Quick Take: Is Nashville Star Cool?

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.

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2 Responses to “Quick Take: Is Nashville Star Cool?”

  1. Beatnik Hillbilly Says:

    Ugh. What used to be the best singing/music competition on television has become the worst. Check out the show’s fan page on Facebook and read the wall postings. Or read this article from the Tennessean.com:

    http://tennessean.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080701/COLUMNIST0501/807010341&referrer=FRONTPAGECAROUSEL

    In previous seasons, the contestants were incredible. All 10 each year. Even the youngest contestants had years and years experience on the road. The show was about real country musicians and fans and you’d have NEVER heard an Elton John, or Bon Jovi or…god…i still can’t believe Tommy Sang “Manic” from Flashdance last week. And the panel were made up of people with a real love of country and it’s traditions, not a pop/folk singer trying to scrape a new career out of country, a little known ex-rocker hack and….John Rich. I find him so disgusting, so loathesome..so antithetical to everything that country and roots music stands for that he leaves me speechless. There are no adjectives foul enough to describe this man. Imagine a standup comedy competition where Gallagher sits on one side, kelly ripa sits on the other, and in the middle is Carrot Top. wait, that’s not fair to Kelly Ripa. She’s actually pretty funny. She’s the Emmylou Harris of morning talk. But with that extra spoon of ritalin. But now I ramble.
    All I’m trying to say is this: NBC took a show that had done the impossible – actually earned the respect of singers and songwriters and fans of country and roots music alike and it showed you could have an entertaining show with people of ALL ages and colours. There’s not a person in the current cast of contestants that can hold a candle to the likes of previous contestants like George Canyon, Miranda Lambert or last year’s winner, Angela Hacker. I mean…last year was incredible.
    In ever past season the best episode of the season was the one where the contestant’s had to perform an original composition. I can’t imagine that’ll happen this year. This group of hacks are incapable of even projecting the tinyiest shred of credibility let alone a talent for songwriting.
    My favourite show of the last five summers is, in it’s sixth season, a horrible horrible travesty. NBC should be ashamed.

  2. pulmyears Says:

    So I have my answer.
    Verdict: Nashville Star USED TO BE Cool but the Network big wigs broke it.
    Ca plus change, eh mes amis?

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