“Listen To Your Heart” concludes its first season tonight, and even though people around the country are stuck at home, it appears not many tuned in to the latest ABC Bachelor spinoff show. If you happened to catch any of the episodes, the lack of interest is probably unsurprising.
“Listen To Your Heart” combines the traditional elements of “The Bachelor” franchise — rose ceremonies, romance, eliminations, and drama — with the added component of a musical competition. Not only are contestants looking for love, they’re aspiring singers and songwriters pursuing both a career in music and a life partner with whom to take the stage. Whichever performers can best demonstrate musical aptitude and depth of romantic connection week-to-week get to continue in the competition. Couples most lacking chemistry and talent are eliminated.
“It’s not just to be a music star. It’s not just to find love. It’s to get it all,” host Chris Harrison described.
One might think the series would have crossover appeal, attracting both Bachelor Nation as well as fans of traditional singing competitions. The latest seasons of “The Bachelor” and “The Bachelorette” brought in an average of 6.4 million and 5.8 million viewers per episode, respectively, with some recent seasons attracting closer to 10 million. Likewise, nearly 7 million people watched the latest season of musical mainstay “American Idol,” with “The Voice” drawing 9 million. Combine those fanbases with the fact that everyone is staying inside consuming obscene amounts of television, and “The Bachelor” franchise has got itself another winning series.
But the numbers don’t bear that out. Season one of “Listen To Your Heart,” which featured only six episodes, half the length of a typical “Bachelor” season, brought in an average of about 2.7 million viewers per episode. While the series premiere kicked off with nearly 3 million viewers, it dropped substantially to only 2.3 million.
This isn’t to say no bright spots emerged. Charming contestant Matt Ranaudo not knowing the name of longtime host Chris Harrison was a memorable moment. In fact, Matt’s was a redeeming storyline throughout the otherwise bleak season, particularly his slow-burn romance with singer Rudi, who proved to be a show-stopper.
The couple’s on-stage chemistry paired with Rudi’s vocal movement in their performances of Chris Stapleton’s “Tennessee Whiskey” and Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper’s “Shallow” are enough to give anyone chills. I’ll admit that while I DVRed the episodes so I could fast-forward through screechy rehearsals and subsequent tears, I found myself rewinding at least one of this couple’s phenomenal covers. See for yourself. It was that good.
But a handful of exceptional musical numbers couldn’t redeem “Listen To Your Heart” from its colossal flubs. While it seemed “The Bachelor” franchise had picked up on the audience’s distaste for 22-year-old fashion bloggers when it announced the next bachelorette would be 39-year-old Clare Crawley, it revived the youthful blogger energy in this sideshow in 21-year-old singing waitress Jamie, whose tearful insecurity became this season’s undercurrent.
The spinoff also lacked crucial finesse. What “The Bachelor” lacks in authenticity, it makes up for in humor, drama, and emerging connections that keep audiences coming back for more. Meanwhile, top-rated singing competitions have one goal: discover the best star. ABC’s attempted hybrid was sloppy. Nasally rehearsals laid over over dramatic “Bachelor” background music made for a less than pleasurable auditory experience. Petty spats were hard to follow. Did Julia hate Savannah because she was envious of Savannah’s relationship with Brandon or just jealous of her superior voice? Difficult to say, but it’s hard to care too much when you’re not invested in the characters nor their overly contrived relationships.
ABC hasn’t announced whether “Listen To Your Heart” will be renewed for another season, but if the spinoff couldn’t generate interest during a pandemic lockdown, it’s hard to believe it could succeed when people are once again allowed to go outside and do literally anything else.
In Bachelor Nation’s first year, a finale drew a whopping 25.9 million viewers, but just as most of the show’s relationships have fizzled out, so has its novelty. The “Listen To Your Heart” finale will be lucky to garner more than 10 percent of the franchise’s original glory — even while people have nothing better to do than watch.