"Round of 10" - March
We are back
- almost a year later, to see the latest musicians
compete for the title of Nashville Star 2005! Who will
succeed in the footsteps of previous winners Buddy
Jewell and Brad Cotter?
Leann Rimes, who graced us with a performance in last
season's finale, starts us off be performing herself.
Not too shabby.
And with that, we get to the credits and the intro.
Leann talks about the new changes - she being one of
them, as she replaces Nancy O'Dell. She talks about some
of the surprises and the new judges. Judge #1 - 2 time
country songwriter of the year Phil Vassar. Judge #2 -
Performer Anastasia Brown, and Judge #3 - Bret
Michaels??!?!? Yes that Bret Michaels - the one from
Poison. WHA? I guess either...
A. He did start in the
B. He wanted more reality show experience after Todd TV,
C. The producers REALLY
wanted to get that age demographic down, didn't they?
Also new this year - we get a backstage correspondent.
That person is... Cletus T. Judd! Did we mention that the
producers REALLY wanted to get that age demographic down
Leann goes back and tells the audience that they have
gone through the auditions and the tapes, and they have
narrowed their search to 10 people - 5 guys and 5 girls.
This is another change from last season, where they
started with 20 and quickly cut it to 11. Since we only
have 10, let's meet them...
Justin David (31 years old, Archville, Missouri)
- He looks like Brad Cotter - if he was 15 years
younger, had dark hair and was scruffy.
Jenny Farrell (35, Albuquerque, New Mexico) -
Jenny has long brown hair and seems full of energy,
pointing to the audience.
Jason Meadows (33, La Playa, Oklahoma) - Jason is
also full of energy, as he, donning a decent-sized
cowboy hat, does a little 360 for trot around the stage.
Christy McDonald (30, Cypress City, North
Carolina) - She has frizzy blonde hair (sort of like
Dyan Cannon) and blows her family a kiss.
Jayron Weaver (22, Dallas, Georgia) - He looks
like a big boy, as he comes out wearing a stretched out
leather jacket and a black button down shirt.
Erika Jo Heriges (18, Mount Joliet, TN) - Oh
look, we have our own light brown-haired version of
Tamika Tyler (33 - Middleton, Colorado) - This
brown haired woman comes out jogging to the crowd and
waving her hands. She looks athletic and looked like for
a minute that she was going to do a headstand.
Josh Owen (18 - Brounsborough, Texas) - Josh
(also brown-haired - and shoulder length wavy hair at
that) pumps his arms like he scores the go-ahead
Casey Simpson (Sirius, California) - Casey comes
out and gives us an old-fashioned wave. I seriously hope
that the long blonde haired Simpson doesn't have the
musical traits of Jessica or Ashlee.
Jody Evans (Arkadelphia, Arkansas) - Jody looks
like a cross between a young Elvis Costello and a young
One thing to make a note of here - Buddy Jewell and Brad
Cotter were well above the age of the oldest competitor
here - 35. This definitely reeks of adding youth to the
show, and I can just imagine the frustration of all of
the 40-somethings witnessing yet another venue that they
can no longer showcase their talents on.
Leann tells the group that she is nervous - then tells
the audience that their voting is the only thing that
determines who stays and who goes. The winner gets a
recording contract from Universal South Records and a
concert at the Grand Ole Opry.
We start off the night with Casey, who is called the
'ghetto cowgirl' because there isn't much country music
in California. She sings "I Wanna Love Somebody Like
You" and it's perky, though it's hard to hear her above
the band. She says that she has extra nerves because she
is starting, but Anastasia thought she nailed it. Phil
thought she did great and loves her choker, while Bret
thinks that she has what it takes to win. A strong start
so far for Casey.
Jody Evans is a law officer and his parents took him to
see a lot of country music when he was young, and he
plays the guitar while singing "3 Nickels and a Dime".
He's very dynamic on stage as he finishes it with him
swinging his guitar, but I don't like his voice and he
wasn't on pitch. Phil, who says that Jody looks like his
agent (heh), liked his style. Anastasia called him
'rocking' while Bret says that he has the energy and the
attitude, adding that there could be 10 great people up
there and it could be very tough to cut anyone.
Tamika Tyler is originally from Australia but came to
Colorado 5 years ago. She has a deep desire for her
music as she sings "You Don't Even Know Who I Am", and
accompanies herself with a guitar of her own. She had a
shaky start, but she got back into her own, although she
sounded subdued. Anastasia says to improve the outfit (wha?)
while Bret loves her voice and Phil loves the dress.
Josh Owen is a self-described guitar-slinger, who says
that he's been doing it since he's been 2. His voice
sounds very mature for his age and he does a cool guitar
solo as he plays, as he tries to make himself a double
threat. He tells his story to childhood prodigy Leann,
who comes back by saying "You're Telling Me." The judges
like him, but they want to see more of him and see him
connect more with the audience.
Christy McDonald gets to go next and says that what you
see is what you get. She has a nice powerful voice that
is pitchy when she hits the high notes, but she really
gets into her song and sings it well. She says that she
used to have stage fright, but decided to let it out.
Anastasia loves that she is lost in the music, while
Anastasia takes over the microphone duties and asks
Bret what he thinks. He says that she makes him want to
party. Well, enough said, as she shows enough moxy to
give Mikalah Gordon a run for her money.
As we get to the halfway mark, we go backstage for our
first report from Cletus T. Judd. Cletus says that as
everyone is staying at the Gaylord Opryland Hotel, she
asks the 18 year old Erika Jo how the bar is. She
replies that she is not old enough to drink, but he says
that the hotel is sweet anyways. Now what was the point
of that segment?
Jason Meadows' point is to be the next Nashville Star as
he and his guitar get into "Working Man Blues". He
really got into it, and the charisma and choreography is
going to make him a tough man to beat. He praises his
fan club, his son and his wife (AwwwwBarf) as the judges
say that he did a great job. Anastasia tells him to
soften his delivery, but Bret says that he has the 'It'
factor, and I have to agree with him.
Erika Jo isn't a party girl, and would rather hang out
with her folks. Her friends were shocked that she could
sing, and I am shocked with her mature voice as she
sings "Break Down You". That gets her a standing ovation
and the youngest singer in the group may be one of the
tough ones to beat. She admits that she was doing her
homework backstage, and despite Anastasia wanting her to
lose herself more in the music, the judges think that
she did her homework onstage and think she is going to
be a star.
This is a big time in Jenny Farrell's life, as she is
there to give it her all. She gives it as long as she
can... 40 seconds worth... and then apologizes to the
audience and runs off the stage clutching her stomach.
Leann says that she may have gotten a little food
poisoning as well as nerves, and says that at least she
tried. Well, she did, and she gets kudos, but either 1.
Leann is much better covering people and Jenny is going
to get cut or 2. She really did get sick, but without an
actual performance for the audience, she's probably
going to get eliminated anyway.
Jayron Weaver will hopefully stick around long enough to
give a full performance, and as a minister, he is used
to giving these performances. He sings stoic and
performs like a minister, and he sounds ok, but lack of
emotion and movement that his other competitors have
shown could cost him down the road. Anastasia and Bret
agree with me that he has to own more of the stage, and
that could spell trouble.
The final performer of the evening is Justin David, who
has been singing with his father and grandfather for the
past 26 years. He wants to share his gift with America,
and as he gets into "Ring of Fire", I think he's ok, but
he doesn't bring it like his other competitors (though
he did play a cool banjo-ukulele thing). Anastasia loves
his song selection and Bret, noting the itty-bitty
guitar, asked if he found it where Jenny got sick. OUCH!
We get a recap of all of the singers (and the numbers to
call if you want to vote for them). We then get the
singers on stage (including the returning Jenny) as
Leann wishes all a fond good night.
My take? Well, they got younger, but the talent is still
there. I am still wondering what Cletus is doing on the
show, but as this is the first episode and they will
undoubtedly need filler material later, he gets a pass
for now. You have 6 very strong people in the group, and
I even think that the other four could do well if they
stepped it up next week. Unfortunately, one of them is
not going to be around to step it up, and I think that
it's going to be Jenny...but if the audience is a
sympathetic one and votes her in, I think the stiff
Jayron, the out-of-pitch Jody or the generic Justin
could have problems.
Well, we can't have a contest without a ratings list, so
here's mine -
Keep in mind that unlike American Idol, I have been
miserable at picking who wins and loses Nashville Star.
Next week - we say goodbye to our first country crooner.
Join us in 7 days to see who that is.