Allen Stone, MARi headline ‘American Song Contest’

American Song Contest
Hosts Kelly Clarkson and Snoop Dogg presented the fourth episode of the American Song Contest. (Photo property of NBC)

By: Jacob Elyachar, 

It was Week Four of the first American Song Contest! Artists representing all 50 states and USA territories have introduced newly written and produced songs for the past several weeks. Whoever impressed the Jury immediately advanced into the show’s semifinals; while the audience voted for three additional states to remain in the competition, on May 9, the show will crown its first winner.

This week, representatives from 11 more states and territories performed on the American Song Contest stage, including Allen Stone, the Crystal Method, and MARi! Which performers soared and won the Jury’s vote? Who needed the audience’s votes to stay in the competition? Which week three performers joined AleXa, Broderick Jones, Christian Pagan, Jordan Smith, Michael Bolton, and Tyler Braden in the semifinals? Read on to find out!

New Hampshire’s MARi kicked off the evening with her original song: “Fly.” She revealed in her pre-performance package that there were a lot of mom-and-pop shops in her home state, and she worked in her family restaurant. MARi opened for Meghan Trainor, Paula Abdul, and Jake’s Take friend Amara La Negra! I truly enjoyed listening to “Fly.” She is one fantastic performer! 

Nevada’s The Crystal Method represented Las Vegas! The EDM pioneer has been nominated for two Grammys. His original tune, “Watch Me Now,” featured VAAAL and Koda. I loved how they blended EDM and rock music, and the performance was more of a concert than a contest. B+/A- 

Savannah Keyes represented Salt Lake City and the great state of Utah. She performed her original country song: “Sad Girl,” on the American Song Contest stage. Honestly, I did not connect with “Sad Girl.” She has a great voice, but the song was boring. C- 

After Kelly Clarkson fanned out on Allen Stone, Snoop introduced Washington, D.C.’s NEITHER. He worked with Childish Gambino, Ne-Yo & Ty Dolla $ign. His original song, “I Like It,” had shades of Bruno Mars and the Weeknd. It was an okay song, not one to write home about. 

Jared Lee represented Massachusetts in the American Song Contest. He had a Top 40 single on A/C radio and opened for Brian McKnight and Train. His song was “Shameless,” and I truly enjoyed the track from start to finish. 

Stela Cole represented the state of Georgia and her hometown of Peachtree City. She moved to Atlanta to embrace her pop and R&B side. Her singles have been streamed over 5 million times. Her original song, “DIY,” made my jaw drop (in an incredible way). I am looking forward to seeing what Stela Cole does after this show because she is a rising star. A- 

Hawaii’s Bronson Varde represented the Aloha State on the American Song Contest stage. He has played all across the island, and he felt the pressure of not just representing himself but also his home state. I loved “4 You,” because it perfectly showed off his personality, and both the lyrics and production put a smile on my face. B+ 

West Virginia rocker Alexis Cunningham wants to make it in the music industry. Her song, “Working On A Miracle,” reminded me of the classic Fleetwood Mac music (the Rumours line-up). While the dancers were a distraction, I loved the song, and I hope that Alexis has more opportunities to shine as a recording artist. 

After Kelly and Snoop spoke with Jared Lee and his supporters, Arizona’s Las Marias made their national debut. I was shocked and saddened to learn that their parents were deported to Mexico and that they had to cross the border each day. They represented their family heritage with their beautiful song: “De La Finikera.” While the guitars were way too loud, the track impressed me, and I thought they did a superb job. B

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, native, rapper Bri Steves, represented her hometown on the American Song Contest stageShe traveled across the country and even shared the stage with Kendrick Lamar. Her original song, “Plenty Love,” blew me away. I loved her vocal performance, and she gave me chills. 

Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter Allen Stone closed out the night! The Washington native made his debut on Conan and played on stages worldwide. His song, “A Bit of Both,” is a spectacular song that took me to a synagogue. It was one of the best songs I heard so far throughout the American Song Contest. A+ 

The winner of tonight’s Jury Qualifer was ALLEN STONE!!

Next week is the last week of the qualifying rounds!

Copyright 2020 Jacob Elyachar