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Tuesday, May 31, 2011

CMT Superstar – the Final Three

I’m a Johnny-come-lately to television singing competitions. I didn’t watch the first eight seasons of American Idol and I’ve never seen any of the knockoffs. But music has always been an important part of my life – especially during periods in my life when I didn’t feel like I was in the game. So I gave AI a chance a couple of years ago and was surprised to find myself as interested in the performer’s stories as I was their performances.

I gave CMT Superstar a chance a couple of months ago. And as is the case with AI, the person I initially wanted to win – Bri Bagwell – was eliminated fairly early in the competition.

Courtney Cole’s soulful voice made me root for her next and you know what happened – she was eliminated, but check out her version of “From the Inside Out.” Good stuff.

I grew to appreciate Wynn Varble’s humor. During one episode, when he found out the contestants would be working with a choreographer, he said, “George Straight don’t dance, Haggard don’t dance, Wynn Varble ain’t dancing.” That’s just funny. He’s also a good songwriter. But he eventually got the boot.

Heading into the final three, I liked Dani Lauderdale’s big, powerful voice, so I rooted for her.

The contestants had to shoot a music video in just a few days. Lauderdale chose a song she wrote called “Boy.” It’s a simple love story that shows her on a picnic with her boyfriend and the lyrics do their job:

You don’t have to change the world, for me to be a happy girl
It’s just a kiss
It’s just a word
I know you love me, boy

You don’t have to move the mountains, even though I believe that you can
It’s just a look
It’s just a touch
I know you love me – that’s how you show me, boy.

It’s Martina McBride-esque and it sounds like a hit to me. What’s not to love about a song that points out the little things in a relationship that add up to be big things?

But the judges didn’t get it – even going so far as to ask her what the theme of the video was. One of them wondered why there were horses in the background. I’m not sure she could have made the theme any more clear. And the horses where there because – well, she was on a picnic in an open field and horses happened to walk by. I guess that’s why music is so subjective.

Steven Clawson created a video about a long, lost love – when life was simpler, “When all we had was life / And all we needed was time.” Setting the video in a warehouse and overlapping the past with the present was brilliant. I loved seeing the older version of his love interest peeking around the corner in the warehouse as he sings about her.

Matt Mason’s “Chasing Stardust” video about his dance with drugs in the past was powerful. Loved his symbolic usage of a temptress to show how powerful the pull drugs were for him. My only problem is, his voice isn’t pleasing to my ear. He sounds like Johnny Cash on helium.

Even if you didn’t see the episode, you already know what happened.

Lauderdale got booted.

So, the show heads for the finale this Friday. I’m rooting for Steven, but you know what that means.


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