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‘Rising Star’ recap: The wall is impervious to your tears

Season 1 | Episode 2 | “Auditions Round 2” | Aired June 29, 2014

Last week: A witty but frazzled Josh Groban led us through a labyrinth of show rules and held our hands while we learned to swipe “yes” or “no.” Kesha appeared to be half-asleep. Brad Paisley wore a hat, and Ludacris (or “Luda”) worked hard to establish himself as the Simon Cowell of this show. Plus everyone looked terrified of THE WALL. Welcome to episode 2 of Rising Star!

Josh Groban (looking like everyone’s favorite adjunct professor) opens the show with the reminder that we control whether someone stays or goes via the Rising Star app. Each expert controls 7 percent of the vote, and if a contestant gets 70 percent or more votes, they move on to the next round. Note: If you live on the West Coast, voting is futile for all contestants except the East Coast’s “leftovers.” Good times!

After minimal exposition (bravo, producers!), they segue way right into the first performance of the night, Shameia Crawford. A background vocalist from Atlanta, Georgia, Shameia talks about how difficult it can be to stay afloat doing music full-time (don’t I know it!). While her nerves almost get the best of her during “We Are Young,” she shakes it off in the last portion of the song, turning in a solid performance. All three experts hear through the nerves and say yes, but the EST audience only gives her 69 percent of the vote. The West Coast audience later swoops in to get her to 71 percent, making Shameia the first contestant to be saved during the show’s PST airing.

I should mention that producers have fine-tuned a couple things this week. First, the West Coast numbers are shown in real time (rather than appearing later during the expert feedback). It also looks like they’re now displaying West Coast voter pictures on the bottom left of the main screen (since PST viewers can’t see their pictures on the wall in real time). These tweaks don’t resolve every issue, but the show is clearly listening to its viewers and critics. That’s a good thing.

Our second performer is April Lockhart, an 18-year-old with a Zooey Deschanel-esque vibe and a ton of spunk. See, April is missing half of her left arm due to Amniotic Band Syndrome, but she somehow learned to play guitar despite that thanks to an upbeat attitude and a ton of hard work. After pulling out a prosthetic she calls “Birdie,” which features a beak doubling as a guitar pic, it’s pretty obvious April will be stealing all of our hearts. Luckily, her “Say You’ll Be Here” shows as much personality as her background segment. She could use more breath support and pitch control, but her voice is engaging enough to win a yes from all three experts and 85 percent of the vote. Future contestants beware: No one’s backstory will be as compelling as April’s, so you’d better put a pin in your sob story and SANG.

ep 2 = April_Lockhart_performance_-_4

After the commercial break, we cut to Josh noting that over a million voters registered to vote via Facebook during last week’s premiere. He also explains that if you check in and don’t vote at all, you’ll count as a “no.” Oh, wow, that’s harsh. I’m betting THE WALL made that rule up.

Josh then introduces our next contestant, Austin French, a 20-year-old worship pastor from Georgia. He’s a sweet kid, and his thematically appropriate “Georgia on My Mind” is surprisingly soulful. It was one of the more consistent performances so far, getting him a yes from the experts and 87 percent of the vote.

We return from yet another commercial break to find Josh is sitting in the audience with last week’s performers, making awkward “dad jokes” about them being jealous of his songs. (Well, actually, they should be! “You Raise Me Up” made bank, y’all.) He notes that the next stage of the competition will be “duels,” which sounds like a copy of The Voice’s battle rounds (but I’m still willing to take this journey with you, Josh Groban!). Then we meet our first girl group, three young women with the unfortunate moniker Trinitii (eek, that hurts to type). In rehearsal, Josh seems worried for them, firmly saying, “You’ve got to really find your game on that or scrap it.” His advice is prophetic. Trinitii’s “Problem“ is energetic but tonally thin and haphazard from a pitch perspective. None of them has a very distinctive voice, and the rapping puts the final nail in the coffin as they only receive 30 percent of the vote.

After giving us all the opportunity to geek out over the “Guardians of the Galaxy” trailer, Josh announces Alice Lee, a 25-year-old musical theater performer who left behind an off-Broadway show to audition for Rising Star. Her “You and I” is a bit pantomime-y and over the top, but still strong enough to earn a yes from Kesha and Luda and 73 percent of the vote. Josh then introduces 25-year-old cattle farmer Rye Davis, who discovered a love of singing after a sporting accident cost him the sight in his right eye. Rye is eminently likeable, but his “When You Say Nothing at All” is underwhelming, and THE WALL stays firmly in place.

Next up is Sonnet Simmons, a self-possessed 33-year-old who was born into a cult that her mother escaped from when she was only five years old. (What? Tell me more!) Her “Wicked Games” is a slow burner that shows off a nice falsetto and some highly stylized coolness. While it has a few shaky moments, the overall aesthetic wins the support of all three experts and gets her 81 percent of the vote (I think Sonnet could be a real wild card in this competition).

ep 2 - Sonnet_Simmons_-_performance

We immediately move to Deedra Ervin, a 20-year-old Army Reservist whose house burned down only two weeks ago (poor thing). Despite a promising tone, Deedra can’t fully power the notes of “Anything Can Happen” and only receives 26 percent of the vote, breaking into tears after the results. It’s pretty heartbreaking, and Josh and the experts handle it well, showing just the right amount of empathy. THE WALL, on the other hand, reminds us that it’s utterly unmovable, even in the face of personal tragedy.

Our next artist is Will Roth, a bearded 24-year-old vet tech who moonlights as a private investigator. The producers seem enamored with his nighttime gig, but all I care about are THE PUPPIES we’re seeing onscreen (that’s what this show needs — MORE PUPPIES!). Will’s “Sweater Weather” is odd and a bit frenetic, but his tone is raspy and interesting. I want to hear more, and the experts agree, lending their percentages to his 83 percent vote and lifting the wall.

ep 2 - Will_Roth_-_dog_shot

After the commercial break, Brad suggests a drinking game where viewers drink every time Josh says the word “app” (oh no, we’re all gonna get wasted!). Then Luda makes fun of Josh’s socks, and I can’t help but feel like the guys are ganging up on him (boo, hiss!). During the same segment, Kesha reveals that her beauty secret is unicorn tears (and I nod my head in agreement, because that’s my beauty secret also).

We interrupt this expert bonding to meet Egypt Dixon, an 18-year-old from Texarkana, Texas. This gives me terrible flashbacks to a stop in Texarkana during a college road trip (their fire-and-brimstone pamphlets were pure nightmare fuel). Egypt’s “Fancy” is assured and fun but doesn’t involve a lot of actual singing, which is probably why she only receives 44 percent of the vote. This is a disappointment because her voice is quite good.

Our second-to-last contestant is Adam James, a 24-year-old from Palmdale, California, who tearfully shares that his dad passed away last year. His “ I Won’t Give Up” is somewhat pitchy and all over the place, but he still charms the experts and the audience, winning 85 percent of the vote. Brad notes that it’s Adam’s vulnerability that did it for him, while Kesha attributes it to his Timberlake-esque profile.

We close out the night with Megan Tibbits, a 26-year-old from Los Angeles, California. She reveals that she was in a quirky family band growing up, and they toured the country in a quirky motor home playing quirky instruments. This helped lead to a love of harp, which she’ll be playing for her performance (I LOVE THIS). Megan’s “All of Me” is lovely to start, but it unravels as the song goes on (nerves, maybe?). Luda and the East Coast viewers aren’t having it, but Kesha and Brad give her their votes, which helps Megan lock in the West Coast with an even 70 percent of the vote. THE HARP just showed THE WALL who’s boss.

ep 2 - Megan_Tibbits_performance_screenshot

Things I learned tonight: Kesha tends to vote for the underdog (something I find endearing). Brad has great taste in belt buckles and is occasionally a softy. I agree with Luda’s opinion 80 percent of the time … I also realize that I’ve barely talked about the experts in my recap. I’m trying to reserve my judgment and give them lots of grace to find their mojo, but their lack of chemistry is currently the weakest aspect of the show for me.

What did you think of tonight’s performers? Did you find the show’s improvements at all helpful? And do you agree this show needs MORE PUPPIES? Give me your thoughts in the comments, and we’ll chat again next week about Rising Star.

TV Families | EW.com
Mark Harris
February 23, 1990 AT 05:00 AM EST

The Bradys are back, with a passel of 90’s hassles. Do they represent the typical American Family? Did they ever? Who does? Stare and compare!

Kind Of Family
TheBradyBunch 1969-74: Blended
The Bradys 1990-: Enormous
Married…With Children 1987-: Postnuclear
Thirtysomething 1987-: Extended
The Flintstones 1960-66: Modern Stone Age

Family Pet
The Brady Bunch: Tiger
The Bradys: Alice
Married…With Children: Buck
Thirtysomething: Grendel
The Flintstones: Dino

Typical Guest Star
The Brady Bunch: Davey Jones
The Bradys: There’s no room
Married…With Children: Sam Kinison
Thirtysomething: Carly Simon
The Flintstones: Ann Margrock

Expression Of Joy
The Brady Bunch: Groovy!
The Bradys: Ritual hugging
Married…With Children: ”Oh, great.”
Thirtysomething: ”Of course I’m happy for you. Really. But what about me? Why does it always have to be about you?
The Flintstones: ”Yabba-dabba doo

Expression Of Rage

The Brady Bunch: ”Hmmm…”
The Bradys: ”If you back away from something you really want, then you’re a quitter!” (the angriest any Brady has ever been)
Married…With Children: ”Aaagh, God, take me from this miserable life!”
Thirtysomething: ”I’m not angry, OK?”
The Flintstones: ”Willllmaaaa!”

Typical Problem
The Brady Bunch: Marcia and her rival both want to be the prom queen.
The Bradys: Bobby gets paralyzed.
Married…With Children: Al doesn’t buy his family Christmas presents.
Thirtysomething: Nancy gets cancer.
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney are staying out too late.

Typical Solution
The Brady Bunch: The prom committee decides to have two queens.
The Bradys: Bobby gets married.
Married…With Children: They hate him.
Thirtysomething: If only we knew…
The Flintstones: Wilma and Betty decide to follow them.

House Style
The Brady Bunch: Conservative but mod, circa ’69
The Bradys: Conservative but mod, circa ’90
Married…With Children: Roach motel
Thirtysomething: Enviable
The Flintstones: Suburban cave

Clothing Style
The Brady Bunch: Early Osmonds
The Bradys: Made in the USA
Married…With Children: Flammable fabrics
Thirtysomething: Eclectic earth tones; nice ties
The Flintstones: One-piece

Most Annoying Character
The Brady Bunch: Alice’s cousin Emma, the substitute housekeeper (too strict)
The Bradys: Marcia’s husband, Wally (chronically unemployable)
Married…With Children: Steve (supercilious)
Thirtysomething: Ellyn (goes through Hope’s drawers, babbles, changes hairstyle every other week, generally mistreats her friends)
The Flintstones: Mr. Slate (bossy)

Attitude Toward Sex
The Brady Bunch: Never heard of it
The Bradys: Omigod — even Cindy does it!
Married…With Children: Peg: Yes. Al: No.
Thirtysomething: They didn’t get all those kids by accident.
The Flintstones: Prehistoric

How Spouses Fight
The Brady Bunch: They don’t.
The Bradys: Infrequently, but it happens
Married…With Children: Tooth and nail
Thirtysomething: They stop talking
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney go bowling while Wilma and Betty max out their charge cards.

How Kids Get Into Trouble
The Brady Bunch: Greg takes a puff of a cigarette.
The Bradys: Carol’s grandson steals her business cards and sticks them in the spokes of Bobby’s wheelchair.
Married…With Children: By committing felonies
Thirtysomething: Ethan plays with a forbidden toy rocket.
The Flintstones: They don’t.

How They’re Punished

The Brady Bunch: ”It’s not what you did, honey — it’s that you couldn’t come to us.”
The Bradys ”Next time, ask.”
Married…With Children: By the authorities
Thirtysomething: It blows up in his face.
The Flintstones: They’re not.

What Family Does For Fun
The Brady Bunch: Takes special three-part vacations to Hawaii and the Grand Canyon
The Bradys: Has flashbacks
Married…With Children: Exchanges insults
Thirtysomething: Talks
The Flintstones: Attends showings of The Monster at the Bedrock Drive-In

Unsolved Mysteries
The Brady Bunch: How exactly did Carol’s first husband and Mike’s first wife die?
The Bradys: What’s with Marcia’s new face and Bobby’s blonde hair
Married…With Children: What kind of hair spray does Peg use?
Thirtysomething: Why did Nancy take Elliot back? What do Gary and Susanna see in each other?
The Flintstones: How does Barney’s shirt stay on if he has no shoulders? Where do Fred and Wilma plug in their TV?

Worst Behavior
The Brady Bunch: The Brady children once made Alice feel under-appreciated.

The Bradys: Marcia’s son Mickey watches Bobby’s car-crash tape for fun.
Married…With Children: The Bundy’s kill their neighbor’s dog.
Thirtysomething: Elliot has an affair and talks about it.
The Flintstones: Characters don’t wear under-clothes.

Best Reason To Watch
The Brady Bunch: This is what life should be.
The Bradys: They’re all grown-ups now!
Married…With Children: Terry Rakolta hates it.
Thirtysomething (Tie) This is your life. This isn’t your life.
The Flintstones: This is what life might have been.

Best Reason Not To Watch
The Brady Bunch: Blurred vision from rerun overdoses.
The Bradys: You’re all grown-ups now.
Married…With Children: She has a point.
Thirtysomething: After a while, you think it’s real.
The Flintstones: The Simpsons

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