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NBC “American Song Contest” debuts Monday (8 EDT/PDT), but the state-vs-state talent contest has been going on for nearly three decades.

The premise of the eight-week competition is inspired by the long “Eurovision Song Contest” an annual singing competition organized by the European Broadcasting Union, says executive producer Ben Silverman, who says he spent 25 years acquiring the rights to the show.

“Eurovision Song Contest” introduced the world to music icons such as the Spanish singer-songwriter Julio Iglesias as well as a Swedish pop group ABBA and pop power Celine Dionwho won the contest in 1974 and 1988, respectively.

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But instead of European countries competing for the title, 56 singers representing each state and territory of the United States will compete on “Song Contest”, including famous singers like Jewel (representing Alaska), Michael Bolton (Connecticut) and Macy Gray (Ohio), as well as lesser-known talents.

Executive producer Audrey Morrissey says this mix of up-and-coming artists and bona fide superstars reflects the landscape of “the real music industry”, and says the contestants were selected after consulting with music industry contacts. music and an independent academy of industry professionals.

“This show is not for 15-year-olds whose families don’t know they sing, and they’re going to come out on ‘The Voice’ or ‘American Idol’ or (‘America’s Got Talent’) and blow people away Morrissey explains. “It’s a professional platform. It’s for the artists, the person who is committed to, ‘This is what I do for a living, and I’ve been grinding it and working on the road for years.’

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Singer and talk show host Kelly Clarkson — an “Idol” winner who’s no stranger to reality competition series — and Snoop Dogg serve as co-hosts, who provide commentary but don’t determine which singers advance. Instead, home fans and a “jury” of 56 professionals decide.

Clarkson says the show’s inclusivity will help bring people together at a time when it’s badly needed.

“That’s what’s cool about this show is that it’s going to open up all this conversation and all this diversity that I feel like we’ve been divided in this country for a while because the people have their preconceptions about who comes from where,” says Clarkson. “And that’s just not true anymore, especially in such a digital age. We’re all very similar more than not.

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. In addition to having a good relationship with Snoop Dogg, Clarkson says the hosts embody the show’s diversity through their own musical versatility.

“He did pop; he rapped. He did all these other things, and I did country and pop and all these other things,” Clarkson says. “So it’s a cool thing to have our faces — we like a lot of different styles of music, and there’s literally so many different styles of music (on the show).”

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The show’s “qualifiers,” which span the first five episodes, will feature 11 or 12 singers each week, with one contestant advancing to the semi-finals immediately. Viewer votes translate into actual points awarded to each contestant, so more populous states won’t get an unfair advantage.

After two weeks of semi-finals, 10 remaining contestants compete in the show’s live final on May 9, which names a winner.

“‘Eurovision’ has just gone from strength to strength year after year and remains arguably the most popular and important entertainment television show in the world, and I think it translates beautifully to America and our diverse culture. which is unified only by its music and its song.” says Silverman. “It is filled with regional passion and state-by-state brilliance.”

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