One big difference between "Nashville Star" and "American Idol" -- when the people on "Star" have a group performance, it's fun rather than scarily Up-With-People.
When they asked the losing contestants who they thought would win, Joshua Stevens played the Jesus card and said, "He's a family man and a man of God and I really respect him," when supporting David St. Romain over the rambunctious, earthy sibilings Angela and Zac Hacker. Hey Joshua, everyone's already voted.
DAVID ST. ROMAIN -- He gave a very polished performance of "Wave On Wave" and -- like Stevens -- seems to be country maybe by default. He could easily cross over into pop. Very engaging.
SONIC AD -- Another improvement on "Idol" was their first ad that included contestants. A lengthy clip from Sonic showed the three finalists going for a burger and fries and shakes, chatting with the waitresses, asking them which one they thought would win and so on. It was casual and funny and you actually felt like you were watching them gab, rather than doing scripted lines. Angela said, "My favorite thing about Zac is I'm going to beat him." And it ended with David making a toast to one of them getting a great record deal and Zac adding (apropos of a clip from an earlier show), "And here's to signing boobs. It's awesome." No wonder Joshua supported David.
ANGELA HACKER -- performed "I Can't Make You Love Me" again. She really has a terrific distinctive voice. This is where the judges threw all pretense to the wind and all but announced her the winner.
ZAC HACKER -- It was down to just the siblings when Zac performed his song from Original Song night, "If It Wasn't For The Whiskey." The fans voted for what songs people should do, so it's telling they chose Zac's original. Angela was such a terrific vocalist, I picked her from day one to win it all, but usually the person with the best Original Song wins it all. This year, that would clearly have meant Zac. He gave an even better performance of this tune about a drunken father, sitting down and playing his acoustic guitar (and with the director only cutting to his father in the audience once, rather than the constant byplay the first time Zac did this). It's a GREAT song.
BLAKE SHELTON -- In the clips showing people's journey to the finals, they rarely included Blake's bawdy jokes and off the cuff comments, even though he was consistently hilarious. I'm guessing they won't ask him back next year, which would be a shame. He even complimented Zac's performance by saying when he did a song the week before, "I sounded like crap!" I love this guy.
JEWEL -- She sang "These Foolish Games" with an orchestra backing her. The best thing about her was that she didn't try to countrify her songs.
ZAC AND ANGELA -- They were just about to do a duet when Jewel talked to them. Angela said they'd often performed together and that would continue in one way or another, "If you know what I mean." Which I assumed meant simply they'd tour together after the "Star" tour was over. But then Jewel prompted Zac to talk about their duet and instead he started diving into some complicated schemes of the future before he realized Jewel wasn't really hinting at that and stuck to the duet.
ANGELA THE WINNER -- The judges and people behind "Nashville Star" seem really excited about Angela. They've spun off some successful stars, but none has proven a blockbuster or proved themselves long-term yet and Angela Hacker really seems like she's got the voice and the strong identity to do it. Plus, she fills that Loretta Lynn, older woman who's survived some punches niche that country needs. If anyone else had won, it would have been a travesty. Sorry, little brother Zac. I should have rooted for you, cause kid brothers gotta stick together.