A Closer Look At Music On Television This Week

Highlighting music on television for the April 28-May 4, 2003.

Contests... It's all about contests on television these days -- "Fear Factor," "Survivor," and the like are out there, but it's the music shows that really know how to find talent. The biggest of them all right now is, of course, "American Idol." If you doubted it, you were on the wrong team, as freshman season victor Kelly Clarkson's debut album ("Thankful," RCA) debuted at No. 1 on The Billboard 200 (she'll be performing on NBC's "The Tonight Show With Jay Leno" on Monday). And on Fox, we're getting down to the nitty-gritty as only five "Idol" contestants remain.

That's right, five. Carmen Rasmusen was ousted last week, during which Ruben Studdard continued to shine, and Kimberly Locke seemed to really come into her own. Who will Simon, Randy, and Paula pick and pan this week? You've gotta tune in on Tuesday night to stay up on the action. And, don't forget about Wednesday night's results show, as that where cheers are raised and tears are shed, because somebody's got to go.

But, obviously, "Idol" is not the only game in town anymore. On Saturday USA's "Nashville Star" will come to a close. Out of a field that is narrowed down to Brandi Gibson, Buddy Jewell, Miranda Lambert, and John Arthur, viewers will chose the winner after celebrity judges Jo Dee Messina and Trace Adkins offer critiques. Three will go home while the winner will get a Sony Music Nashville recording contract and an album produced by Clint Black. To polish things off, Wynonna will be on hand to perform.

Now VH1 is tossing its hat into the contest ring with "Born To Diva," which will debut Monday on the cable music channel. The talent search will go to London, New York, Nashville, Philadelphia, and Miami in search of the ultimate diva. The ultimate winner will perform on VH1's 2003 "Divas Live" concert special. The first episode features celebrity judge Gloria Estefan, who knows a thing or two about being a diva.

But let's not forget that there's plenty of already discovered talent on the air these days, too. On Friday, Jewel will perform in New York's Rockefeller Plaza for NBC's "Today" show. And speaking of "Today," host Matt Lauer turns up Tuesday night on "Dateline NBC," where a full hour of his recent interview with Madonna will be seen for the first time.

CMT's going to offer two different inside looks at country stars this week. On Wednesday, the network goes behind the scenes of Toby Keith and Willie Nelson's "Beer for My Horses" video, where these two hell-raisers were sure to have some fun. Then on Sunday, "MWL Star" will see Blake Shelton interviewed by Katie Cook, and the artist performing in an intimate setting.

Saturday, A&E's famed "Biography" series digs into "The Voice," the one and only Frank Sinatra. This is money! The Chairman's life is exactly the kind for which this show was created. Similarly, Bravo profiles the ever intriguing, multi-faceted life of country superstar Johnny Cash on Thursday.

In the land of sitcoms and dramas, look for Latin rock veterans Los Lobos to make an appearance on the WB's "Greetings From Tucson," on Friday night. On Sunday, Third Eye Blind will perform as the Kinks in a beach-themed episode of NBC's "American Dreams."

On the talk show circuit, the Wilco/Minus 5 pairing on Wednesday night's Letterman (CBS) is not to be missed, nor is the ever provocative Lil' Kim the same night with Carson Daly (NBC). Other sure bets are Celine Dion Monday night on Leno (NBC), And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead... Tuesday with Daly (NBC), and the Def Squad featuring Redman, Erick Sermon, and Keith Murray Friday night with Jimmy Kimmell (ABC).

And don't miss rapper-of-the-moment 50 Cent on NBC's "Saturday Night Live," which will be hosted by "That '70s Show" co-star Ashton Kucher.