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A Ranking of the Nondescript Artists Who Perform on ‘The Bachelor’

The awkward concert for two people is a time-honored ‘Bachelor’ tradition, and these are the masters of the form

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A one-on-one date on The Bachelor can start in a variety of ways—maybe with a helicopter ride, maybe a trip to a vineyard, or maybe they’re walking deep in the woods and hey what do you know there’s a makeshift hot tub over there—but it almost always ends the same way. The sun has set, and the Bachelor and his date are in different clothes than they were before, and they’ve just finished dinner (by which I mean they sat at a table talking about why they aren’t married yet for 30 minutes while some rubber-looking filet mignon got cold) when the Bachelor says, “I have one more surprise for you.”

“Another surprise?!” the contestant exclaims.

“Do you like so-and-so musician?” the Bachelor asks. He doesn’t say “so-and-so,” really, but he might as well, because the musician he names is never a musician anyone participating in modern culture has ever heard of. (Case in point: This past Monday, Arie Luyendyk Jr. took his date Seinne to see something called “LANCO.”)

“I do!” the contestant responds, lying.

And then they dance while the anonymous musician plays a ballad 10 to 15 feet away from them. It’s sooo romantic.

The random musical performance date capper is a time-honored tradition on The Bachelor. As far as I can tell, it’s been happening at least once a season since 2009, when Season 13’s Bachelor, Jason Mesnick, took Jillian to see Robin Thicke perform in an empty venue. (Information on early seasons has essentially been scrubbed from the public record, so it is possible that the random musician trope dates back even further.) What I’m now wondering—because this is the type of thing you think about when watching two people awkwardly dance to a D-list country singer with a made-up sounding name—is which of these nondescript musicians from over the years delivered the best performance? Who made the most of their random, undeserved time in the reality TV spotlight? Who contributed the most to a piece of legitimately entertaining television?

I plan to answer those questions by rating the musicians in four different categories:

  • The Reveal: How well does the Bachelor sell his “enthusiasm” for the musician, and how adeptly does the woman feign excitement? And how much entertainment do these things bring you, the viewer?
  • The Environment: Though all qualifying performances are extremely uncomfortable to watch, they do vary in detail. Sometimes, the performance takes place in a crowded concert hall; other times it’s in an empty cabana. This matters greatly.
  • The Song Lyrics: The Bachelor is about “Foreverlove”—I know because the show’s participants have said it so many times that this made-up word is now somehow widely accepted as an actual thing. Anyway, it’s only right that whatever random song this random singer is performing matches up with the ethos of The Bachelor. For example, it would be weird—although very awesome—if Arie and Seinne were forced to dance to Fiona Apple’s “Not About Love.” And that brings me to the last thing ...
  • The Dance: The musician exists so that the Bachelor and his date have a reason to dance. The dance should feel as natural as possible, and not something that makes your skin hurt to watch. Admittedly, this responsibility doesn’t rest entirely on the musician—because often the show’s producers put these people in predictably and absurdly awkward positions—but whatever. Love isn’t fair and neither is this exercise. Now let’s rank the candidates.

[Oh, one more thing: This ranking does not include the musicians who have been included as part of a date’s activity beyond merely performing a song. Seal (Season 15), 2NE1 (Season 18), Big & Rich (Season 19), and the Backstreet Boys (Season 21), therefore, will not be mentioned. Also, tiebreakers are decided by my personal feelings.]

19. Sarah Darling (Season 17)

The Reveal: Usually, when interviewed about these musical dates, the women mention the name of the musician in such a shoehorned way that it’s clear they’ve been told they have to do it. But after Sean Lowe took Lindsay to a performance by Sarah Darling, Lindsay called it “this concert.” She wasn’t even trying to remember who the hell performed. 1/10

The Environment: “The entire town of Whitefish has come out to see this amazing concert,” Sean Lowe says in a voice-over. This makes me really uncomfortable; all I can think about is a small town in Montana full of hunters and fishermen being completely uprooted by a reality TV show in which a man dates 30 women at the same time. Look how psyched they all are (2/10):

The Song Lyrics: “You look like Georgia,” are the first words of Sarah Darling’s “Home to Me.” Lindsay, on the other hand, is from North Carolina. 2/10

The Dance: At some of these performances, including this one, Bachelor producers build a raised platform in the middle of the concert crowd, and they make the couple dance on it. It’s extremely uncomfortable. Imagine not only being forced to dance on a first date, but being forced to dance on a pedestal so hundreds of strangers can stare at you. 2/10

Total: 7/40

18. Kate Voegele (Season 13)

The Reaction: “I had another surprise for Natalie,” Jason Mesnick says with zero emotion. “It was a private performance … by Kate Voegele.” After that, there isn’t even a reaction shot from Natalie—I’m assuming she just kept whispering “Who?” to Jason until he was like, “I know, just go with it.” 2/10

The Environment: Jason and Natalie appear to be in a very small, dark room, which is probably the best place to witness a private performance by someone who looks like Amy Winehouse but is certainly not Amy Winehouse. 7/10

The Song Lyrics: The song Voegele performs, “I Won’t Disagree,” says all the right word—heart, love, baby, feelings—but it’s kind of a song about being tentatively in love, and the female narrator seems to be fighting with several other women for a man’s attention. That’s a little too on the nose for The Bachelor. 4/10

The Dance: Yikes. “I Won’t Disagree” is a piano-bar ballad that should facilitate some easy slow-dancing, but that does not happen here. Jason and Natalie sway awkwardly while each doing voice-over confessionals about how awkward it all feels. It is in this moment that Jason decides to dump Natalie. That’s how bad the dancing was. 1/10

Total: 14/20

17. Connor Duermit (Season 22)

The Reveal: This one’s bizarre. When Arie and Krystal went on a date earlier this season, they barely even acknowledged this dude’s presence. In fact, ABC was forced to introduce Connor Duermit on its own:

That’s malpractice right there. I bet Arie got a talking-to about this. 1/10

The Environment: They’re in an empty concert hall, which, as you will see as this list goes on, is as basic as you can get in these situations. 3/10

The Song Lyrics: A solid Bachelor tune here: Connor Duermit sings about a woman holding his heart in her eyes (don’t overanalyze it, OK?) and there is a heavy amount of romantic “Oohs.” 7/10

The Dance: Arie, as you might expect, looks like goofball when he dances:

I don’t like watching it. 3/10

Total: 14/40

16. Billy Currington (Season 18)

The Reveal: Let’s take a look:

Here you have Juan Pablo just saying “Oooh.” That’s about as little effort as one could possibly put in. But you also have Chelsie being legitimately excited about this so-called Billy Currington. A few seconds after this clip, she’s shown singing the words to his song. I don’t know how that’s possible. 5/10

The Environment: The private concert takes place at Pasadena City Hall. It’s open air, the architecture is good—if it wasn’t inherently awkward to force two people to stand on a rug and watch a concert completely alone, this would be a very nice environment. 6/10

The Song Lyrics: Billy Currington sings the song, “Hey Girl,” in which he says to a woman, “You look a little thirsty.” This is not a very romantic song. 2/10

The Dance:

Hahahahahaha. 2/10

Total: 15/40

15. LANCO (Season 21)

The Reveal: LANCOOOOOOOO—by stylizing their name in all-caps, LANCO has made it impossible for me to not scream their name when I see it. Arie is less enthusiastic (obviously), to the point that he doesn’t even try to introduce the band to Seinne. For the second time in his season, ABC is forced to bust out a chyron:

Bad Arie! 1/10

The Environment: Arie and Seinne’s date takes place at the Hard Rock Casino in Lake Tahoe, which means it’s not a very long walk from the Hard Rock’s restaurant to their showroom, “Vinyl.” There, Arie and Seinne are greeted by a large group of people (awkward), eventually making their way up to a raised platform (the most awkward). And because this is 2018, the strangers surrounding the platform are not just staring, but also incessantly taking photos on their iPhones.

Looks like a very relaxed, chill time. 2/10

The Song Lyrics: The song LANCO (LANCOOOOOOOO) performs is called “Greatest Love Story.” I am guessing Bachelor producers saw that title on a tracklisting and booked LANCO on the spot. 8/10

The Dance: There’s some slow spinning, some nice swaying, and Arie even dips Seinne! A nice, impressive dance from the Bachelor you’d least expect it from. 7/10

Total: 18/40

14. Lucy Angel (Season 20)

The Reveal: “Stopppp,” Lauren B. told Ben Higgins when he unveiled the country band Lucy Angel. A drawn-out “stop” is a top-three fake surprised reaction, right behind “Oh my gahhhhhh,” and “No. Way.” 7/10

The Environment:

Lucy Angel appears to be performing in an event space that has been stereotypically outfitted with bales of hay (The Bachelor utilizes bales of hay constantly) and old chests? Not great. 3/10

The Song Lyrics: Here’s the opening verse of “Too Crazy,” the song Lucy Angel plays on The Bachelor: “I know why she’s crazy / Why she’s drinking all the time / Lookin’ more like 40 / When she’s only 29.” Just a very nice song for a couple to associate with their blossoming relationship. 3/10

The Dancing: Instead of dancing, they kind of just make out while vaguely rhythmically swaying back and forth—and it’s adorable! Only the very charismatic Ben Higgins could make awkwardly standing in place look OK. 7/10

Total: 20/40

13. Chris Lane (Season 21)

The Reveal: As Nick Viall walked Danielle L. into a theater in his hometown of Waukesha, Wisconsin, he said, “It’s a bucket-list thing,” which, huh? Did he mean seeing Chris Lane is a “bucket-list thing,” or was he referring to the act of standing on a platform and making out with a stranger in front of thousands of other strangers? Either way, I don’t think so. Neither of those things are on anyone’s bucket list. 4/10

The Environment: The raised platform comes into play once again, and once again it’s terrible. “I don’t think it’s anything I’ll ever forget,” Nick says, presumably talking about the profound feelings of shame and embarrassment. 3/10

The Song Lyrics: “For Her” is a song all about doing whatever it takes because you love a woman so much. At one point, Chris Lane even talks about dying for this woman. That is The Bachelor mentality right there. 9/10

The Dance: If they weren’t dancing on a platform above a sea of people and making awkward eye contact with a bearded man named Chris Lane, this dancing would be fine. 5/10

Total: 21/40

12. Matt Nathanson (Season 16)

The Reveal: There isn’t one! Ben Flajnik walks Lindzi C. into San Francisco City Hall, which is creepily empty and dark, and when the lights turn on, there’s Matt Nathanson, strumming away. Ben doesn’t do the, “You like Matt Nathanson?” thing, and Lindzi appears to know who he is without being told. I don’t know if that’s because a producer whispered in her ear, or if it’s because she owned the American Wedding soundtrack. 1/10

The Environment: The San Francisco City Hall is very beautiful, and there’s this huge set of steps in between Ben and Lindzi and Matt Nathanson:

That separation is key; keeps the awkward factor down. 7/10

The Song Lyrics: Matt Nathanson performs a song called “Faster” about being so infatuated with a girl that his bones rattle. Lindzi C. made it to the final two in Season 16, so I’m gonna say this song was pretty fitting. 7/10

The Dance:

There’s a lot of arm-pulling going on—that’s my main critique. But honestly? It’s not too hard to stomach. 6/10

Total: 21/40

11. Robin Thicke (Season 13)

The Reveal: Jason Mesnick doesn’t say “And here’s Robin Thicke!” Instead, they just sit down in a dark theater and all of the sudden the Thickeness hits. Reminder: This took place four years before “Blurred Lines,” and Thicke’s most popular song up until 2009 was “Lost Without U,” which peaked at no. 14 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 2007. There is a decent chance the words “Robin Thicke” mean nothing to Jason or his date Jillian. He doesn’t do a great job selling Mr. Thicke (cool face here), but she looks pretty into it:

Or maybe she’s just surprised to see a white guy committing so hard to R&B. 7/10

The Environment: Here’s the thing: “Empty concert hall” sounds way more romantic on paper than it is in practice. It sounds like the perfect date, or like the last scene in A Cinderella Story. But really it’s just a guy and a girl weirdly sitting on a couch when they absolutely shouldn’t be. 2/10

The Song Lyrics: On The Bachelor, Thicke performed “Magic” and “The Sweetest Love.” “Magic” is a song about how a woman’s love makes Thicke feel like he can bend metal with his mind, and “The Sweetest Love” is about two people who have the sweetest love. These songs check out, and are decent-to-good Bachelor jams. 7/10

The Dance: Hmmmmmmm …


Total: 21/40

10. Train (Season 15)

The Reveal: “So what if I told you I had one more surprise?” Brad Womack asked Jackie during their date at the Hollywood Bowl. “What would it take to make this date better? What about … the band Train?” This is the best, most unintentionally funny reveal of them all. No one has ever said, or will ever say, the above sentences again. 10/10

The Environment: A private concert at the Hollywood Bowl—now this, Nick Viall, is the kind of thing people write down on their bucket lists. But when this face is staring deep into your soul and there’s absolutely no escape because you’re alone, the environment is irrelevant. 1/10

The Song Lyrics: Train’s lyrics were born to appear on The Bachelor. They wrote a whole song called “Marry Me.” 10/10

The Dance: It’s not too hard to buy that Brad and Jackie earnestly enjoyed dancing to Train. When the cameras are on them, it’s very heartfelt and sweet. But above I explained that the ideal version of dancing would be something that doesn’t “make your skin hurt,” and whenever the cameras are on Train, I begin to feel serious epidermal pain. 1/10

Total: 22/40

9. Adam Friedman (Season 21)

The Reveal: For Adam Friedman, Nick Viall doesn’t do the “I’ve got one more surprise” horse and pony show—he and Raven just walk up to where they’re performing. Maybe he thought Adam Friedman’s music would speak for itself, but there is a less-than-zero chance Raven knew who this man singing was. 5/10

The Environment: They’re on a beach in the Bahamas, and there are other people around who seem to be dancing and not that concerned about the presence of reality TV characters—what more could you ask for? 8/10

The Song Lyrics: This song “What If” has some questionable lyrics, like “What if we never got drunk that day?” But it also repeatedly says, “You’re enough to believe in,” which is the kind of melodramatic sentiment The Bachelor loves to indulge in. 6/10

The Dance: An all-around low-effort performance here. Adam Friedman didn’t fly all expenses paid to the Bahamas for this. 4/10

Total: 23/40

8. The Eli Young Band (Season 17)

The Reveal: On a date Sean Lowe and AshLee F. shared with two girls who suffered from chronic illness, Sean introduced the Eli Young Band as “my favorite band.” I can actually see that—Sean Lowe definitely loves generic country music. On the flip side, I do not buy the feigned enthusiasm on behalf of AshLee F. or either of the little girls. 5/10

The Environment: Eli Young and Co. perform the private concert at Six Flags Magic Mountain, which was shut down for the date. That’s awesome—empty amusement parks are purely good. 9/10

The Song Lyrics: The Eli Young Band performs “Even If It Breaks Your Heart,” which is a song about fighting for your dreams no matter what. Sean and AshLee F.’s date was really about giving those two girls a nice day and lifting their spirits, so this is a fitting song choice. 7/10

The Dance: There was not a lot of dancing here, an extreme rarity on The Bachelor. I assume Sean Lowe was sued for breach of contract. 2/10

Total: 23/40

7. Romeo Santos (Season 18)

The Reveal: This one is good because Andi Dorfman—who, in the words of Whitney Houston, I will always love—doesn’t pretend she knows who Romeo Santos is. “I’m gonna show you who he is,” Juan Pablo says, 100 percent because he is a helpful gentleman and not at all because he’s an egomaniac who enjoys lording over women. 8/10

The Environment: There are other people inside the club where Romeo Santos is performing—that’s good. But Juan Pablo and Andi immediately ascend to a raised platform. Why, The Bachelor?! Why do you do this to people?! 5/10

The Song Lyrics: Romeo sings “Cancioncitas de Amor.” Now, I haven’t taken a Spanish class in a decade, but I know “amor” means “love,” so this checks out. 8/10

The Dance: It. Is. Rough. Andi doesn’t know how to dance to bachata music, and while Juan Pablo does, he has no interest in slowing down to teach Andi how to do it, so they’re on this raised platform tapping their feet around haphazardly. She looks extremely uncomfortable, he looks unbothered, and everyone is staring at them. 3/10

Total: 24/40

6. Chicago (Season 14)

The Reveal: Alright, this one was great. Ali Fedotowsky and Jake were just having dinner when “Saturday in the Park” started playing in the distance. They both got really excited—Jake even called Chicago a classic band”—and then ran barefoot across a field to see Chicago. It turns out these things work way better and feel more natural when the anonymous musician isn’t anonymous at all, but a very famous group that has been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. 9/10

The Environment: They listened to “Saturday in the Park” in a park. If this date took place on a Saturday then this was one of the best things The Bachelor has ever pulled off. 8/10

The Song Lyrics: I’ve never really thought about the lyrics to this song—they’re total nonsense. The guy says “I think it was the Fourth of July” a ton of times; then he goes, “Every day’s the Fourth of July,” which, no, that’s objectively false. There’s also talk of a man selling ice cream, people singing “Italian songs,” and a man covered in bronze. What’s up, Chicago? What happened here? 2/10

The Dance:

Ya know … it could be better. But this is pretty baseline in terms of Bachelor dancing. 5/10

Total: 24/40

5. Lolo (Season 21)

The Reveal: This is perhaps the most natural reveal that has ever happened on a music-based date on The Bachelor. Nick Viall and Rachel Lindsay are walking through the French Quarter in New Orleans when they “decide” to “pop into” a “random” spot. That’s where Lolo is performing. It works because they can both act like they don’t know Lolo (which they don’t) and that they’re surprised by her talent (which they are). 8/10

The Environment: It’s in New Orleans, a place where everything is fun. Case in point: This is maybe the only concert in Bachelor history in which the other people have looked like they were having a great time independent of the Bachelor and his date. 8/10

The Song Lyrics: The chorus of Lolo’s “Got No Time for Lonely” is “Blow me, blow me / Got no time for lonely.” Lovelier songs have been written. 2/10

The Dance: Nick Viall’s constant need to be on television was hard to bear, but I’m on board with the way he and Rachel get down:

That kinda dancing will get you a call from January Jones. 7/10

Total: 25/40

4. Josh Krajcik (Season 18)

The Reveal: Watch this:

God bless Juan Pablo and how little he gave a shit as the Bachelor. 10/10

The Environment: So, Juan Pablo and Clare’s date was in Malibu, but it was winter-themed, and the show had turned this desolate spot of Malibu into a winter wonderland. Tucked in among a few trees was Josh Krajcik:

It’s not the worst, but it’s also not the best. Or maybe I just feel that way because I’m convinced Josh Krajcik is a made-up name. 4/10

The Song Lyrics: Mr. Krajcik sang a song in which he begs a woman to let him hold her tight. As you will see in the next section, this song was appropriate for the moment and those involved. 8/10

The Dance: Juan Pablo and Clare barely danced—because again, JP never cared once. Instead, they just briefly swayed while aggressively making out with each other. I bet Krajcik was very uncomfortable. 4/10

Total: 26/40

3. Clay Walker (Season 16)

The Reveal: After getting off of a gondola in Park City, Utah, Bachelor Ben Flajnik and Jennifer head toward the sound of music. “You like Clay Walker?” Ben asks, to which Jennifer responds with a hearty “Yes!” Though I do not know who Clay Walker is (apparently a very accomplished country singer), judging from her response I believe that Jennifer—who is from Oklahoma—does and is excited to see him. 7/10

The Environment: First of all, there are other people present to enjoy the concert. That’s good. What’s not good is that Ben and Jennifer are initially forced to watch Clay Walker from a raised platform. Mercifully, by the end, they’re allowed to descend upon the crowd and be like everyone else. 5/10

The Song Lyrics: Walker sings “She Won’t Be Lonely Long” and “Like We Never Said Goodbye.” The first song is definitely thematically on point, because Jennifer, a contestant on The Bachelor, is presumably quite lonely, but she wouldn’t be if Ben picked her. The second song isn’t quite as fitting—it’s about rekindling a romance rather than starting one—but it does mention Oklahoma, where again, Jennifer is from. Props to Clay Walker for doing his research. 7/10

The Dance: It’s good! Even the platform dancing feels as natural as platform dancing possibly can feel. At one point Ben raises his arms and sings the words! And at the end, when he and Jennifer are down there with the people, they do that thing normal people do at concerts where the guy stands behind his girl and they sway aimlessly. I approve. 8/10

Total: 27/40

2. Amos Lee (Season 20)

The Reveal: Amos Lee is kind of famous. If you don’t know his name, you almost definitely know his song “Sweet Pea.” So it’s really funny to watch Caila’s reaction when Ben Higgins takes her to an Amos Lee performance, because you can tell the exact second when she hears the words “sweet pea” and puts two and two together (9/10):

The Environment: This is your run of the mill “private concert in a theater.” It’s generally weird, because musicians don’t often play empty concert halls, but it’s par for the course for The Bachelor. 5/10

The Song Lyrics: It’s “Sweet Pea!” You know, a song about apples and eyes and a girl being the only reason that a guy comes home. It’s classic Bachelor content. 9/10

The Dance: As we discussed a little earlier, Ben Higgins is not a dancer. Just as he barely swayed with Lauren B., he barely sways with Caila. It’s somehow more boring here, though. 5/10

Total: 28/40

1. Ben Taylor (Season 17)

The Reveal: This is the best musical moment in Bachelor history. You see, Sean Lowe dumped Leslie at dinner. But instead of just ending the night there, the producers—figuring they already paid Ben Taylor (who, yes, is James Taylor’s son) so they might as well use him—made Sean Lowe watch the performance by himself. So technically there is no reveal in this case, but that’s what makes it so good. 10/10

The Environment: I believe this takes place in the Bradbury Building in L.A.? You might know it as the building from the end of 500 Days of Summer. Great place to see a romantic, acoustic performance by the son of one of the most renowned singer-songwriters in music history. Also a very hilarious place to mope while the son of one of the most renowned singer-songwriters in music history performs. 10/10

The Song Lyrics: Ben Taylor sings a cover of Sade’s “By Your Side.” The first words in that song are, “You think I’d leave your side, baby / You know me better than that.” Just a reminder that Ben Taylor sings these words literally right after Sean Lowe leaves a woman’s side. It’s just perfect. 10/10

The Dance: Oh, how I wish Sean Lowe danced by himself to Ben Taylor. Peering across a balcony at two other grown men while holding a rose is almost as good, though. 10/10

Total: 40/40