Episode 4 (3/22): Getting All Chucky With It
Welcome back to another episode of Nashville Star. Last week Tamika brought the house down after taking a gamble and performing a Martina McBride song. This week, it’s time to see if Justin David survived sticking both his feet and his mandolin in his mouth.
The Generation Gap
This week opens with Leann and Cledus introducing our special guest star, Sara Evans, who sings her hit, “Suds in the Bucket.” Sara keeps waving to people while she’s singing. By the end of her performance, the audience and the judges are really into it and ready to get the show on the road. After Sara finishes warming everybody up, Leann and the remaining eight contestants come back on stage where the finalists wait anxiously for the announcement of who the first performer will be. First, Leann asks everyone to give one more round of applause for Sara who is seated in the audience. Leann then introduces the eight remaining contestants one by one. She tells us that when we get back from commercial break, we’ll find out who will be the first to perform and who will be the third person we will be saying sayonara to. She, of course, doesn’t really mean we’ll be finding out who is going this early in the show.
Once again she introduces us to our panel of judges: Phil Vassar, Anastasia Brown, and Bret Michaels. Before letting us know who the first performer will be, Leann calls Justin on last week’s statement about only needing to give 110% in the finals. Justin says it has been a tough week and that Cledus better be hanging around off stage with the official mop and bucket handy. At this point, Justin is all jolly and at least pretending to laugh at himself. He also promises that he brought his A game this evening.
Finally, the suspense ends and Jayron’s name is called. Jayron tells us that his dad has always told him to watch out for women. They’ll make you do things you don’t want to do. Despite dad’s dire warnings, Jayron appears to be quite pleased by the number of e-mails he has received containing proposals and prom invitations. Jayron is playing guitar this week and accompanying himself on Keith Urban’s “Who Wouldn’t Want to be Me.” Jayron sounds and looks more confident each week. I may have to revise my earlier estimate that he’ll be eliminated in the middle of the pack. This week he sounded like final four material.
After Jayron finishes, Leann asks him what he’s looking for in a perfect girlfriend. His number one requirement is that she be a churchgoer like him. He also mentions brown hair. Leann teases him a little that he shouldn’t be so particular. This week Anastasia has decided to offer a little criticism with the praise. She reminds Jayron that he is one of her favorites. She questions the song choice though just because it is so identified with Keith Urban. She also tells him that she likes it when he wails. Anastasia prefers it when Jayron sticks to ballads. Phil tells Jayron that he is one of the best singers on the show. Bret tells him that Anastasia really does love him. Bret also says that he thinks Jayron has an unbelievable tone to his voice.
The second performer of the evening is Erika Jo. We learn in her introductory video that there has been a little tension between the contestants this week. Some of the older contestants have brought up the fact that Erika Jo and Casey are very young and don’t have enough experience. They apparently have it out a little with Erika Jo insisting she is hurt because she has just as much experience. Umm, Erika Jo, by definition someone 35 is pretty much going to have more experience than you. It doesn’t mean you don’t deserve to win, but you need a better argument. Erika Jo then gives what is to me her worst performance yet when she shrieks out Rebecca Lynn Howard’s, “Forgive.” To be fair, she does much better towards the end.
Leann much to my amazement says good job. Leann then asks Erika Jo if she ever gets sick of people saying she’s too young. Erika Jo takes the bait and says yes. Of course, that’s an issue Leann can relate to since she had her first hit when she was about 2. Bret tells Erika Jo that she looks like she was born to be on stage. What matters is what she feels when she picks songs. Phil opines that he doesn’t care how old she is. Anastasia says that she also doesn’t care about age. She thinks Erika Jo is one of the best singers in the competition but she’s not feeling her performances yet.
Back stage someone has decided in their infinite wisdom that we need more Cledus. I stare daggers at my television. He interviews Tamika who tells him being told you are the lead horse is pressure but she works well under pressure. Cledus then moves on to Erika Jo. He tells her that she blew out four windows in the hotel with her performance. Cledus, never one to give up a tired topic, asks about the tension earlier in the week. Erika Jo says that everyone said their piece and it’s over.
Clearing Their Throats
When we come back from commercial, Leann asks Jenny about some of the contestants having to go to the doctor during the week. Jenny says that there was a strep throat scare, but the contestants are all fine. I’m pretty sure Jenny was just glad it wasn’t food poisoning or the stomach flu. One vomiting incident per season is pretty much the max allowed.
We then learn that the third performer of the evening will be Tamika. She acknowledges that this was a very emotional week. She was the one who called a group meeting on behalf of the older contestants. She was feeling disconnected from the younger finalists. Tamika thinks the competition is better when everyone is kind and supportive. She performs Bonnie Raitt’s “Something to Talk About.” Let me give a little disclaimer here. I really like this song and I especially love Dennis Quaid in the video. Therefore, I am predisposed to not like anyone else’s rendition; especially if Dennis isn’t on stage. Tamika is one of my favorites in the competition. However, I thought this performance was definitely not her best. She seemed to shout the lyrics a little too much. Besides, I’m a little confused as to how this song qualifies as country.
After she is done singing, Leann asks Tamika what her favorite part is and what the most difficult part is about the competition. She says that her favorite part is the relationships with the other contestants, the production crew, and Leann herself. Nice diplomatic answer Tamika. The most difficult part is the emotional rollercoaster that the competition is. Anastasia says have I said I love me some Tamika? I still say it is your competition to lose. You still need a little tweaking though. Phil says she has turned in three great performances in a row which is freaky. Bret tells her he even loves the chip on her shoulder. Her passion helps drive her.
Cledus then tells us all how to go see the competition live. If you are interested, I suggest you check out the official website.
Jenny, What’s Your Number?
By now, Leann is standing next to five desperate people praying they will hear their names called. Leann calls over Jason clad in a black cowboy shirt, black hat, tight Wranglers, and boots, and asks him what his son thinks of dad being on Nashville Star. Jason says that he’s really getting a kick out of watching him perform.
Leann then tells everyone that Jenny is the next to perform. Jenny is psyched. She thinks she is original and unique. Her songwriting and original song performance is where she’ll shine. Therefore, she’s hoping she makes it to next week. Jenny performs Pam Tillis’s, “Maybe it was Memphis.” She sounds really, really good.
After she’s done, Leann tells Jenny that she has a lot of guy friends who have been asking if Jenny is single or attached. I guess nothing says sexy like upchucking on national television. Jenny says that she is single at the moment but that she’s always looking. Phil tells Jenny that he’s looking forward to hearing Jenny’s original song. Anastasia says that the camera loves Jenny and asks Leann if Bret put her up to asking about Jenny’s relationship status. Bret doesn’t try to deny that he might have. Bret says this is the first time Jenny has looked really comfortable performing and he just wants her to be a little more soulful.
Leann reveals that the next performer will be Jason. He is quite excited. Jason tells us that he thinks the hardest thing about success will be being a married man out on the road and staying faithful. It’s almost like you have to be choosing between your music and your family. He’s really looking forward to the challenge though. Jason sings the Charlie Rich classic, “Behind Closed Doors.” He just exudes traditional country.
Leann simply says, “Wow.” She then mentions that every week we see Jason’s wife in the audience. Leann asks Jason what she means to him. He says that he’d like to thank her for the wonderful life they have together. He loves her and hopes they get to spend the rest of their lives together. Phil tells Jason that his performance was kind of sexy and made him tingly even though he’s a hetero guy. Anastasia is a little more critical. She says that the song revealed a bit of a vocal limitation and that he needs to bring it next time. Bret is clearly touched by the song choice. It turns out that Jason has hit a sentimental note with the former Poison singer. Bret and his dad used to go to a hunting cabin and listen to Charlie Rich all the time. Bret then suggests a few songs to Jason.
The most useless backstage reporter ever, Cledus, is interviewing Jody. He asks Jody what the response to his appearance on the show has been back in Arkansas. Jody says that people have really been having fun with it. Cledus then asks Jason if he was able to hit the high notes during his performance because of doing something special with his tight Wranglers. Someone needs to beat Cledus with his official mop. Jason pretty much ignores that question and shares that he was one of the performers with a bad throat this week. Perhaps that explains the vocal limitation Anastasia mentioned (and which I frankly didn’t hear).
Are You On Crack?
When we get back from commercial, Leann has had the three remaining contestants who have yet to hear their fates join her on stage. Casey, Justin, and Jody are standing close together. Leann asks Casey what she plans to do if she gets a chance to perform. Casey says that she is going to use the advice she got last week and show it off. Leann announces that Jody is the second to last performer. He gets big hugs from the other two. He then tells us in his intro video that he never thought Nashville Star would affect his family the way it has. In fact, his momma and daddy are driving 400 miles each week and refuse to miss a show. He sings The Mavericks’ “There Goes My Heart” in his usual Elvis/Buddy Holly style. Jody’s performance is a lot of fun, but he still seems like a novelty act to me. He does demonstrate a ton of energy on stage. At the end of his performance, Jody does a strange little cross-legged slump around the microphone.
Leann says to Jody that he has the rockabilly thing down. Bret tells Jody that he has good energy and a great vibe. Jody reminds Bret of Chris Isaak. Bret tells him he needs to take it and own it. Phil says that he loved Jody’s performance. Anastasia opines that Jody has the most star power of the remaining contestants. She then offers a suggestion that makes me wonder if she has stolen Paula’s drink from American Idol. Anastasia thinks that Jody ought to perform a John Denver song rockabilly style. Bret had the same thought I did announcing that Anastasia drinks a lot. Before breaking for what will hopefully be the last commercial of the evening, we see Casey and Justin waiting backstage.
The Mighty Casey Strikes Out
Leann reminds the audience and the two remaining contestants that this is one time you don’t want to hear your name. Inside the envelope clutched in Leann’s hands is the name of the contestant who received the least votes this week and will consequently be going home. Before Leann reveals the name, Justin says it has been an intense rollercoaster ride. Casey says that she is just trying to breath and that regardless Nashville Star has been a wonderful experience for her.
When Leann opens the envelope, we learn that Casey is kaput. She again says that she has had a great experience and that she intends to just keep going. When asked what she would have changed, Casey says that she would not have sung the song she sang last week. She really got reamed for it. Umm, Casey you didn’t get reamed for your song choice. You got reamed for the way you butchered the song. “Me and Bobby McGee” is a classic.
Now that he hasn’t been eliminated, Justin decides it’s time to exhibit self righteous anger regarding the flap that his remarks last week caused. He says that he is not the arrogant person he was made out to be. According to him, what he meant was that he knew he could do better. That’s a little bit of a twist on saying I only have to give 110% in the finals. Justin has brought back the mandolin and plays along to Ricky Skaggs’s “Highway 40 Blues.” He is clearly a skilled mandolin player. His voice doesn’t seem quite as strong as some of the other contestants, however.
Afterward, Leann says that America made him sweat a little. Justin, still in his mistakenly aggressive mode, says that he thinks he made his peace and then he goes off a bit. Anastasia says that he doesn’t have to go Chucky because he nailed his performance. Bret says that he makes a lot of stupid comments when he’s drunk too. God help me. I’m really starting to like Bret. Phil tells Justin that he is a great musician. He needs to do something that shows off his vocals too.
Leann asks the audience to give a big hand for the seven remaining finalists.
Next week, it’s original song week where we’ll get to hear how good the final seven are at songwriting. Will Jenny be able to back up her bragging? The show will kick off with performances by Phil and Bret and Leann doing a duet of “Every Rose Has Its Thorn.”
If you want to defend Justin, talk to the hand. Otherwise, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com