'Chasing Nashville' Recap - S1 E4 Surprise Showdown: Open Mic Night

Julia Knight and Lauren Marie Presley, stars of Chasing Nashville on Lifetime
Julia Knight and Lauren Marie Presley, stars of Chasing Nashville on Lifetime

When we last saw the crew from Chasing Nashville, four of the girls had been invited to Nashville to work with producer Keith Thomas, and two of them – Autumn Blair and Savannah Little – faced off in a karaoke duet of "Falling Slowly" from Once. This week on Chasing Nashville season 1, episode 4, titled "Surprise Showdown," the aspiring country music stars must prove they can write and sing their own songs by performing at an open mic night. Keith is expecting Autumn and Savannah, and also Helena Hunt and Julia Knight, but is surprised when Lauren Marie Presley shows up to perform.

Chasing Nashville S1, E4 opens with Lauren Marie Presley, age 13, feeling discouraged because Keith Thomas doesn't want to work with her (for now), so she prepares to leave Nashville and head for home. Mama Lana, however, has other plans. "Unpack that bag, now," she orders her daughter. "We came here to get Lauren Marie a record deal, and we're not going home until we do… He's one man. There are hundreds of producers in this town." Lana goes through the phone book and calls producers, a move Lauren Marie deems "desperate."

Helena Hunt, age 17, is in Clyde, North Carolina, singing to her lambs. Later in the evening she and her parents will be heading to Nashville, and mom Gwen hopes Keith doesn't mind that her daughter doesn't have a makeover; apparently last week's attempt didn't stick. Helena repeats the question she posed last week: "Why can’t I be successful as me?" and Gwen wonders if Helena is willing to push herself.

Savannah Little, age 15, is still in Nashville, where she meets with producer/songwriter Deanna Walker; Keith set them up together so Savannah can learn to write her own material. They brainstorm topics, and focus on Savannah's folks fighting. When Savannah says she thinks they fought over her coming to Nashville, and says, "I'm the reason... I don't like to be the cause," that strikes a chord with Deanna, who thinks that's a good place to start. Savannah says, "This is great, the first thing I say has potential to be a song. Nailed it!" During the session though, she admits, "Songwriting is a lot harder than I thought, and hopefully the other girls are struggling just as much as I am."

Savannah and Helena are invited to Keith's studio, as are Autumn Blair, age 17, and Julia Knight, age 16, and they all arrive with their parents. Keith says he knows all of the girls can sing, but he wants to find out which of them is ready to sing in front of a record company executive. To that end, he has a surprise for the singers: he announces that they are going to do an open mic, and he wants them perform an original song. Poor Savannah hasn't had a chance to finish her song, and asks if she can do a cover tune instead.

Then Keith tells the girls he has a song called "I'll be the DJ", an up-tempo number co-written by none other than Carrie Underwood, and he wants to work with each of them and see who is best to record that tune as a single. They all do well, but the song seems best suited to Autumn, and Keith chooses her.

As the girls and their folks head out of the studio, Keith asks Helena and Gwen to stick around. He addresses Helena's makeover, or lack of, actually, and tells them "I didn't make the rules, I just know them."  He encourages Helena to work on her image, explaining, "Unfortunately, the talent is a small percentage of it now, we're living in 2013… I want to see a different girl tonight than I did at Hillbilly Days."

Lauren Marie and Julia meet at the Bongo Java coffeehouse and dish on recent events. Julia is a great friend, and says she's sorry about what happened in the studio, referring to last week's episode when Keith declined to work with Lauren Marie. Then Julia tells her about the open mic night, and Lauren Marie thinks she should just show up. Julia encourages Lauren Marie and tells her to make sure she picks out the right song.  A lot of show biz hopefuls would discourage competition, but when you're talented and confident, it doesn't hurt to share the stage. Good on you, Julia!

Meanwhile over lunch, Savannah and her mom Robyn discuss her song options since she won't be doing an original. They decide on "Flat on the Floor," the Carrie Underwood song Autumn sang at Hillbilly Days.

The girls meet at The Mercy Lounge and hang out backstage while they wait to perform, and are surprised when Lauren Marie shows up too. Lauren Marie says they might be thinking "'She's got nerve!' and yeah, I do." Keith arrives and as he greets the girls, he notices the "extra" person and says, "Lauren Marie always manages to get herself in the mix; you have to admire her tenacity."

Open mic night begins. Julia Knight goes first, then Autumn, and they are both awesome. Keith says their songs "have the most potential to be a hit."

Helena Hunt goes third – she plays the banjo and sings a sweet song with the lyrics "You can make a wish on a Northern star, but you don't have to look that far… you can make a wish on me." Keith says he loves the wholesome vibe and the banjo. I do too; Helena is cool.

Next up is Savannah, and as promised, she sings "Flat on the Floor." Keith says, "There's no arguing that Savannah has stage presence, but Savannah has to find her voice, and as an artist and a songwriter, that's the ultimate goal." I like Savannah, and she is talented, but I think it was a mistake to choose a song that Autumn had already sung so impressively.

Lauren Marie Presley goes last, singing "Love Letters" by Elvis, and she does a great job. Once she's done and back at her table, she gets a big hug from Julia.

After the showcase, Keith meets with each singer. He invites Autumn to work in the studio for a couple of days, but with prom coming up,  she has to think about it.  Autumn's dad says it's her decision, but Helena gets right to the point: "I would stay here if I were you."

Keith meets with Helena's parents and says "she looked so cute up there" and that she took it to another level, but he'd like to see her take it to another level emotionally.  He wants Helena to work with Deanna, and Gwen thinks it's an important step.

About Savannah, Keith acknowledges her "great stage presence," but wonders, "does she offer something really unique to a record label?"

Finally, Keith grabs a seat at Lauren Marie's table, and tells her she "was the shocker of the night," and calls her open mic performance a "game changer." This comes as no surprise to Mama Lana, who says, "I feel like it's about time… finally, you see it." But, instead of inviting her to join him in the studio, Keith tells her, "Don't rush it," and that in two or three years she's going to be a great singer. Upon hearing this, Mama Lana is like "Pfffft. You ain't the only game in town, sucker!" She doesn't really say that, of course, but you could see it in her eyes. "Let's go, sweetheart" she actually says to Lauren Marie, and they walk away from Keith without looking back.

Next week on Chasing Nashville, season 1, episode 5 titled "No Place Like Home," Lauren Marie visits with producers; Autumn works on her single but has something to tell Keith; Savannah's parents once again quibble over money; Helena gets emotional while working on songwriting with Deanna.


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Photo by Karolina Wojtasik, courtesy of Lifetime TV

Posted on Wednesday, November 13, 2013