Nashville Star premiered this Monday on NBC. And after a Taylor Swift opening performance so pyro-laden it could've been mistaken for a Poison concert--and a pro-Taylor rant by judges John Rich, Jewel, and Jeffrey Steele so bizarrely longwinded, it could've been mistaken for a Taylor Swift infomercial--the top 12 finally got around to singing for their suppers.
Their choice was, frankly, an odd one.
But first, before we get to their decision, among the surefire shoo-ins this week were:
Melissa Lawson, a thirtysomething, proudly plus-sized mother of five boys out to pursue her deferred dream, with a big voice
Tommy Stanley, a Navy engineer whose "Walking In Memphis" definitely wasn't the best of the night, but with the Acuff Theatre auditorium packed with off-duty armed forces members
Coffey Anderson (aka "Caw-FAY"), a totally awesome African American country-soulman who dazzled as brightly as his gaudy
Laura & Sophie, a BFF, bracefaced girl duo who are only 16 and 18, and look like they're 12, and yet harmonized with all the seasoned prowess of two Tammy Wynettes on "Stand By Your Man."
So, those in trouble were:
HERE) who cranked out a rendition of "Elvira" that I thought was good ole-fashioned knee-slapping fun, but that the judges thought seemed like an amusement-park novelty number.
Anyway, when the three judges elected their personal bottom two, I was kind of surprised they let Justin off the hook, since they were so hard on him during their critiques. ("When you look that good, you have to sing that much better," Jewel said icily.) But the judges did seem to take Justin's almost total lack of gigging experience into account, and let's face it, they probably kept Justin on the show to attract the lusty lady viewers. Maybe they assume some of those "Cougars For Cook" will vote for Justin in the future, too...but then again, David Cook actually performed well, and based on this one night, that ain't the case with Justin.
I was also a little surprised--pleasantly so, in this case--that the judges spared Third Town, but perhaps they took into consideration the hard cold fact that these alternate fill-in contestants had only flown in to Nashville that morning and had not slept in 50 hours. Plus, the judges might've felt guilty shoving them back on a plane so soon. Third Town should at least have a chance to get over their jet lag before going home!
I also feared the way Shawn sassed back to John Rich after that "Gretchen Wilson" remark would be her undoing, but she was saved by the judges as well.
So ultimately, the judges singled out Allyson and Charley. I was sure Allyson was a goner--as was John Rich, who cast his vote that she should go--but John was outvoted by Jeffrey and Jewel. So Charley got cut instead.
Do I agree with this decision? Um, let's just say I don't like it, I don't love it, and I want no more of it.
OK, so Charley was far from the best this week. There was a certain dorkiness, a certain desperation, to this rodeo clown's trying-too-hard performance, and it was a bit dated as well--which seemed to be the judges' main gripe with him. But he was not the worst. He did know how to perform like an old pro, he was genuinely likable, and let's face it, a lot of people out there in America like dorky Garth Brooks types. I honestly believe that if Charley had been allowed to stay on this week, he would've gotten enough public votes to remain in the race for at least a couple more episodes.
Oh well. So who will get voted off next week, now that it's America's time to decide? Well, Pearl Heart's controversial song choice (a tune by those vexing rabblerousers the Dixie Chicks) might cost them a few votes...but not enough to go home. Some people might have been turned off by Shawn Mayer's backtalk, but other people might appreciate her moxie. So I think it will come down to Allyson Gilbert and Justin Gaston, when the voters have the chance to avenge Charley's early elimination and show the judges that they got it wrong.
Tune in next Monday to see if I'm right!
- Taylor Swift
- John Rich