The subtitle I gave for my review pertains to one non-winning contestant, who I will discuss in-depth at the end of my essay. But let’s first go through the motions and discuss the production aspects of the finals of this year’s pageant and the contestants who made the cut.
Just like in last year’s pageant, the Miss World Organization packaged the telecast of the final to allow broadcasters options to choose between the full 2-1/2-hour option or the 2-hour option. Just like in syndicate Sunday comic strips, this usually means that supposedly the first sequence could be treated as a throwaway, but in this instance, most broadcasters would deem it an essential sequence, as this was the pre-taped contestant introduction–it was a welcome change that they reinstated the full contestant introduction featuring a full shot of the contestant walking in her designer gown and a superimposed shot of the contestant speaking–this was last done in 1994.
The stage at the newly opened MGM National Harbor (in Oxon Hill, Maryland) does have grandeur. However, the triangle pit at the front reminded many observant pageant fans of the Miss Universe 2015 stage at the AXIS in Las Vegas, Nevada. Even if the triangle pit is larger here, the similarities make fans regard this premiere pageant as a copycat. And this is not the only element that borrowed from another major pageant…
The final was hosted by American actor Jason Cook and Miss World 2013 from the Philippines, Megan Young. Megan continues to grow in strength as a host–I wouldn’t mind seeing her be turned into the next Angela Chow and host several more editions of this pageant. Her shining moment was in interviewing the Top 11 finalists as their names were announced, as she generally was gracious in her questioning and brought the best out of them. Jason, meanwhile, is pleasant and generally competent–his only gaffe was mispronouncing the surname of one of the judges, Liliana Tanoesoedibjo (the last name is like Tah-noo-soo-dib-yo).
In the role of backstage correspondent (and host of the challenge events) was Mister World 2012/13 finalist from Canada Frankie Cena–his high-pitched speaking voice is an acquired taste but to his credit he has exuberance and competence. Producer Steve Douglas, meanwhile, was now more of an off-camera announcer–in previous editions, he’s typically the one recapping the challenge events, but that task is now performed by the hosts.
This year, Miss World preferred to employ local talent for their musical interludes–and when I mean local talent, these are talents that are known mostly in a certain niche or in the regional circuit and are not high-profile artists. Singing a stirring hymn after another Beauty with a Purpose tribute clip aired after the Top 11 interview was opera singer Rodrick Dixon. He actually previously performed at the 2012 pageant with a classical cover of the West Side Story chestnut “Somewhere”. He’s reportedly a world-renowned opera tenor, though there are very few opera singers that have awareness with the general public.
To provide musical accompaniment as the rest of the girls walked on the stage in their designer gowns prior to the announcement of the winners , there was Washington DC band the Morrison Brothers with their single “Party at My House“. The song is indistinguishable from the “bro-country” songs permeating country radio these days though it’s a pleasant enough listen. Even if it aired on cable network E!, I doubt E!’s broadcast would help raise the profiles of these artists.
It’s now time to discuss the pageant format. It of course starts with the opening number, and this was a high energy sequence, featuring the contestants clad in solid minidresses according to the colors of their groups–Red, White, and Blue. The sequence ends with the contestants lined up to form the American flag. That formation is a nice touch and at least is a nod to the host country. However, this was scored to Fifth Harmony‘s latest single, “That’s My Girl“. and this song (in slightly remixed form) earlier served as the opening number song for Miss Earth about 1 1/2 months before. Again, as good as the opening number was, it would be saddled with a “copycat” tag for the song use.
After this number, they recapped the challenge events. Unlike the 2011-2015 editions, the challenge events are back to being fast-track events, the winner of each event earning automatic slots in the Top 20. This also meant the leaderboard was eliminated, so we don’t see who scored the best in interview. However, I just recently learned from a friend with connections who actually were the Top 10 in interview–I’ll discuss them as I review the Top 20. Anyway, what didn’t change was that the Talent winner then performed her talent–but instead of being highlighted, it’s treated almost as if it was an afterthought and the performance looked edited and pretaped–in fact, midway through the performance Steve Douglas piped in to segue to a commercial break.
The contestants then had another dance number where they were clad in uniform black dresses and did a few cha-cha dance steps set to Icona Pop’s “Emergency“. Now, I kinda like this sax-laden dance jam–wish it was a bigger hit than it was. The Top 20 were then announced and Jason Cook introduced the final night judging panel–again it’s a mix of Miss World insiders and members of the “Sorority” (I don’t know if Miss World 2014 top five finalist Carina Tyrell of England can be considered a “sorority” member as she was not a winner, but probably we can expand the membership to include previous contestants, too). After the judges were introduced, the Top 20 were then reintroduced individually by Steve Douglas, providing brief backgrounds to each.
Before I discuss the next sequences, I will pay brief tributes to the Top 20 quarterfinalists who failed to advance to the Top 11. Interesting to note that although they ultimately did not clinch the crown, Asians comprised eight of the Top 20 (followed by Europe with four, and two each from the Americas, Africa, Oceania and the Caribbean).
COOK ISLANDS – Natalie Short. She made it on the virtue of her win in the Sports challenge event. She actually has the prettiness and articulateness to make it based on merit, but I have a feeling because she came from a less-regarded country she needed the fast-track win to bring forth her country’s breakthrough. I welcome her presence here.
THAILAND – Jinnita Buddee. I thought she’ll probably need the popular vote to make serious inroads but it turned out she won over the judges enough in interview to make it (and perhaps they also factored in Beauty with a Purpose [BWAP] as she made the Top 25 here). I’m glad her personality was winning enough to make the judges take notice and grant her a slot here.
INDIA – Priyadarshini Chatterjee. I’m glad this ingenue made the cut on interview merits and her Top Five BWAP performance–her predecessor couldn’t even make it here even when she scored high on the challenges.
HUNGARY – Tímea Gelencsér. I was expecting her to go Top Five, but despite a sterling performance in the challenge events (Top Ten–arguably Top Three, even–in Talent, Top 24 in Sports, and Top 25 in BWAP aren’t that compelling for her to advance further.
FRANCE – Morgane Edvige. I was expecting this gorgeous lady to advance further to the semifinals, but I suppose the judges found more compelling interviews to advance ahead of her, just like…
AUSTRALIA – Madeline Cowe. See FRANCE. I presumed she’ll ace her interview and her BWAP project had strong merits, but the insiders actually found more compelling interview choices ahead of her. Anyway, she can be content with the designation of being crowned Miss World – Oceania as the highest ranking contestant from her region.
SLOVAKIA – Kristína Činčurová. I learned from an insider friend of mine that this lady was one of those who made Top Ten in interview. She didn’t figure in any of the challenge events so I thought that might hurt her chances but her interview showing helped her make it this far.
GHANA – Antoinette Delali Kemayor. I had mentioned previously that I have underrated her as I didn’t appreciate her brand of beauty then–but then I started appreciating her dignified presence and realize she was indeed worthy of belonging here. Just like Slovakia, she failed to make inroads in any challenge event but she is among those reportedly in the Top Ten in interview.
JAPAN – Priyanka Yoshikawa. One big shocker I got from my insider friend was that this lady was reported to have placed fifth in interview. I suppose her biracial background (remember she’s half-Indian) was a compelling human interest story for the judges.
COMING UP: THE TOP 11 SEMIFINALISTS