I don’t know about you, but I’ve been watching Nashville religiously every Thursday night. It’s on at 10pm on More4, and repeated on Sundays a 7pm. This isn’t really a review of Nashville, as much as looking at the artists involved, and the affect that it has had on Nashville the city. Nashville first came to my attention back in August, a friend of mine danced in the Hayden Panettiere Telescope video, and the show debuted in October when I was in Nashville. The morning after the second episode I had a meeting at a publishing company on 16th avenue. I was waiting in reception for a while, nervously chatting to the receptionist, and all anyone could talk about was Nashville. Some, in the office, watched the show, but for others it was “too close to the bone,” eerily similar to the Nashville they know. Since that day, I’ve read of artists expressing similar opinions, even Brad Paisley, whose wife Kim Williams has a recurring part in the drama, finds the show difficult to watch.
I feel at this point that I should point out that I love Nashville, it’s because it’s well done, that makes it slightly uncomfortable. I love the fact that every episode is named after a Hank Williams song, and I love that T-Bone Burnett (my favourite producer, see the Secret Sisters post) produced the soundtrack, I love that in that in the first episode I saw both Little Jimmy Dickens and Eddie Stubbs at the Opry, and I love that I get to see all the places in Nashville that I love. It’s a good show, and a good representation of Nashville as a town.
So who are the main characters? This has been the source of much online gossip and speculation, but as the series has progressed, we have learnt more about our leading ladies. Nashville revolves around two main female artists, Rayna James (Connie Britton), a country star, who has been around for a while, but can no longer depend on her previous success, and Juliette Barnes (Hayden Panettiere), a young hugely popular, yet troubled, star. The Internet was rife with rumours that Rayna was supposedly based on Reba McEntire, and although this may have been dismissed by Britton, I can see truth in it. You can see that people have taken from the (relatively) recent Reba/Kelly Clarkson collaborations, but, honestly Rayna doesn’t remind me of Reba. I think the character of Rayna perfectly personifies a situation that any established artist could find themselves in. Artists that have had long successful careers have to deal with new artists and the changes that they bring to music, and have to strive to keep themselves current. So yes, maybe it is McEntire, but it’s also Martina McBride, Sara Evans, Faith Hill, Bonnie Rait, even Shania Twain.
I think Juliette Barnes is an easier character to pin down. Originally, most rumours favoured Taylor Swift as the inspiration, and yes, Juliette is young and blonde, but she’s not Taylor Swift (if anything, character Scarlett O’Connor reminds me of Taylor Swift). Panettiere has confirmed this, and in fact stated that Carrie Underwood was the inspiration. I wasn’t surprised, and Panettiere explained that It was to do with Underwood’s stage presence. I’ve seen Carrie Underwood, and although she is far from being my favourite artist, she has an amazing stage presence and connection with the audience, and I think they captured that with Juliette. It makes Nashville more believable, and although Carrie was quick to point out that her experience of Nashville was far less scandalous, she needn’t be offended.
All the actors in Nashville sing, including Rayna’s kids, Maddie and Daphne. You might know these two as a YouTube singing duo Lennon and Maisy. These girls are good singers, probably better than the two leading ladies, and at 13 and 8 years old, that’s saying something. Apart from these two girls however, I don’t think any of the other Nashville singers will knock Carrie or Reba off the charts, but the songwriters just might. Kasey Musgraves Same Trailer, Different Park album just debuted at number one in the country charts, and you may know her for Merry Go Round, her incredible single. But she also wrote Undermine, a song that Juliette Barnes writes, and sings, in Nashville. Undermine was a co-write with Trent Dabbs, an up and coming country songwriter. I expect that part of Kasey’s success is due to her undermine fame. And that, is what I love most about Nashville.