The Farr Side: ‘Nashville Star’ is no replacement for ‘AI’

David T. Farr

Now that “American Idol” is over, I’ve been trying to desperately get myself wrapped up into “Nashville Star.” The only problem is, it’s not “American Idol.”

No matter how nasty John Rich might think he is, he’s no match for Simon Cowell.

Rich, Jeffrey Steele and Jewel are the Cowell, Randy Jackson and Paula Abdul of “Nashville Star.” Or at least they try to play that game. (Insert laughs here, dawg!)

Jewel is the only judge so far who has shown any sort of substance, whether it be from a critique standpoint or a personal one. She’s truthful but also sports a friendlier edge. I’ve always liked her and her music.

Rich has often gone sexual with some of his critiques, which surprises me on a family show. Some of the gals in contention are extremely young. Call me a prude, but it’s so not appropriate.

The onset, or audition, phase reminded me heavily of “AI.” It had its fair share of off-the-wall characters, losers and surprisingly good talents. It helped to get me interested in a few of the country singer wannabes.

The first night of competition, however, left me hanging. Something wasn’t right, or maybe it was that no one was really that good. Either way, I could have easily found something better to do on Monday nights is what it was looking more like.

Although nobody really wowed me like some have on “AI,” I did like a few of the contestants as people first. This may have kept me watching.

Among the not-so-bad ones was Tommy Stanley, an engineer on the USS Kittyhawk. He performed “Walking In Memphis” much the way John Mayer would have done the song. I liked his performance mainly because it strayed a little out of the lines when it comes to country music. This is a good thing if you’re going to make it.

Rich didn’t care for it, but Jewel saw the potential. As for Stanley, his week two performance of “Save A Horse, Ride A Cowboy” bombed for me. It was cheesy and just plain stupid for me, which is why Rich must have loved it. Oh, and that fact it was a Big & Rich song. Let me grab my barf bag.

Shawn Mayer is a girl who has the talent and a great look. Her take the first night of “Piece Of My Heart” was so-so, but her own rendition of the George Jones’ classic “He Stopped Loving Her Today” on week two was very good. She has a crystal-clear voice that could easily be heard on the radio.

Melissa Lawson rounds out my short list of favorites on the show. She's the oldest competing but perhaps the best one of all. Her strong and yet sometimes gutsy vocals make her the one to watch for me. Her covers of “Something To Talk About” and “(You Make Me Feel Like A) Natural Woman” have been the best so far in the competition.

Breaking the contestants up into groups to work individually with the judges might be something “AI” ought to consider, but as for host Billy Ray Cyrus? Well, lets just say he’s no Ryan Seacrest.

David T. Farr is a Sturgis (Mich.) Journal Correspondent. E-mail him at