Welcome back to that good ol’ backwoods country road . . . The Road to Stardom.
Actually, not hardly, but tonight’s episode opens with another music video-mode Missy, dressed up in traditional scarecrow garb, telling the cornfields below to run for cover! cover! cover! I really don’t know what to make of it. Is this episode going to be a field of dreams? A war of the worlds? Children of the corn? Only one way to find out, my friends. Let’s see what’s shakin’ with Missy and the gang this week.
Last week, we said goodbye to the multi-talented, soft-spoken, six-string-slinger of hip-hop, Akil, and we now find ourselves with the top four of Deltrice, Jessica, Matthew, and Nilyne. All are extremely talented, says Missy, who is now thankfully straw-free, but you know Missy! She’s not going to make it easy on them, which is why today’s road challenge starts NOW!
The fantastic four enter a room to find a rack of strange costumes, a group of random people clad in black (who somehow manage to make it into every shot), Mona, and what Matthew, aka Bucky, describes as a “cute little girl.” Be careful, Bucky, it’s always the cute, harmless-looking ones that turn on you.
Mona says not a word, but merely turns on some music, and the mystery girl begins to dance. She’s definitely not your junior high talent show fodder; she seems quite talented. As it turns out, Mona introduces the girl as Lil’ Brianna, who is apparently Missy’s protégé—a dynamic rapper and performer despite being only twelve.
Though Deltrice fears that she’s going to have to battle someone half her age, Mona splits the contestants into two teams. Instead of being embarrassed by the pint-sized diva, the two teams will have twenty minutes to come up with a music video concept for Brianna’s single “Let the Body Go,” which they just heard. They will have a variety of props and costumes at their disposal, along with the group of people still looming fuzzily in the background . . . the extras. No doubt they have their names written on their faces, as well. Whichever team comes up with the best concept wins a “special surprise” from Missy. Oh, goody!
Matthew and Deltrice, team number one, are up first, and Matthew has an idea immediately. He asks the extras to dress up and look as stupid as possible, for they will be acting like odd, overly Caucasian party-goers. The video will be in black and white, except for Brianna, who comes into the room in color. When she touches each person at the party, they turn to color, lose the weird costumes, and begin dancing for real. It looks quite good, and Brianna looks pleased with the idea.
Deltrice says in confessional that she and Bucky made a perfect team and that he was great to work with—full of ideas, but listened to her ideas as well. Now, come on, Mr. Foreshadowing. I’ve had a tough week at the academic factory; is it really necessary to smack me so hard?
This is What it Sounds Like . . .When Banshees Cry
Jessica and Nilyne, team numero dos, have been listening backstage for any details they might hear. They hear music, so they figure it’s some sort of dancing challenge. This in mind, they begin to work out a dance routine, just to be safe.
Imagine the surprise when Mona gives the real details for the challenge! Both are a caught a bit off-guard, and things quickly go from bad to worse when they cannot agree on the very concept of the video. It’s a beach party, and Nilyne wants it to be a teen beach party, aged 14 and up. Hmmph. Sounds like a real blast. Jessica argues that such a storyline sends the wrong signals, and I don’t believe they come to any compromise.
Next, Nilyne goes off to teach the extras their dance routine, and when Jessica comes over to join in, Nilyne informs her that they’ve changed the routine. When Brianna crashes the time’s-up gong, the pair has nothing. Nilyne makes up the whole plot of the video on the spot, which now involves a phone call, having her mom drive her to the party (no doubt getting dropped off three blocks away so she doesn’t get her style cramped by the Mom-factor), and a strange “dance battle” that looks like West Side Story . . . if Michael Jackson were the lead. Who’s bad? *snap snap snap*
Brianna looks mildly amused, as though she’s looking at her algebra teacher, smiling, and nodding before she falls asleep again. Jessica is annoyed that Nilyne made up the whole thing on the spot and claims to the camera that “she made me look like a fool out there.”
As soon as the two return to the waiting room, they begin to argue, and before long, the argument erupts into a shouting match. A loud, echo-y shouting match. Now, I’m quite sure Nilyne didn’t use her better judgment in picking this fight, since she looks positively tiny next to big, bad Jessica standing at full height. Nilyne may be a firecracker, but Jessica is more like an M-80. Matthew calmly intones that they need to chill, realizing it reflects badly on all of them. Bucky is a wise man. He’s also maintaining a safe distance from Jessica. Before they bring down the building, Mona arrives, demanding to know what exactly is going on.
All fall silent. The silence is deafening. Mona declares that they are “ridiculous” to go off in the middle of a challenge in such a manner, and that they need to work it out on their own time, because it’s time to finish the challenge. I think Mona would be a more effective attitude-adjuster than Supernanny Jo Frost could ever hope to be.
The final four return to the main room where Brianna asks, “What was all that noise?” Look sharp, Brianna . . . this is what you have to look forward to in this business.
“It was just an argument. A small argument—very small. It shouldn’t have happened,” Nilyne replies oh-so-sweetly. Mona looks incredulous, and Brianna cuts to the chase without any further ado. The winning directorial team is . . . Deltrice and Bucky! Brianna thanks the second team for their worthy effort, and the contestants shuffle out to head back to the mansion.
I Feel Pretty, Oh So Pretty!
Following a tense ride back to the mansion, things couldn’t be more awkward between Nilyne and Jessica. Both feel that the other disrespected them. Jessica says “You know what I’m sayin’?” a lot, and Nilyne goes off on Jessica in confessional several times.
Meanwhile, however, Deltrice and Matthew have found a lovely treat waiting for them back at the mansion . . . a relaxing massage and manicure compliments of Missy. Matthew, wrapped up in a towel and getting all his stress tenderly caressed away, thinks the whole reward is incredible and gives it two glossy, lacquered thumbnails up.
As the sun rises the next day, things are still agitated between Nilyne and Jessica, but at least they are now stubbornly refusing to speak to one another instead of carrying on like alley cats with an attitude. The four awkwardly pile into the car, arriving at the Record Plant recording studio. Matthew excitedly surmises that they’ll finally get to lay down some tracks.
Dallas has arrived to help the contestants with their recordings and gives some handy arrangement suggestions. He likes Matthew’s song, but adds some background vocals to augment it. During Deltrice’s turn, he gives some diction advice that helps bring her vocals on pitch.
In the meantime, the tender subplot of our soap opera continues, as Jessica and Nilyne sit in the lounge of the studio . . . not speaking. Finally, they begin to speak about the argument, both presenting their sides, and soon, both apologize and are laughing again. Simple as that! I’ll never understand women.
Nilyne seems to get some good advice from Dallas during her session, but feels that her efforts in the studio were not 100% after being shaken by the argument. Jessica’s “What’s the Dealio” song undergoes a makeover featuring massive, Queen-like backing harmonies. In fact, you can’t really tell which one is the lead anymore. . . .
Roots to Branches and All That
After the studio time is up, Dallas gives the performers the details of the next performance challenge. The directions are simple . . . “Tonight, you’ll be performing these songs in front of some very important people.” The contestants immediately ponder who it could be, considering that they just met Madonna in the last episode. Could it be Prince? Michael Jackson? Devastatin' Dave?
Well, as it turns out, the VIP audience, according to shiny confessional-video Missy, will be the contestant’s friends and family. “It’s important to stay grounded when you’re a performer,” she says, “and remember that your loved ones will always be there for you.” Ha! How many of you thought the VIP was N-I-C?
Didn’t think so.
The contestants ready themselves in a room of the mansion, warming up, singing in front of the mirror, and doing their hair. All are nervous at the prospect of performing in front of this superstar audience, so I sincerely hope that none of them look disappointed to see their parents when the big moment comes. It would make for some interesting arguments back home . . . “Do your laundry? Ha! Why don’t you get Madonna to do your laundry!?”
Deltrice takes the stage (the backyard of the mansion, I assume) first and is thrilled when she spots her parents in the small audience. As the music starts and she begins to sing, her mom and dad both begin to tear up with the looks of supreme parental pride. She does a nice job and gets the judges groovin’ to her song, “Angel Eyes.” After the performance, she says she was “so happy to see her parents” and that she was blown away when her dad began to cry, because he “doesn’t do that!”
The next performer is Nilyne, who says that her stomach was hurting from nerves before she walked out, but all that went away when she saw her cousin in the crowd. Though the lyrical content of her song is none too deep, she also does a nice job, and gives Deltrice a big ol’ hug after she finishes. Awww!
Matthew skips down the steps from the mansion, asks the crowd “how are you guys?” and then notices his father and twin brother in the audience, which really gets him excited. Bucky II is just as excited to see Bucky I perform his song, which is delivered superbly with lots of movement and some impressive falsetto lines. The whole crowd loves it, none more than Matthew’s dad, who looks undeniably like, shall we say, “Pastor Bucky.”
Finally, Jessica takes the stage, looking very happy to see her sister and friend in the audience. She launches into her now-epic song, “What’s the Dealio,” with great fervor, getting a great response from both her sister and Bucky II (who, incidentally, looks nothing like Bucky I). Once her song is finished, Jessica “cheats,” running off the stage and embracing her loved ones in a flying hug tackle.
With that, the judges let the rest of the contestants out of their little holding area, and there is warm, fuzzy love everywhere. The contestants begin to share stories with their loved ones and are very grateful to get back in touch with the greatest fans they’ll ever have.
So Close, Yet So Far
While the contestants spend some quality time with their friends and family in the mansion, the judges are locked away in the highest room of the tallest tower, deliberating. For Mona, the breakout performance was Matthew, who did a spectacular job and really put his heart into the song.
The judges thought that Deltrice had an excellent song, but didn’t deliver it well. On the diametric side, none of the judges thought highly of Nilyne’s song, and Dallas mentions that she changed it from her original tune about “sexy light-skinned guys.” Well, we should be counting our blessings, I’d say.
Finally, though everyone loves Jessica as a performer, Teena was not thrilled with the line in Jessica’s song, “I’m not your average ho.” “What does that mean?” Lady T muses. “That you’re a better ho?”
With the decision made, it’s time to set the contestants’ legs a-quivering and blinded by the spotlight. Drawing it out for a ridiculously long time, it finally falls on Nilyne and . . . Deltrice!
The duo each goes in to plead their case to Missy in a dark, random room of the mansion. I’d be scared to sleep in this place. Too many candles and clandestine chambers.
Nilyne is first, and Missy brings up the argument between Nilyne and Jessica from the previous day. Nilyne says that she just got caught up in the moment, and Missy contends that a superstar must always control his or her temper. Hear that, Oasis?
Next is Deltrice, who merely says that it probably wasn’t her strongest performance since she was so overwhelmed after getting to see her parents. Missy contends that a superstar has to stay focused no matter what. Hear that . . . oh, look! A shiny object.
Finally, everyone gathers in the star chamber to await Missy’s final decision, and Missy ponders if it would be cruel to kick off two people tonight. “I’m not ready, Missy,” says Deltrice, who now looks a little ill.
“Well,” replies Missy, “good. Because . . . Nilyne, you’re off the tour.”
Well, so much for Nilyne’s plan to de-throne Jessica. But Nilyne is thrilled that she made it as far as she did and thinks that she did pretty durned well to get to the top four.
Deltrice returns to find her friend Jessica waiting for her, and the two embrace in a big ol’ hug once again . . . before the final showdown.
Be sure to join us next week for the Grand Finale! Fun! Fanfare! Fireworks! Alliteration! Who goes home with $100,000, a recording contract, and a released single? Who will be disgruntled and petty? Find out next Wednesday, one hour later at 9:00 P.M., Eastern Time. Mark your calendars and we’ll catch you cats on the flip-flop!
We understand the concept of teamwork, and we haven’t been kicked off the tour yet. firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com