The 2016 Miss America contestants are already vying on social media to be named America’s Choice, someone guaranteed a spot in the Top 15 when the competition returns to Atlantic City on Sept. 13. But the music they’ll compete to that evening will be Nick Jonas’s choice.
Jonas — who just released “Levels,” the third single from his self-titled debut solo album — has been tapped as the Music Curator for the 95th Anniversary broadcast. That means he’ll personally select the songs for the Swimsuit and Evening Gown competitions, as well as for the women’s opening introductions, and be in Boardwalk Hall that night to explain the thought behind his picks.
“I’ve actually had a weird history with pageants, and it goes back pretty deep,” he tells Yahoo TV with a laugh. That includes the Jonas Brothers performing during Evening Gown at Miss Teen USA in 2007, and during Swimsuit at Miss USA in 2013 (which Nick also co-hosted with Giuliana Rancic). And just last January, he performed solo during Evening Gown at Miss Universe (and serenaded his then-girlfriend, 2012 title holder Olivia Culpo).
“I’m pretty familiar with this world now — the legacy, the approach you have to take when thinking about what role music plays in that show, how important it is for the whole night. It’s a really special time for these women in their lives, and you want to do all you can to make it something special and a great night,” he says. “I was approached about being involved in the show some way, and the conversation stemmed from the work I’d done with Demi [Lovato] last year, being the music director and creative director for her tour. So it seemed like a good fit, to step out and do something different than my usual job and have some fun with it.”
“Levels” has a pretty great beat to walk to… Is it something we’ll be hearing? “Possibly,” he says, laughing again. “I’m gonna be conscience that I don’t put too much of my own stuff in there. But yeah, it would make sense to use that one. We’ve been having a lot of fun thinking about what the right songs are and the right fit, both for the energy of those moments and the heart of this night as a whole.”
He estimates he’ll use about 10 songs for the high-energy opening-introduction mash-up, and then one or two songs each for Swimsuit and Evening Gown. “I think it’s about having people from all different genres. A real mix is key, so we’ve been pulling songs from everyone from Sam Hunt to Jason Derulo,” he says.
He’ll finalize the playlist when he’s at rehearsals, and feels confident he’ll set the right tone. “There’s such a legacy when it comes to Miss America, both the sexiness of it but also the understanding that real sexiness comes from confidence. It’s more about feeling confident and empowered. It’s a beautiful thing to see when you can accomplish that without having to go to an extreme,” he says.
The 2016 Miss America Competition, produced by Dick Clark productions, will be hosted by Chris Harrison. Celebrity judges include Brett Eldredge, Taya Kyle, Kevin O’Leary, Amy Purdy, and Zendaya. Additional talent and judges, including Harrison’s co-host are still to be announced.
Jonas, who’ll return for the second season of DirecTV’s Kingdom on Oct. 14 and recur on Fox’s fall drama Scream Queens premiering Sept. 22, will be performing “Levels” live for the first time during MTV’s VMA pre-show on Aug. 30, which is also the date the video will drop. He’ll kick off a fall tour on Sept. 6 before heading to Miss America.
The 2016 Miss America Competition airs Sept. 13 at 9 p.m. on ABC.