Nashville Star Update – Final for 2007

So now you have your 2007 Nashville Star: Angela Hacker.  I’m sure this surprised no one.  She was the favorite from the beginning, and the only one who gave her a run for the money was her brother Zac.  I’m pretty happy about it.

 I actually think Miss Hacker has a very good chance of becoming a “big” Nashville star.  So far, the show has not produced a Carrie Underwood type mega star, but it must be remembered that for two years the “record deal” being given away was with a mid-sized label.  The first year, with Buddy Jewel, was with Sony – and Buddy did better than anybody else on the show has since done (save Miranda Lambert).  Not only will Hacker have the backing of Warner Nashville, but she may be the benefit of a right place, right time situation.

Country music goes through cycles.  I guess all genres do, but country is what I know right now.  It goes like this: a “revolution” happens, a breath of fresh air, giving a buzz and excitement to the industry.  Sales go up.  Then, all the labels try to copy the success of the revolutionary, but before you know it, we’re back to slick, plastic, safe performers being put before the public.  The labels just can’t help themselves.

The last revolution was the Muzik Mafia craze of a few years ago.  Since that died down, and became a little more slick and marketable, the world of country music has been waiting for the next great thing.  I think it may have it, in both the Hackers.   We’ve had a few years now of “forced redneck-ism”, thanks to Gretchen Wilson; I think the world is now ready for the real thing.

That’s something we haven’t had since Loretta Lynn was big.

I sincerely hope Hacker’s Warner producers don’t try to glam her up.  They should play the trailer park aspect as much as they can.  America is filled with people just like Hacker, I really believe they can relate to her.

David St Romain better get his own deal out of this.  He was awesome, and consistent.  I loved his original.

I have no doubt about this: Zac’s going to be OK.  He’ll get his own deal, and no doubt record a duet with his sister.  He almost let the cat out of the bag about that last night.

This was a very good year on Nashville Star.  Jewel and Cowboy Troy were very good hosts (I’d like to see a little more reaction between them).  The judges may have been maddening, but they were entertaining.  Next year, I’d like to see the first show dedicated to the regionals (this is a huge part of the appeal of AI).  They did that the first year, and it was quite entertaining.

I already can’t wait for next year.

Nashville Star Update

I went to the Predators game last night (bleh), so my Nashville Star viewing was from DVR.  I first want to say that I don’t think I’ve ever had so many tears watching a reality show before.  So many moments.  This is why I love country music.  You could see it in the show: real people.  Real problems. Real Joy.  You just can’t get that from “singing contests” where the point is to pick the best Perfect Plastic Person.

I’ll get right to the contestants, so I’ll leave the “star” performances alone (although I think it was the height of irony that Blake was “pitchy”).

First up was Zac.  When he started his song, “Lady” (you know, sung Kenny Rogers written by Lionel Ritchie?), I thought he made a huge tactical mistake.  The song is too flat, I thought.  Boy, was I wrong.  Even though his voice was scratchy, his performance sent chills down my spine.  I’m starting to believe he could move people by singing the phone book.

Joshua Stevens put in a great performance of that Tim McGraw song from Flicka (Better Love, or something like that).  He was good, and the performance was heartfelt.  What they did in his video intro just didn’t seem right.  Somehow, a televised, made-for-tv meeting with the mother who abandoned him seemed contrived.  Perhaps it’s because my wife had a much more private meeting with her birthmother a few years ago.  I just felt like we  were eavesdropping on a too private moment.

David St Romain did a really good job with “Live Like You Were Dying” (as an aside – I’m SOOOOO tired of that song!)  I really wish he had gone with his first instinct (Travis Tritt’s “Anymore”).  The bridge is so well written, perfect for his voice, he would have killed.  But David did do something I was quite proud of.  He did a “cold” key change between the first verse and chorus; usually you don’t do that till you’ve sang the chorus a few times.  He deserves kudos for that, because it is extremely difficult.  He attempted some vocal acrobatics and the end, and missed the note.  Probably won’t cost him votes, though. Blake was a real smarta** in his comments; remind me not to buy his music anymore.

Angela.  Angela.  Angela Hacker.  I think I’ve finally figured out what is is about her.  She’s a good singer, not a spectacular one.  She’s pretty, but average in the “sexy” department.  Yet, make no mistake: when she’s onstage, you can’t take your eyes off her.  She’s got “it”.  Like her brother, she sings with a soul you can’t learn.  She’s a young Loretta Lynn.  Her life experience actually flows throughout her singing; it’s a sterotypical country resume: alcoholic father, no-good lowdown ex husband, raising a kid on her own, dirt poor trailer park upbringing.  She’s “old” (29) in comparison to the other contestants.  But, like I said, you can’t take your eyes off her.  She’s gonna be the Nashville Star (hope I didn’t jinx her)

Joshua Stevens was voted off (as expected).  He’s very good, but he’s not “there” yet.  He can’t carry a room.

Finally, Jewel has dressed quite conservatively since she let it be known that she didn’t like being known as the singer with big boobs.  But not last night.  She let the girls free!

Talk about not being able to take your eyes off of something…

But Jewel, I love you for your mind!

I think Jewel’s Been Reading this blog

I REALLY need to post a Nashville Star recap, and a long-overdue Ugly Betty review.  Let’s start with Nashville Star.

I haven’t gone to the Acuff Theater in a couple of weeks, because I’ve had the phlem monster and I don’t want to wait around for two hours outside.  I WILL be there next week, though.  So, I’m watching last night, and Jewel is doing her one-on-one discussions with the contestants, filmed at her ranch.  What really struck me is that she went off on a tangent while talking to Whitney Duncan about how she hates being known as “the singer from Alaska with big boobs”.  Not a bad gig, if you ask me, but OK.  Sorry about that.

Jewel, if you come across Shoot The Moose while you’re kiling time at the Opryland Hotel, I promise you – I’ve had a crush on you since your Christmas CD, when I discovered you were a real singer and not just another “whiny chick singer from the 90’s”.  That was long before I noticed your, um, you know… Anyway, as a gesture of my sincerity, let me say that I noticed last night that you have incredible hazel eyes.  And I LOVED your performance last week.  Friends?

Now, to the show.  Last night was original night.  It’s what makes the show worthwhile.  These are real talented people who write their own songs, as opposed to those pretty people on American Karaoke.  Anyway, most people I know who have heard Whitney Duncan’s Skinny Dippin say that the song is the only reason she’s still in the competition.  Well, I heard it last night, and it was just kind of so-so.  Not bad, just nothing spectacular.  It would make one heck of a video, though.  I think she’s gone next week.

Joshua Stevens wrote a heart-wrenching song about his mother who abandoned him.  Great song, great performance.  It would have stolen the show on any other night.

David St Romain (who looks incredibly like the guy who plays Daniel on Ugly Betty), was chastised by the judges for writing a vanilla feel-good song.  What the?  Considering that’s 80% of what they’re realeasing on Music Row these days, why criticise him?  Sign the boy up! I LOVE his voice.  The man’s going to be big.

If the Hackers are not the final two in this competition, there is no justice.  Zac had the song of the night: If It Wasn’t For The Whiskey.  A song about his father (who is now sober), and his Dad was sitting right there in the front row!  There is no other way to say this: he sang the hell out of that song.  I can only dream of ever putting that much heart into a performance of one of my songs.  And it was SO well written!

Angela was right behind.  Her song Losing You Wasn’t a Total Loss really struck a nerve with me.  She sang it so well, it sent chills down my spine.  One day, I’d like to hear her do a duet with her brother.

I think Jewel doesn’t like the Judges very much.  And vice-versa.

But I’ll never know unless Jewel tells me herself.  Jewel, if you’ll comment here, I swear from now on I’ll treat you as if you were as flat-chested as a 14-year-old boy.  And I really AM a big fan of you boo…, er, music.

Nashville Star Update – With Boobs

This may just be breast day here at Shoot the Moose.  I’ll incorporate my thoughts in posts about other things.  In fact, most of my boob-talk will be in this post, because I swear I had more conversations about female chests last night than I have since I was a teenager.  I’ll mention no names to save embarrassment.

There were four of us there last night – two men, two women.  We tried to get there earlier this week so we could get better seats, but to no avail.  The rest of Nashville was onto us.  They were all there earlier, too.  So, we ended up in about the same place in line as last week.  We had a long wait, so needless to say the conversation drifted hither and yon.  Amongst the things discussed:

Female hairstylists, it appears, do not rub themselves up against women customers the same way they do men customers.  I assume that would explain why men tip more.

Do boobs float?

Apparently the Girls Gone Wild bus has been seen in Nashville.  We all agreed the founder is a slimy-looking sleazeball.

We probably could have had a few more anatomical discussions, but they moved us in at about 8:30.  It went much more smoothly this week.  We chose purposefully, this time, to sit in front of the contestants, but this time from a few rows back.  We had a pretty nice view, when the boom camera wasn’t in the way.

Little big Town pre-recorded their “live” performance.  You just don’t get better live harmonies than that.  They were absolutely perfect.  The blonde was dressed like she was about to go night-night though.  

Now, the controversy: I was the only one in my group who liked Angela Hacker’s performance.  The Bonnie Tyler voice scratchiness was kind of neat: it sent chills down my spine.  Stangely enough, when I got home, I found out Lintilla didn’t like it either.  Good song choice, though: I Can’t Make You Love Me (If You Don’t).

Whitney Duncan was awful.  no stage presence, pitchy.  This upsets me greatly, because I have predicted she would win the whole thing.  It partly wasn’t her fault; she was originally going to do another song, but late in the week they decided they couldn’t get it “cleared” (I’m assuming by ASCAP or BMI), so she had to switch songs.  But, I still feel she could have done better.

The judges made weird comments about David St Romain.  He did a great version of Life Is A Highway .  He rocked the house.  The judges were unanimous that he should have instead sung something “for the females”, whatever that means.  I thought he was awesome – he’s moved up my leaderboard.

I expected Meg Allison to get eliminated this week.  Big surprise: it was Kasey Musgraves.  Meg did “Take Me Down” by Alabama, and was GREAT.  I think she’ll make it another week.

Joshua Stevens was interesting.  He did “I Still Believe in You”, and he chose a key that was RIGHT at the edge of his range.  He would get right to the edge of getting off-pitch, then he’d pull back.  One of our party, who is a singer, said “He made me nervous”.  I agree.  Here’s the thing.  He nailed it.  But it sounded like at any time he’d lose it.

Zac Hacker is now the odds-on favorite (unless Whitney gets her act together fast).  His song selection was a little obscure:  Delbert McClinton’s Memphis Women and Fried Chicken.  Not only did he make the song his own and absolutely ROCK, I was a little hungry when he finished.  🙂

The crowd was a little more into it this week.  Beret Guy didn’t have to egg them on as much.

The girls in our party were having a conversation about my fascination with Jewel.  One of them reminded me that Jewel is kind of snaggle-toothed, and that many men find that unnattractive.  I just shrugged.

About this time, they showed one of the interviews Jewel did with the next contestant.

“Oh.  I get it”, my friend said.

“She has big boobs.”

No comment.

Nashville Star Report Week 2

Don’t have much time today, but I’m just dying to tell you guys a few things about my adventures last night at the Acuff Theater for the live broadcast of Nashville Star.  Thanks bigtime to Susie and family for dragging me along; it was the most fun I’ve had where I wasn’t the one playing music in a long time.  Anyway, now I’ll give you a few quick impressions.

We didn’t have “bought” tickets, so we hung out with the peons in the “filler” tent for an hour and 45 minutes.  Once the ticketed people were let in, they rushed our group in. There were 5 of us, so the chances of us all getting seats together was slim.  However, we did find a group of seats behind 3 cameras/teleprompters.  Bad idea.  We couldn’t see a thing.  Duh!  That’s why they were empty.

Susie refused to stand for this, so she got up and found us some other seats (the ushers were in an awful hurry, so she was actually taking a huge risk).  She found some beside/behind a platform with a huge boom camera.  What a Godsend!  We were right in front (about 5 rows back) of where the contestants sit on the stage, we could see where the contestants performed, and we had a clear line of sight to the judges.  Yipee!

It’s like everyone says:  a live broadcast is controlled chaos.  There was a dude in a beret who seemed to be in charge.  Everyone, including the hosts, contestants, and the crowd took orders from him.  He was nice about it, though, and he really knew what he was doing.  Something funny went on throughout the whole broadcast:  they kept having the crowd stand, then sit.  When coming back from breaks, we had to stand.  This conveyed excitement, and all that.  But when the crowd was standing, it obscured some of the camera views, so as soon as the next performer was announced (during a short taped interview), we were to sit.  I swear, it was just like being in Episcopal church.  Stand. Sit. Stand. Sit.  The only thing missing was “kneel”.

Cowboy Troy is an imposing presence.  He towered over everbody.  He also was the most engaging person in the theater all night.  If the cowboy rap thing doesn’t work out (and let’s face it, it won’t), he’s got quite a future in this sort of thing.  he really was that good.

***Sexist Alert!***  I can’t tell you how Jewel did.  Did she say anything?  I just couldn’t stop looking at her.  She is absolutely gorgeous.  A woman with real curves, and she was wearing a little black dress.  That’s all I have to say about that.  Actually, I did notice her personality.  She was extremely empathetic, just like last week.

 Miranda Lambert did taped her number 15 minutes ahead of the start of the broadcast.  I don’t fault her for this.  it’s the equivalent of kicking the field goal on third down.  If you bobble the snap, you get one more shot at it.  She nailed it, although I’m not too crazy about the song Crazy Ex Girlfriend.

Every single contestant was very strong this week.  It seems the stagefright, for the most part, was gone.  Especially strong were the two Hackers, Whitney Duncan, and David St. Romain.  Each of them sang a bluesy song, and I have a soft spot for that.  Also, Kudos to Whitney Duncan for doing Living on Tulsa Time, and doing it well.  Mark this down:  she’s going to win.

I was stunned when Dustin Wilkes was eliminated.  I thought he did very well last week, and he had a huge crowd presence this week.  I think some of his family were sitting near me.  They had Dustin signs, and some of them kind of looked like him.  They were obviously shocked as well.

Blake Shelton is the only judge I like to hear speak.  He’s just dang funny.  He seems to understand the spirit of the show, and gives the fans a good dose of entertainment.  Anastasia Brown obviously took a lot of heat for her comments last week to Angela Hacker – she was quite diplomatic with her this week.

Randy Owen.  Dang.  He’s one of my favorite singers of all time, but he’s the weak link on this show.  First, he tells Angela Hacker that she was hurting herself by doing When Will I Be Loved (Which she killed on, btw), because “that song is sung by every girl singer in every bar in America”.  WHAT?  That doesn’t diminish her amazing performance, Mr Owen.  Then, he reverses course and tells Meg Allison that she had a poor song choice because he had never heard of it.  The song: Oh, Atlanta which is only Alison Kraus’ signature song!  But then again, none of the people in my group had heard of the song either, so I’ll give him a little slack on that one.

 All in all, this was an amazing experience; it’s just SO much better than on TV.  Next time, I’ll get there a little earlier so we can get even better seats.  Maybe we can get closer to Jewel 🙂

About Last Night’s Nashville Star

Did anybody catch last night’s Nashville Star? Not only would I like your opinion on the show itself, but I’m trying to figure out if I’m insane.

I could swear the audio feed for the entire show was overloaded. It was distorting. This made it impossible to properly evaluate the contestants, the sound quality was awful. I have my own theory: Comcast Nashville screwed it up. I say this, because I know it couldn’t have been the house sound, somebody would have said something. Plus, the commercials had the same awful distorted sound. So it was either USA network or Comcast.

If you saw the show, and you’re not from Nashville, how was the sound to you?

Now, about the show. Jewel is a little shaky. However, she seemed such a nice, empathetic host, it’s impossible not to like her. And she’s quite easy on the eyes.

I think the judges haven’t found their way yet. They can’t figure out just which of them is the “Paula” and which is the “Simon”. They all said some pretty snarky things last night. When Anastasia Brown told contestant Angela Hacker that in her introductory video clip she was “underdressed to go to WalMart”, I threw stuff at my television. You’re there to judge her PERFORMANCE, you idgit! I’ll just hit mute everytime I see her from now on.

Randy Owen, bless his heart. He’s one of my musical heroes. He’s got a long way to go though.

Blake Shelton, except for a silly sexist comment, was the most professional of all the judges.

All in all, this seems to be a pretty strong group of contestants. They did eliminate the right people last night, so I have a little faith in the judges. Jewel needs to stop asking the eliminated contestants “How do you feel?” I know she’s got to talk to them, but that’s generally not going to get an answer.

As of right now, I’m rooting for Angela, Whitney, David, and Joshua (who is the best pure singer).

They’re all really good, though. I think the producer’s learned their lesson from the 1st season: stock the contestants with people who are already on the verge of being signed anyway. I remember well, in season 1, when it got down to the top three, I told Lintilla “Buddy will win; he’s won over the audience. But Sony and the producers want Miranda Lambert.” She was by far the most marketable of the finalists. It looks like this year, the producers have ensured that no matter who wins, they’ll be marketable. (Full disclosure: I LOVED and voted for Buddy Jewell)

I’ll be interested in seeing if they smooth the rough edges next week.