'The Next Star' rises again

Contestants wait to audition for the YTV television show The Next Star, at the Ramada Conference...

Contestants wait to audition for the YTV television show The Next Star, at the Ramada Conference Centre in Edmonton, Tuesday May 8, 2012. (DAVID BLOOM/QMI AGENCY)

Bill Harris, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:25 PM ET

The Next Star can be considered a form of musical crime prevention.

If you weed out some of the young wannabes on a talent show for kids, then maybe it saves us all some aural pain on adult talent shows down the line.

So judge Mark Spicoluk can be, like, Spiderman. Judge Keshia Chante can be Wonder Woman. Judge Tara Oram can be, uh, I don't know, Batgirl or something, I haven't really thought this through.

The point is, one thing struck me when watching the first episode of the fifth season of The Next Star, which airs Monday, July 16 on YTV.

These judges are pretty tough.

OK, when I say tough, I don't mean like Jane Krakowski's 30 Rock character Jenna Maroney, who was the Simon Cowell-ish mean judge on a show called America's Kidz Got Singing.

But Spicoluk, Chante and Oram -- all new for the fifth season of The Next Star -- certainly are not afraid to say no.

They're polite. And they try to be encouraging. What else are you supposed to do when you're staring at a nervous 10-year-old?

But all three judges are capable of looking that 10-year-old in the eye and bluntly saying, "It's a no from me today." That's refreshing.

Generally, there are four types of people who audition for televised talent shows. 1) Truly talented adults. 2) Truly talented kids. 3) Delusional adults, whose delusion is based upon alarming obliviousness. 4) Delusional kids, whose delusion is based upon innocence, with an additional helping of family members telling them they're great.

With that last group, it can be tricky if you're a judge, right?

But I really like this judging team, and trust me, I almost never say that. Spicoluk (a record-company employee who used to play in Avril Lavigne's band), Chante (a Juno Award-winning R&B artist) and Oram (a former Canadian Idol competitor and star of the CMT series The Tara Diaries) combine to strike the right tone.

One structural criticism, which has nothing to do with the judges: There's a wildcard element to The Next Star this season, in which one kid who initially fails the audition eventually will be invited to the next round. That allows host Adamo Ruggiero -- who also is very good in his role -- to tell crushed kids there's still a chance.

There isn't really, for most of them. That sense of false hope is cruel for the ones who clearly won't advance. Notice to all adults: You can say no to kids sometimes. It's actually good for them.

Regardless, Spicoluk, Chante and Oram have pledged to protect your eardrums, like musical superheroes, on The Next Star. If televised singing contests endure, you'll really be thanking them in about 10 years.


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