Hello, hello, my peeps, and welcome back to the latest episode of The Road to Stardom! I just hope that you won’t toss bricks at me after reading two consecutive weeks of Mizz Mariner’s wondrous wordplay. Tonight’s episode looks to be a little heavier than the usual routine, so please sit back, relax, and perhaps get a tissue or two ready. Criminy, I get all the hard assignments.
This is a Low
As our favorite hip-hop menagerie rolls on in their new, glitzy bus, we learn that these contestants have a lot of dirty laundry to be airing. That’s right. So dirty that the show is going to the most desperate of measures to get them to clean up . . . truck-stops. The gang is overjoyed to finally hit the laundromats. Oh, you thought I meant they all had dirty little secrets? Oh ho ho ho ho ho! This isn’t American Idol, you know.
Nilyne also decides to brave the truck stop showers . . . a place often so deadly that even the strongest do not make it out alive. This one looks all right, however, as it has a complex electric locking system that surely rivals Fort Knox. I’m sure Nic will be disappointed, but he should really be off washing his towel, anyway.
Once everyone gets fresh and squeaky-clean, they are on the road again, leaving Nashville and its hee-haw kickin’ music behind. Everyone seems to be enjoying their new ride, and as Marcus relaxes on a big comfy seat inside, he explains to Road Manager Steve that he’s got to win this competition so he can continue providing for his family. When Steve asks if Marcus has any children, Marcus replies, “Yes, I’ve got two boys.” *Manny does aural double take* What!?!? I was not expecting that one.
Shortly thereafter, they stop for a bite to eat, and Steve receives a call on his cell phone. He hands it to Marcus, and judging by the look on Marcus’ face once he begins listening, it’s not going to be good news. It was Marcus’ mother, who brings the tragic news that Marcus’ brother was in an accident . . . and passed away. Tears well up in Marcus’ eyes, and Steve puts his arm around Marcus. Taking the phone, Steve assures Marcus’ mom that he’ll “take care of her baby.”
Back on the bus, all of Marcus’ friends console the poor guy, and he thanks them for their support. Marcus says that he is going to continue on in the competition as his mom urged him to, as he’s come too far to quit at this point. I have to say that Marcus is a very strong guy, and it would be difficult for any of the other contestants to have setbacks on the show that looked significant after this.
Discarding the Bad Juju
Get off the bus! It’s the next stop on the tour . . . Nawlins! *tosses beads* Eddie is happy to be back in his hometown, where he got his swagger. However, rather than the bus pulling up to some hot voodoo-blues lounge, the contestants find themselves . . . at a cemetery. No one is quite sure why they are there . . . nor am I, considering the recent circumstances. Steve hands the group a letter from Missy, and they are there to “bury something from their past” and deliver a eulogy for their emotional baggage. Ah, I see! Analogies are to this show as Nic is to towel—inseparable. A glossy confessional-video Missy pops up onto the screen, explaining that one must get rid of any emotional baggage they have in order to be successful. Missy is clearly not familiar with Trent Reznor. After a moment to think and write, the contestants each stand up and deliver their eulogies.
Melissa starts things off by burying her fear and self doubt and vows to pursue her passion unapologetically.
Deltrice is next, and declares that “Me, Myself, and I are gathered here today” to say farewell to her self-hatred, self-doubt, self-pity, or self-whatever. Strangely enough, she breaks out into song mid-eulogy, and Nilyne declares this behavior diva-esque.
Matthew stands up and dramatically reads, “The lust in Matthew’s heart was laid to rest.” Akil does a visible double-take at this and ponders in confessional why Matthew, then, is doing R&B music, which is all about getting your groove on. In fact, some of Matthew’s lyrics are about getting the groove on. “It’s kind of a strange little quirk,” muses Akil. I just say that Matthew must have visited the New Orleans House of Blues.
Marcus gets up next saying that he’s going to bury his doubts of not being successful and letting his family down.
Nic follows by speaking about a divorce he went through a couple years ago and how much he loves he son, Legend. He declares that in an age of single dads who don’t want to be with their children, he wants to be the exception to that rule.
Eddie emotes that he’d like to bury his childhood, where he hated his abusive parents. At this point, pretty much everyone is getting teary-eyed, and ack, I think I’m going to need a tissue, too.
The despondency continues as Nilyne, who speaks next, delivers an “apology” to a child that she lost.
Jessica wants to lay to rest her convictions. That is . . . her criminal ones.
Finally, Akil speaks of a time of deep depression in his life when he lived on the street, his dad had severe health problems, and he felt totally alone. However, he also adds that he’s realized that he wasn’t totally alone during that time, and the others’ problems make his problems seem trivial. “I hope that blessings flow to y’all!” exclaims Akil.
Hmmm . . . it makes the backstabbing you see on other shows seem pretty pointless, doesn’t it?
My Makeup may be Flaking, but my Smile Stays on . . .
But enough of making the recapper’s job hard. We need some embarrassment and comedy, stat! It really shouldn’t be that hard to come by in Nawlins. I mean, in this city, the dead walk, the alligators talk, and the behavior . . . shocks. When I was last in the Big Easy, I was called a “devil child” by multiple people on the street. And I wasn’t even the one wearing the horns! But I won’t bore you with my exploits.
We meet up with our favorite judges—Mona, Dallas, and Teena—who are sitting in a club called the Howlin’ Wolf. (Somewhere, probably in the magical Rainbow City, Yelawolf is smacking himself right now.) And look! The judges have a new companion this week . . . none other than famed hip-hop-hit-maker, Jermaine Dupri! Mona explains that tonight’s theme is that old chestnut, “The Show Must Go On.” While the contestants perform for Jermaine, everything that could possibly go wrong will go wrong. Murphy’s Hop. Dare I suggest that Mona developed this challenge after seeing her hairdresser’s latest work?
The contestants shuffle in individually, and each go up on stage to perform an original piece, a cappella. Then, they will perform it again, this time backed by an extraordinarily fast-learning backing band. While this is all taking place, various disasters strike. The bartender loads and unloads bottles as nosily as humanly possible. Jermaine’s cell phone rings. The microphone goes out. The band breaks into music that does not fit at all. Not to mention that Jermaine, through the whole process, couldn’t possibly look more excited. Or wait, yes he could. Maybe if he were having a root canal. A slow, deep root canal.
Akil hops on stage first and performs his song “You’re So Fly.” He is appalled when Jermaine’s phone goes off, but keeps going through all the distractions. He later laughs in confessional, “That’s just bad etiquette!” After the performance, he heads backstage, scratching his head at the “weird experience.”
Deltrice keeps going nicely, though her mike goes out and the band seems to all be soloing at the same time.
Eddie gets big points when his mike goes out, but he drops it and carries on, projecting his voice with every ounce of his energy.
Marcus starts into one of his smooth songs, but stops when Jermaine answers his loudly ringing phone. Uh oh!
Matthew carries on through his distractions, though he believes the band went into a “polka beat” midway through his piece. It’s no exaggeration, either . . . everybody! Do that funky, funk-ay chicken!
Jessica seems to do a pretty good job, but the band is getting progressively more outlandish. These guys really get freestylin’ . . . it’s worse than a Tubes concert. Akil jokes with the contestants backstage that he would fire them all if he were in charge.
Nic is his usual cocky self, claiming that whoever was on Jermaine’s phone couldn’t have been more important than he was. When his mike goes out through one of his signature three-words-per-line raps, he simply reaches over and grabs the sax player’s mike, thus depriving us of another chaotic, noodling sax solo. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but . . . way to go, Nic!
Melissa is up next, and we all know how well she performs under pressure. She stops when Jermaine answers his phone, which we can hear is something about a movie. (What was that, I wonder? Yo, Jermaine, let’s go downtown and see Phantom of the Opera!) She also has trouble singing over the band who once again break it down in Chinatown.
Finally, Nilyne turns in a less-than-stellar performance to close things out. Not that her singing was awful, but it seems as though she took ten minutes to get herself prepped for the performance. Then, when the band started, she just gave them a bewildered look . . . and that was before they went en fuego.
Talk About a Bad Day
It’s the end of the show, so from here on out, things pretty much happen as usual. As usual, the judges go off to deliberate, and the contestants go off to bemoan their mistakes. Nilyne feels that she will almost certainly be put in the spotlight tonight, and Marcus and Melissa don’t feel much better.
Mona meets the contestants in the parking lot, as usual, and gives them the Mcleod speech, as usual. “You all are very talented, but there can be only one!!!” As usual, the spotlights go ‘round and ‘round to freak everyone out, and I notice that they are starting to linger longer on the faces of the innocent . . . I suppose the contestants need a little more stress in their lives right about now.
Finally, the lights fall on Melissa, as usual, and . . . Marcus! “It’s on me?” a shell-shocked Marcus whispers. “Well ain’t that a b*tch.” When it rains, it pours. As usual.
The pair will be sent onto Missy’s bus where they will each plead their case, and she will make the final decision. First up is Marcus, who explains that he stopped singing just out of respect when Jermaine’s phone rang. Plus, he adds, how could Jermaine give him a good evaluation if Jermaine’s not even listening? Excellent points, Marcus, but unfortunately it doesn’t fit tonight’s lesson. If there’s one thing I’ve learned in school, it is “do not defy the system, or they will crush you. Like eggiweggies.”
Melissa ascends onto the bus and explains that this is her passion—what she wants to do most. Unfortunately, she also starts to tear up, which isn’t the best thing to have happen when you’re being accused of cracking under pressure.
With that, Missy and our fearless M&M duo meet back in the parking lot for the final decision. The bottom line, says Missy, is that you should always keep going in a performance, unless somebody’s getting beaten up in front of you. And even then, it’s not always worth stopping.
“Melissa,” says Missy, “you’ve got a lot of talent, but you still have a lot of growth ahead of you. I love you, and I love you enough to let you go.” And there you have it . . . Melissa is off the tour, and Marcus lives to sing another day. From the bus, Deltrice remarks that if Melissa is this talented at 19, in a few years “she’s gonna be one bad Mammer Jammer!” Missy comes back and gives the little Mammer Jammer one final hug before the lights go out on the episode.
Aww, so much heartwarming goodness, poignancy, and talent on this show. I hope you’ll be back on Wednesday for another exciting episode, this time with a good old-fashioned mike battle in VEGAS, BABY! I’ll see you there!
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