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‘Rising Star’ recap: Kesha and her big ball of yarn—a love story

Season 1 | Episode 5 | “The Duels, Pt. 2” | Aired July 20, 2014

Last week: Duels began in an anticlimactic manner, delivering some of the most lackluster performances we’ve seen so far. The format was a little cringe-worthy, giving the first competitor most of the advantages and making the second competitor squirm. Now, let’s see if things get less awkward this week on Rising Star.

I should note that Rising Star’s last episode was #1 in its time slot (for the 18-49 age group). Kudos, show! Kudos.

We start the show with a visual recap of last week, making it look much more exciting than I recall. Then we get a whole new intro for duels, which feature the experts balancing floating screens with pictures of the competitors like psychic magicians balancing balls of energy. These screens are weightless, because THIS IS THE FUTURE.


We then see some delightfully hammy shots where each contestant turns to look at the camera dramatically. It’s reminiscent of this well-known Internet meme, which is also quite dramatic.


Josh sets the tone for the night by giving us his full name (Joshua Winslow Groban—obviously the name of man with a lifelong sock obsession). Josh notes that the experts are brimming with excitement, and the camera pans to the experts, who are clearly NOT brimming with excitement. What IS exciting is Kesha’s new blue hair color. Hey girl, hey.


The rules are the same as last week. Oh, and West Coast—don’t forget, you have the ability to save ONE losing contestant with your votes. Don’t let all that power go to your head!

Our first duel of the night is 21-year-old Gabrielle Nicole versus 16-year-old Macy Kate. We get barely any background on their auditions, so I’ll refresh you on what I remember. Gabrielle had a massive ego but a great voice to back it up. Macy was planted in the audience as a “surprise” audition in what was clearly no surprise to anyone.


Gabrielle is first up. Her “River Deep, Mountain High” is not as solid vocally as I’d expect. It seems like she’s putting more focus on the performance itself, which, granted, is pretty charismatic. Is it possible to be TOO high octane onstage? I’d normally say no, but if all that energy swallows your vocal strengths, then the answer is maybe so. Gabrielle still has some nice moments (especially in her upper range), bringing in 49 percent of the vote and getting a “yes” from all three experts.

After hearing nothing about Gabrielle’s background, we get a little montage with fun facts about Macy. (OK, then, maybe she’s the favorite? I can’t keep up!) Macy starts “Demons” at the piano, which is a smart move on her part. Her vocals seem more centered than Gabrielle’s, but the lower parts of the verse are completely out of her range, and the more intense the song becomes, the more yell-y it gets. Despite that, Macy still gets 80 percent of the vote (including a “yes” from two of the experts), easily winning this round.

After the break, Josh brings up Kesha’s cat cult (because if it was funny once, let’s beat that dead horse until it comes alive again). He then brings out a huge ball of yarn and gifts it to Kesha, who responds with more enthusiasm than we’ve seen from her all season.


Our next duel is between 19-year-old April Lockhart and 33-year-old Sonnet Simmons. You’ll remember April as the plucky heroine who learned to play guitar with only one arm like a BOSS, and Sonnet as the girl who escaped life in a cult with her mom.


Sonnet is up first. Her “Feeling Good” is bold but all over the place. At times, the song feels too high for her range and too big for her laid-back vocal quirks. But there are also some really interesting moments where you can hear her aesthetic coming through. It’s enough to garner 73 percent of the vote and a “yes” from all three experts.

Brad and Josh flirt about Twitter, and then we move on to April, who is adorably nervous. “Animal” is not the greatest vehicle for her delicate voice. It’s a little too rapid-fire and range-y for her to master, but she soldiers through it, digging in and utilizing all the tools in her arsenal to make it her own. It’s a tight race, but April squeaks past Sonnet in the last seconds to raise the wall with 74 percent of the vote (and a “yes” from all the experts).

Our final duel of the night is between 24-year-old Adam Jaymes and 20-year-old Austin French, and I just can’t recall much about either of these fellas. My trusty notes tell me that Adam lost his dad last year, which is really heartbreaking. My notes also tell me that Austin is a worship pastor from Georgia with a pretty fantastic voice. Apparently, they both received the same percentage for their auditions, and the experts tell us they’re very similar (really? I don’t know about that!).


Austin’s “I Don’t Want to Be” is probably the best performance so far. It’s a wordy, difficult song, but he nails it. He skips some of the higher notes of the chorus, but his soulfulness and tone more than make up for that fact, earning him 81 percent of the vote.

Adam’s “Free Fallin’,” a viewer suggestion (uh-oh!) is not as successful. He plays the guitar, which is refreshing, but that can’t compensate for the mismatch of voice to song. Adam also tweaks the melody to the point that it’s almost unrecognizable, eliminating most of the peaks and valleys that make it so enjoyable. Despite Kesha’s and Brad’s “yes” votes, Adam’s 53 percent is not enough to raise the wall.

We end the night with the results of the West Coast save, which goes to Sonnet Simmons. This makes sense to me. West Coast—I like you.

Things I learned this week: Kesha appears to be most engaged when interacting with the contestants during rehearsals OR when playing with a huge ball of yarn. Brad Paisley is still a blank slate to me (I don’t get him, but I’m trying!). Ludacris seems to be losing his Simon Cowell-esque edge, and Josh Groban is now secure enough to stop showing us his socks.

Was it just my imagination, or was this week significantly better than last week? Who were your favorite competitors so far, and who will you miss? Do you prefer Kesha’s blond, purple or blue hair? Leave your thoughts in the comments, and join me next week as we chat about another episode of 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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