Clash of the Choirs premiered last night on NBC. Were you expecting Laurence Olivier as Zeus and Bubo the Owl? Sorry, no Titans in this Clash, only choirs. More specifically, five local choirs led by celebrities in their hometowns. The clashing promised in the title? They fight with their power to harmonize and dance in various formations! I would have preferred seeing the choristers throw down with their fists rather than their throats, but that’s another show.
Still, despite the disappointing lack of Harry Hamlin (and hand-to-hand combat), Clash of the Choirs entertained in ways both good and scary. It was also educational. Here are some things I learned from the show:
• I cannot tell Samantha Harris from Maria Menounos. Seriously, even after she said her name, I still thought that Dancing with the Stars‘ Samantha Harris was pretending to be someone else just to try and prove that she can handle being a solo host. When "Maria Menounos" became flustered by Michael Bolton’s screaming fans, I was almost certain that some conspiracy was afoot.
• Nick Lachey is terrible at the reality show fake-out. After auditioning singers in Cincinnati, Nick assembled thirty singers into three groups of ten. He told them that there was only room for twenty, so one group would be cut. Then, he turned to one group and gave the worst reality show fake-out I’ve ever seen. He said, "I’m sorry…that it’s cold in December in NY!" Ugh.
• Kelly Rowland has discovered a new bird species. Which she referenced when describing a singer’s voice as being "as clear as a bird." Unless, of course, she meant to say "as clear as a bell"… in which case, my bad.
• Michael Bolton is really SERIOUS about music. Dude had his game face on right from his first very unsuccessful attemptto find singers at a local mall. He made it very clear that he was outto win and bring some musical pride to New Haven, CT. He was soserious, he was forced to quote Joseph Conrad ("The horror! Thehorror!") when auditioners kept singing his songs at him.
• Blake Shelton is honest, a bit tacky, and even a bit funny.He admitted to not knowing the first thing about choirs, grilled anauditioning singer — who happened to be a choir director himself — foradvice on how to make his decision, then dismissed the guy after he gotenough info out of him. Classy? No. Humorous? You bet.
• Patti LaBelle (pictured) likes big voices. As evidenced by her choir’sloud rendition of "He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands." Two soloistsbelted out the spiritual, backed by the rest of the choir singing justas loudly. At one point, I thought the decibels would shatter theornaments on Christmas tree, but luckily, it was a pretty short song.
• The show’s producers are manipulative, but not consistent.They were pretty heavy-handed in trying to get the sympathy vote foreach of the choirs. Nick Lachey’s Cincinnati group includes a fatherand daughter who sing for their wife/mother who’s battling cancer. InHouston, Kelly Rowland’s team has a Katrina survivor.There are veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan among Blake Shelton’s Oklahoma City singers. Michael Bolton’s New Haven choir includes a victim of domesticviolence. And Patti LaBelle’s Philly group has… a guy who almost didn’tmake the choir. Well, I guess the producers assumed that Patti wouldn’tneed a sympathy vote, but they really dropped the ball on that one.
And for all that I learned, Clash still left me with someburning questions: Why were the singers pointing up while singing thetitle of their opening number, "Living in America"? Were they rockingout? Were they signifying that America is number one? Were they showingthe pyrotechnic crew where the sparks should fly? Also, why didn’tanyone want to be the Simon Cowell? All the celebs were super nice whencritiquing each other’s work. I’ll leave out the rant about why theyeven were asked to judge each other, and just say that I would haveliked to see more actual criticism rather than a love fest. KellyRowland set the tone when she remarked that if she said anythingnegative, someone would probably throw something at her head. Finally,I know that these are amateur show choirs, but can we get them somebetter choreography, please? I start to twitch when I see arms reachingupwards in a v-shape, so imagine how I felt after seeing it usedrepeatedly in many of the choirs’ dances. I’m also trying to shake theimage of the awkward circular lean-back displayed by Oklahoma Citychoir during their performance of "Life is a Highway."
While I ponder these important issues, offer your own theoriesbelow. Which choir will win it all? If it comes to blows between thecelebrities, who would come out on top?