Popstars is coming and the trio of panellists putting contestants through their paces, Kimbra, Nathan King and Vince Harder, think they will find the next big thing in New Zealand Music.
The TVNZ 2 reboot of the show is not looking for a new girl group as it originally did in 1999 when TrueBliss was formed. This series' acts can be solo, duos or groups.
New York-based Grammy Award-winning singer Kimbra flew home to be head panellist, flanked by Zed frontman King and artist and music producer Harder.
The trio has judged at The Civic in Auckland, The Opera House in Wellington, and at the Isaac Theatre Royal in Christchurch. King tells Spy that each city had its stand-outs — with loads of musical diversity ranging from country to hip-hop and everything in between.
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"The level of talent we're seeing in this show has been incredible. The production skills of some of these kids is up there with what you would have only found in the big LA or New York studios 20 years ago," King says.
"It's been fascinating to see a lot fewer bands stepping forward an instead, more solo acts, which is perhaps indicative of the more siloed nature of society. And these guys aren't just serving up a simple song with guitar or piano — they're arranging their beats, shaping, and layering their songs. The quality has been amazing."
Harder says the panel needed more time in Auckland because that's where most of the auditions came from. Whittling the wannabes down to 12 finalists wasn't easy.
"The ones we chose were those we thought had a clear pathway and direction with our guidance and support," Harder says.
King says they pushing the contestants to the limit.
"There's a lot of pressure to 'perform' and almost daily they face situations where you only get one shot — whether it's on stage, in the studio, collaborating with other artists, dealing with media, or interacting with fans and crowds."
The finalists have so far had rock-star treatment staying in new boutique hotel The Convent, the Spanish-style former nunnery on Great North Rd in Grey Lynn.