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Nick Lachey

The Winner Is: Nick Lachey returns with new singing competition series

"Music's something that we all can enjoy in our own way whether we sing it or listen to it or dance to it or what have you."

by Jerry Nunn
Nick Lachey is giving away $1 million on NBC's new singing competition series, The Winner Is.

The series features singers each week who must decide if they are good enough to win the grand prize of $1 million dollars in the finale, or if they want to tag out early and leave with $10,000 to $50,000.

No one would question the musical credentials of Lachey, who previously hosted The Sing-Off. He was the lead singer for the boy band 98 Degrees, which has sold over 10 million albums worldwide. He landed a hit reality show, Newlyweds, with Jessica Simpson then went to number two on the Billboard Top 200 Albums chart as a solo artist.

Lachey hits Chicago this summer with 98 Degrees as part of the Package Tour with Boys II Men and New Kids on the Block. He is also releasing a children's album inspired by his son, Camden.

Jerry Nunn talked to the

to the heartthrob right before his new show debuted and quickly found out he might be the nicest man in show business.

JN: (Jerry Nunn) Hi, Nick. How did get involved with this show in the first place?

NL: (Nick Lachey) Well obviously I've had kind of an ongoing relationship with NBC and done a few projects over the years. I was in the Sing-Off and last summer Stars Earn Stripes, hosted the Macy's fireworks on the network. So we've developed a relationship. And as this show started to come into fruition, they brought it to my attention.

What really excited me about The Winner Is in particular it's the kind of show that I think hasn't been done yet on TV. I've never seen a show quite like it, which really kind of peaked my interest and got me excited to be a part of it.

So it came about first through NBC and then they reached out to me and kind of gauged my interest.

JN: What makes your show different from the rest of the pack?

NL: What makes this one so different is it really combines the talent and the great performances of a singing competition show with the game play and the strategy of a game show. It combines those two in a way that I don't think we've seen done before, which is why it was so interesting to me.

JN: How did the contestants come to the show?

NL: We had a great scouting department that really searched the country for talent. I can't emphasize enough that these are talented people from every walk of life. I mean everything from an emergency room nurse to a chicken farmer to a 10-year-old 6th grader. I think we've really captured talent form all across the country.

There were five different cities you could go and actually audition in. But in addition to that we took submissions online. The scouting department did a great job of finding truly the most talented people in the country and bringing them to LA for the show.

JN: You must love discovering new talent on the show.

NL: Sometimes when you're in this business, it can become such a business that you can forget sometimes the joy of why you started signing to begin with. What I've found is in doing shows like this, you kind of get that rekindled. You see the organic joy and excitement that these people have for what they love to do, which is sing.

The opportunity to be on a grand stage in Hollywood living their dreams is an exciting way to be around music and be around people who love what they do. If they go on to become the next Justin Bieber great. If they win some money and go back home and go back to their job and keep singing and doing it because they love to do it, that's equally great.

Music's something that we all can enjoy in our own way whether we sing it or listen to it or dance to it or what have you.

JN: How was the jury chosen?

NL: They're music experts. They're either producers or they're maybe music teachers, they're bloggers, they're music critics. So they're people who have some knowledge and some exposure to music. They're not just randomly selected from the audience. They are specific pre-determined group of 101 people who will be voting on each and every performance. They change every episode.

I didn't necessarily agree with every decision they made, which is I think a little bit of the drama of it. You think you might be able to predict how the 101 is going to vote. But what I've found and I think what the contestants found is sometimes there really is no way to predict.

I mean it's certainly based on talent and on performance but it's also based on charisma, it's based on how you were able to interact with the audience, what your stage presence was. So there's quite a few different variables that the 101 I think considers when they make their vote.

There simply is no way to predict how they're going to vote on a particular artist. Even times when I felt like they made the right decision, I thought maybe it was a little more lopsided than I had anticipated. So and that's kind of the beauty of this situation is you just never know. That's where the real drama comes in because these contestants have to make a decision on the fly as to whether they're going to take the money and walk or stick it out and risk going home with nothing based on the vote of 101 people they've never met.

JN: Do the contestants choose their songs?

NL: Well I do think song selection does sometimes come into play. I think certain songs are resonate more with the judges than others. At the same time someone could come out and do a great operatic aria that's certainly not something you hear a lot on these types of shows. But it could resonate in a way that makes it very special and makes it stand out. The contestants do have the opportunity to select their song. I mean we want them to feel like they're coming in with their best foot forward and coming in the most comfortable they can be.

So it's a combination. I've seen times when someone maybe picked a song that wasn't necessarily a great choice and maybe it did have an impact on the judges' decision. But I've also seen people make kind of a curious choice again with something like an aria that at first you're like, this could be an absolute train wreck but it turns out to be a brilliant one. So you just never know. You never know how they're going to respond. But it definitely does play a part in the decision making I think.

JN: Will the at home viewers get a chance to vote during the shows or is it during the finale at all?

NL: No, not at least not in this particular season. All the voting was done in studio by the 101, you know, judges in the audience. So I'm not sure if that, you know, will change at any point in the future but the way that the show worked at least in this season it was all judged in house by the 101 voters in the audience.

JN: Was this experience different than shows you have done in the past?

NL: I had a blast shooting this show. I mean that's what I really took away from it. Got to meet some very, very talented people, meet some great young singers and old singers for that matter. More than anything what I loved about doing this show was the ability for me to really be myself. I mean I think more than you saw maybe on the Sing-Off in the past. In this show I was about to really kind of loosen up and be me and interject a little more and it was just a looser kind of environment, just a different kind of show.

So I think each and every show you host they're all different and they all kind of tap into a different part of your personality. This one certainly did for me but it was a lot of fun to be a part of and a lot of fun to do and certainly hope we get to do a lot more of them.

JN: What advice would you give someone hosting a show?

NL: You know, I'd definitely say make sure you get lasik if your eyes are bad because there's a lot of reading involved. You never can predict especially in a live show you can never predict what's going to happen. There's always that moment where you have to think on the fly. The more you can be prepared, the more knowledgeable you are about the background of the contestants and the show and all the things that the more you've done your homework so to speak the better prepared you're going to be to handle those situations. So that would be my biggest I guess suggestion is just be as prepared as you possibly can. I don't think there's any substitute for preparation.

JN: What is the inspiration for your new lullaby record?

NL: The inspiration for the lullaby record was most definitely was Camden. Music has always been a great way and writing has always been a great way for me to express myself.

So to do a lullaby album just made a lot of sense. It was a very kind of special and emotional way to kind of go through that process for me. If one day Camden wanted to be a singer, I would definitely support that.

I certainly don't take for granted all the things that music has meant to me in my life and all the great opportunities it's given me and my family. So that would be something that would definitely be something I would support. But at the same time, I'd be equally supportive if he didn't want to ever have anything to do with music. I want him to be his own individual and do what he wants to do and kind of blaze his own trails. So there'll be no pressure from dad if he decides he wants to go a different way but I would definitely support it and certainly will as if he's not already exposed to it but definitely expose him to music and all that it can bring in your life.

JN: We are excited about the 98 Degrees tour coming to Chicago.

NL: We are excited to be there.

JN: Would there possibly be a tour of the finalists from The Winner Is?

NL: Well I think there's always the possibility. I think you really hope for in a situation like this is that a true talent is discovered and that talent goes on to record a great album and to go out on the road and kind of realize the dream of a Kelly Clarkson or a Carrie Underwood or a Chris Daughtry.

There's some great examples of people who have gotten the exposure of their talent through great shows like this. I certainly hope that our winner will have that opportunity.

But you never know. If nothing else, they walk away with $1 million, which is nothing to scoff at. And they had a great experience doing it. So but I think in the perfect world, yeah, you love to see a real break through talent get discovered.

JN: I look forward to seeing the show and your concert.

NL: Sounds great, thank you!

The Winner Is returns July 11 and don't miss 98 Degrees at the Allstate Arena, July 18 and 19. For ticket information visit www.livenation.com.
 
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