Okay, let’s be honest: we don’t really need two shows about lyrics, or karaoke, or whatever we want to call this particular brand of programming. NBC’s The Singing Bee and FOX’s Don’t Forget the Lyrics should, by all logic, cancel one another out from my cultural consciousness. However, in the end, I think that it’s important to declare a winner in this epic showdown. And, contrary to my initial opinion, I think that Don’t Forget the Lyrics is the clear winner.
Originally, my inclination moved to The Singing Bee a more traditional game show which is a genre that I have a soft spot for. However, in its second episode, it was clear that NBC’s series was far too rushed to be worth my time. The show had no momentum, no groove if you will: each episode was as personality-less as the last, and the various different gimmicky lyric challenges showed their inability to feel comfortable with their formula.
And really, while I might like to sit down with a predictable and simplistic game show when flipping through the channels, I don’t really see it as primetime viewing. And I think that’s the problem: the show just doesn’t feel like something is taking place. It lacks any weight, any drama, any comedy. It lacks, well, everything.
While I originally plastered it for being derivative, over time it has become clear that Don’t Forget the Lyrics has managed to stabilize into about as good as it could possibly become. The contestants have personality, the amount of singing feels better and more entertaining, and “playing along” feels much more natural. People make choices, and therefore we can relate to their decisions and make our own at home.
Wayne Brady has energy as the host, and an actual relationship with each contestant, and the level of strategy in the game feels just right. It’s something that I can sit down and watch, play along and feel like something is actually happening. I hate to say it, but the Millionaire formula just hasn’t gone out of style yet. While Deal or No Deal is just too random, here actual skills are being tested and I’m sucked in by that.
The show isn’t perfect: I still think it could use a little shaking up, and the overdramatic commercial break voiceovers have got to go as soon as possible. Seriously, America will NOT be talking about that contestant tomorrow. The show doesn’t need to make itself self-important to win the Karaoke battle: in my mind, it’s already won.
Both shows will appear on their respective network’s fall schedules…but only Don’t Forget the Lyrics really deserves it, and I think it might be the only one to survive. And, in the end, it is the Best Show About Karaoke this summer season, even if I wasn’t convinced of it at first.