Random Thoughts: Melissa Lawson Wins Nashville Star

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.



  1. While I haven’t been wowed by Lawson yet (her voice doesn’t stand out to me, though it’s technically very good), I am glad that the voting audience was able to see past her image and vote for the person who truly had the strongest vocals on the show. Hopefully, she will have some artistic control now that she isn’t having the NS producers dictate to her. While I haven’t been big on John Rich’s attitude about many things, I’m glad he championed her despite her weight. There’s so much I could say, but I’ll save it for now. I’ve been talking about this all day at the9513…and I’m tired.:)

  2. I agree with Galante’s sentiments on K.T. Oslin, and I love the idea of someone like Melissa Lawson doing well in today’s country music scene – ultimately, though, I just don’t think she’s a strong or interesting enough vocalist to be that person (just my opinion). I would say the same if we were looking at a swimsuit model who happened to have the same voice. To me, being over-rated because of an appealingly “average” image is just as bad as being over-rated because of an unusually “runway-ready” one. Either way, it’s dishonest.

  3. Since the NS talent was slim pickins this season, I do think Lawson had the strongest vocals on the show. Unfortunately, they didn’t stand out from other powerhouse vocalists like Martina or Carrie. So, I don’t know that she will get significant airplay in the end. My vote was for Ashley, because her vocals interested me more, but Melissa’s were still probably technically the best.
    So, in other words, I don’t think that those who like Lawson are being insincere just because she breaks the Nashville image. There is merit to their support of her. On the other hand, if Taylor Swift were overweight and people were talking about what a fabulous vocalist she was, then I would think they were being disingenuous.

  4. I don’t object to the notion that she was the best vocalist of the weak pool of finalists (she probably was), and I agree that there is at least merit for liking her voice. What bothers me is how the judges on the show (John Rich especially) made endless pronouncements about her being an absolutely top-notch singer (Rich said more than once that she was one of the best he had ever heard) that I don’t think they would have made if she didn’t have an appealing back-story (plus-sized mother of five).

    It reminds me of the hype that surrounded Gretchen Wilson at first; back in the “Redneck Woman” days, Rich compared Wilson to Patsy Cline and much ink was spilled about how there was now this truly outstanding singer who defied the “diva” mold. Ultimately, the hype and gimmick became bigger than the music, and Wilson released two awfully lackluster albums that failed to demonstrate her talent or why she was (or could have been) an important artistic voice in country music. I think Lawson is likely to face a similar predicament. An interesting image can get you only so far; artistry is ultimately about the art.

  5. I found out quickly that the best way to watch Nashville Star was through YouTube. Just watch the performances without the judges/hosts/clips and all that. Lawson impressed me the most, by far. I loved her reworking of “My Baby Loves Me” and she actually made “This One’s For the Girls” listenable, and I can’t stand that song.

    I think it’s great that she won and I hope she’s successful. I’d feel better if Rich wasn’t in the picture, as he does allow the image to overwhelm the music far too often. But I think she’s got the goods, and I doubt she would’ve gotten a shot the traditional way.

  6. I rarely agreed with the judges comments. When I thought someone was horrible, they’d say how great he/she was. When I thought someone did a decent job, they’d go and say how awful it was. The nerve!:)

  7. First of all… big time congrats to Melissa. While I didn’t really watch the show (would catch bits while channel surfing), I do remember one instance when she was in “the bottom two” or something. No doubt, Gabe is also going to get some work so these shows really aren’t so much about the first place winner anymore.

    I would have given JR more credit had he not TOTALLY blown “Gone Country” and choosing Iglesias, Jr. He was evidently only anxious to work with a hispanic / latino in country music and I think Gabe is actually more of what he was looking for in the first place. I’m sure they’ve already exchanged e-mail addresses. :-)

    Melissa seems to have a true gift and her story is pretty cool, too. All the best to her and I hope that (as mentioned above), her “image” doesn’t overrule her art.

  8. ok….. I’ll say congrats to Melissa also. Her Vocal reminds me a little of a cross between Trisha Yearwood’s and Martina McBride’s vocals….

    As far as performances go:

    she kinda reworked “My Baby Loves Me” to a great pop kinda sounding song

    and “This One’s For The Girls” was really great, it was slightly better than Martina’s version kinda like how Trisha might sing it (although I wouldn’t know if she would have chosen it)

    “Landslide” wasn’t half bad either….

    But nice to see a female country singer who doesn’t exactly have the “looks” such as Taylor Swift, Martina, or Carrie…….

    I totally agree with you LJ, John Rich should not have chosen Julio Jr. as the “Gone Country” winner!!!!!!!!!

    No one really interests me this year on “Gone Country 2” such as the first season did…

    congrats again to Melissa

  9. All of this talk about Melissa Lawson and how her non-traditional body image will play is basically irrelevant, as the most important thing about Lawson is that she simply is not very talented. She wasn’t even the best artist on the show (probably not even the second best), and this year’s Nashville Star was a terrible to mediocre collection of talent. If she seemed great on the show, it was only greatness by contrast to several of the contestants who didn’t belong on stage at a corner bar.

  10. First of all, to be perfectly honest, I don’t care at all what a singer looks like. I’m usually listening in my car or on my ipod – and they aren’t there. Heck, I couldn’t tell you what half of my favorite bands look like, much less name them individually. I was even a fan of the Eagles for years before I went to a concert and realized that Don Henley played the drums!

    All that is just to say that I agree that Melissa should succeed or fail in the industry based on her talent alone. (Of course that’s a double standard in and of itself, in that country radio would be a much better place these days if people succeeded or failed based on their talent! ;)

    However, I do agree with Leeann. Melissa’s vocals didn’t impress me at all. Great by comparison, but nothing unique or amazing. One can ask – does that mean anything these days? Julianne Hough, Kellie Pickler, Taylor Swift, Jessica Simpson, etc. all fall into that category. Oh well, I guess it’s up to the fans to make talent matter again. In that case, check out the new Kasey Chambers single. Excellent!

  11. First off I’d like to congrradulate Melissa on winning. Secondly I’d like to say that this was the first year where I didn’t watch every episode. This was mainly due to the fact that I found the talent underwhelming. Only four acts really stood out to me at the beginning (Third Town, Gabe Garcia, Melissa Lawson, Ashlee Hewitt), and even those who stood out didn’t really make me believe they were major-label material. While Melissa grew to be my favorite in the competition I doubt she will break through in radio. If Warner Bros. had trouble with launching Shannon Brown, Angela Hacker (Didn’t really try with her), and now they’re having some difficulties with Whitney Duncan, I don’t see them having more luck with Melissa.

  12. Congratulations go to Melissa Lawson. She would not have been my pick. Here were my 5 favorite, in order

    1. Ashley Hewitt (if “mike’s hard Lemonade” is a true example of her talent, she hasa real future as a singer/songwriter. you’ll definitely be hearing her name again.
    2. Gabe Garcia..I expected him to win when I saw whot he 3 finalists were
    3. Shawn Mayer/Melissa Lawson
    4. Lauren and Sophie..a little inexperienced yes, but i saw a lot of talent there
    5. Pearl Heart/Tommy (the Navy Guy..i dont remember his last name)

    My Least Favorites: Third Town/Coffey (tie)

  13. Well according to this article, Melissa Lawson tried out for AI on Season 4, the same Season Carrie Underwood, was on.


    Give me an example of one of those times when you’ve been knocked down and you can now look back and say, “Okay, that was just a step in my getting here.”
    You know, probably one of the ones that people would relate to most is American Idol. I competed Season Four and made the top 75, but after going through all of that, I never got airtime at all. It was almost a slap in the face, and it just made me feel like there was no validation there at all, no respect for the time that was put in. It just made me feel horrible. That’s one of many. Overall, I’ve paid a lot of dues to get where I’m at today, and I feel very, very fortunate to have won last night. Time is ticking in such a weird manner right now, I can’t believe it was just last night.

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