The good thing about reality singing competitions: a strong singer gets a shot at stardom that they might not get otherwise. The bad thing about reality singing competitions: if they win, they’re saddled with a treacly inspirational number as their first single.
Melissa Lawson has a real shot at stardom, especially since the audience for Nashville Star was much higher than in previous years. Even a low-rated network special is going to give wider exposure than most basic cable channels can provide. Her vocals aren’t Carrie-caliber, but they’re stronger than most of the women who are being pitched to radio today, including some of the ones actually getting played. (I’m looking at you, Taylor Swift!)
The song itself is generic inspirational fodder, and the production is very “Hey, we need this on iTunes tomorrow!” But Lawson herself sounds good, and she elevates the material to a level above its vanilla essence.
Since it’s already the top-selling country song on iTunes, she’s sure to command some serious attention from Warner Bros. Give her some good material and songwriters to work with, and a producer who knows what’s (s)he’s doing (I’m not looking at you, John Rich), and her stardom will come to pass.
Written by Tania Hancheroff, Tamara Hyler, and Shaye Smith
Listen: What If It All Goes Right
Buy: What If It All Goes Right
It's hard not to get a little excited over Melissa Lawson's win last night. Granted, Nashville Star hasn't been producing hitmakers by the dozen, but some truly talented artists have gotten their start on the show. Miranda Lambert is the most obvious example, and while Buddy Jewell had a handful of hits, I think the strongest male artist to emerge from the show so far has been Chris Young.
Lawson's getting a lot of press because she doesn't fit the “young and perky” mold that has been so popular with the gatekeepers at radio and the record labels. The deck is always stacked against female artists anyway, and it seems to be harder whe
n you're a little bit older and can't be mistaken for a pinup girl.
Country fans have voted Lawson in, and hopefully she'll be given a fair shot by radio. Country audiences aren't nearly as shallow as the label execs that pander to them, and the loyalty commanded by female artists who put substance over style runs very deep.
Lawson's got an awesome voice, strong stage presence and actually looks like a real person. She reminds me of what Joe Galante said about K.T. Oslin, which was along the lines of: “I don't care what anyone says. I think she's one of the sexiest women I've ever seen.”
Sure, there will be juvenile snickering and cheap shots taken by those who never matured past middle school. But there women and girls who are on the receiving end of similar comments all the time, surrounded by images in the media that reinforce those negative sentiments. The victory of Melissa Lawson last night was a victory for them, too.