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'Rising Star': What's the verdict?

By Breeanna Hare, CNN
updated 4:26 PM EDT, Mon June 23, 2014
From left: Ludacris, Kesha, Brad Paisley and Josh Groban are the celebrity stars of ABC's
From left: Ludacris, Kesha, Brad Paisley and Josh Groban are the celebrity stars of ABC's "Rising Star."
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • New singing competition "Rising Star" debuted Sunday on ABC
  • It features Josh Groban, Ludacris, Kesha and Brad Paisley as judges
  • Some critics have been harsh; the premiere ratings have room to grow

(CNN) -- "Rising Star," ABC's new singing competition, hasn't exactly risen to the top.

The series made its debut on Sunday with Josh Groban as the host and Ludacris, Kesha and Brad Paisley as the celebrity experts.

To set itself apart from the numerous other singing competitions, "Rising Star" hangs its hat on its "revolutionary" voting method: instead of waiting until after the show is over or leaning heavily on the outlook of the judges, "Rising Star's" viewers can vote for contestants in real time through an app. If a contender gets a 70% approval (and the celebrity experts each have 7% of the vote), they're cleared to stick around.

During Sunday's two-hour premiere, the format seemed to work well enough, except for those who had the misfortune of living on the West Coast and thus were only able to vote for contestants that didn't get enough votes from the East Coast to move on.

The real glitch, according to critics, was the lackluster talent all around -- the celebrity experts lacked chemistry and the hopeful winners weren't that impressive.

Variety found it to be "generic, inept and occasionally offensive," not to mention "the definition of trainwreck television." Entertainment Weekly called it "a joyless experiment in reality innovation" that's saddled with a trio of celebrity experts who show "little to no real enthusiasm for the program" and a contestant lineup that shows little "promise for giving 'Rising Star' a coveted slot on your Sunday night DVR."

Billboard magazine was more engrossed, falling for the opportunity to "hold a person's fate in the music industry in my very hands (and) ... also potentially get my Facebook profile picture that I haven't changed in three years on a giant televised wall."

Yet while the voting and interactive aspect worked "shockingly well," "it's still a singing show, and that's where ABC should focus," Billboard critiqued, "possibly by cutting the live pre-stage interviews and predicting a little more accurately who the at-home audience will respond to well. We really just want to see some good singers and have sole control of their fate, as promised."

Judging from the premiere ratings, ABC has room to grow with "Rising Star."

The competition's first episode was watched by 5.1 million viewers and achieved a 1.5 rating in the desired adult demo of 18-49. At the very least, that does make "Rising Star" ABC's highest-rated summer debut in two years.

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