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‘Rising Star’ recap: And then there were eight

Season 1 | Episode 7 | “Sudden Death Eliminations“ | Aired Aug 3, 2014

Last week: We experienced the final week of duels, narrowing down our field of contestants to just 13 singers. Ludacris made sense, Brad Paisley was a mystery, and Kesha sported my favorite hair color yet (sea foam). Now let’s see what’s in store on this week’s Rising Star. This is going to be a long one, so I’d recommend arming yourself with reading glasses and a double shot of espresso.

Note to ardent Josh Groban fans: Your comments on my last recap have been noted. While I wasn’t aware of the backstory, I’ve always found Josh’s socks endearing (even more so now).

Speaking of Josh: He starts the show in front of a live picture of the remaining contestants. Then, in a mind-blowing feat of technology, the contestants walk out and surround him while the seemingly live picture behind him remains in place (whoa). Josh explains that 13 will compete for a spot in next week’s quarterfinals, and six will be going home, minus one West Coast save. Yippee! It’s good to know the West Coast is getting their regular breadcrumb.

Top 13 - cover option

We transition to a super-dramatic segment with super-dramatic music, focusing on the back of the contestants’ heads (because nothing says excitement like the back of someone’s head!). They’re filmed “walking toward their biggest challenge yet” (the stage). I don’t know. I think their biggest challenge yet is trying to act natural while they walk on camera. Walking is HARD, you guys. Point a camera at you, and it’s triply hard.

Opener - Dana Williams  Opener - back of head maneepat molloy

We return to Josh, who reminds us that eight people will stay  this week (seven via the East Coast, plus one West Coast save). Josh introduces the experts by calling them out by their proper first and middle names—Christopher Brian (Ludacris), Kesha Rose (who is back to blond) and Brad Douglas (Paisley). It’s kind of cute, and really just an opportunity for Josh to repeat his own middle name (Winslow) and throw an “esquire” in for kicks. He reveals that each expert vote only counts for 5 percent tonight.

Our first singer is Vine star Macy Kate, whose background segment features some adorkable girl-bonding with April Lockhart. Macy’s “Who Knew” doesn’t start off well (she struggles), but it gets better as the song goes on. The more she relaxes into singing, and the less she yells, the better her vocals become. The experts give her all three of their 5 percent votes, bringing her to a 60 percent total vote.

Macy Kate

Josh elaborates on how tonight will work, telling us the top seven will sit in a specific section of the audience, playing a complicated game of musical chairs as the night goes on and the rankings shift. He also notes that THE WALL will be making a surprise appearance later in the evening. Uh-oh, everyone knows THE WALL is a dream-killer.

Our next performer is background singer Shameia Crawford. “Next to Me” is a stellar choice for Shameia, showcasing her skills and range to good effect. It’s fresh and classic at the same time, and viewers apparently agree, giving her 76 percent (including a yes from all three experts).


Josh shows a leaderboard demonstrating the current rankings, which they’ll continue to update as the night goes on.

Our third contestant of the night is youth pastor Joshua Peavy. He opens his background segment playing with his two boys (aww). Joshua’s “How Am I Supposed to Live Without You” is strong. It’s a good fit for his Contemporary Christian Music (CCM)-friendly voice, showing off a lovely high chest tone. It’s by no means flawless, but it’s his best performance so far, earning him a whopping 85 percent of the vote.

Joshua Peavy

Next up is lovable April Lockhart, whose background segment includes a sweet virtual conversation with a fan who is inspired by her awesomeness (like the rest of us). April’s “Iris” is pretty and thematic, albeit a bit rough in some areas. When she doesn’t try to sing those big notes that are a little out of her range, her voice is really charming. The viewers and experts clearly hear the potential, as she wins 71 percent of the vote.

April Lockhart

We move on to Maneepat Molloy, who talks about the sacrifices her family has made for her career. “Stars” is a surprising choice for Maneepat, but she gives it her all, trying to smooth out the Broadway bent in her vocals and show her softer side. It’s not always successful (and she looks a touch terrified), but it’s enough to garner her 68 percent (despite a “no” vote from Ludacris).

Maneepat Mollowy

After the commercial break, we revisit Dana Williams, one of my favorite voices in the competition. Dana’s “Latch” is gorgeous, the most on-point vocal of the night, though the song is not doing her any favors. It’s a little static melodically, but she is clearly working hard to connect with the audience. The experts recognize that, giving her all their “yes” votes. Despite that expert support, she still only reaches 60 percent. This gives me a sad.

Dana williams

Our next contestant is musical theater performer Alice Lee. I have mixed feelings about Alice’s “Story.” It’s a supremely challenging song, and despite her ability to power through it (with a better vocal than some contestants who scored higher tonight), it’s not ideal. However, I still think she deserves more than 40 percent. Alice currently occupies the bottom rung, or the “hot seat” in the top seven.

Alice Lee2

THE WALL comes down for our eighth singer, Jesse Kinch. Jesse talks about being an introvert and then an extrovert, and let’s just move on to the song because that’s what he does best. His “Seven Nation Army” is ballsy and pretty darn hot. While not all the upper notes hit right on, this is still the best performance of the night so far, winning him 88 percent and raising the wall. This kicks poor Alice out of the hot seat, and our game of musical chairs is now getting cutthroat. P.S. I would be shocked if this guy doesn’t win the whole thing.

jesse kich2

Next up is harp-playing Megan Tibbits. “Home” is an odd choice for Megan, inspiring an overly animated performance that reads a bit schmaltzy. She creates a few nice moments in her mid- to upper range, but she lacks the vocal grit required to make this song work, earning only 32 percent (and keeping the wall firmly in place).

Megan tibits - wall

We move on to Guyana-born Lisa Punch. Attempting “Girl on Fire” is a risky decision, and it shows. While Lisa’s performance is incredibly energetic and charismatic, her vocal is frequently pitchy and all over the place. Naturally, the judges love it and give three “yes” votes, but her 59 percent is not enough to raise the wall. Kesha then makes me doubt everything she says when she pronounces the entire song to be on pitch (were we hearing the same thing?). Brad admits it was pitchy, and for once, Brad and I agree.

lisa punch 2

Our 11th contestant is quirky balladeer Audrey Kate Geiger, and her “The Big Bang” is an intriguing choice. While Audrey doesn’t hit all the notes spot-on, the song gives her a chance to infuse some spirit and sass into her vocals (with an end result reminiscent of Duffy). It’s a bit contrived at moments, but I really like it. The experts are more hesitant, giving last-minute “yes” votes that bring Audrey up to 65 percent, barely raising the wall in time. At this point, Dana Williams replaces Macy Kate in the hot seat, sending Macy to the bottom six.

Audrey kate

Josh returns from the commercial break to read some Twitter suggestions and shout-outs. This yields recommendations to 1) dress up in space suits and 2) have Kesha dye her hair all the colors of the rainbow at once. OK, Rising Star Twitter followers. You’re funny. We can be friends.

Worship leader Austin French is up next, and we discover that he got married this week. (Whoa, that’s multitasking at its best.) His “If I Ain’t Got You” is pretty passionate, showing an intensity we haven’t seen before from Austin (for obvious reasons). His well-deserved 86 percent raises the wall, sending Dana Williams to the bottom six and moving Audrey Kate Geiger to the hot seat. West Coast—I trust you’ll fix this.

austin french

Our last performer of the night is sultry chanteuse Sonnet Simmons. “Young and Beautiful” is another risky decision that doesn’t quite pay off. Lana Del Rey is so distinctive that it’s hard to emulate and just as hard to make the material your own. While Sonnet gives it an admirable effort, her 28 percent is not enough to raise the wall.

sonnet simmons

Josh closes the night by revealing the West Coast save, which is Dana Williams. Oh, West Coast—I knew I could count on you! I’m gonna buy you an ice cream cone.

Things I learned this week: Kesha apparently considers pitch to be subjective at times. Occasionally, Brad and I will agree (and that’s comforting). Ludacris’ birth name is Christopher, which makes me like him even more (because it makes me think of Christopher Robin, and I love Winnie the Pooh).

Who were your favorites this week, and who are your top picks going into the quarter-finals? Leave your thoughts in the comments, and I’ll see you for next week’s 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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