Nashville Star 6: Top 10 Performances Recap
Nashville Star 6: Top 10 Performances Recap
It's pop goes country week on Nashville Star, meaning the remaining ten acts are going to countrify pop hits for our listening pleasure. Let's hope they do it better than Kristy Lee Cook did with “Eight Days A Week” on American Idol. Since it's pop night, R&B girl group Danity Kane is going to stop by to perform their hit single “Damaged.”

Last week I shed no tears when the group Third Town was eliminated, but was roundly shocked when talented mom Melissa Lawson was revealed to be in the bottom two.  After that unpleasant surprise, I can honestly say that I have no idea how America voted at the end of last week's episode, but we'll find out tonight when the bottom two acts are revealed and one is sent packing.

This week they're doing it a bit different, host Billy Ray Cyrus tells us. The contestants are all in a line and he calls two of them to step forward: Tommy Stanley and Gabe Garcia. One is safe and the other is in the bottom two. The one with the lower votes is . . . Tommy Stanley. That means Gabe is safe and Tommy will be up for elimination.

That done, the top ten acts perform Madonna's “Like A Prayer.” Melissa Lawson starts the song off and is insanely awesome before everyone joins in, and then there are more solos and a big choir streams out from behind the audience and the song just keeps going on and on. This is a great song, though, so it's kind of fun even with some of the lesser singers completely butchering it, Kristy Lee style.

After a montage of the judges reaming the contestants out after the last show and then mentoring them on their pop goes country challenge, the performances begin. Gabe is up first singing -- oh wow -- “Living La Vida Loca.” You know, that Ricky Martin song.

The vibe is a country fried Spanish thing. There are even backup dancers, which is odd as Gabe just sort of stands there strumming while they go all America's Best Dance Crew behind him. Gabe sings well, but I'm really weirded out by the dichotomy going on here. On the Kristy Lee Cook-O-Meter, I'd give the performance about a five on a scale of zero to ten, with ten being a complete monstrosity on the level of “Eight Days A Week.” For me, Gabe was halfway between fun and completely misguided. The judges love him, though say he could stand to loosen up.

Pearl Heart will be performing the B-52s' “Love Shack.” The backup dancers are back with cowboy hats and Daisy Dukes while the girls strum their way through the song. KLC-O-Meter gives them a three for their effective if not inspiring rendition. The judges liked them but still feel Courtney needs to step it up as a front woman.

The next safe contestant is Alyson Gilbert who is singing “I Think We're Alone Now,” which is credited to Tiffany but was originally by Tommy James and the Shondells. She sings it well enough, although suddenly I feel like I'm watching Robin Sparkles break out with the bedazzled jean jacket and a side ponytail. KLC-O-Meter says a three for Miss Alyson, even though Jewel think she was pitchy. Jeff Steel and John Rich both think Alyson had a little too much pop in her country, and John Rich especially lays into her.

Fourth up is Ashlee Hewitt singing Britney Spears's “(You Drive Me) Crazy.” I like to think that this and other Britney songs, like “Lucky,” were all prophecies about Britney's eventual fate. Just think about it.

Anyway, Ashlee performs and she totally countried up the song, which is a definite shift after Alyson's straight take on her song. Ashlee kind of slurred some of her words to my ear, but she sings at least as well as Britney once did, so good for her. KLC-O-Meter gives a two and the judges love her, even if she did seem a little uncomfortable with the material at times.

Coffey is safe and singing Rihanna's “Umbrella.” This night is just bananas. I love this song without guilt and have heard several great covers of it, so Coffey better bring it.

Wow, this is kind of . . not great. His voice is nasal all up in his nasal and he keeps yelling out randomly between lyrics. The performance is high energy, but he breaks out with some beat boxing and just . . . no. KLC-O-Meter veers into the red for this and gives Coffey a nine for whatever the heck that just was. The judges are split with Jeff hating it, John loving it and Jewel finding him gimmicky.

Singing Michael Jackson's “P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing)” are Laura and Sophie, meaning they are safe for another week. These two are wearing some totally frilly dresses and look more creepily doll-like than ever. Their harmonies are great as always and the song is almost unrecognizable, which is actually a good thing. Definitely my favorite performance of theirs, with KLC-O-Meter giving a positive score of one. The judges enjoyed them quite a bit, too.

Special guest group Danity Kane performs next and it's total MTV pop. They gyrate and warble and then it's over.

Moving on, Shawn Mayer is safe and will be performing N'Sync's “Bye Bye Bye.” Seriously: bananas. Surprisingly, she actually manages to pull a country song out of that, with some pretty solid vocals to boot. Shawn sure has some brass ones, I must say. The KLC-O-Meter gives it a one, and Jewel seems to agree. Jeff found it too pop, but her mentor John liked that she's not scared of taking risks and thinks that makes her super country.

They keep us hanging, but finally it's announced that Melissa Lawson is safe. She sings “True Colors” by Cyndi Lauper, which seems just ripe for countrifying. Melissa seems really happy as she pulls off a great rendition of the song. KLC-O-Meter gives her effort the best score -- a zero -- and the judges deservedly praise her up and down.

So the bottom two tonight are the two cute young guys. Who would have thought? Justin Gaston is first and will be singing “Girls Just Want To Have Fun” by Cyndi Lauper. Oh dear. He starts singing and his backup dancers are dressed like girls at a slumber party. Again: oh dear. To his credit, Justin does sound better than he did last week, though his voice breaks when he tries to go for a high note. That wasn't near as bad as I thought it would be, so the KLC-O-Meter settles on a three. The judges think he definitely improved quite a bit, which I have to agree with.

Tommy is the last performer of the night and is singing Michael Sembello's “Maniac.” If you don't know what that song is, think Flashdance. Now you hear it, don't you? Anyway, Tommy sings it well but it definitely doesn't sound country to me, more like a light rock version of the original. He breaks out an insane note at the end, but again: this is pop goes country, not pop goes . . . pop. KLC-O-Meter gives him a five for singing well, but not following the theme. The judges agree with this and tell him if he stays he needs to country it up. 

The results are in and last week America voted out . . . Justin Gaston. Despite my railing against him last week, I’m kind of sad to see the kid go after his performance tonight. He takes it graciously and seems like a nice guy, so here’s hoping he keeps working at this and improving.

I'm surprised, the Kristy Lee Cook-O-Meter only dipped into the red once tonight.  Good job, Nashville Star contestants.  Next week Billy Ray says that the judges will give the contestants the surprise of their lives, so here's hoping these acts are ready. 

- , BuddyTV Staff Writer

(Photo courtesy of NBC)