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Sunday, September 21, 2014 |  Madison, WI: 55.0° F  Partly Cloudy
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My life as a Project M guest judge
This week's Kristen Chenoweth
For his songwriting challenge, Corey Hart drew the words frustration, Milwaukee and bean dip.
For his songwriting challenge, Corey Hart drew the words frustration, Milwaukee and bean dip.

I was blown away by the singing. Monday night I appeared, in my capacity as Isthmus arts and entertainment editor, as a judge at the taping of 105.5 Triple M's reality show Project M. And although the focus that night was songwriting, and the songwriting was strong, I was really taken by the excellence of the contestants' voices. These locals have some pipes. Competing Monday were Corey Hart, Beth Kille, Keefe Klug, Anna Laube, Jimmie Linville, Paul Mitch, Heather Jean Maywood and Dan Walkner.

Video of Monday's challenge is available online, where you can see me blathering away.

Project M is a web reality show modeled on American Idol, Project Runway and their ilk. Each week contestants are given a musical challenge, and then they perform, one by one, in front of a panel of judges -- including, each week, a guest judge, like Kristen Chenoweth on Idol. I was this week's Kristen Chenoweth. Normally, each week a contestant is sent home, though Monday saw three departures, two from last week's duet challenge, and one from the week before.

For Monday's songwriting challenge, audience members at last week's event supplied random words, which were chosen in threes, in combinations like the one Hart chose: frustration, Milwaukee, bean dip. Contestants had to base their new songs on the words they drew.

It was fun to be on a real live, local reality show. Just like the contestants on American Idol, the Madison musicians hugged each other on cue. And just like Simon Cowell, I found myself saying "well done" too much.

It was sad, at the end of the evening, when contestants Hart, Walkner and Maywood were sent home. Who will be sent home based on this week's performances? You can help decide by voting on the Project M site.

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