EXCLUSIVE: Fergie Explains The Difficult Challenge Rappers Have on 'The Four'

Courtesy of FOX Broadcasting Co.

Just when you thought you were so over singing competitions, The Four: The Battle For Stardom pops up in your Thursday night TV lineup, with Black Eye Peas alum Fergie as the ultimate host.

And you can’t look away because you know there’s going to be serious shenanigans if Diddy, DJ Khaled, Meghan Trainor and Charlie Walk, president of Republic Records are on the panel of judges. Here’s the two-minute catch up about The Four’s format. Challengers compete against The Four before a panel and live-studio audience. The original Four were Lex Lu, Blair Perkins, Elanese Lansen, and Ash Minor. The panel decides—by unanimous decision—which challengers are worthy of competing against The Four. If the challenger advances to the next round, she or he can compete against any member of The Four for their coveted seat. And the studio audience votes to decide which of the two singers remains in the competition. The winner gets a deal with Republic Records. Got it? Good.

Latina caught up with Fergie between tapings to discuss forgetting your lyrics, audience votes, and spotting star potential. (This interview was conducted before Walk was accused of sexual misconduct.)

So the story goes that you were originally pursued to be one of the judges. How did you end up flipping the convo to become the hostess with the mostess?

I was on the road doing promo for Double Duchess, so I couldn’t be in L.A. We ended up having a FaceTime meeting or a Skype conference. After the meeting, three weeks go by and I figure I would have heard from them by now. So I’m in the gym watching TMZ, yes, full disclosure, I watch TMZ at the gym. [Laughs] And they’re discussing The Four and talking about the women who are in the running to be a judge. It’s me, Meghan Trainor and someone else. Later, I get an email from my manager saying, “Hey, they want you for this show as a host because you’re an artist and they want you to be more interactive because you’ve been there.” The hosting part of life had just opened up with Dick Clark’s Rock’ New Years Eve with Ryan Seacrest. And now this, it’s the highest level of hosting that I’ve ever done.

Lex Lu, who was an original member of The Four and a rapper, forgot the words to her song. She recovered by improvising and playing with the judges. DJ Khaled said she “finessed” her performance, but not all of the judges agreed. You’re an artist, what’s your take on what happened?

That’s happened to every artist. Let's not get it twisted. You can't just say, "Stop, hold on, I forgot my lyrics." You just make stuff up. You have fun with it. You have to laugh at yourself. It’s still a fun, inclusive part of performing. It happens to me a lot. If I hit a bad note, I'll just be like, "Well, that was off, but whatever!" Lex Lux recovered well from that, especially because of the pressure. The audience is crazy and loud, and I see it because I'm right there with them. Rappers have a more difficult time than the other contestants or challengers, because they’re busy writing a whole new song, learning it, learning how to breathe it, perform it ... and no one's ever heard it before so there's no familiarity there.




The audience decides if the challenger gets to replace a member of The Four. Do you ever wonder, what the hell was the audience thinking? 

Yeah, I'm constantly shocked at what the panel is saying, the drama that's going on, and the audience votes. I have to be on my toes because I never know what could happen. No seat is safe, and there's a challenge, which means things could turn on a second. All of a sudden people are pissed off, and I get emotional and catch feelings.

Contestant Nicole Boggs sang a "Like I'm Gonna Lose You" by Megahan Trainor. Trainor is one of the judges. What do you think when people make moves like that? Is it bold? Is it strategic?

I think it's both. If you're gonna come with a Meghan Trainor song, you better sing it as good or better than Meghan Trainor or make it your own. And Nicole made it her own. Her voice is so big and you saw the way Meghan responded. Nicole did it justice. I'm not saying she did it better than Meghan, but I'm saying she did it her way with her vocal power and made it a great performance. But don’t try it as a way to try to kiss up.

Charlie Walk said he can tell in 30 seconds if someone is a star. Can you spot star potential that quickly?

Sometimes, I can. Sometimes it takes a little bit more, and I discover something that I didn't know was there. Candice Boyd impressed me more and more. Those riffs and her tone got me, and of course, her beauty. She’s regal. During one of her performances, Candice got angry and I saw this passion. I need to feel that the person who's singing is matching the passion I feel inside. I can see Candice following in the footsteps of a Mary J Blige.

Check out The Four: Battle For Stardom on Fox at 8 p.m. on Thursdays.

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