JANUARY 25, 2007


Season Three Nashville Star blogger (and full-time music/TV junkie) Lyndsey Parker is back! And she's brought her characteristically strong opinions about this year's show with her. Whether you agree with her or not, you've got to admire her enthusiasm.

You know, there's nothing I like more than a good ole-fashioned conspiracy theory. Staged moon landings, JFK, Roswell aliens, crop circles, Elvis and Jim Morrison sightings, kidney thieves, um, Richard Gere...I don't necessarily believe all that phooey, but it sure is fun to read it. The same can be said for the Nashville Star messageboard lately, which has become so replete with sordid speculation, it's beginning to look more like the official board for The X-Files, or maybe the homepage of Again, I don't know how much of this conspiracy-theorizing is true...but damn, I am hooked!

Here are some of the juiciest tidbits I've read:

CONSPIRACY THEORY #1: Whitney Duncan is fixed to win.

This comes from the fact that Whitney (who appears to be quite the controversy queen among messageboard peeps -- um, jealous much?) already did a video with Kenny Rogers last year, for their duet "My World Is Over." Bizarrely, this video seems to be the one clip not on YouTube yet, but I can assure you that this much is true. This video does exist. However, Whitney's cameo didn't seem to help her career much, so now the current rumor is that Nashville Star is just a springboard to get the already-under-contract Whitney some much-needed PR. So, is there a whit of truth to this? (Sorry, couldn't resist. I heart puns.) Eh, probably not. But if it is true, and Whitney is set up with a record deal already, then she doesn't really need to win -- she can just be a runner-up and follow the Miranda Lambert-forged path to success. Someone like Angela Hacker -- for whom Nashville Star may be her first, last, and only shot at country glory -- really needs it more. Unless...

CONSPIRACY THEORY #2: The Hackers are family friends with Randy Owen.

Since both Zac and (especially) Angela Hacker are two of my personal fave competitors this year, I suppose for purely selfish reasons I wouldn't be too peeved to find out they had "connections" that could help them sweep Nashville Star. So if this is true, then c'mon, Randy! Make some calls! Set up a phone bank and get all those other guys in Alabama to do some telemarketing on Thursday nights! Would that be so hard? Seriously, yes, it's true that Randy's been pretty complimentary to the Hackers so far. But that ain't necessarily because he's their BFF. Maybe, just maybe, it's because they're...oh, I dunno...good? Then again, it DOES seem a little too coincidental that of all the thousands of Nashville Star applicants, a pair of siblings would end up in the final 10. But before we assume it was Randy's string-pulling that landed both Hackers in the finals, keep in mind that from the show producers' point of view, sibling rivalry makes for good TV and is a major ratings booster -- hey, it worked with those twiggy twins on the most recent season of America's Next Top Model, so why not on Nashville Star? Therefore, my jury is out regarding this particular rumor. Plus, in the end it's a moot point, because it's not Randy's vote that counts. Unless he starts that phone bank I suggested...

CONSPIRACY THEORY #3: Kacey Musgraves is practically Blake Shelton's sister-in-law.

OK, see if you have follow this O.C.-like romantic subplot: According to one board poster, Kacey dates the brother of former Nashville Star contestant Miranda Lambert, who in turn dates Blake. So we're supposed to imagine that the Lamberts, Kacey, and Blake go on all sorts of double-dates all the time, like the Mertzes and the Ricardos or the Flinstones and the Rubbles. Aw, cute! Wonder what they'll do for Valentine's Day? But seriously, folks, I don't know if I buy this one either. Then again, if Kacey is happily coupled off with Miranda's bro, that would explain why she didn't have the gumption to sing a fittingly bitter version of Hank Williams' love-gone-wrong ballad "You Win Again" in guest star Miranda's presence last week.

By the way, theories #1 and 2 were possibly substantiated by the judges' predictions this week: When Jewel asked them who they think will ultimately win, Randy said Angela (YAY!), and Anastasia Brown said Whitney (BOO!). However, conspiracy theory #3 was blown to bits when Blake picked Angela, not his supposed buddy Kacey. So now I don't know what to think.

Hey, while I'm in full-on gossipmonger mode, I'm going to start a few theories of my own, just for fun. Just indulge me, OK? Please note that I have no evidence whatsoever that these rumors are true. But I can dare to dream, can't I? Discuss amongst yourselves:

Anastasia is really Simon Cowell in disguise.

Cowboy Troy made a Jack-Palance-at-the-Oscars goof and accidentally read Dustin Wilkes' name last week.

Tim LaRoche is Bo Bice's long-lost twin.

Angela Hacker is designing her own line of clothes for Wal-Mart.

Two Foot Fred, as a marketing gimmick, has been standing on his knees all along and is really normal height. Meanwhile, Cowboy Troy's been standing on an apple box throughout his entire career and is actually 5-foot-4.

All right, I admit these are lame. Kudos to you messageboard posters; you apparently possess more vivid imaginations than I do. Either that, or you guys just know things I don't know. (Cue "X-Files" theme here.) Anyway, I better get back to reality and focus on this week's episode. It was doozy!

First of all, I give props to musical guests Little Big Town for appearing on the show despite the fact that Rickiejoleen completely butchered their "Boondocks" song two weeks ago. It's nice to see LBT don't hold a grudge. Still, I do wonder if their new single that they so winningly performed this week, "Good As Gone," is actually about Rickiejoleen? Oh gosh, there I go starting rumors again...

Now, on to the six contestants that got through this week. I bet quite a few naysayers were surprised that Chicago folkie Meg Allison was the first name called. But city slickers, alt-country aficionados, and Alison Krauss enthusiasts (who, judging from recent messageboard posts, were outraged over Randy's disapproval of Meg's Krauss cover last week) do vote too. In droves! As for Meg's response to Randy's criticism, I think it took a whole lotta cojones for her to sing an Alabama song ("Take Me Down") this week. It could have really backfired on her in a big way; no wonder she seemed a tad nervous when she sang it. It wasn't her best performance (Anastasia said it was "alive as overcooked pasta," which doesn't even remotely make sense, but is clearly not a compliment), and Blake's advice ("Is it possible for you to make me feel like a proud father and turn me on at the same time?") was equally perplexing (and just a little gross). But thankfully, Randy was extremely kind in his appraisal of Meg's rendition, which no doubt lent her major cred with the voters at home. Anyhoo, I'm still rooting for Meg and would like her to go far.

Less of a surprise was the fact that David St. Romain made it through; he's quickly shaping up to be a frontrunner. He had a good upbeat song choice this week (Tom Cochran's "Life Is A Highway," as popularized recently by Rascal Flatts), and gave yet another solid performance -- this guy's undoubtedly a pro. But he's still a little too cookie-cutter to me. I feel like I've seen his hat act before. OK, OK, I've never actually seen David wear a cowboy hat (correct me if I'm wrong, but the only male contestant to actually wear one so far has been the dear, departed Tim LaRoche), but ya know what I mean. He just has yet to make me feel like a proud mother while turning me on at the same time. Ahem. But a lot of women seem to disagree with me. The laydeez just love this guy for some reason.

Joshua Stevens was another no-brainer this week, and I do believe that for his third time at bat, he really stepped up his game with the Vince Gill tearjerker "I Still Believe In You." It revealed the kinder, gentler, more tortured side of Josh -- just the man and his guitar, with a lot less pop-star posturing. It suited him. But of course, it figures the minute I started liking Josh, party-pooper Anastasia questioned his potential. So now I've decided that I like JS even more, if only to spite Anastasia. Thankfully Randy, Blake, and even Jewel disagreed with the judge everyone loves to hate. That's three against one! Ha!

I was thrilled that Zac (my favorite remaining male contestant) triumphed again, and his subsequent thigh-slapping, shack-shaking rendition of T. Graham Brown's "Memphis Women & Chicken" was a hoot and a half. Heck, I'm a vegetarian, but after his performance I had a hankering for some KFC. I really dug his whole bad-boy, George Thorogood-ish, rocker vibe. He even had his hair mussed up a bit with some fancy salon pomade, and Blake correctly said he looked like a star! As for Randy's advice -- the same lame advice he gave Meg last week, to stick to more well-known songs -- I say hogwash! Just because a song was never a top 10 smash doesn't mean it's not a good choice; in fact, if a singer can perform a relatively unknown tune and still rev up an audience, then that's a mighty good sign, dontcha think? Anyway, we'll have to wait and see if Zac pulls a Meg Allison one day and performs an Alabama song, just to shut Randy up.

It was great that Zac sailed through, but you know what they say: Two Hackers are better than one. At least I say that. So I was delighted to learn that his big sis Angela was safe as well. Ironically, Ange sang Bonnie Raitt's "I Can't Make You Love Me" -- I say ironic because she clearly can make countless people love her, just by opening her mouth and singing. This song was really a lovely showcase for Angie's distinctively raspy delivery; then again, while some people might think her throatiness possesses a sexy Kathleen Turner quality to it, others might think it veers too close to Patty-and-Selma-of-The Simpsons territory. I fall into the former category, of course, and obviously so do thousands of voters. To sum up, Angela's performance was positively goosebump-inducing tonight. This gal doesn't need any family connections to win this game.

And finally, speaking of connections, it turns out all that conspiracy talk a few paragraphs ago was a waste of time, since two of the contestants with supposed hookups, Whitney and Kacey, were in the bottom two this week. It was no surprise to see Kacey at the bottom, since her performance last week was underwhelming and I (CORRECTLY!!!) predicted she would be the next to be cut. Kacey semi-jokingly blamed her defeat on Blake, so maybe she was expecting some preferential treatment. But she's gone now, so I guess we'll never know the truth. See ya, Kacey. As for Whitney, she made it through by the skin of her pearly-white teeth, but her vocals on "The First Cut Is The Deepest" were pretty shaky (or, to borrow an overused adjective from the judges, "pitchy"). Sure, she looked great (in a Stepford Wife/Miss USA sort way), but I just wasn't impressed. Unlike Anastasia, I personally don't think Whit's going to make it to the Nashville Star finale. So that Angela-vs.-Whitney mudwrestling match that Blake proposed probably ain't gonna happen -- except in his dreams, of course. Sorry, Blake.

So who do I think will get cut next, you ask? (Or even if you don't ask, I'm going to tell you anyway.) Er, that's a toughie. It really could be anyone, though the Hackers, David, and Joshua are so freakin' popular, it's almost impossible to imagine them getting the proverbial boot any time soon. I think it'll come down to Meg and Whitney, believe it or not...and I'm even going to venture waaaay out on a limb and predict there will be a major upset and Whitney will be sent packin'. Oh, I know y'all think I'm crazy, but hey, if it turns out I'm right, I'm going to look like a genius next week. The bottom line is, I just think Meg has the alt-country vote locked down, while a sizable chunk of Whitney's votes will likely be siphoned off by this season's real blonde bombshell: my girl Angela.

So come back next week to find out whether or not I am indeed insane. Next week will be interesting for another reason, too: because the judges will choose which songs the contestants get to sing. (Be nice, guys!) We'll soon see what tricks the judges and the contestants have up their rhinestone-studded sleeves...but until then, keep your feet on the ground and keep reaching for the Nashville stars.

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