Tuesday, June 7, 2011

'CMT's Next Superstar' season finale Friday

Steven Clawson and Matt Mason after Friday's performance show
'CMT's Next Superstar' wraps June 10 with a live finale that will name the first season's winner, either Matt Mason or Steven Clawson. Last Friday, the Top 2 performed at Nashville's Ryman Theatre, and for the first time, voting was open to viewers.Voting can be done online or by text (10 votes per day per method). Voting ends at 10 a.m. Friday.

I don't know anyone who's watching this show, and it's a shame, really, because it is a real gem. Produced by Nigel Lythgoe and his son Simon, 'CMT's Next Supersar' is the fulfillment of my personal 'Idol' wish list. There were no tedious audition shows - the Top 10 was presented to viewers in the premiere episode as a fait acompli! There was no upper age limit and the contestants didn't have to pretend to be rank amateurs. Their experience was a plus on this show rather than a hindrance.

The rotating judging panel selected the person to go home each week, and most weeks, I felt it was the right decision. 

'CMT's Next Superstar' moves the performances out of a staid theater and into a variety of venues. The contestants performed original material and even made a music video. They were challenged to sell themselves to a record label, designing their own CD cover.

Of the two remaining contestants, I feel Matt Mason is the strongest and should win it all. Matt is reminiscent of the old "Outlaw" movement in country music, combining the best of Hank Williams, Waylon Jennings, and Johnny Cash. But rather than sounding dated, Matt's music is fresh and different. Properly handled, I believe he can be a real force in country music. 

This show has been delightful from beginning to end, and I'm looking forward to the finale. Hopefully, Nigel can take some of what's been successful with this show and use it on 'Idol.'

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