Nebraska after her song – also participated on The Voice as the Mega Mentor of Season 20. The Season 9 champion shared how his preparation for The Voice compared to his preparation for American Song Contest:

The preparation process for this looked a little bit different because I performed an original song tonight. Whereas in The Voice, I'd be doing a cover song. So that process, you know, this is a song I wrote myself. I took it into the studio, we tracked vocals many different times to get them exactly right. I worked with different producers and songwriters to sort of bring the song to life and get it ready for the epic performance that happened tonight. So that process was definitely different. It was a lot of work and collaborative effort between myself and the music department here on the show, and other creatives as well that I think ended up sort of marrying beautifully and creating the song 'Sparrow,' which I love so much and I'm so proud of.

All the songs on ASC are originals brought to the stage by established artists, as opposed to covers performed by relative amateurs, so the show so far stands unique among other music competition shows on TV in the United States. (American Song Contest is based on Europe's Eurovision.) In case you missed Jordan Smith singing "Sparrow," take a look now!

Voting has closed for the crop of singers from Week 2, and only Jordan Smith from that group is confirmed to advance to the next round of competition. See which other three performers make the cut with the next new episode on Monday, April 4 at 8 p.m. ET on NBC. Voting takes place not only on the show's website and NBC app, but also via TikTok, so there's an element of social media to this competition on top of everything else.

For more viewing options on the small screen now and in the coming weeks, be sure to check out our 2022 TV schedule. If you missed any of American Song Contest so far, you can find the first two episodes streaming with a Peacock subscription.

Laura Hurley
Laura Hurley

Resident of One Chicago, Bachelor Nation, and Cleveland. Has opinions about crossovers, Star Wars, and superheroes. Will not time travel.