Nashville, Part 2: Welcome the Missing Mean Judge

It was the second Nashville episode, and it felt like the producers ran out of good material to show us. Instead of airing good auditions by Idolists that I am sure that we will see later in the season, the producers gave us mostly unsatisfying filler of familiar Idol tropes: judges’ hijinx, cluelessly bad auditions, and tearjerkers. This episode desperately needed me, aka The Missing Mean Judge.

Only the first three Idolists got my attention.

Tristen Gressett. A 17-year-old whose personality and musical style were WAY too much, but if the judges and coaches can get him to dial it all back and convince him that simple can say a lot, there is some musical talent there. He’s a high-risk, high-return investment at this point.

Dontrell Briggs. I completely agreed with Katy and Luke. The 100% gospel singers don’t do well on Idol, and during his first song (a gospel song), I felt like he would not last long and likely not even get out of Hollywood. But then he nailed Tennessee Whiskey with a combo of sweet like Sam Cooke and rough like Chris Stapleton and more than earned his pass to Hollywood. However, he’ll find Mike Parker in his lane, who I also described as gospel meets Chris Stapleton, and there is usually only room for one[1] of this type of Idolist per season.

Cadence Baker. Like Katy, when Cadence said she would sing Whitney Houston, I had already anticipated it going badly. But holy individuality Batman, she went and made it her own, if I can use some old-school Idol vernacular. This is a lesson for all the wannabe Celines, Whitneys, Mariahs, Adeles, etc. You can’t succeed trying to copy them, so you have to do you doing them, which is precisely what young Cadence did with her stripped-down I’m Your Baby Tonight. And Lionel was so right – her Dad played that guitar so tight.


  • Dakota Hayden. A young country singer that the judges proclaimed as Top Ten Material, but he’s too young and too raw for the Missing Mean Judge.
  • Mark Osborne. Another young country singer, but this one I liked, and he deserved to get his ticket to Hollywood. However, the judges were talking Top 24, and the Missing Mean Judge disagreed with that assessment.

The Gabby Barrett segment. Through the hopes and dreams of a couple of Idolists – one whose audition we saw – the producers reminded us that current country star Gabby Barrett auditioned for Idol just four years ago. Cue Luke’s good-natured growling about how she got four more American Country Music Award nominations than him.

Early Release auditions. This year (and if this happened last year, I missed it), Idol is releasing videos of selected auditions to YouTube prior to episodes being aired. So far, they’ve done this for Leah Marlene, Aaron Westberry, Cadence Baker, and Dontrell Briggs. I’m not making anything of Idol’s producers doing this but I am curious why they release the ones that they do. It does give me a headstart to write about the auditions I like, though.

See you next week.

[1] And often none.

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