Early Thoughts: Platinum Hit

I'm not willing to write a review of a competitive reality show after one episode. If I did that, I might do something stupid like praise a horrible dance show to the heavens for being better than expected. Oh wait, I did that. I don't know where I wrote up that review of Live to Dance, but I distinctly remember loving it far more than I should have. Platinum Hit is Bravo's newest reality show trying to follow the Project Runway/Top Chef model of creating compelling TV out of a specialized skill. 12 singer/songwriters are competing for a publishing contract (that's music industry speak for songwriting), a record contract with RCA/Jive, and a fabulous cash prize. They are judged by former Nashville Star host Jewel and former American Idol judge Kara DioGuardi.

On the first episode, the contestants were broken into four teams to write songs about Los Angeles. The teams were determined by who won a quickfire challenge of writing a hook in 30 minutes. Since we as the audience didn't even get to see all of the hooks in their entirety and only saw Kara's feedback for three contestants, it was hard to reason why some of the contestants were chosen as team leaders.

The editing of the songs for the judges didn't help matters, either. We saw one team talk about building to a powerful bridge to punch into the final chorus but the bridge was edited out of the episode. We saw another team not even record one lick of music for their performance and suddenly there was a minimalist backing track in front of the judges. I'm not suggesting any kind of behind the scenes funny business; I'm merely pointing out where the editing is doing a disservice to the contestants and the show.

Despite what Jewel said on her first blog, the judges did not give a very specific critique. This happened during Work of Art as well. The production company is so afraid of alienating viewers with actual terminology that they excise the specific critiques that probably made sense to the contestants on stage. If Platinum Hit follows the same path, we will reach the point where no one watching the show has any idea why one contestant was eliminated over another. If everyone gets light praise or light criticism, who did the best and who did the worst?

What's going to make or break this show is the music itself. I think there are some talented songwriters in the contest who might have more to offer. At the very least, Jackie Tohn is great for a one-liner during the talking head interviews.

Will Platinum Hit be a successful reality TV competition? I hope so. It would be nice to expose a wider audience to the songwriting process. I already learned, for example, that some of my stranger ways of writing aren't that strange. Many of the contestants approached the task with the same tools and methods I use when working on shows and concerts. If Platinum Hit keeps the songwriting content high, I think it will work.

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