Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Clive Comes at Kat with Open Arms; Her Father Cries

Terry: Okay, so after chewing off my own arm, I watch the damn thing. Actually, it was my brother who swayed me. He reminded me of my tendency to become too emotionally invested in this nonsense (American Idol, Survivor, The Amazing Race, NFL football, Cards baseball, etc.), and that I am not a Neilson household so my boycott wouldn't affect them (the networks, producers, etc.) one little bit.
Coolia: I hope you made a tourniquet for that arm before you watched - it's a long show! Tonight's show was entertaining, but i would have rather had them eliminate the third song and sing 2 full songs. It would be nice to see these contestants do a full length song once before the finale.

Elliott:
Terry: Song 1 - "Open Arms" by Journey - decent but he is no Steve Perry...vocally or otherwise...although, perhaps less goober-y looking...and that's saying something.
Song 2 - "What You Won't Do For Love" by Bobby Caldwell - pretty soulful and the style certainly fit him but, as always with me, I just found his voice to be just average.
Song 3 - "I Believe To My Soul" by Ray Charles - I like the guy, I really do, but he just doesn't have vocal power or the distinctiveness in his voice win this or do much else beyond this. My brother is one of those that hear something I'm not hearing because he called me after each performance to see if I "got it" and after calling me an "American Idiot" wound up hanging up on me because I didn't (and don't) get it. While he's standing in line to buy Elliott's record I'll be in line to buy Chris'.
Coolia: I think Elliott needed to blow us away tonight to advance, and he just didn't do it. He did a solid job on Open Arms although I thought he sounded a little hoarse. He lacked the passion in his voice that Steve Perry has on that song. I think Randy told Clive to pick that song so that he could once again remind us he was briefly in Journey. I thought the 2nd song was his best effort - Paula was right - that's the best type of song for him. He's soulful and I do like his voice when I close my eyes. Like, but not love. I enjoyed the Ray Charles performance but I think he needed to pick a song that really would resonate with people, not something obscure. He lacks the star presence required to win.
Barb (on the 3rd song): If I could pick my own song, I sure as hell wouldn't sing that.
Nerdia: I feel like Clive’s round was primarily to give them an impediment to overcome. His song choices were rancid. Tonight proved that the judges at least know something…even Paula. Elliott’s second song gave me a chill. I loved it. Love the song – great choice by Paula. The others just left me cold. I like Elliott as an underdog and am sort of happy he got this far in a country of voters who tend to judge mostly on looks. But he’s not relaxed. He’s not dynamic as a performer and doesn’t really deserve to win.
C. Crumpet Swank: Open Arms was a dud; Elliott looked and sounded stiff, as Simon pointed out. Elliott is a good singer, but hearing him sing this makes you realize that Steve Perry truly is a great singer. What You Won't Do for Love was perfect for Elliott and this was undoubtedly his strongest number of the night. He seemed totally relaxed and gave us some pretty smooth stuff. That could be a legitimate record on the radio. I Believe To My Soul Coolia, you're absolutely right, he needed to pick something that would resonate with the people--and he didn't. My God, this was, strategically, the single most important performance for him all season and he blew the opportunity. It's the last song people got to here before making their decision about whether or not to send him to the final and he had free reign to pick virtually anything, and this is what he chose? And then having made the choice, he sings it well, but not in a WOW way (unlike say, Trouble, last week). His bad song choice and capable, but not inspiring, collection of performances last night will send him packing. It's a shame, because a Taylor/Elliott showdown would have been a hell of a lot more interesting than a Taylor/Katharine finale.

Katherine:
Terry: Song 1 - I Believe I Can Fly by R. Kelly - Once again completely overdone, over the top and turned into a Broadway (or some such) showtune.
Song 2 - Somewhere Over The Rainbow" - I was actually dreading this thinking that she could crumble under the pressure. My first thought as she began was "Uh, did Bo start an a capella thing that now won't end?", AND "there's that floor again...what is her affinity and comfort with the floor all about?"...but although she began a bit weak and uneven she quickly found her comfort and blew it out. One of the best performances of the season (not better than Chris' "Hemorrhage" or even his "Renegade", but one of the best). One thing that I think was made abundantly clear is that Clive Davis is rooting for Katherine. Of the remaining 3, he wants to work with HER, period!
Song 3 - "I Ain't Got Nothin' But The Blues" - Okay but a bit uneven...buuuuuut, a "fun" take on the "blues"...it didn't work for me.

Coolia: Not only does Clive want Kat to win, so does Simon. He obviously feels she is the only one of the three that he can market because she is already a neat package. Well, I hope he is wrong. I would rather see Elliott, advance but I think Kat will join Taylor in the final 2. Her first song was a mess to me - way too many runs, extremely self-indulgent. This type of singing is more "noise" to me than Chris' hard rock could ever be. She certainly redeemed herself with over the rainbow, although I think Kim Locke did a better job with it a few seasons ago. She is much more watchable and listenable when she tones it down a bit and tries a little subtlety. The 3rd song did not hold my attention at all. I didn't know the song, but I do know she's no Ella. She also broke one of my cardinal rules by mouthing off to the judges. Yes, she was right to correct Randy that the R. Kelly song was not her choice, but her general eye rolling expressions when the judges were criticizing her do not endear her to me, nor do they make her america's sweetheart, which is who she needs to be to win. And is Mr. McPhee on the same drugs as Paula?? Pull yourself together, man!
Art Haarper: First song - is it me or was that really bad? Second song - a great improvement over her first effort.
Barb: 2nd song - really good; 3rd song - dynamite!
Nerdia: I think Katharine botched the R. Kelly song. She should have stuck with the melody. She slam dunked Somewhere Over the Rainbow and did fine with the third song. But at the end of the day I don’t think her Daddy’s Girl shtick (sincere or not) deserves to be American Idol either. And so what that you slam dunked Somewhere Over the Rainbow. It’s a songbook primer. What little girl couldn’t sing it? Grow up and get some cajones.
C. Crumpet Swank: I Believe I Can Fly was a boring, melodramatic, blechhh. I'm no fan of this song to begin with--too schmaltzy by half--but then for her to "color it up" (as Paula used to say) so excessively seemed to me not creative, but merely desperate showboating. Over the Rainbow was delivered beautifully, but I still wasn't entirely convinced there was genuine emotion behind it. I was nearly convinced, and I guess that amount to progress as far as Katharine is concerned. Good lord, the girl has an amazing instrument in that voice--so why is she not wowing me? [I would still argue that the KT Tunstall song was Kat's best performance of the season.] And Coolia, are you ever right about Clive. I could see his beady eyes fairly vibrating with producer-lust at the thought of Cliving Katharine for the marketplace. Even though Davis is not an overly demonstrative man, there was something palpable there in terms of his excitement over Katharine compared to the other two singers. Simon's song choice was spot-on for her, and with Chris out of the competition I think Katharine is his preferred choice for the winner as well. The last song she sang was fun, but too "showy" for my tastes. It struck me as many of Katharine's performances do--like she was singing it within the context of a college musical; that is, she's not approaching a song as a song, but rather, singing it as a production number. This gives her work a kind of phony quality which is only further exacerbated by her lack of genuine emotional connection to the material week after week.
I will be very disappointed if she wins.


Taylor -
Terry: Song 1 - Dancing In The Dark by Bruce Springsteen - fit his vocals to near perfection and turned out to be an extremely good mimic. There was nothing original in this performance at all but an excellent copy of the original.
Song 2 - "You Are So Beautiful" by Joe Cocker - my first thought was "Uh oh!" because this is my favorite love song of all time. Now, I know you can not improve on perfection, so I immediately lowered my expectations and actually expected Taylor to do well, but he voice broke in the lower ranges a times and although he conveyed energy and attempted to show/express emotion I just didn't feel that deep sincere emotion that this song effuses. I was very disappointed. Very disappointed. Absolutely, PALED in comparison to the original by Joe Cocker.
Song 3 - "Try A Little Tenderness" by Otis Redding - another one where I thought "Uh oh" and this time simply because I was afraid that he would take a great song and make it a mockery....and he did...to a degree. The original song is brilliant and I found Taylor's version lacking true soul...lot's of energy and face squinting but none of the original's honesty and true soul. It, too, paled in comparison.
Coolia: Taylor just makes me happy. I really have fun watching him. I know he's not the world's greatest singer and he doesnt have much range, but I would still love to see him in concert. In fact, I might even break my streak of never attending an American Idol tour this year just to see Taylor. I enjoyed the Bruce Springsteen song and thought he sang it with gusto. It was fun seeing him cast Paula in the Courtney Cox role. I thought "You are So Beautiful" was okay but not as good as Taylor's "Something" or "In the Ghetto." For one thing, he kept making faces like he was in pain. Barb and I were laughing hysterically at his faces, and that is not the reaction he was going for. I think I would have enjoyed this more if I watched it with my eyes closed. Anyway, I'm glad the judges praised the hell out of it as it will help Taylor sail through. The third song was a home run in my opinion - perfect song for him, soulful and energetic delivery, big finish. He has more charisma in his little toe than Elliott and Kat combined.
Art Haarper: Dancing in the Dark is a Bruce Springsteen classic? I thought it was Fred Astaire. 2nd song - I didn't dislike it. At least you could understand the words.
Barb: 1st song - he didn't sing it as good as Bruce; 2nd song - He looks like he has bad gas; 3rd song - He must have gotten into Paula's bottle.
Nerdia: Worst Springsteen song to pick. I think Clive did this to them on purpose. I couldn’t even focus on his blather about how great the lyrics were to these fluff pieces he assigned them. The faces during Beautiful were priceless. The last song was good enough for me. Taylor isn’t really as soul patrol as he thinks he is…or even as much as Elliott for that matter…but he definitely has more control over the stage. This is why he will win.
C. Crumpet Swank: Dancing in the Dark is such a piece of fluff for a Springsteen song; I always find it perverse that this is his highest charting song and his biggest hit of all time. It's so not representative of his overall sound and style. Given that there's not much depth or heft to this song, I thought that Taylor squeezed as much out of it as the song permitted. You Are So Beautiful Why the effusive praise from the judges? The vocal was solid, but unremarkable, and the faces he was making were absolutely ridiculous. Nerdia, John and I all burst out laughing on at least three separate occasions during his rendition. The inane, faux-soul grimaces really stripped the performance of any legitimacy for me. Taylor's usually very "real," so the facial tomfoolery was a decided turn-off for me. It was a rare phenomenon--to feel that there were phony moments in his performance. Try a Little Tenderness, while not among Taylor's three best of the season, was definitely his best of the night, and arguably the best of the evening's nine offerings. Once again, he seemed to inhabit fully the emotional terrain of the song. The dramatic, stuttered finale seemed a bit contrived, but it worked nevertheless. It's pretty clear that Clive can't wait to cut a record with Katharine regardless of whether she wins or not. You just know he's got Diane Warren on speed-dial and I'm sure he gave her a call after his meeting with Katharine--"Diane, listen, screw Toni and Celine--hand over your next masterpiece to my girl Kat! What? Hearts, Hugs and Hello? Wow--that sounds like a smash! Maybe we can do a narrative type video like they did in the 80s. We'll get William Conrad to play Kat's father. Oh, Conrad's dead?..."

Predictions:
Coolia: Bottom 2 - Elliott and Kat, with Elliott going home. I voted for Taylor 7 times and it took me about 20 mins to get through to vote that many times. Then as an experiment, I called Kat's and Elliott's lines twice and both times I got right through. That's just my sample - not quite up to dialidol standards, but it backs up my reasoning. Elliott and Taylor will draw from a similar voting pool as they are both guys, both soul singers - Taylor should win that battle. Kat should get through because she appeals to a completely different audience and I imagine she is big with the little girls who vote 500 times per night.
Art: Elliott goes home
Nerdia: Bottom 2: Elliott and Kat with Kat going home.
C. Crumpet Swank: The Bottom Two will be Elliott and Kat, with Elliott going home.

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