I don’t know what I expected from The Bachelor Presents: Listen to Your Heart. Was I expecting good singing? Was I expecting compelling characters? To be honest, I was mainly looking for something to pass the time while idling in my house all day. But I’ll tell you what I was not expecting: savage burns from the most mellow musician ever to write music hypothetically intended for adults, Jason Mraz.
In Monday night’s episode, L2YH transitioned from a dating show with singing to a singing show with dating. The paired couples spent most of the episode preparing for a climactic concert held at the show’s mansion, where contestants are judged on their performing ability and romantic connection, with the worst couple going home. The show brought in two judges to gauge the romance, JoJo and Jordan Rodgers, the couple from the 2016 season of The Bachelorette, and two judges to gauge the music, Kesha and Mraz.
Judging the romance was pretty easy—basically, the judges just told any couple that maintained eye contact throughout the performance that they looked like they were in love with each other, and told couples that occasionally broke eye contact that they needed work. Note to all contestants: Make eye contact, dammit! It’s all you have!
JoJo, Jordan, and Kesha (who I am sad to learn no longer styles her name as “Ke$ha”) were pretty tame as musical judges, failing to say a bad word about anybody. But while the other judges tried to be chill, Mraz’s takes were so hot that I melted. Mraz was most vicious in obliterating Ryan, who had the unenviable task of performing the “Guy Who Isn’t Rihanna” part of the song “Stay” by Rihanna Featuring a Guy Who Isn’t Rihanna. Mraz really loved Natascha, who performed the Rihanna part—“you have a tremendous power in your voice,” he told her. But he felt Ryan wasn’t on her level—“I want you to know that Natascha can take off,” he warned Ryan, clarifying that he felt Ryan was “also great.” “Not leave you, necessarily, but her career could explode … she is soaring all around you.”
DAMN, Mraz! Why don’t you just smash your ukulele over this dude’s head? Who knew you’ve been storing that sort of heat under that fedora you wear literally everywhere you go? I’m getting the sense that there’s a deep, unchecked anger stirring inside of Mraz that he simply can’t get out through his trademark brand of baby-raising music. I hope Mraz gets to come back for later episodes—or at least decides to finally drop that Jack Johnson diss track he’s probably been saving up since 2002.
Most Upsetting Development: Brandon’s Singing Face
No contestant has cast a wider swath of destruction than Brandon. He’s been coupled up with Savannah the whole time, but hasn’t been able to shake his interest in Julia, and he keeps checking in on her to remind her that he’s kind of interested in her, just not enough to dump Savannah. This has made things miserable for Julia, who claims she’s no longer interested in Brandon, but also basically spends all of her camera time talking about Brandon and how she’s no longer interested in him, which isn’t a good sign. It has also made things miserable for Sheridan, the guy Julia is settling for, who can’t seem to get her full attention. And when Savannah realizes Brandon is still talking to Julia, she breaks down in tears. And then there’s Gabe, who voluntarily left the show in Monday night’s episode after Savannah chose Brandon over him. Gabe’s decision to go home also forces Ruby, the woman he gave a rose to in last week’s episode, to go home. There was also Mel, who was eliminated last week after a failed attempt to win over Brandon. Out of 24 total contestants on this show, Brandon ruined things for six of them. That’s a quarter of the show’s contestants!
So what’s so great about Brandon? Definitely not his singing! Last week I identified Trevor and Jamie as the worst singers on the show, but JESUS CHRIST IT’S ABSOLUTELY BRANDON.
I can’t understand why he needs to make all these awful noises and facial expressions! Is he singing or removing a particularly painful hangnail?
Even Mraz seems to be fed up—and when the guy in a fedora thinks you’re doing a bit too much, you’re probably doing a bit too much.
Worst Decision: Gabe
The episode starts with an ultimatum: Chris Harrison enters to tell the couples that there will be no new contestants entering the house, and if any of them feel their current relationship is not serious enough to last, they should leave. Harrison warns everybody to make sure their partner is “there for the right reasons”—apparently, even in the context of a show explicitly about singers trying to become famous, you’re not supposed to be there to try to become famous.
It’s the type of ultimatum nobody should ever take seriously on a dating show—listen, even if you don’t love the person you’re with, just suck it up and pretend to like them so you can continue having a free televised vacation. Even if you’re genuinely concerned about finding love, every minute you stay on TV will increase your exposure to the world and potentially lead to you meeting the person you love!
But for some reason, Gabe takes the ultimatum very seriously. He admits that he’s just not feeling his relationship with Ruby, the woman he gave his rose to in the last episode, and has a sit-down conversation with Savannah. When he approaches Savannah, she’s actively crying about Brandon flirting with Julia. Maybe Gabe saw Savannah crying about another guy and thought it was a great opportunity to swoop in. But as a general rule of thumb, if a woman is crying about another guy, they’re still into that guy.
Unsurprisingly, Savannah shoots Gabe down pretty quickly, and Gabe dutifully goes home, forcing Ruby to go home as well. What a misplay by Gabe—I bet he realized he was never going to get to play the cello on a singing show.
Strangest Cameo: Lauren B. (The First Lauren B.)
With the concert looming, the show was light on dates, but there were two: Bekah and Danny go to a house in the Hollywood Hills where they pretend to be starstruck by a “stylist to the stars” whom I have never heard of, and Ryan and Natascha go to a concert by country musician Chris Lane. Before the show, they meet up with Chris, who offers them backstage passes and invites them to sing on stage at the concert (unlike 90 percent of Bachelor concerts, this was apparently a real concert with a paying audience and not just a weird one-song show in front of a bunch of extras). Oh yeah, and when they meet Chris, they’re also introduced to his wife—Lauren Bushnell, the winner of Ben Higgins’s season of The Bachelor.
Natascha and Ryan say how cool it is to simultaneously perform with a singer and meet a woman who is “Bachelor royalty,” but the show never quite explains the backstory of how she became Bachelor royalty—I’m not even sure Lauren speaks once?—because that would mean talking about how the vast majority of Bachelor couples fizzle instantly after the show ends. Ben and Lauren stayed together for two years (they appeared on a spinoff show called Ben & Lauren: Happily Ever After?, which ominously included a question mark in its title) but broke up in 2017. Thanks to the instant dissolution of Peter’s relationship with Hannah Ann (and his subsequent breakup with runner-up Madison), we can officially say that only two of the couples from 24 seasons of the Bachelor wound up getting married. And we can thank Arie’s 2019 marriage to Lauren Burnham—the show’s second Lauren B.—for boosting the numbers up from one. (The funniest thing about The Bachelor is that there have been multiple seasons where there were multiple Laurens, forcing multiple women to go by “Lauren B.,” and that both Lauren B.s won.)
But if you think about it, Lauren B. is still a success story. She went on TV, got engaged to a guy she wouldn’t get married to, then became famous enough to catch the attention of a country music star, fell in love with him, and got married. YOU SEE, GABE? JUST STAY ON TV AND GOOD THINGS WILL HAPPEN!
Most Awkward Execution: The Rose Ceremony
Where this show most clearly fails at straddling the line between a dating show and a singing show is the ending. Singing contest shows end with a judge (or a voting public) eliminating contestants; dating shows end with someone choosing a romantic partner. This episode ended with a couple leaving the show after being eliminated by the judges, but instead of having the judges reveal who they thought was the worst couple, the reveal came in a Bachelor-style rose ceremony. (Honestly, I wouldn’t be surprised if the judges had no part in making the choice and the producers just axed the least interesting couple.) But the rose ceremony was different from all other rose ceremonies, because the decision of who stayed was made by a third party. Therefore, Chris Harrison stood at the front of the room and announced one by one which couples would receive roses, which they then presented to each other.
The losers? Bekah and Danny, who for some reason decided to perform their song while sitting in chairs next to each other without touching. They kissed once after performing, but Danny’s attempt at a second kiss was awkwardly rebuffed by Bekah, who playfully shoved his face away. All four judges agreed their relationship probably needed work, with Murda Mraz adding that “the bridge was a little shaky with your harmony.” (They also had the unfortunate task of performing the Lumineers in front of Mraz, which is basically like performing Biggie in front of Tupac.)
Normally, when someone gets eliminated on a Bachelor-style show, it’s because their romantic partnership fails. And while Bekah and Danny were less visibly comfortable with each other on stage, it didn’t seem like they disliked each other—they even shared a kiss after their elimination. Most accurately it seemed like they weren’t able to move as fast as reality TV demands, but that they might be able to make it work under normal circumstances. And yet, the show sends them home in separate cars. Why? Do they have to break up because the show says so? Is Bekah flying home out of LAX while Danny has a flight out of Burbank? It’s not clear why a couple eliminated from a combination-singing/dating show has to stop dating. Regardless, Bekah and Danny act as if their relationship is over, with Bekah crying in the car about her nonmandated nonbreakup. Maybe ABC told them that if Danny sends a 3 a.m. “thinking bout u” text, Jason Mraz will hunt him down and beat him within an inch of his life?