It was family night on NBC’s Nashville Star this last Monday, as Billy Ray Cryrus’ daughter Noah Cyrus introduced her dad onstage.
The nine remaining “Star” finalists performed two songs each.
First up was Ashlee Hewitt, who sang the pop hit, “Don’t Stop Believin’.”
Jewel not so impressed, “I really liked watching you go from the piano to the guitar, but it still looks a little bit clinical.” Jeffrey Steele referenced “The Barbara Mandrell Show, and John Rich said, “You’ve got to start strong and finish strong.”
Her second song was “Help Me Make It Through The Night.” Judges were lukewarm.
Coffey sang country oldie, “Hey Good Lookin’.”
Judges have stopped loving the Coffey. Jeffrey Steele said, “Too little, too late.” John Rich lambasted him. “First of all, a cowboy hat don’t make you country. You can’t fake your way through country music. Every song up until now has been Pop, Pop, Pop, Pop. I think you got confused when you came to the auditions. There’s a show called American Idol…” “You’re not a country singer, brother,” Jewel said. Oof.
Coffey wasn’t having it; he claimed he was country and listed his farm chores and all. Then he performed “Take Me Home Country Roads.” Jewel was his only fan, “I know that you have great country roots.”
Navy veteran Tommy Stanley sang “God Bless The Broken Road.”
John Rich compared him to Coffey. “You have to concentrate on trying to sing country music. It seems like you’re concentrating on trying to go there.” Jeffrey Steele said, “I’ve been hanging my hat on Gave as our country guy. I saw something tonight.” Jewel said, “You seemed a little bit self-conscious tonight.”
His second song was Elton John’s “Tiny Dancer.” That sort of killed it for all three judges.
Trio Pearl Heart sang, “I’ll Still Be Loving You.”
Jeffrey Steele shared an intensely personal story about the loss of his son and what the song meant to him, so I was bawling my eyes out through all that B Roll. I had no idea.
John Rich said, “When you really got it right, it was really, really good. Now, what you’ve got to work on is getting it right top to bottom.” Jewel said, “When you guys started sitting down and then you stood it was a really easy mechanical thing that you can do to bring up emotion.”
Pearl Heart sang “One Way Ticket” for the second song.
Jeffrey Steele said, “I need three girls giving 100% in order to make this one.”
Female favorite Melissa Lawson sang “This One’s For The Girls.”
Jewel loved her, “You did a great job tonight having a really warm, fat tone on the bottom, and you sang the high notes great, and you look cute.” Jeffrey Steele told her to make sure she got the low stuff- “just as important as you got the big stuff.” John Rich said, “If Nashville Star was over tonight, you would be the undisputed winner of this show.” (This was before Gabe Garcia hit the stage)
Her second song was “Landslide.”
John Rich noted her nerves. “Whatever that has to be in your head, go there, because you are by far and away the greatest singer on this show right now.”
Shawn Mayer sang “Breathe.”
Jewel said her voice showed powerful vocals. Jeffrey Steele said, “I like when your voice gets less ambitious.” John Rich said, “I was impressed with that. I think that was some of the best singing you’ve done so far.”
For her second song, “Forever And Ever Amen.”
Judges noted she blew that one. One good performance, and one bad.
Crowd and judges’ favorite Gabe Garcia sang “Wanted Dead or Alive.”
He nailed it.
Jeffrey Steele said, “What are all the hardcore country fans going to think when they hear you rocking like that.” John Rich hails Garcia, “You’re the best male singer on the show.” Jewel loved him too.
For his second song, Garcia sang “The Fireman.” Jewel praised his authenticity.
The remaining two artists, Alyson Gilbert and Laura & Sophie sang their songs each, and the bad news fell to Alyson.
After Alyson sang, John Rich summed it up: “I think you had moments of brilliance…moments, but moments don’t make it at this point.”
Gilbert was eliminated from the competition.
Monsters and Critics spoke to Alyson on Tuesday.
Can you offer a critique or commentary on the three judges – and where their strengths and weaknesses lay?
Alyson Gilbert: Sure. I think that as far as John Rich is concerned his strength is really just being a straight talker telling us exactly what he thinks. You never have to wonder if he’s sugar coating it. A weakness might be that he sometimes comes across as maybe arrogant which I don’t think he is. But I know I’ve had people say that to me.
Jeffrey Steele – his strength is really just being a tough critic but doing it in a real kind way and non-offensive way. And I haven’t had as much time to work with him so I don’t know I can’t say as much about him as I can John.
Jewel, I think she just brings a uniqueness, she’s kind of new to the country scene with her newest album. And I think she brings an aspect of experience in the pop and folk industry. And that can be helpful when trying to possibly make crossover hits.
I think that Jewel doesn’t know that much about me personally. I think she’s just basing it off what she’s seen. I respect her opinion. And I think she’s an amazing musician. But she doesn’t know me, know me. And so I think that it’s just one of those things. (I’m) like okay. I’ll go do some soul-searching I guess.
I think that probably we would get along just fine on a daily basis. I think we just — as far as musically — we don’t quite connect. People like different things about people for different reasons. And she just didn’t like me. And that’s okay.
I feel really honored to have been able to be critiqued by them because I think it’s going to really help me out.
What country music influenced you growing up? And what did you really love?
Alyson Gilbert: Gosh, when I was little my mom listened to the Judds all the time. And I always really loved them. And then it kind of morphed into I’ve always been a huge Faith Hill fan. And Faith and Martina and – have been two big influences in my life. And really they were the voices that made me want to sing country music.
So it seems Gabe Garcia is the preordained one that’s going win – just from watching it every week. I was wondering if that was your opinion or if you wanted to go on record and predict the winner?
Alyson Gilbert: Gosh I don’t ever want to, like, presume or predict. But I do think Gabe is a very strong frontrunner He just is straight up country.
And I think that the audience of Nashville Star is country fans. And they want to hear country singers and country music. And he’s country to the core. So I think he definitely has a huge, huge chance of winning.
Who else do you find compelling to watch and listen to that you really admire on the show?
Alyson Gilbert: I love Melissa Lawson. I think she has a powerful, amazing voice. And Pearl Heart – I’m always in awe of their harmonies. They just have this sibling harmony. And it’s just incredible. It’s like one person singing but yet it’s these three little teeny, tiny girls.