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Reality Fix

Make or Break: The Linda Perry Project “The Journey Begins” 

Photo Credit: Piotr Sikora/VH1
Photo Credit: Piotr Sikora/VH1

I’ve never been a fan of any “reality” based singing competition. There’s nothing all that appealing to me about watching the process of a group of famous or outspoken judges discover talent. And, quite frankly, there are a lot of acts out there who are more style than substance. There’s also a glut of product on the market and, to me, all the shows seem the same. But when I heard that Linda Perry was doing a show about helping established artists get to the next level, I was intrigued.

You can’t be a fan of modern music and not know who Linda Perry is – no matter your musical taste. She’s worked with artists such as Pink, James Blunt, Alicia Keys and Steven Tyler and they all have nothing but praise for her. Yes, she can be direct and even harsh. Yes, she is very vocal in telling you her opinion. But she does it all in service of making artists better, of making artists dig deep and reveal their pain, their struggles and their joy.

Photo Credit: VH1
Photo Credit: VH1

Once the artists arrive in LA, the first order of business is for Linda to get into the studio with them and see if her first instincts about them were right. Every single one of these musicians is missing something, and it’s Linda’s job to help them find it so they can progress in their career. The first artist in her studio is Gabriel and he does nothing but bore her. Gabe’s not a dynamic performer and since he’s a busker Linda’s not sure how he’ll handle original material. She tells him his job is to give the band his energy and his emotion to feed off, but they’re not getting anything from him. Linda keeps prodding and pushing him, urging him to go to a whole other level. When he finally listens to her and lets go, Linda’s pleased.

Anjuli is a rapper. Although Linda isn’t known for her work in the genre, she sees talent in Anjuli and wants to nurture it. So when they go into the studio, Linda asks to hear Anjuli freestyle. Anjuli is really good at hiding her emotions because it doesn’t seem like she’s nervous. Later she tells some of the girls about her nerves, but that never comes across when she’s with Linda. Anjuli claims she isn’t any good at free style, but I liked what she came up with in the moment and, more importantly, she impressed Linda.

Noah concerns me. Linda thinks he’s got the look, the sound and the charm. But does he have something beneath the surface? He seems more interested in the fame than the music, although when Linda gets him to just improvise in front of the mic he’s good. It’s when he stops to think that the emotion and power of his words disappears. Maybe he has a preconceived notion of what being a pop-star or a singer is. Maybe he’s not comfortable enough with Linda to show her his true self. Whatever it is, it’s holding him back. If what he says about music is true – that it makes him feel good in his soul – then he does deserve this shot. I just hope Linda can get through whatever defensive layers he’s erected and help him develop an even better sound.

Hunter Valentine doesn’t even get into the studio with Linda in this episode and she already knows they’re a mess. Lead singer Kiyomi is clashing with Aimee, who has been part of the band for about a year. Aimee has been a lead singer in the past, but that’s only part of her problem with Kiyomi. They just don’t seem to listen to or respect each other all the time. Even though Kiyomi and Laura are founding members of the band, Aimee doesn’t feel like that should make their opinions carry more weight than hers. If these three can get it together, they might have something. Linda sees how hard-working they are and she believes in their talent, but she can only do so much to help them develop and grow.

I don’t pretend to know a lot about music (because I really don’t), but I’m looking forward to seeing Linda push the remaining artists out of their comfort zones when she gets them into her studio. I love that she wants to hear that raw emotion and for them to be real. She thinks that’s what’s missing from music today. And we’ve got to remember, it’s Linda’s reputation and credibility that’s on the line here. If she doesn’t sign the right person or group it could be the end of her record label.

Make or Break: The Linda Perry Project airs Wednesdays at 10/9c on VH1.

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