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The Four series premiere recap: Season 1, episode 1

The Four

So, here we are. Another day, another singing competition. And The Four wants so badly to be your new favorite that it explains itself away at every given opportunity. But before we analyze it to death, let’s just explain it.

The premise: There are four Very Good Singers who sit in Very Good Seats. Those seats indicate that you are the best in all the land. They will defend these Very Good Seats against potential challengers for up to six weeks. These Very Good Singers and their challengers are chosen by:

  • DJ Khaled, a DJ with an incredibly adorable son
  • Sean “Diddy” Combs, a legend who changes his name a lot
  • Charlie Walk, a record executive
  • Meghan Trainor, a woman who visited a sex shop today with the boy from Spy Kids

And if that wasn’t rich enough for you, the whole thing is hosted by Fergie, who can almost always be found in a metallic mini dress, walking with purpose and screaming into a microphone. The opening is such a big deal that it doesn’t make you think Fox really regrets giving up American Idol to ABC. Anyway, those first four Very Good Singers have been chosen. They are as follows:

  • Lex Lu, female rapper with great hair
  • Blair Perkins, a songwriter who has written for Demi Lovato
  • Elanese Lansen, a Dominican singer with a self-proclaimed Latin flair
  • Ash Minor, a white man

So, with a quick Justin Timberlake performance from the first four, we get to our first challenger, Tyler Griffin. He chooses a Jason Derulo song for reasons that are beyond my comprehension. The judges love it, but Charlie Walk is absolutely not having it. This is an important note, because for a contestant to even challenge for a spot, all four judges have to agree that it’s worth it. Tyler gets all judges but one, so he’s out. Walk says, “We all enjoyed the performance, but it just wasn’t good enough to take on The Four.” Moving forward, if anyone says The Four, you must take a drink.

Next up is Zhavia, a 16-year-old R&B singer with dreadlocks and a very personal backstory. Her mom also has a sick shoulder tat. She chooses Khalid’s “Location,” and it’s pretty okay. She’s very reminiscent of Cher Lloyd, in that Cher Lloyd is like Target, and you’d prefer to go to Target, but Walmart is a lot closer. DJ Khaled, who is not Khalid, loved it. And even though Diddy thinks she doesn’t deserve it, he points out that this isn’t like Other Shows. This is a BATTLE SHOW. So they all vote her through to challenge, and DJ Khaled storms the stage to scream, “THIS IS WHAT I’M HERE FOR.” I have anxiety over the whole thing, until she chooses Elanese Lansen. At that point, after both perform, the audience decides that Zhavia deserves it more than Elanese, and Elanese is dethroned. Fergie says “The Four.” Drink.

Also, turns out, if you win your seat, you’re safe for the night! And with that, another performer steps out, and Fergie says “The Four.” Drink. Anthony Hall, a singer/songwriter, performs a slowed down “Feel It Still,” and it feels like a pretty solid performance. He gets shut down pretty hard though, so it’s a nonstarter. Next up is Illakriss, a rapper who is pretty much brought on to highlight how bad Meghan Trainor is at hiding her distaste. Then Diddy gives a speech about how rappers deserve the right to eat and everyone votes him through to challenge Lex Lu. That was a mistake because Lex is actually Very Good, which makes sense because, well, the seat. At that point, Fergie says “The Four” three more times, and I’m drunk. But Lex Lu stays in her seat, and she’s safe.

Following Illakriss is Valentina Cytrynowicz in a very exciting wide-legged pant ensemble. She sings Lorde’s “Green Light,” and since my opinion has been off all night, I assume the judges will love it. Charlie takes it as an opportunity to namedrop that he’s worked with Lorde and that he loved it. But as it turns out, I’ve been watching The Four (drink) too long because outside of Charlie, it seems that my opinion isn’t so far off. Valentina is panned before Diddy screams out, “I WANT GREATNESS AMERICA,” because this show is off the damn rails. On this show, people scream and demand things from the audience and run around at random, and that’s just Fergie.

Saeed Renaud follows up with some very exciting looking glasses and a love of R&B. He’s already won a Grammy as a songwriter, so he’s a lock for a chair, right? And here’s the thing, I’m going to level with you. I’ve been sitting here judging this show for 99 minutes. Literally 99 minutes on the nose, and at the moment Saeed starts singing “Run to You” by Whitney Houston, I audibly gasp. Something happens when you watch The Four (drink). You fall in love with the crazy because you realize how insanely bonkers it all is, and then you and Meghan Trainor are crying because you’re both so basic. He’s voted through to a challenge, and he chooses Demi Lovato songbird Blair. As the final battle of the night comes to a close, it’s Saeed who reigns supreme.

And with that, the first week of battles is over, and somehow White Guy Ash is the only one left unscathed. In a crowded field of similar shows, it seems difficult for The Four (finish your drink) to stay afloat, but in its final minutes, Diddy looks directly into the camera — guys, I’m talking about a tight frame with Diddy’s entire head taking it up — and says, “This isn’t like the other shows. It’s the Battle Show,” and then he encourages all of us (even you!) to come meet Fergie in whatever sequined mini dress she’s sporting and prove that you deserve to be one of…you know how it ends.

We wrote a react for this episode, which means we’ll just be checking in occasionally, but if this is a show you’d like to read about each week, please let us know! You can email with your feedback and suggestions.


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