‘American Song Contest’: Kelly Clarkson Says the Country ‘Needs’ This Competition

Sixty-five years ago, singers from all over Europe came together to compete in the very first Eurovision Song Contest. The songwriting competition went on to kickstart the careers of famous acts like ABBA, Celine Dion, Måneskin, and more. Now, it’s America’s turn to find the next greatest songwriter with American Song Contest, premiering in March 2022 on NBC. In a recent interview, co-host Kelly Clarkson addressed the importance of bringing this competition to the states, explaining why we “need” American Song Contest.

Kelly Clarkson, co-host of American Song Contest, performs at the 57th Academy of Country Music Awards
‘American Song Contest’ co-host Kelly Clarkson | Kevin Winter/Getty Images for ACM

‘American Song Contest’ is the U.S.’s version of ‘Eurovision Song Contest’

Eurovision Song Contest, often shortened to Eurovision, is one of the longest-running television shows in the world. The European Broadcasting Union (EBU) founded the competition in 1956, aiming to unite European countries following World War II.

Each year, participating countries send one act — either an individual or a group of up to six people — to represent them. The artists have only three minutes to perform original songs using elaborate stage displays, which only have one limitation: no live animals. Then, the general public and a jury vote for their favorites.

NBC announced in 2021 that it would house an American spinoff of Eurovision. Similar competition rules will apply, with one act from each of the 56 states and territories coming forward to compete. In February 2022, one month ahead of the American Song Contest premiere, the network announced Kelly Clarkson and Snoop Dogg as the contest’s hosts.

“[I’m] a fan and love the concept of Eurovision and am thrilled to bring the musical phenomenon to America,” Clarkson said in a statement, per The Hollywood Reporter. “I’m so excited to work with Snoop and can’t wait to see every state and territory represented by artists singing their own songs.”

Kelly Clarkson says the U.S. needs ‘American Song Contest’ right now

Speaking to Billboard recently, Clarkson explained that she learned about Eurovision the first time she traveled overseas. The “Since U Been Gone” singer is no stranger to singing competitions; she was the first American Idol winner and later became a coach on The Voice. However, Eurovision was like nothing she’d seen before.

“I loved how all of the countries were represented because I’m very much an inclusive person and love any kind of team sport,” Clarkson shared.

Clarkson eventually brought up Eurovision in a conversation with The Voice executive producer Audrey Morrissey. She explained that she loved how unifying Eurovision felt overseas and wanted to bring that experience to America.

“We are so unfortunately divided and having (my) talk show and (hearing) all of these different human interest stories and having so many things going on — it’s been a very hard couple of years, and now it’s getting more serious,” Clarkson told Billboard.

The country singer added that American Song Contest will become very important in this country.

“Feeling like you are not isolated and that you are a part of something bigger than your everyday world is so important,” she continued. “That’s what this show is going to do for people. Everyone is being represented. It’s a really great concept in general but one that is very needed right now.”

The contest premieres live on NBC on March 21

American Song Contest will kick things off with its first episode on Monday night. A portion of the artists will perform, including Arkansas singer Kelsey Lamb, Iowa’s Alisabeth Von Presley, Oklahoma’s AleXa, and more. Some well-known acts like Michael Bolton and Macy Gray will also compete, but at a later date.

American Song Contest premieres on March 21 at 8 p.m. ET on NBC. Stay tuned to Showbiz Cheat Sheet for more updates.

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