I posted this in another thread and decide it probably could make for an interesting thread of it's own-in the end it's the reasons why I think AJ could easily be saved but it's also is a slam of the current producion team
Having finally wandered over to S Club 8 website I finally get a clue what AJs was supposed to be all about. Dang, 19E is pretty much a paint by numbers marketing machine and they obviously thought they would simply replicates S club's REAL success in the UK here and have a HUGEEEEEEEE moneymaker - that's why they had a group, not one single champion and why they keep having the incipient group perform S Club 8 songs.
Boy did they screw up BAD BAD BAD. Obvoiously I have never seen the S Club 8 "formation" shows which apparently took place just about two years ago, but just from the (painfully bad) website I can already tell where they went wrong on AJs
1. Five is not enuff - The SC8 was for 7 members, not five, which seems like the perfect number (they ended up with 8, but that's a different story). If you do anything like a competent job picking the original 20 you are guarenteed a decent distribution by gender, ethnicity, vocal skills, looks and demographic appeal - at this point the group would add AJ the AJ (sorry couldn't resist the bad joke), Chantel and probably Danielle - forming a fairly decent group that was still female top heavy but featured real talent. Instead, for reasons unknown, they went with five- just another bad decision by a production team that was lost from day one.
2. It's not about the adults you dolts- The British approach clearlyyyyyyyy made it all about the kids from the first, here they NEVER did. Someone decided on the bone head strategy of highlighting the stage parents so you end up seeing almost more of mom then you do of the kid in the audition shows. This backfired completely when it appears that they had no stage parent moments to show on the Semis shows so you get these pointless interviews with parents who are too nervous and uptight to say anything interesting. One huge element of their "marketing strategy" died right there. There is almost NO interaction with the kids, Ryan says two sentences of meaningless nothing to them and then we hear what the adult judges have to say - thus airtime has been dominated by Deborah Gibson,Glady Knight and Ryan Seacrest; yeah that's gonna sell some records for sure. . They probably should have had one male and one female judge period and found someone with more demo appeal (not that Ryan has ANY) to those over 12 to be the host. Maybe say a comedian who could tell truly funny jokes and command the camera and make the viewership truly enjoy themselves - imagine if they got Margaret Cho. I'd watch just to see that!
3. Two groups of ten is not the way to make yen - They probably should have had two groups of eight and made the two Semis selections show two hours each and had short vids of each competiter and talked with them for a minute or so BEFORE they performed so people felt like they knew these kids from the start and would invest in the show. It really could have been something of a marketing commodity because you get families sitting around the TV every week arguing who should get in- it sure worked for STAR SEARCH. Ten kids means that there was too much time taken by too short of songs and wayyyyy too much time taken up by the judges- I also think that it made it too hard to keep track of who was who and to remember how well each person sang- it's no accident that the people who sang later statistically advanced more often than those who sang earlier in the semis.
4. Nine is not fine - the British group from what I can tell never had members younger than 11 and maybe even 12 depending on when it was chosen. When you look at the publicity still of the group that's on the top page of the website they look pretty good together- 2 years age difference at most, relatively same heights and weights,etc. They LOOK like a pop group, I can see why they are selling cd's at a pretty good clip (I think they have at least four above average selling singles to their credit). The US version allowed much younger performers I think (as someone else suggested) to get precious cute moments for the audition shows, not a bad idea at that stage but then........you get two adorable pre-teens with lots of pizzaz and ZERO vocal strength or depth in a group that is basically trying to be a carbon copy of a successful british TEEN group and they are 2/5 of the group, not 2/7, and they are the first two in forcing you to make two "vids" that TURN OFF the very demographics you are trying to sell too. You also have a group that will simply look bizarre when pictured together and nothing about seeing them pictured as a group yells out these are pop music stars , buy this single or you will miss out. Sweet, give whoever made this brilliant decision a big salary increase.
5. Here's a hint, if you give the kids bad songs they sound bad- I am convinced whoever picked the songs (and they were OBVIOUSLY picked for the kids) has ZERO experience with kids before and has no ear at all for pairing young voices with what matches them. Let me just take Canyon as an example but you could pick almost any of the 20- they want the kid to get in because he starts the Semis with a fan base, he's obvious heart throb material and he kinda looks like what you think a white male pop star should look like. Fine, but the painful fact is the kid has almost no real singing experience and probably little time on any stage so you need to pick an EASY song that requires little vocal range, thats easily identifiable to the audience so the song itself and not his singing gets votes, one that lends itself to a pre-pubescent voice and will make him feel calm and confident when he sings .... Or you could choose a difficult signature 70's song that at least 30% of the audience hasn't ever heard before done by a truly talented but somewhat gravel voiced singer who sold the song because he knew how to put feeling and nuance (two of the most sophisticated and difficult things to ask of a teen singer) into what it is musically not the most upbeat song or exciting song made. He was INCREDIBLY nervous, never found what little voice he has and bombed badly - gee, who knew. On the female side consider Kristina Debarge, a fairly good looking and good sounding kid who lacks a ton of stage presence and needs a song that will force her to show personality. She seems to have vocal range and good pitch so you have a relatively wide range of choices - it seems like the two best ideas are a power song with a couple runs that make her get the diva votes or the yang to AJ's ying and dress her up somewhat exotically (a GOOD exotic) and have her sing latin soul - both display vocal talent and require some personality to sell, but don't demand any moving around ... Or you could choose a fairly vanilla song that I'm betting most of you don't even remember the title of, dress her in nothing that helps her demonstrate personality,put her on early and show off little of her vocal skills. Stunningly she didn't get enuff votes. The musical selections time and again betrayed the kids, putting them out of their element and did NOTHING for the audience.
I am more convinced than ever that AJ 2 would do very well if they had anything like competent producers.