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‘Rising Star’ recap: When bad song choices happen to good people

Season 1 | Episode 8 | “The Quarter Finals” | Aired Aug 10, 2014

Last Week: Thirteen contestants were cut down to eight during a vicious game of musical chairs. Kesha and I disagreed on the meaning of pitch, and the West Coast saved one of my favorite singers. (I still owe y’all an ice cream!) Now let’s see what’s happening this week on Rising Star. Tonight’s episode is only an hour long, so I’m going to keep this short and sweet (you’re welcome).

We start with a frenetic, stop-motion version of the contestants preparing for their performances—from hair to wardrobe to someone tossing a guitar (wait, what?). This show is wacky.

Josh Groban seems particularly saucy tonight, saying, “Well chello there” with a straight face. He explains that only five of tonight’s eight performers will stay (plus the West Coast save, which brings that number to six). Expert votes count for only 3 percent this week. OK, things are getting REAL, you guys. I won’t bore you with details on how this all works, but you can refresh yourself on the basic concept here.

Kesha does NOT have rainbow-color hair tonight. This is a huge disappointment.

Kesha_-_yellow_hair

First up is Joshua Peavy. Joshua has been consistently solid week after week, and this performance is no exception. His “American Woman” hits all the right spots and sounds great, although it reads as a little disconnected at times. However, it’s more than strong enough to garner him 71 percent (including “yes” votes from all three experts).


Dana Williams
takes the second slot of the night. Anyone reading my previous recaps will know she’s one of my favorites, but even I can admit this song (“Human”) is all wrong for her. It’s too big for her delicate voice, and that lovely tone is completely misused. Dana rallies regardless, earning 57 percent, and I’m hoping that’s sufficient to move her forward. I’m also hoping someone involved in the decision-making process realizes Dana is not a belter and doesn’t have to be in order to do well on this show. Song choice is EVERYTHING at this point in the process.

Spunky April Lockhart is up next, doing a rendition of “Girls Just Want to Have Fun” with guitar in hand. While I love the idea of this and the spirit behind it, April seems to be struggling and out of breath for the duration of the song. I’m not sure if it’s the song choice, the stress of playing and singing, or just plain old nerves. Whatever the cause, the result is not ideal, and April’s final tally is just 27 percent. This gives me a sad.

Our fourth contestant tonight is Maneepat Molloy. Maneepat’s version of “Your Song” starts a bit pitchy and stiff and continues in that vein. She seems visibly nervous, and I want to reach out and give her a hug. Unfortunately, the song never really picks up steam and ends almost as unevenly as it began. Despite that (and the two “no” votes from the experts), Maneepat still manages to carve out a 46 percent vote.

We return from the commercial break to find Josh getting photo-bombed with bunny ears by Brad and Ludacris. This is funnier than it should be (probably because this show has been fairly blah so far tonight, and I am looking for anything to make me smile).

Bunny_Ears_-_Luda

Audrey Kate Geiger is next at the mic. She sits on a bench with just a piano player for a torchy cover of “New York State of Mind.” It’s an odd song choice in theory, but it lends itself well to her vocal style, giving her plenty of room to infuse the song with nuance and personality. This is the best performance of the night so far, and that shows in her 85 percent. April Lockhart is now in the “hot seat,” and an intense game of musical chairs begins as THE WALL lowers.

The first contestant to face THE WALL is Austin French. “House of the Rising Sun” is an unusual selection for him, but he powers through it successfully, using all the tricks up his sleeve to make what could be an underwhelming choice fairly interesting. Viewers and the experts agree, giving him 89 percent of the vote. This moves Maneepat to the hot seat, eliminating April from the lineup altogether.

Josh then gives a shout-out to Tammy from Texas. Tammy’s profile picture is a dog wearing a party hat, and this delights me (I love you, Tammy). Everyone needs to change their Rising Star profile picture to be their pet, because the idea of cats and dogs voting makes this show significantly more interesting.

tammy_the_dog_shoutout

Our second-to-last contestant is Shameia Crawford, and once again tonight, I’m bemoaning someone’s song choice. Shameia is a fascinating vocal artist, but “Skyscraper” is completely unsuitable for her voice. It’s too straight for her vibrato and doesn’t give her any space to add her own flavor to the arrangement. However, Shameia still attacks the song with a vengeance, and her 54 percent is enough to raise the wall, displacing Maneepat from the hot seat.

Tonight’s final contestant is front-runner Jesse Kinch. As expected, his “Money” is a barnburner, starting out slowly but then erupting into his usual Jesse-like frenzy. He easily raises the wall with 88 percent of the vote, proving yet again that he’s unstoppable. In a perplexing move, Brad gives Jesse a “no” vote, blaming the song choice and calling it “cliché.” OK, Brad, whatever you say. Yeah, The Beatles are totally cliché. Sure thing, cowboy.

Josh ends the night by revealing the West Coast save. Out of the bottom three (April Lockhart, Shameia Crawford and Maneepat Molloy), the sixth spot goes to Maneepat Molloy (with a 1 percent margin). West Coast: I’m cancelling that ice cream I promised. Mannepat is adorable, but I really think Shameia’s performance was superior.

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Things I learned this week: Poor song choices can be contagious, and my mood watching this show often lines up with Kesha’s hair color. Brad is sometimes contrary just for the sake of being contrary (I think he enjoys saying no). Ludacris is still making funny faces when he doesn’t like something, and this show is going to be far less sunny without April Lockhart around.

Who were your favorites this week? Who are you hoping will win the whole thing? Leave your thoughts in the comments, and we’ll talk again next week about Rising Star.

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