But first, we have Taylor Swift. I have to say that I don't entirely get her. She talk-sings a song and sounds kind of like Luanne from King of the Hill. I am innately biased against teen artists, though, as a rule. She has lots of pyrotechnics, because the song has something to do with fire and burning pictures. I'm just dying for them to get Loretta Lynn on here to school people in the ways of Fist City. I really go in for the old school country. Taylor Swift finishes up, and a year from now when we get Amy Winehouse-esque pictures of her in a crack den, we'll identify this moment as the beginning of the downfall. For the love of God, why is Billy Ray so ORANGE? John Rich tells the contestants that Taylor Swift kicks country ass. Taylor gives the finalists advice, culled from the long, hard struggle of her six-month career.
We learn about the prizes: a Warner Brothers recording contract, an AEG Live concert tour, a Toyota Tundra truck, and a performance at the 2008 summer Olympics. Does the world really need a country version of "One Moment in Time"? And of course, we all get to vote either by phone or online. So let the singing begin!
Girl group Pearl Heart is up first. They're sisters, and their parents moved to Nashville so they could pursue their singing career. They've been onstage since they were wee, and really seem to wuv each other. This is the band with the mandy, which gets mad props. They go for the predictable and sing "Wide Open Spaces." One sister stops playing her guitar momentarily to wave a hand in the air. I do love this song but their version is unremarkable and gets super pitchy with the harmony at the end. Except the judges love it! Jewel wants the one sister who sings lead to become more of a frontwoman, but otherwise, it's all props. Maybe my sweltering 95 degree living room is affecting my hearing?