Sad to say the new face of country is as bland and predictable as it has been for the past 20 years: country-fried pop music duded up in denim and diamonds. Add hosts Wynonna Judd and Cowboy Troy (of Big and Rich), and you've got the USA Network's answer to American Idol: Nashville Star. If there were any justice in the world, Nashville Star would take place in America's REAL capital of country music, Austin, Texas. Forget Wynonna and Cowboy Troy—let's bring Roky Erickson out of retirement to co-host alongside gubernatorial candidate Kinky Friedman (his "Why the Hell Not?" campaign slogan could become the show's new catch phrase). Guest judges could include working Austin musicians like Junior Brown, Wayne Hancock and the members of Asleep at the Wheel. Just like Nashville Star, Austin Star would feature an Original Song night. Rosie Flores and Slaid Cleaves could be judges. Junior Brown could make a guest appearance and give extra points for creating your own instrument. Try that, Chris Young! Because a Chris Young could probably never win Austin Star, but from the first week, you knew he was going to win Nashville Star 4—he's what New Nashville wants. The 21-year-old blends good looks (think country Ashton Kutcher) with a George Strait baritone and puppy dog eyes. Hate him if you must for his Big Hat approach (his single, "Drinkin' Me Lonely," is as MOR as they come), but he comes across as surprisingly sincere, just a good ol' boy from Murfreesboro, Tennessee. And don't get started on Nicole Jamrose—at least there's a woman on the tour—but she should be channeling Dolly, Tammy or Loretta, not Bonnie Raitt. This season's "outlaw," Matt Mason, did channel Waylon, but only in a way that was palatable to America At Large. Yes, the world would be a more perfect place if folks like Jody Evans (third place winner in 2005's Nashville Star) won first place, but they won't because it's not real country. It's Nashville Star.
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Nashville Star Tour plays the House of Blues Anaheim, 1530 S. Disneyland Dr., Anaheim, (714) 778-BLUE. Thurs., Sept. 28, 8 p.m. $28.50-$32.50. All ages.