10 things you need to know about 'The Four' on Fox
Move over, ‘American Idol’ and ‘The Voice,’ and make room for Diddy, DJ Khaled, Meghan Trainor and their new singing competition where every episode is like a finale.
TV singing competitions have been a reality TV staple since Kelly Clarkson became the first “American Idol” in 2002, giving rise to “The Voice,” “X Factor” and others promising a fast and flashy route to music stardom. The latest entry in the popular genre is “The Four: Battle For Stardom,” which kicked off its six-week run on Fox on Jan. 4.
With an esteemed panel of music biz heavyweights at the judges’ table – artists Sean “Diddy” Combs, DJ Khaled, Meghan Trainor and music exec Charlie Walk – and Fergie as host, “The Four” got off to an exciting start. By the end of the two-hour premiere, two of the six challengers, armed with the four "yeses" they needed to battle, had replaced half the original contestants. Talk about musical chairs!
It’s an intriguing twist on the familiar format, but the game play isn’t the only new element, as the cast and producers revealed at a press conference for the show.
Nobody’s safe for long
“Somebody new is always coming around the corner, which makes it really different,” explained executive producer David Eilenberg. “There's new contestants each episode who want to come in and take one of these seats." Added Diddy: “The other shows don't really have that personal, combative nature. We are the fresh, new kids on the block, and we are coming with a rambunctious, captivating, entertaining energy.”
There’s no waiting through weeks of auditions to see fierce competition
“It’s like ‘Game of Thrones,’” Diddy joked. “You get to challenge and you want to chop somebody’s head off to get their seat. It has that vibe.”
It’s based on an Israeli show 'The Final Four'
“We spent a lot of time on this to make sure that it would work here but it stays pretty true to the format they created,” said showrunner David Friedman. “It has all the same things: the competitive nature of the show, and trying to find a unique artist.” Israeli creator Avi Armoza remains involved in the U.S. production.
Viewers don’t get to vote – until the end
The studio audience picks the winners of each battle for the first five weeks, but when it comes down to the final four, it’s up to the audience at home. Meanwhile, viewers can weigh in on their favorites through social media, and help influence the judges.
All music genres are welcome
“We cast a wide net. But we’re really excited to be a voice for hip-hop and R&B. We have two of the biggest names in hip-hop, we’re on the network of ‘Empire,’ so it would be a dereliction of duty to ignore that part of the music universe,” said Friedman, though “If someone from Nashville shows up and blows us away we couldn’t be happier.”
Challengers who come in later in the competition don’t necessarily have an advantage
“If you get a seat late in the game, you don’t have to defend it as many times but you don’t get as much stage time and time in front of the panel and the American public,” said Eilenberg. “I think those two things balance each other out.”
The judges were friends long before 'The Four'
“Diddy called me to be on the show. We all talked to each other about it,” revealed Republic Records Group president Charlie Walk. “We all respect each other. So what you immediately get on the stage is something you haven't seen before.”
Meghan Trainor can empathize with the young contestants
“I was [like] them four years ago, in front of Epic Records auditioning on my ukulele for my record deal. I was awful,” she said. “But they just loved the song so much, and that's what worked. I had ‘All About That Bass’ for nine months and played it for many A&Rs. No one wanted it, and then one person heard it and turned it into a global huge song, and then my life changed forever.”
DJ Khaled brings his cred as a platinum recording artist, producer, DJ and A&R rep who has worked with Beyoncé, Rihanna, Drake, John Legend, Alicia Keys and fellow judges Trainor and Combs to the table. “I want to inspire people, motivate people and help them change their life, but I also want to keep it honest and push them to be greater,” he said.
Eight-time Grammy winner Fergie brings hosting experience to 'The Four'
“I love to host a good party,” she said, noting that she hosted “Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve” with Ryan Seacrest for 11 years. “I’m like the ringleader, in the middle of this arena, and it’s almost like ‘The Hunger Games’ a little bit,” she says. “It’s super fun for me.” David Friedman sang her praises: “There are a lot of hosts out there who can be a traffic cop and get you through the format beats, but she’s a person who can actually relate to what they are going through, having experienced it.”
The winner gets a record deal with Republic Records, the airplay support of iHeartRadio, and ongoing mentorship from the judges
“If you don't have the right team behind you, It's really hard to break as an artist,” explained Friedman. “They win the support of this team, which is just a huge benefit. They know what it's going to take to get that artist out there.”
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