Episode 6 (4/5): Sometimes It’s Hard to be an Older Woman
Last week was a tough one all around. Tamika got the boot as a result of being perceived by America as picking on young Erika Jo. Speedbump was so distraught by Tamika’s dismissal that he was unable to believe it much less write about the show. He should be fully healed by the time Episode 7 airs so don’t despair. This week we are down to six contestants to start the show and will find out who the final five will be before the end of the hour.
One of These Names is Not Like the Others
As usual, Leann and Cledus are standing in the audience to introduce our guest performer. This week it’s the very first Nashville Star, Buddy Jewell. Unfortunately, this time Cledus is wearing an outfit that should come with a warning to wear sunglasses to avoid damage to your retinas. His shirt is bright green with matching gold sparkly smilies on each side complete with fu Manchu mustaches. To complete his ensemble, he is wearing glasses in a matching, still hideous green.
Buddy appears on stage wearing an orange shiny shirt with paisley pattern, white jeans, a cowboy hat, and a leather choker with a cross pendant. At least I can forgive Buddy for his wardrobe because of his beautiful voice. Buddy sings his song, “If She Were Any Other Woman” and sounds quite polished. At the end of his performance, he gets the usual standing ovation and many in the audience are holding signs for him.
Leann and the remaining six contestants are standing on stage. Leann introduces Justin, Jenny, Jayron, Jody, Jason, and Erika Jo. She then brings up Tamika’s stunning boot and tells us we’ll find out who the first performer will be after a commercial break. At least she’s given up teasing us that we’ll soon learn who gets the boot.
A Side Order of Grit
This time Leann tries to get cute in introducing our panel of judges, Phil Vassar, Anastasia Brown, and Bret Michaels. It doesn’t so much work. She then delights in getting to ask them if they think America did the wrong thing in eliminating Tamika. Anastasia, who is after all married to the president of the record label that will be awarding the winning contestant a contract, back peddles as fast as possible. She says that as you know Tamika was my lead horse and I thought she had the strongest voice, but I detected a diva lurking inside. Anastasia thinks that America gave Tamika a big old spanking.
Phil seems to be a little distracted by the idea of spanking Tamika. When he reengages, he says that he doesn’t know about the diva thing. Phil thought that she could sing good (his grammatical error not mine), she had a great accent, and she picked great songs. After all, she did pick a Phil Vassar song. Bret tells us that he tried to warn her to take her anger and turn it into the music not on the audience. Huh? I’m not quite sure where that came from.
Having taken a cue from Cledus’s interviewing style, Leann decides to keep beating the no longer living horse. She calls over Jason and asks him how shocked he was about Tamika being kicked off the show. Jason gives a highly diplomatic answer and says that while they’ve all bonded and you hate to see anyone leave this is a competition and someone has to go.
Jayron is the first to learn that he will continue for another week. Buddy Jewell apparently called him to let him know about the shiny shirt theme for the week as he’s wearing some hideous gold patterned thing. Jayron tells us in his video that he’s a Christian first whether he is performing Christian or country music. He compares himself to Cinderella saying that he has no idea what it is like to play in front of 5000 people. He’s never played anything but church or a coffee house. Jayron says that he thinks of himself as the underdog and that he hopes everyone roots for the underdog. This week Jayron chooses to perform Toby Keith’s “Should Have Been a Cowboy.” Personally, I think he sounded great.
After his performance, Leann inquires about his statement that he sees himself as the underdog. Jayron affirms that he does because he has the least music experience. Anastasia says that Jayron has nothing to be ashamed of. However, she thinks he doesn’t have enough grit in his country, and she doesn’t believe he’s carrying a six shooter. Anastasia is convinced Jayron belongs in Christian music. Bret isn’t touching the grit in his country. I’m assuming the fact that he won’t touch Jayron’s six shooter goes without saying. Bret tells Jayron that he better get used to performing in front of 5000 to 10,000 people. Phil says that it’s just rock and he wants to see Jayron’s passion. This is followed by an exchange between Bret and Phil that sounds like the two of them chanting hump it and bring it alternately. Okay then.
Before we go to commercial, we are treated to snippets from several bad auditions for this version of Nashville Star. The most memorable are a guy who tries to do a handstand to start out his performance and ends up falling with a crash and a woman who almost burst my eardrums attempting to sing “Me and Bobby McGee.”
Another Jewell in the Rough?
Buddy joins Leann on the stage to another round of applause. Leann asks him if being on the stage brings back any memories. Buddy says that it is bittersweet. It is hard to watch your buddies get voted off one by one but then there was the moment I stood here and realized I had the recording contract I had come to Nashville to get twelve years earlier. I feel blessed by the experience and am getting to live out the dream I would never have gotten to realize without Nashville Star. Leann then asks him if he has any advice for the remaining five contestants. He says yes. Just remember that win or lose you have gained thousands of fans, and if you are good to them, they will be good to you.
Leann still appears to be stunned by last week’s results saying she has no idea what will happen this week. She calls Erika Jo over and asks her how big an influence her parents have been on her. Given that she’s only 19, it’s not to surprising to hear Erika Jo say that they’ve been with her every step of the way. Somewhat more scarily, she identifies them as having been her roadies, chauffeurs, hair and makeup artists, and technical support.
We learn that the next contestant who is safe is Jason. He runs off the stage to get ready to perform. In his video, he says that being compared to George Straight is the biggest compliment he has gotten in his life. But, Jason emphasizes that he is just as different from George as he is like him. Jason talks about himself in the third person and says Jason Meadows is a family loving, team roping, cowboy bull riding, motorcycle riding, and dirt clod country guy. Okay, we get your point. You are a simple country guy.
Jason bursts back on to the stage wearing a wireless mike and playing a guitar. This is by far his most energetic performance yet. Jason is all over the stage performing Tim McGraw’s “Down on the Farm.” He throws in a few shouts and a god bless you all at the end. Leann asks him about the wireless mike and he explains that he wore one when he first hit the honky tonks when he was 16. That must have been his Garth Brooks phase. Jason thinks stage presence is a very important part of being a success.
Bret is his usual goofy self telling Jason that he has the stage presence, a vibe, a hell of a fan club, and he’s got it going on. He has no advice for Jason and tells him to just keep doing what he’s doing. Phil says he loved the dirt clod comment from the video. He also loved the headset and thought Jason moved around a lot better with it. Anastasia agrees and says you are rock solid. She can’t resist giving one piece of advice though telling Jason to stay away from the ditties. Yeah, I have no idea what she meant either.
Sigh. We get sent back stage to Cledus. He first interviews Jody about whether he regrets his choice of a ballad last week after four straight weeks of doing his rockabilly thing. The judges weren’t so impressed by the ballad. Jody says that he doesn’t know. A lot of his fans know the song he sang and really wanted to hear it and he wanted to play it for them. On the other hand, sometimes people need something to tap their toes to. Cledus then calls over Jason. Cledus says his first truly funny thing of the season telling Jason that now that he’s busted out the wireless mike he’ll be compared to Britney Spears as well as Tracy Byrd and George Straight. Jason deadpans that it would be an honor to be compared to all three. Cledus’s parting shot is that Jason has a lot nicer ass than Britney.
Speaking of Divas
When we come back, the final four contestants are once again on stage. Leann calls over Justin and states the obvious. Justin is not one of Anastasia’s favorites left in the competition. Leann then asks him why he thinks he is still here in Week 6. Justin has clearly been taking humility lessons. He gives all the credit to his fan group and says he appreciates them so much. Three weeks ago he would have said it was his talent keeping him in the competition. Justin has been receiving e-mails and phone calls from all over the country and is thrilled.
Leann announces that the next performer will be Erika Jo. In Erika Jo’s video, she says that after what happened last week she doesn’t think anyone can pick who is going and who is staying. Erika Jo states that she thinks every single person picked Tamika to be in the top three if not the winner but after five weeks she is gone. Erika Jo hopes that after every single week people reevaluate their favorites and that they are starting to notice her now.
When Erika Jo walks on stage, she has a full band backing her up. I don’t remember seeing Erika Jo play a single instrument unlike the other remaining performers. Erika Jo gives a very polished performance complete with hand gestures of Linda Ronstadt’s “You’re No Good.” I know the song has been performed by several different artists but Erika Jo’s version is closest to Linda’s. Erika Jo ends the song by very nicely slowing down the last verse. Leann appears impressed and tells her good job. Leann again brings up the tension the last few weeks and asks Erika Jo if she had a chance to clear the air with Tamika before Tamika left. Erika Jo says that she thinks so and that everything is okay on her end. She hopes Tamika is doing okay.
Phil tells Erika Jo that she is probably the best performer left. She’s great on stage. Anastasia says that if I had to call it tonight you are my Nashville Star. She then tells Erika Jo girl to girl that her one weakness is her wardrobe and suggests she buy Elle and Glamour. Bret opens his remarks by saying boy to girl you were no good my ass. You rock. Bret sees Erika Jo as a young star waiting to take off and makes a song request. Bret wants to see Erika Jo sing “Black Velvet.”
Before we go to commercial, we get to see some more bad auditions including a guy who chooses to sing an Alison Krauss song and says he can sing it both high and low, so he might do both. I won’t subject you to any more of a description. Let’s just say I’d prefer to watch Cledus 24/7.
Fiddler on the Stage
When we come back, the last three to learn their fates are back on stage with Leann. Leann calls over Jenny and asks her about her original song performance last week. Jenny admits it wasn’t vocally the best, but says she’s proud of the song because she wrote it. Jenny got a lot of good feedback on her website and she is praying she got enough votes this week to stay.
Justin gets to breathe a sigh of relief as Leann calls his name. Justin’s video is actually quite touching this week. He explains that the fiddle he will be playing was given to him by his parents. They bought 15 from the same guy just to get this one. Justin has played it on stage for 13 or 14 years. It’s extra special to him now because he lost his dad a few years ago. Playing it makes him feel like his dad is a part of his music still.
Justin comes out and proves again what a truly talented musician he is by showing off his ability to play the fiddle while performing Garth Brooks’ “Calling Baton Rouge.” Leann comments on the fact that Justin has now played the mandolin, the guitar, and the fiddle on the show and asks him if he thinks it gives him an advantage to play so many instruments. Justin says that he’s just trying to be himself and have fun doing it. This is what he’s been doing all his life.
Anastasia tries to defend herself by telling Justin and Leann that she doesn’t hate Justin she digs him and respects him and that’s why she’s hard on him. She speaks the truth when she says that the weakest part of Justin’s performances is his voice. Anastasia suggests that if he and Jody don’t make the last night together they ought to consider forming a band. She says it would be The Mavericks meet Nickel Creek. Justin says that he and Jody could go on the road any time together as far as he is concerned. Bret jumps in and says that you are a true blue musician with grit. Bret thought Justin finally lit up the stage this time. Phil agrees stating that it is really hard to do what Justin did and play great fiddle then stop and sing. Phil applauds Justin.
Leann throws us back to Cledus who is standing with Jenny and Jody. Jenny says it is a little nerve wracking having to wait to hear your fate. Cledus asks Jody if he’s going to bust out some Latino or rap music and suggests that he could join Jody and Justin on the road. Jody says that the three of them would sell like four tickets.
Always a Bridesmaid
Leann is standing with the envelope of doom in her hand while Jody and Jenny are standing near her. Before she reveals who survives for another week and who will be going home, Leann interviews Jody and asks him how he is feeling. Jody admits to being nervous. Jody also says that he wouldn’t change much if anything about his Nashville Star experience so far. Leann then asks Jenny what is next for her if she is gone this week. She says that she doesn’t quit that easy so if her fans and family don’t quit neither will she.
We learn that Jenny is indeed gone. Jody gives her a big hug, holds up her hand and proclaims to the audience that Jenny is a winner. Jenny really seems to appreciate the gesture and reiterates to Leann that although she is disappointed she is not going to give up her dream yet.
Jody in his video says that he is proud of where he is from and doesn’t want to do anything that would make the people at home not proud of him. They have been taking good care of him and he really appreciates it. Jody’s dream is to get to perform in front of people everywhere.
Jody does a great rendition of Radney Foster’s “Just Call Me Lonesome.” He ends by unplugging his guitar and swinging it like a bat and thanks the audience for allowing him to sing for them one more time. Leann gives Jody a big hug. She asks Jody how he handled the judges’ criticism of his ballad the week before. Jody says that he thought it was deserved. He adds that he has a fast vibrato anyway and it only gets worse when he is nervous.
Bret tells him that that’s the Jody I love. We aren’t trying to build a Frankenstein here and take different parts from different places. We are trying to find a Nashville Star. Phil says I love it, and I’m glad you are still here. I love your thing. Anastasia tells Jody that she adores him and wants to adopt him and take him under her wing. She then says that sometimes one plus one equals three, and she really thinks he ought to consider the band idea. Her suggestion is greeted by boos from the audience.
Next week we get a live performance of “Trying to Find Atlantis” by Jamie O’Neal and at least according to a commercial I saw, the contestants perform duets with Jamie and another special guest star.
Want to discuss why the final five consists of four men and Erika Jo? e-mail email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org