Nashville Star isn’t really my thing.
I don’t watch American Idol, and despite my job, am not a big country music fan. But when our friend Josh was picked to be a finalist, I started watching. And voting. And going to tapings.
When we tuned in the first week, we were surprised by how Josh looked. It’s not that he looks bad, he just looks different. Fixed up. The Josh we know is casual and laid-back and funny. TV Josh is still funny, but it’s not quite the same.
Thanks to the fabulous DVR, I didn’t follow much of the show in the first few weeks, just Josh’s performance and the end where they tell us who is going home. But we went to a taping a couple of weeks ago and again this past Thursday, so now I am intimately familiar with the details of the show.
THE HOSTS: Cowboy Troy and Jewel.
There are not adequate words in the English language for how I feel about Cowboy Troy. I can’t think of much that is more lame. All I see when I look at that guy is someone who could never actually make it as a rapper, so he decided to go country where people won’t know the difference. The problem is that his music is bad at being rap, and it’s bad at being country. The other problem is that his pants come up to his ribcage and his belt buckle is as big as my head. And I have a pretty big head.
I do like Jewel. She plays kind of a Tim Gunn role on the show, giving the contestants advice and standing up for them to the judges. She comes across as someone who actually knows what she’s talking about and is, I think, a real asset to the show.
THE JUDGES: Randy Owen, Anastasia Brown and Blake Shelton
Y’all. Randy Owen. Randy Owen is the lead singer of Alabama, and should be able to give the contestants good feedback and industry insight. But he doesn’t. At all. He rambles and talks gibberish and I think might be smoking crack. He’ll tell one contestant she chose a bad song because it’s one everyone knows, then tell the next she chose poorly because it’s a song no one knows. Someone will sing their heart out, and his only comment is that he really respects their commitment to their family. Because that’s applicable.
Anastasia Brown is the wife of Tony Brown, a big time producer on Music Row. He works with everyone. She owns a company that works to place songs in television and movies. She has nothing of value to add as best as I can tell. I disagree with everything she says. But my real problem with her is the way she dresses. It is so, so bad. Straps in weird places and big lacy cuffs and giant fake ponytails. Not. Good.
Blake Shelton is an artist that I actually like. I don’t buy his albums or anything, but I like his songs and his music is fun and sometimes clever. He does give them good advice, generally, and is pretty funny on the show. He’s my favorite of the judges.
THE REMAINING CONTESTANTS: Angela Hacker, Zac Hacker, David St. Romain, Joshua Stevens
Angela Hacker is really good, and reportedly the favorite to win. She has that scratchy bluesy voice that I love, very Bonnie Raitt. She generally chooses good songs and isn’t horribly boring to watch perform. She sang a lame Shania Twain song last week that was not a good fit at all for her voice, and that might hurt her in the voting.
Zac Hacker is Angela’s brother and is Taylor Hicks redux. I like watching him live, and he picks fun songs that are definitely off the beaten pop-country path. And he had far and away the best song on original song night, a clever and somewhat heartbreaking song about his dad’s drinking problems. But I’m not kidding about that Taylor Hicks thing, and we already have one of those. Word on the street is that it will be a Hacker-Hacker final two.
David St. Romain is possibly the most boring performer I have ever seen. Have you ever been to a bar with a country cover band playing? David St. Romain was probably the singer. I thought original song night would be his downfall, but somehow he slipped by for another week. If he finishes higher than Josh, Josh got robbed. I’m just sayin’.
I am, of course, biased towards Joshua Stevens. He’s pretty straight up pop country, in the same vein as Keith Urban or Dierks Bentley. He is currently a songwriter in town, and his original song was well-written and emotional. We hadn’t heard him sing before the show, and I was pleasantly surprised by how strong and clean his voice is. He is definitely better than DSR, but it wouldn’t surprise me to see him go before the Hackers.
The tapings are really fun, and we have an assortment of Josh signs and t-shirts, including popsicle sticks with big Josh faces on them. He’s made it to the top four, and we’re voting like crazy every week to keep him in. It’s getting down to the wire, people. This is the big time. I’m ready.