FEBRUARY 15, 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.

Um, was this week's show sponsored by Cingular or something? Because it seemed like the contestants were phoning it in.

Last week, Angela Hacker, Joshua Stevens, and especially Zac Hacker were jaw-droppingly, heart-stoppingly great on Original Song Night. I kid you not, I spent the last week humming under my breath, "If it wasn't for the whiskey..." And I still think Zac's going to have a major hit with that achy-breaky tune. But this week? Well, color me unimpressed.

Seriously, there was a whole lot more energy in the extra five minutes of WWE Raw I had to sit through waiting for Nashville Star to begin -- or during the awesomely enjoyable performance by Cowboy Troy and his pimp-coated MuzikMafia pal John Rich ("Black in the saddle"? That's classic!) -- than there was in all five finalists' performances combined. Seems all their get-up-and-go got up and went. What the heck happened?

Well, I suppose anyone could have an off night. And of course I didn't expect much from Whitney Duncan in the first place, which meant I was mildly surprised when she sang a decent version of Percy Sledge's "When A Man Loves A Woman" this week, although I still think a powerhouse love ballad like that was well beyond her mushmouthed vocal capabilities. But anyhoo, it turns out not enough men out there in TV Land loved this woman, because Whitney got the fewest votes and was actually sent packing this week.

So see ya, Whitney. Don't let the door hit you on your perfectly toned derriere on the way out. OK, OK, I'm being mean. I admit I felt a little guilty after watching this week's Whitney interview piece, in which she broke down in tears while discussing her near-fatal car accident, her past surgeries, and how all the vicious anti-Whitney postings on the Nashville Star messageboard have affected her. But hey, just because I feel sorry for her doesn't mean I think she should win this competition. The truth is, she deserved to go, and she deserved to go a while ago -- before worthier (if less Barbie-like) hopefuls like the gone-but-not-forgotten Tim LaRoche, Dustin Wilkes, and Meg Allison. At least Whitney left on a high-ish note this week, after putting on what was probably her best (as in, least bad) performance of the season, according to Anastasia Brown.

Speaking of Anastasia, I do take exceptional offense to one of her comments this week: when she told a downtrodden Whitney to "ignore those blogs." Um, ignore those blogs? Thanks a lot, Anastasia. I put a lot of work into these things! I stay up until 2am typing until my fingers are bloodied nubs! But I suppose this ain't the first time Anastasia and I have disagreed, and it surely won't be the last. I just hope the public doesn't take Anastasia's advice to heart, or I'm out of a job. So please, readers, kindly disregard Ms. Brown's comments and carry on to the next paragraph. Because, to borrow a phrase from Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction, I'm not going to be ignored, Anastasia...

OK, assuming you're all still reading this, let's discuss the final four. Unfortch, they were a not-so-fab four this week, as I mentioned earlier. First was Zac, who performed Ronnie Milsap's "Stranger In My House." And though I kind of like him in rocker mode (his rendition brought to mind '70s Eagles or Kansas), he sang soulfully like he always does, and he continued his trend of seemingly getting even cuter every week (dare I say I'm actually starting to develop a bit of a crush?)...I dunno, something was just missing this time around. He was a stranger indeed. He just wasn't as emotionally riveting he was as last week. Of course, it's not like the guy can sing about his alcoholic dad every time he steps up to the mic. But his father was still in the audience this week (and, not to sound mean -- again -- but Papa Hacker did seem to be acting a little, well, strange himself). So it seems like Zac might've been able to use his dad's presence to help him dig into all those deep, dark feelings he has stored up. But, eh. Guess not. He was good, he just wasn't great. But I still believe in Zac, and I look forward to next week, to see if he delivers a more powerful performance and, well, if he gets any cuter.

David St. Romain was nothing to write home about, either. Or to write blogs about, come to think of it. But that's my job, so here goes: He just wasn't that all that special this week. I personally think he was Original Song Night's weakest link, and he dropped out of the top two this week, so I'm thinking this former frontrunner is quickly losing ground now as he puts on one forgettable performance after another. I know that his song choice this week, Gary Allan's "The One," holds special meaning for him and that hot wife of his that he's always babbling about. It's "their song," in fact. Awwwww. (By the way, David, if you're ignoring Anastasia's advice and actually reading this blog: All right, we get it. You're happily married to your soulmate. Must you rub it in? Valentine's Day was only yesterday, you know, and while I'm happy for you that you probably spent it hand-feeding your blushing bride chocolate-dipped strawberries and giving her footrubs, keep in mind that not all of us live in such a lovey-dovey state of bliss. So ease up on the mush just a bit, OK?)

Anyway, I digress. Again. I'm sure David's wifey loved his performance. Me, not so much. The judges -- nah, they weren't feeling it either. Randy Owen even intoned, like an angry father, "I'm so disappointed." Man, that probably made the rendered-speechless DSR feel like doggy-doo. His wife probably felt lousy too -- after all, she helped him pick that so-so song. So after this song-selection faux pas, she ought to give David a couple footrubs to make it up to him.

Joshua Stevens certainly stepped it up a bit with his pretty solid rendition of Rodney Atkins' "If You're Going Through Hell." Despite what Blake Shelton said -- that Josh's hokey high-fiving march through the audience resembled the final scene in Dirty Dancing -- I thought it still elevated the Acuff Theater's energy level a much-needed couple of wattage points. I also commended the way Josh stood up to Anastasia, who lost her cool and became uncharacteristically defensive. Nobody puts Joshua in a corner, apparently!

Last up was Angela, who just didn't seem herself this week. Well, she looked great, giving Whitney Duncan herself some stiff competition in a sexy little black pantsuit (most likely not purchased at Wal-Mart) and working both the stage and the camera like a real pro. But the peppy Shania Twain tune she sang, "If You're Not In It For Love," simply did not suit her. At all. I don't want to see Angie being all peppy and fluffy and cutesy. I want to see her being gritty and raspy and raw and real. I want to see her in full-on modern-day Tammy Wynette mode, belting her broken heart out. Therefore, on this point, I actually agree with Anastasia. Who'd a thunk?

So it was an off night for everyone, basically, and I am bummed. Maybe not bummed enough to continually punch myself in the face -- which is apparently how Blake deals with disappointment -- but bummed nonetheless.

Anyway, since pretty much no one gave a truly awe-inducing performance this week, the playing field is still pretty level -- which is good news for the Hackers, who I still think are finale-bound for sure. If I was to predict who would go home based solely on this week's showings, I'd say it would be DSR, believe it or not. Let's face it, he gave a performance only a wife could love. But he still has such a fierce fanbase, I have a sinking feeling Joshua will be eliminated next. Which is really not fair, since Josh was definitely the best performer this week. But sometimes it's impossible to keep talent competitions like this one from turning into popularity contests.

Anyway, we'll find out next week if Josh, David, or (perish the thought!) one of the Hackers gets hacked. Season 4 Nashville Star winner Chris Young will also be on hand, and hopefully his presence will re-inspire the four finalists to put on some winning performances of their own. So come back then to read my next (hopefully unignored) blog, and until then, keep your feet on the ground and keep reaching for the Nashville Stars.

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