With the finale coming up around the bend, the last contestants standing on Nashville Star get warm welcomes and perform concerts in their home towns before going facing the judges and getting all the votes as they can.

Just so you know, next week’s finale will be on at 10pm. Why? Don’t know. And, after the winner is announced, they’ll be singing their first single. Quick turn around, no? The concerts down were for charity with State Farm donating $10,000 to each hometown for programs to keep kids in school.

1. Shawn Mayer
Song: "I’m Here for The Party" by Gretchen Wilson

Her hometown of May City, Iowa has a sign for her at the city limits, she does a packed autograph session at the local mall, and leads a pack of bikers to her concert. Not a bad visit, I’d say. The song choice is solid, it fit her personality very well. The home visit did her good because this may be the best she’s done stage presence-wise.

2. Gabe Garcia
Song: "It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere" by Alan Jackson & Jimmy Buffett

Gabe was met by a giant crowd (including his family and the mayor) at the airport, a police escort, a parade in his honor, and a key to the city before doing his concert for 10,000 people in Lytle, Texas. The song strikes me as odd for some reason but it works. He seems really at ease on stage so, again, the home visit infuses confidence. One thing that bothers me is John Rich’s pushing the whole "bridge the gap to the Latino audience" rhetoric. It seems like he’s just interested in getting money from an untapped market moreso than it just being about Gabe being so talented.

3. Coffey
Song: "Sweet Home Alabama" by Lynyrd Skynyrd

Instead of going to his hometown in Texas, he went to Los Angeles which is where he lives now with his daughter. He got honored by The Dream Center, an organization that he works with, before playing his show. The song is both a smart and extremely risky choice because everyone loves it. It’s one of his better covers but I can easily see a lot of people hating on it. But props on the performance – it was high energy and he didn’t overdo it on the vocals. John and Jeffrey Steele think he’s a star but maybe not the Nashville Star.

4. Melissa Lawson
Song: "Hit Me With Your Best Shot" by Pat Benatar

Melissa’s visit to  her hometown of Arlington, Texas started with going home and getting mobbed by her kids. She then visited her high school where she did an autograph session before her concert and received a key to the city. Ah…Pat Benatar. How I adore her. Great song choice and she didn’t try to do too much to it.

After all that happy stuff, we get to the elimination chunk of the episode. Only three will get to sing their second song.

5. Shawn Mayer
Song: "The Dance" by Garth Brooks

Wow. I’m very impressed. She didn’t try to do too much with the song and sang it well. I couldn’t always understand what she said but it’s way better than a few weeks ago. Let that be a lesson to all women involved with someone who tears them done. Drop him and everything will turn around.

6. Melissa Lawson
Song: "Jesus Take the Wheel" by Carrie Underwood

Carrie Underwood covers, like all songs by people with big voices, are tricky but I think Melissa really did it justice. It started out lower than I’m used to but I like her low register, though Jeffrey thought it was a little shaky.

Well…it’s down to Gabe and Coffey. I think we all suspect how this will go, and we’re all right. Gabe is through to next week and it’s the end of the show for Coffey.

7. Gabe Garcia
Song: "Living in Fast Forward" by Kenny Chesney

I was skeptical with the song until the breakdown near the end – he got the crowd into it, clapping along with him and it took a turn. I still like his vocals overall though. John says he thinks there’s a record deal in his future no matter what. I agree, and I think that’s the case with pretty much all of them.

So that’s it. Next week’s the finale. Who do you think will win? Should Coffey have made it and someone else get sent home? Do you think they’ll all get contracts regardless of who wins? Any other thoughts?

Posted by:Tamara Brooks