Nashville Star

Like judge and Grammy-nominated songwriter Jeffrey Steele (Rascal Flatts’ “What Hurts the Most”), I was dreading original song night on Nashville Star. So much, in fact, that when I remembered it was original song night at the end of the workday yesterday, I let Slezak someone convince me to “prepare” for the impending heinoustry with a mojito, which eventually led to me watching the show on my DVR at a painfully late hour. Imagine my surprise then, when the remaining five contestants’ songs didn’t suck. At all. Let’s break it down, in reverse order.

Shawn Mayer (pictured): Had I gotten home in time to vote, I would’ve dialed in for her. All the contestants had their best performances of the season last night, but Shawn blew me away. I actually applauded when she ended her Faith Hill-style power ballad, “I’m Not Lookin’ Back,” written about the love of her life that she left behind to chase her dream in Nashville. It made Jeffrey, who doubles as her mentor, say, “John Rich is a fool… You know, I’m a publisher.” It made me wish she had performed her own material every week. She sounded great, she looked hot, and she was strong and dangerous (yet still vulnerable and approachable). I think she may have just sung her way into the finals.

After the jump, we review the four remaining performances, and the crazy lyric I’m really hoping I misunderstood.

Ashlee Hewitt: Ashlee, who joined Shawn in the bottom two, cried when she got sent home. Ah. I’d feel bad for her if Jewel hadn’t said that she’d love to write songs with her and help her cut a album. Even though I agree with the judges that she has a commercial, stylized sound — think Jewel meets Julie Roberts minus the maturity— her track wasn’t my favorite of the night. The naughty original, “Mike’s Hard Lemonade,” was about a girl who goestoo far with a guy because her cowboy left her and she had a littletoo much to drink. A bit trite, no?

Gabe Garcia: I’d say Gabe looked about 80 percent comfortable last night, which, as John noted, is still a major problem since it keeps him from fully connecting with the crowd. But as with all the contestants, I liked Gabe even more after hearing his sound: the track “Lost Weekend,” about a couple trying to find the spark again, made me think less of George Strait and more of Jason Michael Carroll. Maybe Gabe should sing “Livin’ Our Love Song” next week. If he could pull that off, flirting with the audience, Jewel would be so happy.

Melissa Lawson: Melissa admitted that she’s only been writing songs for a few months, but according to John, who can’t hide the fact that he’s pulling for her, she’s a natural. Her empowerment anthem, “Ready to Stand,” was something Martina McBride would record. I thought Melissa over-sang it, but the judges loved it.

Coffey: He opened the show with his song “Southern Man,” something I imagine the Barenaked Ladies would’ve written had they been Texan instead of Canadian. I’ve said before that I love Coffey’s voice and would like to hear it on country radio — but John, who (angels sing) actually liked this performance, said he didn’t think Coffey could get airplay. Since John has to take the winner into the recording studio, and wants a radio hit, he said he needs to think about that. Though, I kinda wish he didn’t.

So, whose original song was your favorite? Can you hear Coffey on country radio? And did anyone else mishear this lyric of his?

Country boy style, with the country boy tone/
Holla from the porch, ’cause we don’t use the phone/
Down in the South it’s all about love/ We don’t shake hands, I greet a Jew with a hug.

* After much rewinding, I’m thinking he said I greeted you with a hug?

Nashville Star
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