Spoilers ahead for Week 5 of American Song Contest.
The fifth week of American Song Contest marked the end of the Qualifiers round, with the final eleven artists representing the 56 states and territories of the United States taking the stage. Only four of those eleven will advance, and only one was guaranteed to continue to the next stage at the end of the April 18 episode thanks to the jury vote. ASC saved some of the best for last with the final Qualifiers episode, including famed "Thong Song" singer Sisqó. He and the rest of the performers weighed in on the advantages and disadvantages of performing in the last night of Qualifiers.
By the time of Week 5, no fewer than 45 singers or groups had already taken the stage, and eleven were left to try their best to reach the semi-finals. When the singers spoke with press on the virtual red carpet after their performances, I asked whether they'd watched the earlier episodes and how appearing in the last Qualifiers round affected (or didn't affect) them.
Sisqo - Maryland
Each week of ASC so far has boasted at least one artist who was already a big name in the music industry, ranging from Michael Bolton to Macy Gray to Jewel. Sisqó was the star set for Week 5, and his performance of his new song "It's Up" was quite literally fire, with flames shooting around him and the crowd on their feet. The singer – best known for the undeniably catchy "Thong Song" (which made an unexpected appearance in The CW's Legends of Tomorrow that could have ended in disaster) – weighed in on going last on the night:
Sisqó may have the advantage when it comes to decades of experience in the music industry, but American Song Contest has leveled the playing field with the jury vote and format. Whether or not he advances to the semi-finals still remains to be seen in the 2022 TV schedule, but he clearly enjoyed the experience. He went on, describing what it was like to go last on the last night of Qualifiers:
They certainly were moving, and Sisqó may be one of the acts to beat when it comes to moving forward. Still, nothing is guaranteed for the Week 5 performers other than jury vote winner Ada LeAnn, so it's up to voters now to determine who moves forward!
Tenelle - American Samoa
Tenelle came to American Song Contest to represent American Samoa. Although American Samoa certainly isn't the biggest territory included in ASC, her performance of "Full Circle" was larger than life and proved that she may be as much of a contender as the performers from Texas and California. She shared her own perspective on watching the earlier episodes and performing in the last Qualifiers episode:
She made a doozy of a first impression with her performance; whether or not it's her last impression on the NBC stage is up to voters at this point. The competition is stiff, and a lot depends on how viewers feel about her song.
Josh Panda - Vermont
Josh Panda came to American Song Contest from Vermont with teddy bears for hosts Kelly Clarkson and Snoop Dogg (with Snoop's wearing a teddy-sized version of his Super Bowl Halftime Show outfit) as well as an energetic performance of his "Rollercoaster" single. His experience of going from watching the first Qualifiers to performing in the last was truly unique, as he shared:
Dazzling the crowd definitely beats being "nasty with snot" on the couch, so it's no wonder that he's ready to take the ASC stage again already! Getting to see Snoop Dogg (who explained why he hates the rehearsals for the show) as a performer is an improvement over sitting still and sick.
Jason J. - Guam
Jason J. came to ASC with "Midnight," which combined the local island reggae of Guam with an alternative edge. He went for a slower song compares to the likes of Sisqó but certainly kept the energy going, and the crowd was loving it. His experience in the last Qualifiers episode was largely shaped by the other contestants:
There was certainly no other contestant in Week 5 with the same kind of sound as what Jason J. brought from Guam, so perhaps that will be enough to advance him to the semi-finals when the results are announced.
HALIE - Missouri
HALIE represented Missouri on American Song Contest, although she came in late in the process when the show needed a replacement for the Show-Me State. In fact, she shared that it was only about a month ago that she found out that she'd be part of the show, but her performance of "Better Things" was no less professional and polished than the others on the night. She shared:
HALIE's process of joining American Song Contest was fast, so it will be interesting to see if her journey lasts into the semi-finals and beyond after voters have their say.
John Morgan - North Carolina
John Morgan and his band brought the sound of North Carolina to American Song Contest, with less glitz and glamor than some of the others but packing plenty of power into their performance of "Right in the Middle." According to the singer, performing in the last episode of Qualifiers didn't affect their approach for one key reason:
There are more solo singers than groups or bands in American Song Contest, but being a "one trick pony" in this sense doesn't have to be a bad thing. John Morgan put up a solid showing for North Carolina.
Ada LeAnn - Michigan
17-year-old Ada LeAnn came to American Song Contest as the youngest competitor, and her jury win proved that her youth and relative inexperience don't mean that she's not a contender. She's guaranteed a slot in the semi-finals after impressing with "Natalie," and she had high praise for the show as a viewer:
Ada LeAnn is the one performer from Week 5 who doesn't have to worry that the ASC ride has come to an end with the Qualifiers performance, and viewers can look forward to seeing what she has in store next.
Justin Jesso - Illinois
Justin Jesso was the first performer of the night, and going first can involve a lot of pressure (although another artist who went first on ASC explained that there can be perks). His rendition of his "Lifeline" original song was a winner with the live audience; it remains to be seen whether or not voters from home agree. He shared his process of watching and preparing:
Justin Jesso probably won't be bungee-jumping onto the stage if he does advance, as even the American version of Eurovision has to have some limits! Still, the acts are likely only going to get bigger and wilder moving forward, with or without bungees.
Andrew Sheppard - Idaho
Andrew Sheppard came to American Song Contest to represent the great state of Idaho with a performance of "Steady Machine." He was third in the lineup on the final night of Qualifiers, so he was well before Sisqó and many of the other competitors. According to Sheppard, performing at the end of the Qualifiers round didn't affect him:
Andrew Sheppard praised the show for giving everybody "the same chance" on the stage, and considering that the results have already reflected a variety of genres – including K-pop with Oklahoma native AleXa – it truly feels like it's anybody's game at this point.
Khalisol - New Mexico
Khalisol truly represented the pop culture side of New Mexico with "Drop," which combined his vocals and stage presence with dancers dressed in alien costumes and all the flashing lights that UFO believers could want out of a song performance. He opened up about his Qualifiers experience:
There's no arguing that Khalisol brought plenty of energy to go along with the aliens. If he makes it to the next round, it's hard not to wonder what ASC could come up with to top the staging for "Drop" this time!
Sweet Taboo - California
Sweet Taboo represented Snoop Dogg's home state of California with "Keys to the Kingdom," which was such a hit that they were leaders among the jury for quite a bit of the two-hour broadcast. Citing groups like TLC and Destiny's Child as their inspirations, they seem like a likely pick to advance to the semi-finals. Singer Sami Ramos spoke for the group, saying:
Will Sweet Taboo make it to the semi-finals, or will it be one of the seven from the last round of Qualifiers who won't make the cut? Lend your support to your favorites of the ten whose fates are still uncertain by voting via NBC.com/ASCVote, the NBC app, and TikTok until voting closes at 7 a.m. ET on Wednesday, April 20. In case you want to revisit the performances before locking in your votes, the show is available streaming with a Peacock subscription as well.
Resident of One Chicago, Bachelor Nation, and Cleveland. Has opinions about crossovers, Star Wars, and superheroes. Will not time travel.
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