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DIGICEL Rising Star Judgment – By Clyde McKenzie

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In his own words, Digicel Rising Star judge Clyde McKenzie gives his honest opinion on Season 5.


Saturday August 9; Kingston, Jamaica: So far, Digicel Rising Stars Season 5 is turning out to be an interesting competition with the contestants finding themselves and getting more comfortable with the stage.


The performances so far have been relatively good with the top-ten displaying their talent in the top-ten show on Sunday night (Aug 3). In fact, I saw some exceptionally strong performances and some weak ones.


Khalil, the group out of Montego Bay gave an outstanding performance and I was really impressed with them, it was a creative and diverse act and you could say the Jefferson met the Prince. Khalil’s is one of the finest performances that I have seen in this competition since it started next to that spectacular performance by Noddy Virtue and Jodiann Pantry. The group is just great, they know it, and have been using their harmony to make that stamp on the public early and are a crowd favourite. The reactions that the in-house crowd gave on Sunday were just enough to say how these young men are being received so far.


Cameal also delivered a good performance on Sunday night with her own interpretation of the Jimmy Cliff hit The Harder They Come, which should help make an impact on the public. Cameal gave her own interpretation of the song, developed the meaning and delivered it well; something that other contestants should do.


Despite their performance on Sunday, I think SLR was reasonably good. However, I didn’t like their choice of song, even though their might be talks of it being contemporary and all that. In essence, the song was not their song and that was evident in the way their voices blended with it, they need to choose songs that can display their harmonizing, almost reminiscent of what they used to ‘knock us away’ in Ochi.


The barber from Linstead, Nigel Wilson, was tentative on Sunday night; he has the capacity to deliver and it was evident in that R. Kelley medley. Wilson‘s only problem was that he held back. Obviously Jamaica agrees with this and so he is going back to Linstead.  Lashana, from Westmoreland held back too, she has a marvelous voice that she needs to let Jamaica hear it. Leisha on the other hand had a good performance even though it was not her best, she can improve.


I do not want to compare this crop with previous groups because each group differs and brings their own variety and taste to the show and that is what the competition is about, uniqueness.


One of the things I would like to see are the contestants choosing songs that are risky, songs that show their true talent; not songs to struggle with though, just songs to help them to develop and feel more comfortable performing. SLR showed a clear example of what I’m talking about when they went back to the Chill Room, if they had sung that song the reactions would have been different on the main stage; in that piece you could hear the distinctiveness that they possess as a group.


You know there is something remarkably different about this year’s set of contestants as forty-percent of the top ten groups, perhaps inspired by the success of Digicel Rising Stars 2006 winners One Third. One is even left wondering if we will see one group or more in the top spots this year.


As usual there is going to be some controversy about one or two contestants who persons believe should be in the top-ten and are not there. The truth is I was really looking forward to seeing Patrice Ellis in the top ten as she was a good package. Top Team was another contestant I was expecting to see in the top ten too, they had a lot of energy and I was looking forward to seeing more of that.


Finally, the new host Yendi has been doing a good job; she has a personality of her own. The thing is when you have gotten so accustomed to seeing someone in your living room for so long, it’s going to take some time to adjust to the changes and people are like that. Fans will soon get accustomed to Yendi. Denise should however get commendations for the energy she brought to the show; she was like duck to water. Yendi however, has been doing a fabulous job so far, she has her own personality and just has to be herself.


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