"Nashville Star" - Top Eleven Performance Show - June 16, 2008
Host Billy Ray Cyrus announces that we're live and this is "Nashville Star."
Apparently, Cyrus wasn't enough in the hosting department and Katie Cook has been added to introduce him and occasionally throw to commercial. She's like his own personal Dunkelman.
Cyrus tells us that last week was awesome and tonight apparently is going to be even bigger.
The contestants were divided into groups: Men, women, and groups and each one was given a judge as a mentor for the rest of the competition.
The girls get John Rich, the boys get Jewel, the groups get Jeffrey Steele, which he didn't want because he finds it hard to focus them. Now the judges are also part of the competition as rival mentors and they talk trash about each other.
Cyrus tells us last week's votes have been tallied and that the last two artists called out tonight will be up for elimination. As each group is called up we get a video recap of last week and the mentors talking to them.
Contestant #1: Laura & Sophie (the cute BFF teens)
Song: "Rocking With the Rhythm in the Rain," The Judds
Video: Jeffrey counsels them to let the viewers in on their friendship.
Performance: They do this by starting off back to back and moving to different sides of the stage and coming back together. They sound pretty good but a bit out of sync harmony-wise sometimes.
John: Thought they did a great job. But since they're so young wants to hear songs that are more their age.
Jewel: She adds she's worried about them singing songs they're not already comfortable with since they've been singing that one together for years.
Jeffrey: Still feels like he's at a slumber party. He says good job but wants to see them step it up going forward.
The girls tell Billy Ray that it was amazing working with Jeffrey.
Contestant #2: Ashlee Hewitt (the pretty blonde)
Song: "Ring of Fire," Johnny Cash
Video: He says the challenge with Ashlee is getting her to come out of herself.
Performance: Strumming her guitar she's still gving off the coffeehouse/Colbie Caillat vibe, she sounds good enough and she pushes it a little bit showing off more power than last week and a nice little yodel in her voice.
Jeffrey: Says he closed his eyes wondering if he could picture her singing in front of a million people, and he says there was a lot of fire on that ring of fire.
Jewel: Liked her changing it up, using her capo, and rocking with the guitar behind her back.
John: He expected something good and got something better. He tells her to listen to Jewel's new record - which he produced- since she's the reigning queen of folk-country.
Contestant #3: Justin Gaston (male model dude)
Song: "Hey There Delilah," Plain White T's
Video: Mentor Jewel wants Justin to hurt her and bring his heart into the lyrics
Performance: He looks really tentative and as if he's reading off a teleprompter, but perhaps he's just gazing at Jewel, who makes him nervous. He's strumming his guitar, seems nervous, and is hitting some bad notes. It's a nice rolling and tumbling arrrangement of the song. He ends with a smoldering stare. He was better last week.
Jeffrey: He says his performance stepped up but he's not sure about him.
John: He tells him man to man that he comes off very sweet, not in a good way. He asks Jewel if she actually mentored him or just made out with him for 30 minutes. (After Jewel talks John adds he doesn't believe Justin deserves to be in the competition.)
Jewel: She tells John he's just jealous. She agrees that he's sweet and that he should be who he is, which is sweet. She agrees that some of it was off-key and says that it's not that he can't sing but that he needs to get control of his singing.
Contestant #4: Alyson Gilbert (pageant girl who looks like Reba)
Song: "Every Breath You Take," The Police
Video: John reiterates that she should've been gone last week- she had been in the bottom two- and tells her to try and be more comfortable and less pageant-y. They work on different keys.
Performance: A little pagaent-y with her arms and she oversings a little, but instead of going wide-eyed she crinkles her eyes intensely. She hits some bad notes though. The arrangement had a weird rhythm too that she wasn't quite in the pocket of.
Jeffrey: Says it was like two different performers from last week to this week. (Which is a compliment).
Jewel: Agrees it was much improved and tells her when in doubt do what Reba does and just be still and kind and accessible.
John: Notices she's crying a little and says those are "I just nailed it" tears.
Contestant #5: Pearl Heart (the sister trio that is Dixie Chicks-esque)
Song: "Who Says You Can't Go Home," Sugarland
Video: Jeffrey tells the front girl to own the stage and for them all to come out of their shells.
Performance: They're a little awkward, but endearingly so. They're rushing the beat, but the harmonies sound great though, especially when the instruments drop out and they rock it a cappella. Front girl sounds terrific but has some gawky Brooke White-type moves.
John: Calls it a vast improvement from last week. He says he'd normally give her a break because she's 17 but since she sounds great and Taylor Swift was 17 when she started and can rock the house, she should be able to also.
Jewel: Tells her she needs to take dance lessons to get more physical.
Jeffrey: Tells her she needs to focus on the song, not just sing the words because she can sing. And he tells her sisters to support her.
Contestant #6: Tommy Stanley (the sailor)
Song:"Save a Horse (Ride a Cowboy)," Big & Rich
Video:Jewel tells him not to move too much which is Vegas-y. He says he knows he's taking a chance singing a John Rich song.
Performance:He's a little goofy with eyes and his arms which are stiff and he's singing so fast he's losing his breath - and the cameraman- a little. He's also pushing so hard that the notes are not real great. Rich is flattered though and he's playing along.
Jeffrey:Calls him a kiss-ass. Says it was a good job.
John: Says the ass-kissing worked. He jokes that Big Kenny is on hiatus and maybe they can hit the road together. Seriously though, he says Tommy's got a lot of potential and he's starting to feel him more. He wonders if any of the ladies on the show have fallen for this man in uniform yet. Tommy just smiles coyly.
Jewel:Says he's great and to not rush his phrasing.
Contestant #7:Gabe Garcia (the Hispanic Texan)
Song:"Have You Ever Seen the Rain," Credence Clearwater Revival
Video:Jewel tells him to engage the audience and not be so shy.
Performance:He tries to be engaging by smiling a lot but this is kind of a sad song right?
Jeffrey: (Who tends to talk while the audience is still clapping which makes him hard to hear). He thinks he still looks like a deer in the headlights tells him to just sing the song and not worry so much about the band and the arrangement and he's got a good shot.
Jewel: Tells him slow and steady wins the race and was glad to see him enjoying himself.
John: Tells him to turn his Texas on and the ladies will love him and that he did a good job.
Contestant #8:Shawn Mayer (the voluptuous brunette)
Song:"He Stopped Loving Her Today," George Jones
Video:She wants to prove she's not just a bar singer. She wants to prove she's special by performing the most beloved country song ever. John calls it dangerous but is impressed too.
Performance: She's very earnest and regretful. Her ambition outstrips her gift. She's a little shaky and hits some rough patches. It seems like an acting performance. The judges don't look psyched.
Jewel: Notices that she teared up and asks her how much she wants this. Shawn says John called her a crybaby but that her tears aren't fake and she wants to kiss the stage and she's living her dream and thanks the crowd. She works herself up and it does seem a little put on. Jewel says as a woman she needs to be kind to herself and that she thinks she has talent and that she did a good job.
Jeffrey: Wasn't sold on it. Says that she shouldn't be going for big "Star Search" notes on a song like that but let the words mean something. Jewel disagrees and thought she did let her voice illuminate the meaning.
John: He thought she climbed halfway up Mt. Everest and respects her taking on the challenge and says she can make it and that it was a good job.
Contestant #9: Coffey (the black cowboy)
Song:"Waiting on the World to Change," John Mayer
Video:He's excited to learn from Jewel. She tells him his vocal riffs need to mean something.
Performance:Strumming his electric he gets a little stiff with pointing arm movements. He sounds okay but it's very rehearsed, doesn't feel super in the moment. He does a short, not that impressive guitar solo. It's much blander than last week.
Jeffrey: He calls him Charlie. (Is that his first name?) He says when he looks at him, he likes his charisma, but when he closes his eyes he doesn't feel it musically.
John: He likes his singing but he hasn't heard who Coffey - which he pronounce Coff-ay- is yet because he's singing to much like Mayer and not enough like himself.
Jewel: Says he was a little stiff and wants him stick around another week to show people what he can do.
Guest Performance: Trace Adkins,"You're Gonna Miss This." Big, brawny Trace, does his big, brawny Trace thing, ballad-style. The contestants chime in choir-style on the last chorus and they sound kick-ass and Trace genuinely digs it and gives them a big hand at the end.
And with Coffey as the last safe contestant we know that the...
Bottom Two: ... is Melissa Lawson (the cute chubby girl with the big voice) and Third Town (the good but old-timey sounding male trio)
Contestant #10:Melissa Lawson
Song: "(You Make Feel Like) A Natural Woman," Carole King/Aretha Franklin
Video: John thinks she's good and could be even better. She hits a clunker during rehearsal and tells her to be careful as she's not Mariah Carey.
Performance:She starts strong but high. She's a little intense with the eyes. The edit is weird and although she hits the first big note she's slightly flat on the next two.
Jewel: Thinks America is crazy to put her bottom two and that she's one of the best singers. She notes that Aretha has a big voice and when Melissa went high it got a little thinner and to watch that.
John: Wants to know what she'd give herself on a scale of 1-10. She says knowing what she could do she'd give herself a 7 or 8. John tries to talk but...
Jeffrey:...interjects that 7 to 8 is not going to make it every week. He says she is a ten and needs to strive for it. John thinks she could get a job on Broadway in a snap but as far as country music she looked like she was acting to him just a little bit. John tells her to cut loose and be a real artist. She says the fans need to give her another chance.
Contestant #11: Third Town
Song:"Bohemian Rhapsody," Queen/"Mountain Music," Alabama
Video: Jeffrey thinks it's a huge risk and wants to talk them out of it. They think it's going to be great though and really show what they can do. (Really we've had a lot of familiar songs tonight but not a lot of actual, pure country songs, arrangements by the band notwithstanding and no matter how you shape it, this isn't a country song.) At the end they change their mind and go back to the more traditional Alabama song, which feeds into the old-timey complaint of last week.
Performance:The lead singer comes off kind of cartoony with his bed head and nasal voice. They do feel more like a group this week instead of 3 lead singers until the end when they go their separate ways again. They try to whip up the crowd and do a pretty good job. The end harmonies are tight.
John:He says that last week he asked them to pick a lead singer and they were still scattered. He says he asked Randy Owen of Alabama to watch the show tonight and that he probably just switched the channel. He throws up his hands.
Jewel:She says they didn't win her over even though they got the crowd, especially since she's seen Japanese karaoke singers get the crowd going.
Jeffrey: Is so glad they listened to him and changed their song. He thinks it's their best one yet and hopes it's not too late.
Eliminated: Third Town. They hug Melissa and graciously clap for her.
We get a video of their send off. Billy Ray tries to get them to Monday-morning quarterback it. They say they picked the wrong songs and even though the judges didn't like the three singer thing they hope America does. Billy Ray promises to check them out when he's in Vegas and calls them a class act.