By: Zack Kephart
NIAGARA UNIVERSITY, N.Y. – Considering “American Idol” had to revive itself to keep going and “The Voice” has yet to launch a serious star, it’s debatable whether we needed yet another singing competition show. “Real Country” however looks to bring a different twist to the format.
For starters, it’s the first one of these shows to focus specifically on country music, with filming taking place in Nashville, Tennessee. Corny name aside, the first episode introduced a field of talent that is definitely looking to shake up the otherwise stale modern country music scene.
The show, judged by Shania Twain, Jake Owen and Travis Tritt, features artists or groups handpicked by the judges to perform in two rounds. During the first round, the three contestants play strictly for the audience who judge them on a five point scale. The contestant who obtains the lowest score is eliminated while the other two move on to the next round. The second round features the same criteria, only this time the judges also have a vote. This week, country duo Big & Rich were brought onto the judging panel as special guests.
While there won’t be any embarrassingly humorous auditions on this show that would make Simon Cowell cringe, “Real Country” should be commended for cutting right to the chase and introducing three worthy contestants from the start.
The Young Fables, picked by Twain, were the most naturally talented of the bunch, with singer Laurel Wright excelling at Emmylou Harris’ “Two Bottles Of Wine” and Deana Carter’s “Strawberry Wine” due to her superb vocal talent.
Sadly, they would be eliminated in the second round, with Tritt’s pick of Copper Chief winning the grand prize of $10,000 and a chance to perform at The Stagecoach Country Music Festival in 2019. This band excelled on raw energy, something that contributed greatly to their live performances and helped them secure their winning score.
Owen’s pick of Adairs Run wasn’t bad, but two white guys pairing up to perform a party song is something the already testosterone-filled genre doesn’t need. Of the contestants, they were the weakest, bringing in a healthy dose of energy without backing it up with the right talent.
Overall, the first episode of “Real Country” was a success, and despite the judges significantly different styles as artists, that’s what ultimately made their choices all the more exciting to see. “Real Country” airs through U.S.A. Network on Tuesdays at 10 p.m./9 p.m. central.