Over the years I have become more and more invested in Digicel Rising Stars. It is a really inspiring program as it reminds me of the amazing talent we have locally. However, it seems as if the program disappointingly has fallen into some sort of rut, slowly submerging deeper and deeper into a sinkhole of mediocrity.
After the calamity that was disco night, for the sixth live broadcasting of Rising Stars, the producers decided it wanted the night to be a night of redemption. Unfortunately, instead of redeeming itself the entire night was just filled with average entertainment.
Before the performances began, we had to say goodbye to Shanique. A beautiful contestant with a lovely voice to match. Unsurprisingly, it seems as if her depressingly dull renditions night after night has lulled all her voters to sleep resulting in her consequent elimination.
After the elimination, it was then time for the final judge's wild card: the intimidating judge, Anthony Miller. His chosen competitors were KiiShea and Robyn. Surprisingly, the wild card battle was the most exciting thing to happen that entire night. Singing “Jolene” by Dolly Parton. Even with KiiShea's beautiful harmonies and Robyn's passionate singing, I didn't particularly enjoy their battle. Throughout the performance it felt like they were all so desperate to get chosen that the spectacle became a bit loud and screechy. Moreover, the note the girls ended the song on was so disharmonious it felt as if someone was slowly twisting a rusty knife deeper and deeper into my ear.
Nevertheless, aside from the vocal issues, it was a fairly decent performance overall. It originally felt as if Robyn was about to be crowned the winner of the sing off as both judges, Conroy and Alaine, chose Robyn as the winner. Even with the other two judge's inputs, Anthony had the final word and decided to choose KiiShea, allowing them to continue into the Top 9.
Once again, nine contestants remain and many of them were extremely eager to prove themselves after the numerous terrible disco renditions the show prior. Lamentably, instead of a night of redemption the contestants gave me a disappointing night of dullness. It was extremely difficult for each contestant to be ranked as I found most of their performances on an equal level of ordinariness.
Once again, Brian came back with an extremely predictable song. When he opened his mouth to begin singing “Push Comes to Shove” all my energy instantaneously drained out of my body as I readied myself for another of Brian's lullaby performances. Redemption night unfortunately seemed like Brian's night of damnation.
Out of all the performances, Oryan definitely was one of the few that can claim redemption. However after his unfortunate Disco night fiasco, all he needed to do was remember all the words of his song in order for him to redeem himself. Seeming a bit too desperate for redemption, Oryan drowned his rendition of John Legend's “You and I” with unnecessary vocal runs. Nonetheless, he did a fairly okay job compared to the rest of his competitors.
After being brought back to the competition as a wild card, Casey was on a trail blazing route to winning this competition. However, his performance for redemption night was truly disappointing. I could feel the entire energy of the crowd buzz with excited anticipation when Terri-Karelle announced that Casey would be singing the beloved “Sign, Sealed, Delivered”. Unfortunately, his execution of the song did not meet my expectations and felt somewhat disconnected. It was really disheartening to see his blazing streak of awesome entertainment come to a disappointing halt after that performance.
I was immediately pulled out of my seat as soon as J-Lue let out that first powerful note to start the emotional song “Change Gon' Come”. Even with her amazing start, the performance gradually lost its momentum and ended up being pretty average. There were a few vocal issues as well, but it was a fairly decent effort.
When Raihanna stepped on the stage in her fierce outfit it looked as if she was ready to redeem herself and give us a not so average performance. Unfortunately Raihanna's version of Umbrella was no match for the storm of mediocrity ravaging the Rising Star's studio. Even though she was vocally good throughout the song, there was just no connection between her and the audience. It was evident she didn't truly interpret the song well enough to give us the exciting performance I wanted. Furthermore, her movements around the stage felt too rehearsed and unnatural as if she were a Barbie doll, as judge Anthony Miller describes it. Once again Raihanna gave an okay performance, but nothing that raised anyone's pulses.
After winning the wild card battle, it was evident KiiShea really wanted to redeem themselves and prove to Jamaica that they shouldn't be voted out again. Singing Sia's “Alive”, they gave a very emotional performance that made me feel their deep desire to stay in the competition. Nevertheless, the harmonies in this round were extremely sub-par to the vocal prowess they displayed in their wild card battle. A great attempt, but it still had a lot of room for improvement.
It appears as if Sherlon heard judge Alaine's comment from the disco night about how similar sounding his sweet tone was to Michael Jackson. Using that to his advantage, he decided to give a soulful rendition of Michael Jackson's “Man in the Mirror”. As expected, Sherlon's vocals were beautiful throughout the entire song. However, it still lacked a bit of energy as I wanted him to move around on the stage a bit more and dance. You cannot sing an energetic Michael Jackson song and not dance! Be that as it may, his rendition was still overall extremely pleasing to the ear.
Singing “I Surrender” by Celine Dion, Celicea started out a bit rocky. Her rendition missed that powerful buildup that was in the original. There were also a few vocal issues, especially when it came to her sustaining the notes. Nevertheless, her rendition of the famous power ballad was the most emotive performance for that entire night. I could feel and believe every note and word that came out of her mouth. However, Celicea could have done extremely better with this song but it was still a very notable attempt.
Even though it was basically impossible for me to rank these performances, it came with no difficulty for me to realize that Laveka's performance was the best for the entire night. Also performing a Celine Dion song, Laveka did extremely well vocally with “Love You More”. She has been a trail blazer from the inception of this 16th season. Her tone is so unique I just have to stop whatever I am doing and give my undivided attention to her anytime she lets those beautiful notes out of her mouth. However, I still needed a bit more connection from her throughout her song. If she managed to establish that connection during that performance the entire Rising Stars studio would have been blown away. Either way, it was still an exceptional rendition from Laveka and she has an incredibly high bar to maintain, which I know she will.
With the underwhelming performances and the passive comments from the judges, I found the “Redemption Night” extremely disappointing. Even with the disastrous “Disco Night”, I was still entertained by either the awful performances or Anthony's awfully honest comments. I'm not entirely sure what exactly was missing, but the same old same old is getting old. Hopefully, the Gospel night will give me more entertainment than what I witnessed this round.
--- Nathan Walker