(LOS ANGELES) "This is gonna be huge." That's what Kesha says she thought when she first heard about the concept behind ABC's new reality singing competition Rising Star, which will premiere this Sunday night, live, and then air live each Sunday night for the next 10 weeks.
"The show's so different. When I heard about the format of the show, before they wanted me, I remember telling my manager, I was like, 'This is genius,'" Kesha tells ABC News Radio. "Like, with or without me, this is gonna be huge just because of the technology behind it. It's instantly gratifying and it's an app! Like, everyone just loves that s**t!"
The app Kesha refers to is the free Rising Star app -- you download it, and during the show, it allows you to vote yes or no, live, as each contestant performs in front of a massive video wall that will display, in real time, how the voting is going. Enough "yes" votes, and the wall rises, indicating that the contestant is moving on. There are your results, right there: no waiting 'til next week. The eventual winner will get a contract with Capitol Records.
As one of the panel of "experts" on the show, Kesha, along with her cohorts -- rapper/actor Ludacris and country superstar Brad Paisley -- will all get to vote, too, as will host Josh Groban, but their votes only count for a fraction of the total results. The viewers are the judges, and they'll decide who goes through. "We only have a certain amount of say-so, so I think that's what's gonna be one of the parts that's gonna be very interesting," says Ludacris. "And that's what creates great entertainment."
So what is Kesha looking for, as far as contestants are concerned? "Somebody...that has that indescribable 'it' factor," she tells ABC News Radio. "You can't take your eyes off of them, and you can just tell that they have the heart and soul for this, and they want it so bad. That's what I'm looking for."
This is the first major project that Kesha's taking on following her stint in rehab earlier this year for an eating disorder. Why choose Rising Star as her entree back into the spotlight?
"It all happened very serendipitously," she says. "I'm working on music right now, and one day a week I get to come in here and help young kids achieve their dreams. Like, it's a dream job -- studio six days a week and this, one. So, it makes sense for me right now."
Helping young kids was a big part of the reason doing the show also made sense for host Josh Groban, who guest-hosted Live with Regis & Kelly many times before Michael Strahan became that show's permanent co-host. Unlike other reality show hosts, he'll actually get to work with the contestants.
"Mentoring singers, mentoring young artists, being part of their journey, is one of the great joys that I've gotten out of being in this business," he tells ABC News Radio. "And so, for me to be able to do that on a large platform like this, it was a no-brainer."
Josh predicts that with four stars from such different musical genres, there'll be "a lot of differing opinions" when it comes to voting on the contestants. "I don't think we're all going to agree. I think that's the coolest thing about the panel, is that it's going to be interesting to hear the banter after each song as to what worked, and what didn't," he says.
More than anything, Josh says he, Kesha, Ludacris and Brad are all a bit on edge, wondering if the Rising Star concept, which has worked in other countries, can give American Idol and The Voice a run for their money.
"There is an overall feeling with all of us, almost a nervous energy of something that really is, potentially, a very, very new concept, and we're all excited by it, and sure, we're all nervous about it," he tells ABC News Radio, adding, "I'm the one that has to interpretive dance if the technology hits the fan!"
"But," he adds, "I think that that's what makes it exciting, and that's what's gonna make it fun for people to tune in."
Here’s the list of singers set to perform on Sunday’s premiere:
- Lisa Punch, 21, Brooklyn, New York
- Joshua Peavy, 28, Soperton, Georgia
- Jesse Kinch, 20, Seaford, New York
- Maneepat Myra Molloy, 16, Los Angeles, California
- Sarah Darling, 31, Nashville, Tennessee
- Summer Collins, 18, Fayetteville, North Carolina
- Colin Huntley, 16, Georgetown, Texas
- The duo: Daniel & Olivia,(Daniel Wolfe, 24 and Olivia Thai, 25, San Gabriel Valley, California
- A group called Beyond 5 from Nashville, Tennessee. (Zac Love, 19; Tanner Myler, 19; TJ Ryan, 16; Patch Crowe, 19; Ammon Soloasa Tuimaualuga, 17)
Rising Star debuts this Sunday night at 9 p.m. ET.
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