As our two hour jaunt through the defiling of country music begins, Katie Cook tells us that each contestant is going to get TWO songs tonight. What have we done to deserve such riches? But wait, it gets better. A young rugrat introduces herself as Noah Cyrus, and introduces her daddy and our host, Billy Ray Cyrus. Frankly, I think they should give the hosting job to her. It's sad when young ones surpass the talents of their parents at age seven. At least she got a better name than Destiny Rainbow Hope Sunflower, or whatever Billy Ray and his wife originally named Miley. We learn that the contestants' families are in the audience tonight, too, and surprised them during rehearsals.
The first person Billy Ray tells us has moved on is Ashlee Hewitt, who also has the biggest family in Nashville Star history. Cut to the montage, where Ashlee tells us that she's been missing her family, and especially her dad who is in Iraq. And then, surprise! There's her family! Including her dad! How did he manage that? Interestingly, some of Ashlee's brothers are... brothers. John Rich mentors Ashlee, who wants to play "Don't Stop Believin'" while playing both piano AND guitar. Not at once, though that would surely get her to round five. On stage the piano playing goes pretty well, and the transition to guitar goes okay except she's doing some big rock n' roll strum that John Rich doubtlessly taught her and that looks kind of silly. The vocal is okay. I like Ashlee well enough, but I still have yet to be truly wowed by her singing. Jewel thought the singing was good but Ashlee needs to be more comfortable in her stage maneuvers if she's going to attempt them. Jeffrey calls her The Barbara Mandrell Show. Man, did I love that show when I was a kid. I always thought Louise was underrated. Jeffrey tells Ashlee not to let any flirty boys distract her from her mission to be a music star, and adds that she should stay in her room and practice her songs. Sound advice -- romance is for suckers. Not that I'm bitter or anything. Be on the lookout for my next single, "Love (Makes Me Weep Bitterly)." John tells her that her vocals are starting weak and finishing strong, but he thinks that she's slowly climbing to the top of the Nashville Star food chain. I imagine there's a big slab of pulled pork at the bottom of that pyramid.
Katie Cook goes for a quick interview with Ashlee's family. Her dad is so proud, and also probably really glad to be out of the desert. And then it's time for Ashlee's second song -- "Help Me Make It Through The Night." This song is awesome, and I am preparing to be underwhelmed. It's actually pretty good, though -- well, at least the 20 seconds she gets to sing are. Why even bother having a second song if it's going to be so short? John Rich tells her that she sounded like a modern day Tammy Wynette, and adds that she's going to have to toughen up to make it through the next few weeks. Nobody else gets to weigh in. Weird!