FEBRUARY 8, 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.

Well, this week was all about original songs, so Jewel -- a woman who's penned a few hit tunes in her day -- invited the remaining five contestants down to her Texas ranch for some one-on-one mentoring. In fact, it seems she got so wrapped up in this counseling process, she flat-out forgot to wear pants on this week's episode. Seriously, Jewel's certainly got the gams to pull off a mini-skirt, but this week's perplexingly leggy outfit (was it a shirt? a dress? a shirtdress?) reminded me of Olivia Newton-John in Xanadu -- and not in a good way. But hey, it's nice to see that Jewel sacrificed fashion for the finalists so selflessly. She truly is the Nashville Star hostess with the mostess.

However, speaking of Nashville Star hosting, I do have to pause here and say ... is it just me, or have we been seeing a whole lot less of co-host Cowboy Troy this season? It seems like he utters maybe 10 words per episode, tops, and that's just plain wrong. He's a rapper, so the guy clearly has the gift of gab. Let him speak! Yes, I have been suffering from serious Troy withdrawals lately, so I was thrilled to bits to learn that he'll get to perform his truly original brand of "hick-hop" on Nashville Star next week. I can't wait to get me some o' that.

OK, I know, I'm getting ahead of myself. But, on the subject of originality, Original Song Week was pretty awesome, I must say. Particularly awesome was the fact that I wasn't kept in suspense for the first agonizing 59 minutes of the show, wringing my hands as the Hackers' fates hung in the balance -- because it was announced right at the beginning of the broadcast that both Angela and Zac Hacker were safe. Phew!

See, I've been pretty worried since last week, when the judges tore Angela and Zac new you-know-whats over their supposed "attitude problems." The judging panel's bizarrely excessive scolding and (here's a new verb for ya) mountain-from-molehilling even brought back painful, long-suppressed memories of a scandal from season 3 ... remember, when crafty editing, some out-of-context remarks, and an agenda-brandishing Anastasia Brown's relentless bullying led to the premature downfall of former frontrunner Tamika Tyler? Yep, I was afraid that Nashville Star history would repeat itself, and impressionable viewers would fall for this manipulative hooey all over again.

So thank you, my fellow Hacker backers. I obviously under-estimated you all, since, despite the judges' harsh critiques last week, you rocked the vote and placed both Hackers squarely in the top three ... with my girl Angela getting the most votes of all! However, now I've got a new dilemma on my hands ...

See, although I've been an unabashed Zac fan since episode 1 (honestly -- go read my first blog if you think I'm just jumping on the Zac-wagon now), I've always favored his big sis. But now, after this total-turnaround week, I'm not sure which Hacker to support anymore. Zac's song, "If It Wasn't For The Whiskey" (which Jewel advised him to sing; I guess this is why she gets paid the big bucks, because she was totally right), was A-MA-ZING. I truly hope I don't come down with the flu any time soon, because after that performance, I am fresh out of Kleenex. There's just not a single tissue ply in my house after that tear-jerker. Watching Zac belt out a heart-sleeved ballad about his father's alcoholism -- with his sister watching from the stage wings and his own teary-eyed dad in the audience cheering him on -- wow, just thinking of it makes me want to run out to the 7-11 and stock up on some more tissues. The fancy kind, with soothing aloe vera lotion in every sheet. I'm just so verklempt, how am I going to keep my tears from sloshing all over my laptop and making the computer keys all slippery? How on earth will I pull myself together and finish this blog in a professional manner? All right, Lyndsey. Deep breaths, deep breaths. Happy thoughts, happy thoughts ...

OK, my point is, this was true lump-in-throat stuff, and a real pivotal, career-making moment for Zac. I think this was the week he caught up to his sister, and maybe even kicked her butt a little bit. Like I said, I've been an Angela supporter since day one, but this week Zac really won me over ... and I think he might even win the entire season 5 title now. So now, I'm confused.

Of course, Angela was her usual absolutely fabulous self this week, which doesn't make my decision of which Hacker to back any easier. Her tune, "Losing You Is Not A Total Loss," sounded like a winner indeed. You know, Valentine's Day (otherwise known as "Black Wednesday") is right around the corner, and for those of us who aren't contentedly coupled off like Noah's Ark mammals and are therefore feeling ever-so-slightly bitter at this time of year, Angela's single-gal anthem couldn't be better-timed. You could tell the ladies in the audience loved it, and the lady writing this blog sure did, too. She is woman, hear her roar! Yep, Angie's song gave me chills -- or, as Anastasia would say, "chillbumps." (What the heck are chillbumps, by the way? I think that's a compliment, and when Anastasia gives you a compliment, I suppose it's best not to question it.)

So anyhoo, now it seems like my dream of a Hacker-vs.-Hacker finale might finally come true. Sheesh, if that happens, I'll probably have to get a second phone line installed in my house -- one for Angela's voting number, and one for Zac's. Or maybe I'll just toss a coin, because at this point I'd be elated if either of them won. They're both winners already, as far as I'm concerned.

But hey, I'm getting ahead of myself. Again. The finale is still a month away. Three other contestants performed originals this week, and though none of them revved me up or depleted my Kleenex supply quite the way the Hackers did, Joshua Stevens came pretty close. His song, "Wish I Missed You" (dedicated to his estranged mom), was another gut-wrencher. It made the typically smart-alecky Blake Shelton get all sad and sensitive, and even ice queen Anastasia seem to genuinely melt for a few fleeting moments, before her blood congealed again and she resumed doling out her usual cold hard insults. Of course, next to "If It Wasn't For The Whiskey," Josh's number practically sounded as lighthearted as Blake's "Some Beach," but as a stand-alone song, it was still pretty darn moving.

Surprisingly, the original offering by this week's second-place contestant, David St. Romain, wasn't nearly as impressive. He'd always seemed like a frontrunner before, but this week he had the most forgettable song ("That's Where I Want To Be"), and he seemed uncomfortable singing it for the most part. This week, DSR was unexpectedly DOA.

And then there was Whitney Duncan, who much to Anastasia's dismay (and my delight, I must admit) was in the bottom two this week. You know, I find it amusing (or maybe just confusing) that in their one-on-one pow-wow, Jewel advised Whit to tone down her sexiness in order to be taken seriously as an artist. So what does Whitney do? She totally ignores everything Jewel says and hits the Nashville Star stage singing "Skinny Dippin'," a song that practically demands that listeners envision her stark naked. I'm so glad Blake called her on that shizz. And, to address another judge's remarks: No, Anastasia, there's nothing wrong with being hot. But if you want a hottie to win darn badly, then why not just start rallying for Joshua Stevens? He's pretty easy on the eyes, too, and at least he can write and sing a decent tune.

OK, once we finally got to the show's much-awaited 59-minute mark, I have to say I was fairly annoyed that there was no elimination at all, due to technical difficulties with last week's voting. I'm sure Whitney wasn't annoyed, however, since my guess is she would've gotten the boot otherwise. As for my predictions for next week's elimination: Well, Angela and Zac will be safe, safe, safe. There's no way those two are going home, even if I have to get my aforementioned second phone line installed tonight and vote for them a few thousand or so times myself.

Moving on to Joshua, he may have been in the bottom two this week, but I think he tugged enough heartstrings with his song to save himself from elimination. Heck, even his mom would vote for him after that performance. DSR was pretty ho-hum, not his usual peppy self, but he's so darn popular, it's hard to imagine him nosediving from the #2 spot all the way down to the bottom just because of one off night. So yeah, I'm going to reiterate the prediction that I've been making for weeks now: That Whitney will get cut. Because maybe, just maybe, if I keep saying Whitney's going home, she finally will. This technique is called "positive affirmation." Hopefully it works.

So, barring any further technical difficulties, we'll find out if my affirmation/prediction is right next week -- when we'll also get more Cowboy Troy (yay!), hopefully more Hackers (double yay!), more Jewel clothing (girl, put some pants on!), and, if my vote has anything to do with it, a lot less Whitney. Until then, keep your feet on the ground, and keep reaching for the Nashville Stars.

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