The American Song Contest

The American Song Contest

American Song Contest
Genre Music competition
Created by European Broadcasting Union
Based on Eurovision Song Contest
Country of origin United States
Original language English
Production
Executive producer Ben Silverman
Producers Christer Björkman, Anders Lenhoff, Ola Melzig and Peter Settman
Production locations TBD, United States
Running time TBD
Production companies
  • Propagate Content
  • Universal Television Alternative Studio
Release
Original network NBC
Chronology
Related shows Eurovision Song Contest
External links
Website

The American Song Contest is an upcoming United States adaptation of the Eurovision Song Contest which will see all fifty U.S. states, five territories and Washington, D.C. compete for the title of Best Original Song. Christer Björkman, Anders Lenhoff, Ola Melzig and Peter Settman will serve as producers with Ben Silverman as executive producer. The contest is tentatively scheduled for a mid-season or summer premiere in 2022 on NBC.

Origin. The Eurovision Song Contest is an international song competition organized annually by the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) since 1956, which features participants representing primarily European countries. It ranks among the world’s most-watched non-sporting events every year, with hundreds of millions of viewers globally.

The earliest known telecast of Eurovision in the continental United States was in 1971. Two years earlier, the contest was telecast in Puerto Rico for the first time. The contest was broadcast in both countries in 2003 and 2004.

American cable network Logo TV broadcast the finals from 2016 to 2018, featuring commentary from Carson Kressley and Michelle Collins (2016); Michelle Visage and Ross Mathews (2017); and Mathews and Shangela (2018). Viewing figures were low, ranging from 52,000 viewers in 2016 to 74,000 viewers in 2018. WJFD-FM, a commercial radio station in New Bedford, Massachusetts, broadcast the 2018 and 2019 finals with English and Portuguese commentary.

Netflix licensed the video-on-demand rights for the 2019 and 2020 contests. The OTT platform planned to release the musical comedy film Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga together with the 2020 contest. However, because of the contest’s cancellation due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the film was released a month later, on June 26th. The film became the most-streamed content on Netflix in the United States on its first weekend. The Story of Fire Saga also introduced viewers to Eurovision’s format and its popularity in Europe. A song from the film, Husavik (My Hometown), was nominated for Best Original Song at the 93rd Academy Awards.

There were plans to develop a U.S. version of Eurovision as early as 2006, with Ben Silverman (then-chairman of production company Reveille) developing the contest for NBC to challenge American Idol. Silverman (currently co-CEO and chairman of production company Propagate) admitted in 2020 that he had been trying to pursue this project for 20 years, including when he was chairman of NBC.

Production. Christer Björkman and Ola Melzig, known for their roles as producers of past Eurovision competitions, announced during a press conference in Tel Aviv, Israel, in 2019 that they have acquired the rights from the EBU to produce an adaptation of the format for the United States market. Björkman and Melzig would serve as producers alongside Anders Lenhoff and Peter Settman.[18][19] In a separate press statement, Silverman hoped that focusing on the mutual love and respect for music would unite a fractional America.”

Settman revealed in an interview with Swedish publication Aftonbladet that “at least 10 big players” had shown interest in broadcasting the American Song Contest, including major television networks.

The European Broadcasting Union announced NBC had acquired the rights to broadcast the competition on May 14, 2021. NBC announced the American Song Contest would have a mid-season or summer premiere in 2022 after releasing their fall schedule for the upcoming 2021–22 network television season. Silverman will serve as executive producer for the program. Propagate Content and Universal Television Alternative Studio will serve as the production companies for the program.

Björkman stated during an interview in The Euro Trip podcast that Las Vegas, Tampa, and Orlando are being considered as the first host city.

An online submissions platform was launched in May 2021, allowing American artists 16 years and older to apply.

Format. Variety reported in 2020 that the competition would feature professional musical artists such as solo singers, duos, or groups of up to six members from each of the 50 U.S. states. The format will put artists head-to-head against other representatives in a series of qualifier competitions, leading to the semifinals and the primetime grand finals in “March Madness” style.

In an interview with the Czech Republic’s Eurovision Head of Delegation Jan Bors, Melzig revealed that each state will determine how to select their representing artist and song for the competition. The program will consist of five “heats” of 10 states each competing for four spots that will advance to the next round. The 20 remaining states will compete in two semifinals, with five states in each semifinal qualifying for the Grand Finals. The 10 finalists will battle for the American Song Contest trophy.

The format has since been expanded to include all 50 states, five U.S. territories, and Washington, D.C., the national capital and a federal district of the United States. The participating territories are American Samoa, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Each representative will perform an original song in a live television program broadcast across the country. Acts can consist of solo artists, duos, bands or a DJ. The winning act will be determined through fan votes and “a jury of music industry professionals,” earning the title of Best Original Song.

Reception. The concept of producing an American version of Eurovision was met with lukewarm reactions. Andy Kryza of Time Out wrote that the American Song Contest’s biggest challenge is “the relative homogeneity of the American musical landscape,” that its pop stars need to be paired with colorful performers like drag queens, wrecking crews, clowns, gospel singers, and the like. Justin Kirkland of Esquire predicted that the contest will be “a colossal nightmare,” adding that Americans “lack the self-deprecation, campiness, and selfless energy to pull this off.”[31] Chris Murphy of Vulture.com pointed out that the television landscape in the United States is saturated with singing and talent competitions, adding that “no one’s gonna write a song as catchy as Husavik.”

In an interview with BBC Breakfast in 2020, Cheryl Baker (member of the winning act in the 1981 Eurovision) stated that the competition will not translate well in the United States, adding that the country “has got a long way to go to get the kitsch, the cheese, and the fun element” of the contest. Baker also suggested that the U.S. should bring a representative to Eurovision instead. William Lee Adams of Wiwibloggs countered that “state identity” (such as in collegiate sports) and the diversity of regional music in the U.S. will play a key role in the competition. Adams also dismissed the notion that Americans take themselves too seriously, referring to camp events such as Miss America.

When asked about the possibility of competing in the American Song Contest, Flo Rida said that it would be “a dream come true.” The Florida-based rapper performed “Adrenalina” alongside San Marino’s representative Senhit at the Eurovision Song Contest 2021.

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States. The table below lists the  50 states, the District of Columbia and the 5 major U.S. territories:

  •  Alabama (AL)
  •  Alaska (AK)
  •  Arizona (AZ)
  •  Arkansas (AR)
  •  California (CA)
  •  Colorado (CO)
  •  Connecticut (CT)
  •  Delaware (DE)
  •  Florida (FL)
  •  Georgia (GA)
  •  Hawaii (HI)
  •  Idaho (ID)
  •  Illinois (IL)
  •  Indiana (IN)
  •  Iowa (IA)
  •  Kansas (KS)
  •  Kentucky (KY)
  •  Louisiana (LA)
  •  Maine (ME)
  •  Maryland (MD)
  •  Massachusetts (MA)
  •  Michigan (MI)
  •  Minnesota (MN)
  •  Mississippi (MS)
  •  Missouri (MO)
  •  Montana (MT)
  •  Nebraska (NE)
  •  Nevada (NV)
  •  New Hampshire (NH)
  •  New Jersey (NJ)
  •  New Mexico (NM)
  •  New York (NY)
  •  North Carolina (NC)
  •  North Dakota (ND)
  •  Ohio (OH)
  •  Oklahoma (OK)
  •  Oregon (OR)
  •  Pennsylvania (PA)
  •  Rhode Island (RI)
  •  South Carolina (SC)
  •  South Dakota (SD)
  •  Tennessee (TN)
  •  Texas (TX)
  •  Utah (UT)
  •  Vermont (VT)
  •  Virginia (VA)
  •  Washington (WA)
  •  West Virginia (WV)
  •  Wisconsin (WI)
  •  Wyoming (WY)
  •  American Samoa (AS)
  •  Guam (GU)
  •  Northern Mariana Islands (MP)
  •  Puerto Rico (PR)
  •  U.S. Virgin Islands ()
  • Washington, D.C. ()