Wednesday, March 22, 2006

American Idol - Barry Plugs His #1 Album

Here's our thoughts on the Idols doing songs of the 50s...

Mandisa - "I Don't Hurt Anymore"

Terry: Her best (most consistent and reaching her innate talent)
performance yet. Not "flawless" as the 3 Stooges assessed (I heard at least one broken power note) but still excellent.
Coolia: I thought she did a great job, but I wonder if she will be hurt by singing first and doing a song that many won't know. I also really wish she would cover up her arms.
Art Haarper: She has a great career waiting for her singing at church
C. Crumpet Swank: I thought this was the best performance of the evening on a night in which everybody turned in a solid-or-better performance. The Stevie show was so weak overall. Not this week. What an improved lot. But Back to Mt. Disa...aside from her powerful, artful vocal, she had such showmanship--she was both sultry and defiant; powerful, yet controlled. True charisma. What a way to start the show! Jennifer Hudson is lucky she already nabbed the Dreamgirls part. And can we please nip the "Man-diva" nickname in the bud, please? It sounds like some unfortunate transgender with ego issues.

Nerdia: I admit I have a bias for r&b singers, of which she is the only legitimate one left in this competition…although Taylor has potential if he would just tone it down a bit.

Bucky Covington - "Oh Boy"

Terry: ...oh no! Even a genius like Barry Manilow could
not save this. Once again more hoarse than rasp (how does he not blow out a vocal cord?). Just NOT melodic...more grating gravel.
Coolia: Agreed. If he doesn't go this week, I'll be stunned. This was an awful performance. It's supposed to be a fun song but he turned it into a funeral dirge with that raspy screech of a voice. He also looked hungover.
C. Crumpet Swank:
How does he not blow out a vocal chord? That's the question I've been asking for weeks! Nevertheless, I thought he did a decent job with the song; he's just not competing at the same level as the others. Finally, he was in the bottom three. I think he or Lisa will go home next week.
Nerdia: He looked stressed throughout this whole performance. Lousy choice. Song selections were so bad this week – was the song pool small or something? You’d think by now these songs are so old they’d be in the public domain. In fact, that would be a good show theme: mideaval ballads.

Paris Bennett - "Fever"

Terry: Fit her "style" to a tee. I still see her as just not
genuine but this performance was good enough to see her through to the next round (this time).
Coolia: She looked and sounded great - big improvement over the last couple of weeks. Kind of a clichéd song choice but she did in fact, speaking of clich
és, make it her own. She started a little slow and boring but the song built to a real crescendo.
C. Crumpet Swank: I too thought it started out uninmpressively and then greatly improved. Nevertheless, I think the potential of the song was squandered. What's so delicious about Peggy Lee's version is the irony of the delivery--the way she declares her fever in such a cool, controlled vocal. To sing the song in a fired-up fashion--I'm not sure it's as effective.
Paris's Billie Holiday look was the first time she's looked half-way decent. Halleleujah!
Nerdia:
Everything about this girl screams cliché to me: from her moves to her phrasing to her song choices. She’s manufactured. Farm-raised soul vs wild sea-soul.

Chris Daughtry - "I Walk the Line"

Terry: ...well, although it was not
the best vocal performance I have heard from him it WAS a brilliant spin/arrangement and I would walk the line down to the record store to buy this in a heartbeat. This was Chris' answer to Johnny Cash's cover of "Hurt" by Nine Inch Nails. Simply brilliant!
Coolia: I think Chris is back in it with this performance, though I'm not sure how I feel about it. He did his own thing with it, but it's such a signature Johnny Cash song that I kind of think it should be left alone. I also didn't quite get the emotion behind it - he sounded somewhat tortured, whereas Johnny was resolute and anthemic. With Johnny, I believed he wouldn’t cheat - with Chris, it sounded like he was on the verge of breaking his vow. It was all kind of calculated to me, but I'm sure he'll sail through, and he deserves to.
Art Haarper: Some songs are done - they don't need to be redone.

C. Crumpet Swank: I have to kindly disagree with Art. I thought this was extraordinary. It gave me goosebumps. It was so intense, yet wonderfully controlled. Haunting, galvanizing--simply great. This was a remake in the very best sense of the word: the musical and lyrical intention of the original kept intact, but the production reimagined in a wholly new way. This deserves to be a #1 song on the radio. It honors Johnny's great song, while simultaneously reinventing it. One of the most memorable Idol performances ever--from any season--for my money.
And points too to Chris for seeming so level-headed when not singing. No egomaniac here. Very gracious guy.
Nerdia:
Great job remaking this song, which somewhat redeems him from last weeks lameness; but I don’t agree with Simon that he should be commended for ”not compromising.” What the hell is the point of picking themes if we don’t expect our singers to stretch. David Radford tried to never compromise either and he just got beaten over the head with a thunder stick for it. My analogy: Chris is a wonderful swimmer – I’ll give you that – but why is he in this triathalon if he won’t run or bike?


Katherine McPhee - "Come Rain or Come Shine"

Terry: Oh my, how I wanted her when they showed her
close-up...she looked hot, sexy and absolutely beautiful...but then they pulled away and showed her wearing a stylish burlap sack. Oh, yeah, and she sung really well and this genre fit her very well (can't say the same for that dress, however).
Coolia: I agree - the dress was not at all flattering. At first I wondered if she had been guilty of "stress eating", but I think it was just baggy. Her face and hair looked great, and her performance was impeccable. Still, I don't see a lot of personality or warmth in her. And her anecdote about Simon getting her name wrong fell flat - made her seem a little arrogant. "I'm gonna live forever…baby, remember my name. Remember! Remember! Remember!"
Art Haarper: She'll definitely be back next week.

C. Crumpet Swank: Hideous sack of a dress. Extremely good vocal, but I didn't agree with Simon's commentary about her moving into the territory of "star." I still think she's not yet found the song that will inevitably blow us away. Looks-wise she gets hotter and hotter each week.
At the beginning of the show Ryan referenced an interview in which Simon declared who he thought would be the Top 3. I'm thinking he predicted Mandisa, Chris and Katharine. Any confirmation of this?
Nerdia:
I love this song…it’s languid and smooth like a tart liquor and Katharine chopped it up like a salad. I still don’t see what all the fuss is about. Why wear a plunging neckline if you’re going to obsure your breasts with your long discheveled hair? She looks very uncomfortable in her sex.

Taylor Hicks - "Not Fade Away"

Terry: I kept waiting for the thing to kick into high gear but it
never did. I was taken aback by such an energetic performance ultimately being too blas
é.
Coolia: Well, my boy Taylor really bombed this week. Terrible song choice and flat performance. The energy didn't seem convincing to me, and the song didn't show off his vocals. I was hoping he would do an Elvis song - that would have been a lot more fun. But I think he has enough fans to see him through. Heck, I voted for him! Did you catch Barry rolling his eyes when Taylor mugged his way through "Mandy"?
Art Haarper: All flash and no substance - a Las Vegas bar singer.
C. Crumpet Swank: Coolia, I'm glad you could admit that this was a weak performance. It was entirely unremarkable. It didn't show off his voice--but is that the song's fault, or did he just do a crappy interpretation? A largely uninvolving performance for him. In a way, he's a victim of his own success. If we saw that performance as an audition we would have been excited, but since he's delivered such strong performances in the previous two weeks (the best of those nights, in my opinion), this mediocre performance really pales in comparison.
Nerdia:
He grew on me last week. This week was aiight. Like his bangs better and he’s not acting so spastic.

Lisa Tucker - "Why Do Fools Fall in Love?"

Terry: Oh my beautiful African American princess, you've lost your way.
You have the voice to be a star but you so obviously need seasoning. That was an excellent high school stage performance (again!). Sigh. I fear your end is nigh.
Coolia: I thought this was one of her better performances, but it's still not enough to keep her out of the bottom 3 - I agree it was high school, or broadway chorus girl, but not the lead. She looked her age for once.
C. Crumpet Swank: Coolia, I totally agree with your assessment. It was a solid performance, but in what was a powerhouse night it comes up mighty short. The judges wanted her to sing "younger" songs, but it's biting her in the ass.
Nerdia:
Probably her best performance yet for me but that’s not saying much. This song can be fun but she didn’t bounce with it enough. And like everyone else, I feel like I’m watching a high school musical when she sings.

Kevin Covais - "When I Fall In Love"

Terry: What can I say. Another weak, weak, weak performance and
yet another round of adulations from the 3 Stooges. Nat King Cole is laughing in his grave (he has no muscles to turn over as they have long rotted away, but he does retain a wonderful sense of humor).
Coolia: What was with the golf shirt? It takes a stylist to pick out clothes from the Sears clearance rack? And with his hand shoved in his pocket, I wondered if he was playing pocket pool to bide his time while waiting to fall in love. I agree it was maudlin and mediocre, but the Kevin fans should eat it up, and there seem to be a lot of them.

C. Crumpet Swank: I am shocked that he was sent home. His wretched/manic/goofy Part-Time Lover didn't even earn him a spot in the Bottom Three last week, but this okay rendition sends him packing? I don't see the logic there. I guess a lot of crow-eating folks like Coolia were compelled to vote for him last week [At the start of the show Coolia said that if he had the audacity to sing Part-Time Lover she would vote for him.]. Kevin was always better singing the slower songs, seemed to have developed a strong fan-base, and turned in a respectable rendition of When I Fall in Love (even Simon didn't disparage it), so I was little perplexed to see him handed his walking papers.
By placing 11th he does not get to participate in the Summer 2006 Idol Tour. Sorry, Grannies!
Nerdia:
Now this is a song I have never liked. “When I fall in love it will be forever; or I’m never gonna fall in love.” Now who the hell are YOU to be telling Love how it’s gonna be? Nobody, that’s who. The answer to this song is Diana Ross’ “The Boss” written by Ashford & Simpson: “I’d defy anyone who claimed that I didn’t control whatever moved my soul. Love had to show me one thing….who was the boss.” That aside, I’ve stopped caring about Kevin performances entirely due to being annoyed by the fact that his popularity has recently gone to his head. His modesty was the thing that made him so cute. Take that away and you’re left with clueless.


Elliott Yamin - "Teach Me Tonight"

Terry: My other conundrum. Once again he was "average", but he
was rewarded with undeserved adulations. Manilow coached him and he still projected a disconnect from the song with a somewhat robotic performance.
Coolia: Me too, Terry. I was thinking - boring song I've never heard before, boring delivery, just average, and the judges annointed him. I don't think there praise is enough to keep him out of the bottom 3. He looked slightly better than usual with the stubbly goatee as opposed to the stubbly amish beard. Slightly.
C. Crumpet Swank: I too am mystified by the judges' continuing support of him. There hasn't been a single performance of his that has made me think, "Damn, that was good" or "that boy can sing!" What are we not hearing? Actually, I don't even remember what he sang, and it's only three days later.
Nerdia:
I kept forgetting he’s there.

Kellie Pickler - "Walking After Midnight"

Terry: I don't know if the "rumors" I've been hearing about you
are true (I hope they are not because I fall for you every time I hear you talk...and the looks ain't hurtin' things any either). Definitely picked the right song and kicked it out! Now, for the exact opposite of Katherine...When you strutted onto the stage and the camera began to zoom in I was like, "Holy crap! She's SO hot!! But then as the cameras continued to zoom in and they gave us a close up I was like, "Okay, who did you make-up? Bonzo from Ringling Brothers?" But, for a clown you knocked it out tonight. Did you see how she spread those legs!? She's had a pickle or two in her life.
Coolia: She did look all tarted up, but she gave one of her best performances, and it's not easy to do a Patsy Cline song. I could do without her attempts to interrupt the judges - - but I suspect she'll sail through this week.
Art Haarper: That was good, if you like country music.

C. Crumpet Swank: Oh, Terry, please don't defile her with pickle comments. One of the three best performances of the week (along with Mandisa and Chris). You can imagine my elation at this! PICK PICKLER!
This is the moment when I admit to a painful, soul-searching dilemma: I had to wince when Kellie asked what "a ballsy is?"--as if it's a noun. It seemed disingenuous to me--the first time I've had that feeling, and I didn't like it. Who doesn't know, as opposed to an adjective. Moreover, wouldn't these chronic syntactical issues be cleared up for her in the time beween the performance and result shows? She's not living in a vacuum. If she doesn't understand a word, wouldn't she simply turn to Mandisa and say, "Yo, Mandy, you're jiggy--what's the DL on 'ballsy,' 'minx,' etc.?" I pray and hope we don't find out that Grandpa Clyde is really some brilliant svengali who has been masterminding a sham persona for his talented offspring.
Coolia: It wouldn't surprise me if Grandpa Clyde turns out to be Colonel Tom Parker.
Nerdia:
Yawn. She’s not connecting with me. “Whats a ballsy?” Oh paaleeeze? She really IS stupid then if she thinks we’re that dumb.


Ace Young - "In the Still of the Night"

Terry: What IS that that he does with his mouth when he's trying to
hit high notes or show power? Is that supposed to be a sexy snarl? It looks more like he's got bad gas. Either take a Gas-X before singing or let one big one really rip because it's just pains me to see you scrunch up the side of your face like that. I thought the song was just so-so until the very end when he kicked out that awesome falsetto. Once again, his looks and that late save will see him through to the next round (this time).
Coolia: I found him kind of muddled and hard to hear, but I did love the falsetto ending. I think the judges overpraised him.
Art Haarper: Get the hook!

C. Crumpet Swank: I haven't noticed what Terry sees in terms of the constipated look. I'll have to watch for it.
I thought this was a good performance overall--it had a lot of range. We got to hear some power in his voice for the first time. After Father Figure, it was probably his best performance yet. Taylor and Chris are better, but I'll take Ace over Elliott and Bucky as a matter of course. If people feel the same way, he could actually make it into the Top 5.
Nerdia: Well, Barry should likes him, huh? Wink wink. I can see Barry in an Ace/Bobby Bennett sandwich.

Barry Manilow

Coolia: He seemed more interested in working with the kids than Stevie did, but I guess mainly he's interested in promoting his #1 album. He looks very artificial.
Art Haarper: He looks like a vampire, like he just crawled out of a tomb.

C. Crumpet Swank: I quite enjoyed the clips on Tuesday's show of Barry Manilow rehearsing with the contestants. He seemed genuinely excited and actually worked with them--he didn't blow smoke up their ass. He offered thoughtful criticisms and suggestions regarding arrangements, interpretation and performance. For this I am grateful. He should be applauded. No more lame Ashford and Simpson's wasting our time, please.
But his performance on the results show was kind of scary. It just seemed bizarre to me. What did America's twelve-year olds think of that? 49-year old non-music-following James asked me in earnest, "How old is he--seventy?" Oh Barry, I don't think that's the image you are trying to project. [His performance also reminded me that he is actually a better songwriter than singer.]
Nerdia:
What a doll he was this episode. Yes his face is looking odd and puffy. But compared to Stevie, he really listened to these kids and was intimately involved with their progress. What a great coach. He should do this part time – I think it would really boost his self-esteem and give young singers a great send-off. What a mother hen. Who knew?

Predictions

Terry: Lisa, Elliott, Bucky in the bottom 3 with Bucky going home
Coolia: Lisa, Elliott, Bucky in the bottom 3 with Bucky going home to Rocky
Art Haarper: Long haired guy is gone
C. Crumpet Swank: Lisa, Bucky, and Paris in the bottom 3 with Lisa going home
Nerdia: Lisa, Bucky, and Kevin in the bottom 3 with Lisa going home


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