I’m just asking, is Nashville Star (NBC Monday nights at 9 / 8 central) cool?
I happened to catch about five minutes of it last night when a sailor named Tommy sang a countrified version of Elton John’s “Tiny Dancer” and I stayed and watched the juror panel give their critiques. The panel consists of a Nashville pro named Jeffrey Steele, pop singer Jewel and Big And Rich’s John Rich.
Left to Right: CYRUS, JEWEL, RICH and STEELE
Seriously, even the least real thing about this show, host Billy Ray Cyrus, seems grounded here. I expected some lame-ass advice or misguided Paula Abdulisms from Jewel, or some pitchy dawgs from Steele, but to my surprise, my pleasant surprise, each of the members of the jury gave thoughtful, totally useful opinions that were frank, helpful and respectfully professional. I’d never seen Jewel, for instance, talking like the seasoned music professional she surely must be by now, and Rich may have wearing the cowboy hat, but his musicians head was ten gallons full of great wisdom and considered opinion. Does anybody here watch this show? My first impression, from the limited sampling I had last night, is that it is way more “real” than American Idol. You know, I was a judge on a Canadian series (for the CanWest Global Network) called Popstars: The One. There was me (a songwriter and producer) Erica Ehm (former VJ and TV personality), and a shock comedian named Jason Rouse, later replaced by Toronto rapper Choclair. I was always trying to be the “real” advice guy on the panel, the songwriter, the working musician, who hoped to give frank but polite advice to these kids -many were actual kids – and I treated the review sections quite seriously. Some wannabe divas, particularly one self-absorbed princess in Montreal, became difficult when they were confronted with charges of oversinging, pitch shy vocal acrobatics and downright affectation. They made it less fun, because they weren’t professional about the craft, and they were clearly just out to be “famous” and had the impression that you could be a star by acting like one. To them, I was some dweeby nobody standing in the way of their entitlement. It seems to me that Nashville Star, and I may have to watch it again to be sure, is more what I was hoping the Popstars attitude would be. Maybe it’s because it’s focussed on Nashville, a serious music town where players, and songwriters, have to really hone their chops and work the craft in addition to giving emotional truth to it all, that makes their proceedings seem, well, “real”?
I’ll have to check it out again.
Meanwhile, if you have any thoughts on this, as always, my comments box is always open.