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Nashville Star: Double Trouble

Lyndsey Parker
Reality Rocks

So last night was a double-elimination episode on Nashville Star, which makes me wonder why NBC is in such a dang hurry to gallop to the finale, rather than drag out the elimination process like all other reality shows that seemingly last for 18 months. Why the rush?

Anyhoo, whatever the motivation, the first cut last night was the shallowest. Meaning it was quick (within the first three minutes of the show) and relatively painless (in the sense that it was hardly a shocker). Tommy Stanley was the first to leave last night, and like a true military man, he accepted the news with a stiff upper lip. Oh well. This Navy man tried to be all he could be, but I guess in the end all he could be just wasn't enough. It was this sailor's time to ship out, for sure.

As for the second elimination, it was a bit more of a surprise, but of course viewers had to wait about another 57 minutes to receive that news. In the interim, the safe contestants warbled one by one, starting with plus-sized powerhouse Melissa Lawson. (Who won't be plus-sized for long, at this rate--she is slimming down right before our eyes, getting a great onstage workout every week, and she's looking inspirationally awesome.) Melissa belted out the Loggins & Messina/Anne Murray classic "Danny's Song," and although the judges criticized her lower register at the beginning of the tune, I actually thought her low notes were sort of Karen Carpenter-esque in feel (which is a good thing: the late Karen had an amazing, creamy-velvety voice). And I do want to point out something else lame the judges said--namely, something lame Jewel said. Jewel asked Melissa, who is a mom of five, if she was ready to commit to the time-consuming process of making an album (which would presumably mean more time away from her family). Hey, how come no one ever asks MEN if they're going to be able to balance career and parenthood, huh? Coffey is a SINGLE DAD, yet I don't recall Jewel ever doubting that Coffey would be able to set aside time to enter the studio. What a double standard.

Melissa, don't you listen to Jewel (who freely admitted she has no kids of her own, so what does she know about being a working mom?). Melissa, you can bring home the proverbial bacon and still fry it up in a pan...and when you're a big country star, you can just rent a big Partridge Family-style tour bus and bring your boys on the road. You can have it all, baby!

OK, enough of that. The judges' concerns over whether or not teen duo Laura & Sophie can handle the pressures of the music biz were much more warranted. Personally, I was surprised these two made it through at all last night, given their trainwrecky performance last week. The girls' public meltdown continued this week, as their friendship crumbled before the eyes of their worried mentor Jeffrey Steele and all of America, getting in such a spat that Metallica's Some Kind Of Monster band-relations shrink needed to march in there and counsel them, stat. Either that or host Billy Ray Cyrus's daughter Miley needed to give them some advice on how to handle a showbiz career at such a tender age. Anyway, after their mid-rehearsal breakdown, the girls seemingly patched things up, and last night they emerged onstage holding hands as some sign of renewed solidarity--but their performance of "Walking After Midnight" was still shaky and awkward, their confidence wavering, their voices cracking like Peter "Time To Change" Brady's. The judges were not impressed. Jewel told them it was time for them to go home, and in this instance I totally agreed with her. These little girls clearly aren't cut out for the big time yet, as they seem to have one frayed nerve left between them--and the show ain't even over! I honestly don't know how one of them serves as the legal guardian for the other (don't ask me who's the guardian and who's the ward; I get these girls mixed up all the time), because they seem to barely be able to take care of themselves. Poor Laura & Sophie.

Gabe Garcia, the best male singer in this competition, was thankfully the next to make it through. His mentor, Jewel, told him he needed to relax and sing to the audience "like a lover," and Gabe certainly had his work cut out for him having to sing a loverboyish song by a heartthrob like Keith Urban ("Somebody Like You"). Jewel therefore signed him up for some dance lessons--and not linedancing lessons, either--and the tutelage seemed to loosen Gabe up a smidge. John Rich declared Gabe's Keith performance the work of a "true Texican," and Jeffrey gave him a 10 out of 10. So I've got a feeling this guy will be dancing on finale night. Gabe's going to go far on this show.

Redneck woman Shawn Mayer was next, shown butting heads with her equally hard-headed mentor, John Rich. So she made the ballsy decision to defect and sign up with kinder, gentler mentor Jeffrey Steele instead. The show made a big deal about Shawn rejecting the wise teachings of an industry vet like John, like it was some big scandal or something, but honestly I think this scenario was all a big setup.

See, Jeffrey is mentoring the groups this season, and with Third Town long gone, Laura & Sophie's days clearly numbered, and (ELIMINATION SPOILER ALERT!) Pearl Heart getting the boot last night, Jeffrey was soon going to end up with a lot of free time on his hands, with no one left to counsel between now and the finale. So they had to give him another protégé...hence, the shifting of Shawn.

Yes, I think this was all a staged move. I just hope Shawn's supposed public rebuffing of John Rich doesn't turn off voters not savvy enough to figure out the real reason for this power play. Because Shawn's teary-eyed "First Cut Is The Deepest" performance was really solid last night. I prefer Shawn in sad/vulnerable mode over tough-rock-chick mode, and she supposedly had plenty to feel sad/vulnerable about last night. John gave her performance a "5" (sour grapes, I say), though I'd personally give it an 8, maybe even an 8 1/2.

Coffey made it through next, much to my surprise (I'd predicted his elimination, along with Laura & Sophie's, last week) as well as my delight. Yes, Coffey has been inconsistent and at times downright annoying, but I still like him. He's just flat-out likable! So I'm glad he got another shot, as his rendition of the CCR classic "Proud Mary" (done in more of an Ike & Tina style, natch) was a big improvement over his last couple performances. I didn't mind his usual gratuitous adlibbing this time, and I even tolerated his Taylor Hicks-ish dork-dancing. It all sort of worked in this particular context. As usual, John muttered his weekly "I ain't buying it" argument, but last night I was buying whatever Coffey was selling. And so was Billy Ray Cyrus, who even confessed that the first album he ever bought was by Ike & Tina Turner.

And so it came down to Ashlee Hewitt and Pearl Heart. And if you were reading closely about two paragraphs ago, then you already know it was Pearl Heart who got their hearts broken. I wasn't much of a fan of this sister trio at the start of the season, but I do think they deserve the show's Most Improved Award. They started off like a hokey school talent show act, and finished with a truly starmaking triple-guitar, triple-harmony performance of Garth Brooks' "Ain't Going Down Till The Sun Comes Up" last night. Meanwhile, Ashlee attempted to rock out on the Steve Miller Band's "Take The Money And Run" and made a fool of herself. That alone was cause for a vote recount, I say. America got it wrong sending Pearl Heart home instead of Ashlee. And especially for sending Pearl Heart home instead of Laura & Sophie.

For that reason, I think in next week's (double) elimination, Ashlee will get axed, and Laura & Sophie will finally get put out of their misery, too.

Tune in next week to see if I'm right!

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