Four Ways to Fix ‘The Four’
America’s newest talent competition just debuted, and it’s certainly can’t-miss TV. However, we at Talent Recap have noticed a few weaknesses in this otherwise strong concept. Here are four ways we would improve The Four: Battle for Stardom.
1. Let us get to know the Four
This may seem obvious, but our introduction to the original Four consisted solely of Justin Timberlake’s Can’t Stop the Feeling, which they covered as a quartet. And that was it until we got their bios when they were challenged. Ash, who was never challenged, still remains a mystery.
During the show, the Four sit far away from the action. They’re mic’d so poorly, Fox has to give us subtitles when they occasionally talk to each other. But I’m dying to know what they’re thinking of the people on stage. When a challenger advances, are the Four rooting for their fellow Four-ier? Or against them? After all, there aren’t four winners of the show; only one singer is named the champion. So maybe a Four-ier is happy when a singer with a similar style is eliminated. Maybe all Four are friends and hate all challengers. We don’t know! Because the show won’t tell us.
2. Allow a challenger to advance with only three votes
On American Idol, only two of the three judges must give permission for a singer to advance during the open call. On The Four, though, all four judges have to agree. One single judge, no matter their reason, can vote “no” and send a challenger home.
This seems insane to me. Surely all four aren’t always going to agree. We’re talking about Diddy here, who’s virtually contrary by nature. Making three votes the minimum would let a judge vote against a challenger without knowingly altering the entire show. And then that judge could be won over later — how’s that for a redemption story?
3. Replace Meghan Trainor
I have nothing against the artist personally or artistically. All About That Bass is a song with a great, body-positive message. But in two hours, Meghan didn’t say or do hardly anything of substance.
To Illakriss: “I love your sweatshirt.”
To Tyler Griffin: “Were you nervous at all?”
About Zhavia: “She’s 16. Imagine her at 18!”
One writer likened Meghan’s insights to that of a ham sandwich. I guess she’s the Four version of Paula Abdul, always looking for something nice to say. The show does need a judge like that, to counter Charlie Walk’s brutal honesty, Diddy’s skepticism, and DJ Khaled’s use of catchphrases. But Meghan just seems sort of bland and dazed, as if she never considered what she might say until Fergie startles her awake. Could someone at least put together a list of adjectives she can refer to?
Possible candidates for a replacement: Sara Bareilles, Aimee Mann, Mandy Gonzalez (from Hamilton), Toni Braxton, Alanis Morissette
4. Open up the genres
We’ll have plenty of hip-hop, R&B, and pop music on the show. What about other genres? Country’s a favorite on The Voice; will anyone sing it on The Four? How about straight rap? Hard rock? Metal? Jazz? If someone wants to belt Let It Go from Frozen or Memory from Cats, why stop them? The judges will only let the best advance (in theory; see above).
Diddy, Khaled, and Meghan only have experience in so many genres, but you don’t have to be an expert to like good music and to recognize talent. Since we’re not bothering to get to know the Four or the challengers that well, we certainly have time for some out-there acts that will keep us entertained.
The Four is a fascinating show with a unique premise, but lots of talent competitions tweak their formats as the series goes on. How would you improve The Four?