At Franklin's Taste of Talent, judges offer critiques but the audience has the final say.
The panel of judges offers commentary after each performer finishes their song offers advice and acknowledges strengths. Their comments are not always a clue as to who will the one voted off each week. That is just the nature of the Taste of Talent Vocal Competition in Franklin.
"You were spot on with your pitch," judge Rachael Mellor said right after contestant number one Iris Callahan finished her version of "High and Dry" by Radiohead. "I want a recording of your version of this."
Fellow judge Tammi Dahl Matthews echoed Mellor in her praise. "I just love that you make each song you do, your own."
Based those glowing accounts it might have been a surprise to audience members that Callahan was the one who won't be performing this weekend in the Taste of Talent semi-finals Saturday after she was eliminated based on 850 overall vote collected on Thursday.
Those who moved on have already picked out their song for Saturday. Likely they are also practicing two additional songs in case they are one of the four who make it to Sunday's final where they will perform two songs each.
"Very impressive, let me remind everybody, for a 17-year-old voice," emcee Randy Morehead said about Lexi Gilson. "You have so much control of your voice," Matthews said. "Not everyone has that kind of control," Mellor echoed.
Jessica Gahr sang "Stay with Me," a Sam Smith tune that Mellor said was right inner wheelhouse. "That was a lovely performance, right in your comfort zone," she said.
"Great song choice," Matthews agreed. "I loved how you used your falsetto. It was really pretty."
Tim Craver didn't go far off-script for his proclivity for the country ballad. A Scott McCreary tune called "Five More Minutes" gave him a subtle way of saying he wanted more time to entertain the Taste of Talent audiences. "You are becoming quite the storyteller with your song choices," Matthews told him. "You're good at picking songs that pull at your heart strings," Mellor added. She also complimented him on changing his usual routine of going into the audience, rather moving from side to side of the stage. "You hit every part of the crowd."
Alexander Karg had many in the crowd singing along with Elton John's "Rocket Man" that her performed to a backing track instead of having his brother on guitar. Mellor said "We were down here vibing," Matthews said nodding in agreement with Mellor "Terrific song choice. I loved your confidence with your falsetto."
Morehead looked at Ruth Herrick after she sang "Out Here On My Own" and simply said "You're always having fun."
Matthews said, "We are just so blessed to have you, you interpret songs so beautifully."
Mellor touched on the emotion Herrick puts into her performances. "You feel it so much, so we feel it."
Another 17-year-old Matthew Myers got some oohs and ahh when he announced his choice of song, "A Million Dreams" from "The Greatest Showman." It also drew ahh after he sang it.
Mellor exclaimed "YES! I loved it. Your voice is so beautiful. I'm happy you chose to show us a little more of your range."
Matthews waved her hand toward the crowd and said, "Obviously the reaction of the crowd says it all, That was an awesome job."
Oil City's Lindsay Crabtree belted out a version of "Toxic" while playing an acoustic guitar.
"I really love what you bring to the table each time, the stage loves, you," Matthews said,
"Your smile lights up the whole park and that ending was "I'm doing it my way and I don't care'," Mellor said.
Alexis Jack was the last performer of the night and she chose the second Adele song of the night "Rolling in the Deep." Jack also changed up her normal routine this week, singing to a track instead of playing an instrument. The judges took notice even complimenting her little dance moves as she sang.
"It was nice you showed us more," Mellor told her. "I really loved how you changed it up with Adele."
Matthews put her motherly cap on for a minute and said "Great song choice young lady."
Though Morehead said he doesn't like the point in the show where someone is voted off, but otherwise it was perhaps his favorite week of performances of the summer.
Semi-finals will begin at 7 p.m. Saturday. Sunday's finals moves to 4 p.m. and each performer sings twice.