On it, Joe Jonas, Nelly, Gloria Estefan and John Rich took 72 hours to coach four unsigned performers, who sang for a live audience at the Hippodrome.
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"The Next" is essentially one-part talent show, two parts interactive game show -- the audience picks which performer moves on to the semi-finals in Los Angeles. But the winner wasn't revealed until last night, when the episoded aired.
First, we met Shannon Ramsey, the choir director at Mount Zion Hill Baptist Church on Harford Road. Allison Hagendorf, the show's bubbly host, told us that Ramsey performed at 92Q's Summer Jam last year.
Estefan, Ramsey's coach, gave her some pro tips on how to properly work a crowd, not a congregation. And after a quick visit to Mitra Hair Salon in Towson, we cut to the Hippodrome for Ramsey's new 'do and a rousing rendition of Kelly Clarkson's "(Stronger) What Doesn't Kill You."
If anyone was next in Baltimore, it should've been Shannon Ramsey.
After the first commercial break (buy Cricket, y'all!), we saw John Rich walking up to Nick's Fish House for the obligatory crabs in Baltimore footage.
Once inside, a blonde and perky Jenny Leigh Freeman seemed genuinely star-struck meeting Rich.
Freeman seemed reluctant to leave her Baltimore row house to chase down a dream on Music Row. Rich made her realize that if she truly wanted to be the next Miranda Lambert, she'd eventually have to.
After a so-so on-air warm-up for Z104.3, we cut to Freeman belting out "Gunpowder & Lead" to a rapt Joe Jonas and a bewildered, befuddled Nelly.
Then it was time for contestant No. 3 Despite having performed at several Ravens games, as well as opening for the likes of Monica and Omarion, Chris Bivins appeared ill-prepared from the very start.
Then again, none of the other contestants were woken up -- in their private residence -- by a rapper from Austin with a Band-Aid on his mug yelling at them through a bullhorn.
Bivins came across likable enough, but as both Rich and Estefan duly noted after his lackluster "More" from Usher's "Raymond vs. Raymond," Bivins might want to focus on dancing only. The kid's got moves, for sure.
Shout out to Bivins' dad for the courage to rock a hi-top fade, a la Kid 'n Play, some two-and-a-half decades later.
In many ways, Gainesville, Va.'s Jordan Baird is Joe Jonas: in a band with his brothers, has a kinda creepy, uber-Christian father, loves him some deep V-neck T-shirts, sucks at basketball, etc.
Somehow, Jonas convinced Baird that rest of basic cable needed to hear his cover of Gavin DeGraw's "Not Over You."
And now, thanks to a Virginian taking Mobtown with the help of a Jonas, it's recorded for all posterity.
What's next for "The Next?" New York, Chicago, Dallas and finally, Los Angeles -- where we'll see Baird vie for the top spot.