ABC's Nashville has become more than a guilty pleasure. Its Nielsen numbers make it a legitimate nighttime soap opera. Following suit, the soundtrack has become a bona fide chart spoiler. It has eclipsed the wildly popular "Hunger Games Catching Fire" at number four on the Billboard chart. Nonetheless, much like this season's plot lines, the soundtrack feels fragmented.
The heavy-handed treatment of the script is not reflected in the score. Rayna (Connie Britton) is placed in a medically induced coma after a car accident while upstart stud Will Lexington (Chris Carmack) struggles with his sexual identity and commits suicide. But the show must go on. Hayden Panietierre (sexy crossover brat Juliette Barnes) provides ample eye and ear candy with tight clothes and the glossy pop on Trouble Is and Can't Say No To You. The former is aptly titled and refers to her affair with a multi-millionaire whose marriage she broke up. She freezes onstage when fans hold up a "Homewrecker" sign.
Britton has said the biggest challenge of her role as aging superstar Rayna James is to give the impression that she has been country music royalty her entire life. While it is quite a stretch, a woman with no public singing experience has more than held her own vocally and does so again here on the rocker Ball and Chain.
All cast members sing their own parts. While Britton and Panettiere shine out front, the true gems lie in the supporting cast. Claire Bowen's (Scarlett O'Connor) lilting soprano mesmerizes on solo numbers and covers any inadequacies in on duets.
The cover art features the two rivals seated closer together while looking away from one another with disdain. The album is good, clean fun. Its critics have labeled the show as cheesy and the music superficial. It would be no surprise if a few select tracks were found on their iPods.