"Nashville Star" -- the singing contest show for people who like to say "Yeehaw!" -- was fun again last night. (It airs Thursdays at 10 p.m. on USA and gets rerun several times.) Popsurfer Aaron pointed out to me what has to be the funniest product placement I've ever seen: one of the hosts is Cowboy Try, who wears a belt buckle the sixe of Texas. Last night, that belt buckle was simiply the logo for Chevy, one of the show's sponsors. Can't wait to see what he sports next week.
This week, the judges chose songs for the singers. There was an odd vibe, since this was presented as a "challenge" when presumably the judges would be choosing songs they thought would be great for artists and let them shine or bring out a side of them that was missing. Instead, everyone acted as if it were a trick.
Zak Hacker -- he bitched and moaned about singing Montgomery Gentry's "Something To Be Proud Of" in the video intro, before saying he'd come to find his own way into the tunes and was hoping he'd do it well. His performance was pretty good with a nice soulful finish. But the judges blasted him for his terrible attitude -- in country, you're supposed to shut up and do what you're told, which is exactly what keeps country so often cookie cutter-ish and dull. Besides, Hacker said he came around to their point of view at the end. He did a poor job of "apologizing."
Joshua Stevens -- he sang Alabama's "I'm In A Hurry And I Don't Know Why." I liked this more than his emoting ballads, but he still seems a little colorless to me. Ironically, I also felt for the first time he could win this thing.
David St. Romain -- he tackled "Listen To The Music" by the Doobie Brothers and was super-smooth. (It turns out he's been singing it in concert for years.) Another very good performance from the best male.
Whitney Duncan -- sang Dwight Yoakum's "Ain't That Lonely Yet" and was absolutely awful. It sounded like she started in a key that was too low, she brought almost nothing to it and her voice faltered repeatedly. Bizarrely, two of the three judges thought she did great (I think they meant she LOOKED great) while only one criticized her, but that was Anastasia Brown, the one judge you can depend on to be tough.
Angela Hacker -- the front runner from the beginning, she bitched about her song choice -- Barbara Mandrell's "I Was Country before Country Was Cool" -- just like her brother. The Hackers do NOT like to be told what to do. But she delivered another GREAT performance and her semi-apology (in which she praised Mandrell) was much better than Zak's. Still my pick to win it all at the finals over David St. Romain.