Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Nashville Star 6 - Yes, There Really Have Been Five Seasons

Yee-haw! I've decided to start doing Nashville Star recaps to help take the edge off my Idol-less life. Consider the show my methadone clinic. However, it is summer (no it's not technically summer, but I saw three people spontaneously combust on the way to work today) so I can't promise that I'll keep up with this as regularly as the AI recaps.

Although I love my American Idol, there are many ways in which Nashville Star is superior:

  1. They eliminate a lot of the bullshit. No seemingly endless weeks of auditions and perverse humiliation of mental defectives. No hour-long, heavily sponsored waste of airwaves known as "the results show." In the first 15 minutes, the huge field of hopefuls was quickly whittled down to the Final 12 and we were promised another cut at the end of the show. Yes! Yes! Faster!!
  2. There is no age limit. Now, I know some people think that there should be an age limit, but I never understood why any age is too late to start a music career, especially when there's no set age for musical retirement. (Menudo is obviously the exception to this.)
  3. The contestants get to perform original songs. At least they did all the other years. I'm assuming this won't change. If it does, I'll be bitching about it.
  4. The group sings aren't very Brady. If the "group sings" are necessary, at least these ones don't have ridiculous choreography that will have the contestants praying for a runaway tractor to end their collective misery.
  5. The show is actually embraced by country music. Since AI is pop music-centric and often promotes style over substance, most rockers and indie musicians look down on it. (This may or may not change with David Cook's recent win.) However, Nashville Star has never had a problem getting the top country stars to appear on the show, and they all agree that it's good for the genre.
  6. The judges actually do something. Instead of just hurling smartly-crafted insults or telling crappy singers that their outfits are nice, the judges (who also know a lot more about music than the AI judges) will also act as mentors to the contestants beginning with the second episode.
Of course, with the good comes the bad:
  1. No Michael Johns. Not that there could ever be another.
  2. No Simon Cowell. Not that there could ever be another. It's kind of refreshing to have three judges who are equally honest, but none of them have old Si's charisma. The judges this year are singer/poetess/snaggletooth Jewel, singer/songwriter John Rich (of Big & Rich), and songwriter/producer Jeffrey Steele, who looks like an extra from Point Break.
  3. No Ryan Seacrest. Not that there could...um, no. Okay, so Ryan can get on my nerves, but I've never appreciated him more than now. Nashville Star's host is Mr. Achy Breaky himself, Billy Ray Cyrus. You know he only got that job because of his daughter. That's pretty pathetic. But not more so than his feeble attempts to recreate Keith Urban's hairdo.
  4. Duos and Trios allowed. This is a new thing for this season. At first I thought it was kind of cool that the contest was open to more than just solo acts, but then I realized that it's probably too difficult to judge a trio against a solo singer. A group of people can bring a much fuller sound, so they may have an unfair advantage. Everyone's a sucker for tight harmonies.
  5. Fireworks for everyone! Yeah, the fireworks displays were a bit much. When the judges were introduced, a big bang went off behind them. Special guest Taylor Swift's performance had more pyrotechnics than a KISS concert. I swear there were fireworks going off every five minutes. It was like Pittsburgh in the summer. (The yinzers will love this joke 'n at.)
Now that you're pretty much up to speed with the show's format, let's dig in to episode 1!

Before any of the contestants peformed, Taylor Swift took the stage to sing her ode to a redneck who loved his pickup truck more than her (a theme you just don't hear enough in country music), "Picture to Burn." I don't know where this girl came from, but over the last couple of years she's just been everywhere. She's like the secret love child of Faith Hill and I don't know...probably some guy with a fake twang who can't sing very well.

Pearl Heart was the first of the Top 12 acts. Hmm, a trio of girls chose to cover a Dixie Chicks song. Points for originality: -2. However, their version of "Wide Open Spaces" was pleasant enough to bring their score back to the positive side. Rich and Steele (sounds like an '80s buddy-cop TV drama) both dug the "family harmony" and Jewel's advice was centered on the lead singer. She told her that in order to work as a frontwoman, she'd have to "own people and murder 'em." (Hmm. Close, Jewel, but no Paula.) To me, the lead Pearl looks like a more feminine version of k.d. lang. I guess that makes her Jake Gyllenhall?

Up next was Tommy Stanley, a Navy boy with janky teeth who Chris Slighed his way through "Walking In Memphis." (For the non-Idol fans, that means "he sang ahead of the music.") He had a decent voice though, and he's a sailor, so there's no way in hell he'll be voted off any time soon. Rich thought he over-sang, Steele wasn't sold on him, but Jewel liked the song. Billy Ray made sure to remind everyone that Tommy is "an American hero," ensuring that only Commie bastards will vote against him.

Shawn Mayer the chick, not to be confused with John Mayer the dud (no, I didn't forget the "e"), proved that she takes her boyish name seriously by telling America that she's a mechanic, a pig farmer, and a volunteer firefighter. She didn't take Janis Joplin seriously, as evidenced by her Faith Hill-y version of "Piece of My Heart." I thought she was pretty average, as did the judges, but they told her that they knew she was "better than that."

Trio Third Town broke out a blast from my past with the Oak Ridge Boys' "Elvira" or, as I used to call it when I was little, "The Oom-Pah-Pah Song." They weren't great. I had a hard time taking them seriously anyway because of their appearance. They were two big oafs bookending a little dude who could've been the missing member of Avenged Sevenfold. Weird. And no, I'm not putting "style over substance," because they had neither. Jewel didn't think they sounded "modern" enough, Rich was concerned with their lack of a "defining sound," and Steele tried to zap 'em with a Cowell-ism by comparing them to a band at "a county fair." He just came off as a jerk. Maybe it's the lack of British accent. Maybe it's also because he looks like a 40 year-old guy who still hangs out at his old frat house on the weekends.

Next up was Coffey (not Beth), a cute model/single dad who looks like someone famous...and it's driving me crazy trying to figure out who. What is with the one-named black men who like country music all of a sudden? First it was Chikezie, and now Coffey? I'm not being a racist fat whore here, it's just an observation. Country music has always been blindingly white, save a few exceptions like Charley Pride and Cowboy Troy, the latter of whom co-hosted NS in Seasons 4 & 5. (They need to kick Miley's Dad off and get Troy back.) His cover of "Drift Away" was fairly enjoyable, but Jewel thought he was a real gem. Heh. Rich and Steele started veering into "pitchy" talk, which prompted a kind of uncomfortably funny bitch session between Jewel and Rich, who dissed Jewel for sometimes being pitchy herself. I thought she was gonna sink her fang into his jugular, but time didn't permit.

The teenybopper duo of Laura and Sophie covered "Stand By Your Man," which seemed like an odd choice for two girls who aren't even out of high school yet. They had pretty good harmony, but the judges hooted and hollered like the girls just split the atom. Wow. Serious over-pimpage of these two. Maybe someone should introduce one (or both) to Little Lord Archuleroy.

Gabe Garcia twanged his way through "All My Exes Live in Texas." Jewel and Rich were having a ball two-stepping, while Blonde Steele looked like he was shooting daggers at the stage. Strangely enough, when it came to the critique, he didn't say anything bad. But then he didn't really say anything that made a whole lot of sense. Just something about Gabe needing to "put more starch in his shirt." Again...close, but no Paula.

With her eyes a-poppin', Alyson Gilbert, brought out her inner pageant queen to sing Sara Evans' "Suds in the Bucket." Wow, she made some crazy faces. I hate when you're looking at someone and their facial expressions are so wild that it makes you make the same faces, you know what I mean? That's this chick. Therefore, I should hate her. I don't, though. Steele thought she was grrrrreat, but the other two really gave her a hard time. It seemed like they were unreasonably harsh just because of her nutty facial contortions. Did they not hear her sing? She has a much stronger voice than a lot of the other contestants.

Alyson certainly has a stronger voice than Ashlee Hewitt, who took the stage next to sing "Bubbly," that Colbie Caillat song that won't go away. She reminded me of a Britney impersonator trying to get a job as a Jewel impersonator. I wasn't impressed. The judges all gave her good marks though, so I'm starting to wonder if this show isn't just as concerned about image as AI.

Big goober Charley Jenkins immediately got on my bad side when he headed out into the audience to sing "I Like It, I Love It" and fondle the girls in the front row. Bah. Jewel didn't "buy" his act, Rich felt like he was watching a Garth Brooks impersonator in Vegas, and Blonde Steele finally came up with a good one by proclaiming, "I don't like it, I hate it, I want no more of it." What can I say, I'm a sucker for puns...especially musical ones.

Then it was time for a healthy dose of hotness in the form of Justin Gastin, a part-time model with the thick, tousled, dark hair that I love so much. Oh, don't worry, my darling Michael is in no danger of being replaced anytime soon, but I am human. I can't not look at this fine specimen. His pre-performance video had some nice shots of him in his undies. If his first performance is any indication, he might need to start singing in his briefs. It wasn't that great. Not only did he cover that ultra-cruddy Train song, "Drops of Jupiter," but he sang it like he was trying to lull himself to sleep. Unsurprisingly, the two guys didn't like it, but Jewel was enjoying herself. She criticized him as nicely as possible, by telling him "when you look that good, you have to sing that much better." Maybe they could bring Michael on as a special guest mentor for this guy.

The last performance was by Melissa Lawson, who is kind of Wynonna-ish. She's a bit chunky with reddish hair and she makes a lot of evil, fart-sniffing expressions when she sings. She belted out "Something to Talk About" to the delight of all of the judges, none of whom said a word about her weight. Never was Simon's absence so noticeable.

Before the phone lines were opened to the public, the judges had to thin out the herd. I thought that Third Town should have been booted, but the judges' two least favorite performers were Charley and Alyson. Majority ruled, so Blondie and Snaggletooth's votes sent Charley home. I can't argue with that choice. He was a doofus.

Next week, the person(s) who gets the least amount of viewer votes will be eliminated. I hope it's Third Town. That little emo bumpkin creeps me out.


evil-e said...

Yikes...pre-packaged country, safe for consumption by the masses.

The only reality show I have any interest in is Bravo's Top Chef...big finale tomorrow night!!

Barbara(aka Layla) said...

John Mayer the dud (no I didn't forget the "e") YOU KILL ME. For some reason that just cracked me up.

Reminds me of this old guy at work named Bob...when I met him he goes "That's Bob with one O"

bloody awful poetry said...

You know, I dig the John Mayer's music and all, but I must say he's been acting quite bastardized. Unfortunately.

This Nashville Star thingie sounds cool. Can we expect regular recaps?

CDP said...

Awesome! There's not even the remotest possibility that I'll watch this, but I'm so happy to have a recap again. The John Mayer joke cracked me up too.

Bond said...

Blonde Steele? that is a name?


nah...I can't spend my summer watching another one of these shows...

Alice said...

OOOH YAY! more recaps! i'm a happy camper :-0

Red said...

I watched about 10 minutes and turned it off. The cheese factor was just too great.

Anonymous said...

Sorry Beckeye, I'm out. I just can't do country music....

How bout Deadlist Catch or Meercat Manor!!

Falwless said...

Wow, looks like viewers are jumping off the bridge right and left. Is the show that bad? I didn't see this episode, and I have never watched this show before, but since you were doing recaps I set my DVR. I mean, fuck it, I watched all of Rock of Love I and II, I can't pretend now to have things like "taste" or "discretion."

P.S. Calling Jewel "snaggletooth" had me dyin'. With all due respect, her teeth are so distracting to me.

SkylersDad said...

Oh Beckeye, not even the phrase "evil, fart-sniffing expressions" is enough to make me come around and watch this.

But it's close...

Tony Alva said...

Re: Jewel... I don't think anybody's looking at her teeth.

This could be the greatest crap singing contest in the world, but as long as Billy AIDS Virus is hosting, this guy ain't going anywhere near it.

pistols at dawn said...

Wow. Your obsession with reality TV shows knows no bounds, and I feel like this is intervention time. Although if I lived in NYC, I wouldn't be able to afford going outside, either...

Editor said...

Bravo to you BeckEye for your remarkably open mind (as opposed to that of some of your readers), your continued charming wit and your biting commentary when appropriate (which is almost anytime you want to).

But I must say that this program would have been eons funnier if Big had been the judge instead of ego Rich!


cube said...

I can't get into country... I'm outta here.

J.C. said...

I'm just sad that NBC feels everyone who sings these days should be a "tween" and not an adult. It's too bad...past season's on USA had people from all walks of life and ALL ages! There was a better "feel" to the show before it went "big time".

Fart-sniffin' faces....ha! My sister and I say that is "smelling for sh*t" face.

Anonymous said...

Coffey reminds you of someone but you can't figute out who....maybe himself from when he was on Idol


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