Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Idols of the 21st Century? Yawn?

General Thoughts:

Art Haarper: A bum week
C. Crumpet Swank: You can say that again, Art.
Terry: I'm not even sure where to begin. I have watched every second of every episode of every American Idol and I have never seen an overall worse/disappointing set of performance than this. I kept waiting for the "savior" only to heighten/intensify my dismay. Tonight was dreadful. Now, I will fully admit that I can not sing as well as William Hung. BUT, they are challenging themselves in singing talent show (as Simon so correctly reminds the other 2 Stooges) and this, by comparison to past performances, was bad. BAD!
Nerdia: This reminds me how aggravating it is for me to constantly hear Simon interrupted by Paula and Randy when he’s a) stating his God-given opinion and b) trying to raise the bar on their flaccid criticisms/over-praise.
C. Crumpet Swank: Overall, I think it was a bum night largely because the contestants had the briefest time thus far this season to perform. This had a serious and negative impact on the performances. We have been spoiled with the recent 90 and 120 minute shows that have permitted them to sing an actual song from beginning to end--a full 3-4 minute rendition. What were they permitted last night--90 seconds each? It's not really enough to achieve any sort of nuance or meaningful impression. I think partly why Taylor was so successful was that he had the sparest musical support of the bunch; it gave his performance room to breathe in the short time limit. All the other segments were like rushed bits which suffered for their condensation. Everything seemed like a coming attraction, but not the real show.

Lisa Tucker - "Because of You"

Coolia: I actually thought this was one of her better performances. No, she didn't sing it as well as Kelly, but she did show some real emotion. I got more feeling from her than ever before and was surprised the judges tore her a new one. Because of this eviscerating, I think she'll be gone.

Art Haarper: Leaves something to be desired. The song was bigger than her.
Barb: Started off slow. Not much there.
Terry: Not nearly as good as the original (but who could be...Kelly Clarkson is a singing goddess!), uneven and I sincerely felt bad for her as I listened/watched, BUT, she gave it her all and this was without question her most emotional/sincere performance to date. Sadly, I think this may be the end for her.
Nerdia: Compared unfavorably to the original. She’s trying too hard. All her cues show.
C. Crumpet Swank: I agree with Coolia; I thought this was a strong performance, not only for her, but within the context of the evening. Only her performance of the Dreamgirls song was better. I was totally surprised that the judges didn't like it. I thought Lisa showed some fire in her singing which had been missing previously.

Kellie Pickler - "Suds in a Bucket"

Coolia: I agreed with the judges - bad choice of songs. The song and Kellie's rendition of it were nothing special. And when she exclaimed "I'm sorry!" when Simon critiicized her, I felt some revulsion. I just don't buy the sickeningly sweet routine anymore.

Barb: She's a dime a dozen.
Terry: What did she sing? Sorry, I was transfixed by her smokin' body (What a tush! Oh my! What a TUSH!!!) that I had trouble paying attention to the song itself. However, from what I was able to gleam, it was just "okay". And, because "Country" is her safety valve, this was very very average at best. Her first poor "Country" performance.
Nerdia: I, too, was repelled by the “I’m sorry” genuflecting. The performance was average. I think she’s acting incrementally more mature and somber and that’s a bit of a nice relief from the dumb act. She even winked at us this week.
C. Crumpet Swank: She sang it all right, but it was entirely unimpressive. Simon was right on target--with the thousands of songs to choose from, she chose that? A melodically easy, novelty-themed banality? A squandered opportunity, yet again. She's proving to be wildly inconsistent. But I'll bet it doesn't even land her in the bottom three.

Ace Young - "Drops of Jupiter"

Coolia: I really like this song, even though it's been so overplayed. I thought it was potentially a good song for Ace but he didn't do anything with it. And the fondling of his scar as he sang about a scar was cheesy. It reminded me of the sage words of Nick Rhodes when talking about Duran Duran videos: "If the lyric says someone is standing by the window, you will not see someone standing by the window in our video".

Art Haarper: He lost me at the first note.
Terry: Thank you for not snarling (or for taking Gas-X, or whatever has been going on in past weeks with those ridiculous faces). However, one word comes to mind....nasal, nasal, nasal.. (one word but it keeps repeating itself). I think he should be in the bottom three but I doubt his female fan base will allow that to happen again.
Nerdia: Something different about me: I hate this song. The words make no sense. I found the lyrics on a website and went on a rampage about this song as soon as Ace started singing it. How do you “talk like June”? I don’t think the words soy latte and fried chicken should EVER be in a pop song. But you can say this about Train, at least they sang it well. Unlike some people I know. (btw, I bought my first box of Gas-X this week – so if that’s what’s been causing Ace’s gnarly faces, I can sympathize.)
C. Crumpet Swank: Weakest performance of the night by anyone. He struggled with the three "runs" which are essentially part of the chorus in the original. Pat, the lead singer of Train, sings those bits with honest emotion, and I'm sure that in a live setting there is natural variation from performance to performance, which is all part of his talent as a singer. Ace, however, sang these parts as if he had an "idea" of what they were supposed to sound like and tried to create that. It was like an emotional simulation--and failed one at that--when what was needed was some honest connection to the song. Moreover, he didn't really sing the song in a way which expressed any technical range whatsoever. When it was over I thought, is that it? It's done already? To use Randy's recent phrase, it was like a "non-event." Ironically, I do think it was quite a good song choice for Ace, but he simply didn't/couldn't pull it off. Did anyone notice that when Simon was harsh, no one booed as they usually do? I think Ace will actually go home this week. His previous foray into the bottom three and Becky's instantaneous banishment show that looks are not perhaps as much a factor in this season as one might have thought. That fact, when coupled with a truly forgettable performance like this--watch out, oh handsome one.

Taylor Hicks - "Trouble"

Coolia: I was not familiar with the song and didn't really care for it. I don't know why I like Taylor so much when I've never cared for the blues, but I do. It was a good performance, if not earth shattering. His new hip look didn't quite work, as Simon mentioned. I liked the jacket but that paired with the Ryan Seacrest tshirt was too much. As Paula noted, it was nice to see Taylor standing still and just singing. His seizures can be so distracting.

Barb: He looks cute.
Terry: Never heard this song before but he made me "like" it. Not "love" it but I did "like" it. One of the better singing performances of the night.
Nerdia: Unfortunately I was watching a DVD of the Marx Bros classic Night at the Opera right when Tivo was taping Taylors song. The DVD froze and Tivo freaked out and restarted itself, which as you Tivo-lovers know, takes about the time of a bad pop-song to complete it’s process. Completely missed Taylor’s song.
C. Crumpet Swank: I thought this was the best performance of the evening. Again, Taylor always connects with his material. I didn't know the song either, but he sang it so well and with such conviction, I found myself hearing the lyrics and connecting with the material in a very pleasurable way. It goes to show that you don't have to sing a well-known song to offer up a performance which resonates with the audience. And, as Paula said, it was indeed nice to see him stationary for once behind the mic. [The outfit didn't bother me; it was in such muted tones that it didn't seem too determinedly hip to me.]

Mandisa - "Shackles (Praise You)"

Coolia: When I heard her say she was going to do this song, I let out a whoop, because I love this song and thought it would be perfect for her. But that was where the whooping stopped. She did a fine job with it but basically just duplicated what Mary Mary did, and I didn't feel real gospel feeling behind her rendition. Like Simon noted, I think she was just showing off a bit. And then there was the distracting matter of those jeans. Now I'm an admitted Lane Bryant shopper and they sell a magazine there called "Figure" - I really think she should pick up a copy and figure out how to dress for hers.
C. Crumpet Swank: Coolia, as you know, I adore this song as well and I was definitely disappointed with her performance. She seemed almost out of breath singing it. It was the first time that it felt like she didn't have control over her voice. What was supposed to be her big vocal moment about 2/3 of the way through the song didn't go as planned; she went a little sharp and consequently did a kind of abbreviated run that she had to sing in a higher key in order to make it seem intentional and thereby salvage the moment. And now let us address the elephant in the room (no pun intended). Her legs have never looked as big as they did last night. Could it be that she is a stress-eater and that she is actually getting fatter as the competition goes on? Not only are her legs gargantuan (hardly a hyperbolic use of that word), their ginormity is even further accentuated by the fact that this girl has a face that belongs on a body half the size. It's just weird. How on Earth does she keep her face from getting fat? I find it truly bizarre. If you only saw her from the neck up you wouuld never know she is as heavy as she is. You wouldn't think she's thin, but you certainly wouldn't guess she weighs approximately 350 pounds.
Barb: Her legs look like ham hocks in those jeans. Do you think she weighs 400 lbs?
Terry: Okay, I have stayed away from the degrading weight comments so far....but, tonight she pushed me past my limits. Was she wearing spandex jeans? Good god! I could hear those poor pants screaming for help outside when I took the trash out. Sorry, but she looked terrible. Okay, I KNOW this is a singing competition and that should be the SOLE deciding factor, but in reality appearance does play a role...and she looked BAD tonight. As for her singing, well, all I can say is this was one of her weakest performances. Show me you're better than the original OR blow up a "non-hit" and make it a "hit"! Just okay at best.
Nerdia: I agree with Terry and Coolia: took a great contemporary gospel song and did a karaoke performance of it. How disappointing. I did sing along, though.

Chris Daughtry - "What If"

Coolia: I'm glad he and Ryan attempted to address the original/Live cover controversy, but I thought he should have apologized a bit. I mean, he stood on that stage last week and soaked up the judges' comments about how original he was and didn't pipe up that he wasn't actually original at all. It's true that everyone is doing covers in this competition, but Chris hasn't stretched at all (as Simon noted). That being said - did I enjoy his performance? Yes. He does rock hard. It's my kind of music, and I like watching him. But I still think he's basically dishonest and not challenging himself. Like a good 401K plan, he needs to diversify to make it through the long haul.
Terry: I was happy to see/hear the cover of Live's version of "Walk The Line" issue addressed. However, that only appeased me to some degree. I would have preferred to have heard some humility in his response (not necessarily an apology but SOME admission of not correcting the judges for their giving him a little too much credit for the "originality" of his performance last week). Although I once again enjoyed his performance, and once again thought his was the best of the night, this was the first time that I found myself thinking, "sounds the me something different". But, still a really good for what is was/is.
Nerdia: I was glad to hear Simon finally chastise Chris for doing the same thing week after week but furious with him for flip-flopping on his lousy comments to Chris from last week…which as we recall were something like kudos to you for being the only one in the history of the world to never compromise. Chris must be saying ‘What the Fallooey???’ And he would be right to do so. I think the judges really crapped out this week. So inconsistent from singer to singer, from week to week. Chris rocked hard. I was thinking Coolia must love this.
C. Crumpet Swank: I enjoyed the performance overall, but he pushed it so hard that it actually showed some weakness his singing. In that respect, it wasn't a good choice. Also, praise Simon for being irritably adamant that Chris needs to demonstrate some range. Let's hope Chris takes that as a wake-up call. He deserves to be in the Final Two, but only if he can show that he can sing in more than one style and also offer some vulnerability.

Katherine McPhee - "The Voice Within"

Coolia: This is not my kind of music, but Katherine does have an impressive voice. It's definitely challenging to take on a Christina Aguilera song, and she did it proud. Her outfit is another manner entirely. She looked like a hostess at a Disneyland restaurant.
Terry: The 3 Stooges were at is again. I like Katherine. I'm rooting for Katherine. But, she had broken notes and a cracking voice all over the place, so where were all the accolades coming from!? I thought this was one of her worst performances. She looked great! But, that doesn't make up for an off singing night.
Nerdia: I’ll never understand everyone’s love for Katherine…it’s Katharine like my grandma spelled it (like Katharine Hepburn). And even Katharine Hepburn was sexier than this one. She makes Amy Grant look like a tramp.
C. Crumpet Swank: I don't know why the judges were so wowed by this. It seemed technically competent, but nowhere as good as Christina's version. Also, it seemed a little phony to me. I didn't buy that she had an emotional connection with the song at all.

Bucky Covington - "Real Good Man"

Coolia: I liked Bucky more tonight than ever before. This song was perfect for him and he was fun to watch. He also looked better with the cowboy hat than with the ponytail.
Barb: I do like Bucky. There is just something about him I like.
Terry: Country is his strong suit but even still he failed. He was "better" this week than his last 2 week's performances, but still wasn't "good". He once again had broken tones in his gravel/rasp and once again was below average. I go to Karaoke nights, and I'm telling you I've heard MUCH better than this...and, they're usually drunk Maybe Bucky needs a drink or two before trotting out on stage. Nah! Still wouldn't help. Not terrible, but average, very average, even below very average. Bottom 3 material for sure.
Nerdia: The cowboy hat didn’t make it all alright.
C. Crumpet Swank: I thought he seemed wonderfully relaxed and that was very compelling. Paula's elocution pointer was on the mark; this was the first time that I thought Bucky sounded unintelligible at times. He is consistently decent, but his voice is very limited.

Paris Bennett - "Work It Out"

Coolia: She looked very ghetto. I wondered how hair extensions taste when she flipped her head and got some of hers in her mouth. But it was a fun, spirited performance. She's got real power in her vocals.
Terry: Huh! Does she have a "real" hairstyle" Huh! She changes her mop more than I change my underwear! (and trust me, I change more than once a day just because I like to feel fresh!). Huh! That was "dancing"? Huh! Another so-called "hit" that I never heard of (and I listen to the radio A LOT and to all types of formats!...hip hop, country, rock, alternative, classic, rap,..I'm all over the place). Huh! Sorry but this was precocious and "fake" (am I alone here? doesn't she just come across as disingenuous somehow?). ANOTHER so-so performance.
Nerdia: This was the first performance of hers that I’ve like in a long time: she didn’t seem like an old grandma-spun broad for once. The judges rail on her for being too old; now they say she’s precocious. What the fudge-sickle!
C. Crumpet Swank: I disagree with Simon's harsh assessment of this performance. She did indeed "work it out." It was fun to see her bump 'n grind with such energy and flair. It was risky and she pulled it off. And the vocal was excellent. I only liked Taylor better.

Elliott Yamin - "I Don't Want to Be"

Coolia: Well, I have Bo's version of this song on my ipod, and Elliott's version won't be replacing it. I will give him some credit for putting an original spin on the song (I hope it won't be revealed tomorrow than Outkast had covered the song and that was their version Elliott did). He looked like a homeless person.
Terry: Why was Paula dancing? That was terrible! TERRIBLE! What was Randy smoking? TERRIBLE! Once again they laid accolades on him when his vocals were WEAK! WEAK! I so DO NOT GET IT!! Why do the 3 Stooges continue to act as if he is this great voice when he is just okay...and just OKAY!
Nerdia: Worse than Bo. Wrong arrangement. Who’s voting for this guy?
C. Crumpet Swank: I did like the arrangement (although not as much as the original one). Props to Elliott for taking a chance on the alternate arrangement and showing that it was indeed viable. His performance was solid but started to peter out near the end. He seemed breathless, too. Maybe he and Mandisa keep making out backstage right before their performances. If so, they need to lock the lips down and get back to business.


Coolia: Bottom 3 - Lisa, Ace, and Elliott - with Lisa going home
Barb: Bottom 3 - Lisa, Elliott, and Bucky - with Lisa going home
Art Haarper: Tell the hardware store they can have their Ace back.
Terry: Bottom 3 –Lisa, Bucky, Elliott, Going home – Lisa
Nerdia: Bottom 3 - Lisa, Bucky, Ace. Lisa going home.
C. Crumpet Swank: Bottom 3 - Ace, Lisa, Bucky -- with Ace going home.

Read More......

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!
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.
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?
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
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.]
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?


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

Read More......

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

American Idol - The Top 12 Do Stevie

Ace Young - "Do I Do"

Terry: He Do'd just okay. Good refrain but the rest was pretty weak. However, his looks will see him through yet again.
Nerdia: Not one of my favorite Stevie Wonder songs anyway. I have no feelings for this person one way or the other. I just don’t care.
Coolia: I didn't realize this was a Stevie song - I recognized it from the hip hop version. I thought Ace did pretty well, not great, but he's still great to look at.
C. Crumpet Swank: My theory that it seriously hurts your vote-getting if you perform first or second in an eight-or-more contestant show was bolstered by what happened to Mellow Man Ace. He even looked shocked! His performance was solid and he should not have been in the bottom three (even without his lovely looks factored in).

Kellie Pickler – “Blame It On The Sun”

Terry: Oh my! She looked like a deer caught in the headlights. Stiff, unsure and completely out of her element. The only thing that will save her from the bottom 3 and possibly the boot will be her combination of looks and likeability.
Nerdia: I disagreed with Simon all night. Kellie didn’t look like Dolly Parton at all – no sequins, no plunging bustline, no high hair, no crazy-long nails. She looked beautiful, much more adult and less ditzy. Big improvement I thought. Lame performance though.
Coolia: Simon and the judges picked Kellie from the beginning to win and they've groomed her for it all with all the attention to her back story and lots of opportunities for her to show off her "gosh golly" charm. However, they can't sing for her, and the past couple of weeks have shown she lacks the vocal chops to go all the way. She should survive another couple of weeks on her looks and personality. She did look great all gussied up.

C. Crumpet Swank: My heart broke a little after that terribly stiff and uninspired performance. You know how much I love Ms. Pickler. What a disappointment Tuesday was! Like Paula said, Kellie stuck to the melody like glue. There was not a shred of spontaneity, texture or confidence in her performance; no genuine connection to the song in sight. She sang it "correctly," insofar as she was in tune, but like Randy said, "it was like a non-event." [Rarely do such linguistically apt phrases fall from his lips, so kudos to the kennel director for nailing it this time.] Oh Kellie, I hope that performance does not portend an inability to sing anything in a non-belting fashion.
Props though to her "look." She was like a blonde Audrey Hepburn. Simon's remarks about her appearance were entirely off the mark. He clearly didn't know his arse from his elbow with that one. When was the last time anyone saw Dolly Parton wearing an entirely unadorned, non-metallic black dress?

Elliott Yamin - "Knocks Me Off My Feet"

Terry: Knocked me off to snooze-ville in mediocre cruise ship performance land. I do not get the adulation he receives from the judges and the nationwide critics.
Nerdia: I can hardly remember his song…and yet he seems like the only contestant who would be a legitimate Wonder fan.
Coolia: It would not surprise me if he is kicked off tonight in an upset. His performance was fine but he doesn't live up to the hype and he's not easy on the eyes.
C. Crumpet Swank: I am shocked, shocked, shocked that he was not in the bottom three. That was a lackluster performance for him, considering that Stevie's repertoire should have fit like a glove for him. Moreover, he was weak the prior week (the worst performance of the eight men, I thought) and we have the ongoing issue of his incontrovertible homeliness.

Mandisa - "Don't You Worry ‘Bout a Thing"

Terry: you'd better worry about doing better than that. The low ranges were bad and only the high and powerful ranges saved this to any degree. She'll stick around but she had one bad night!
Nerdia: Well, parts of it were good.
Coolia: This should have been the perfect theme for Mandisa to knock it out of the park but all she could manage was a weak pop up that miraculously fell between the shortstop and left fielder, allowing her to reach first base safely.

C. Crumpet Swank: I agree with Nerdia's comments.
This was Mandisa's first misstep.

Bucky Covington – “Superstition”

Terry: The "buck" may just stop here. That was terrible.
Nerdia: There’s no excuse for never appreciating “Superstition”, even if you were raised in a trailer on a mountaintop with goats for parents. If you proclaim to love music and want to be a popular entertainer, you have to at least know the superstars of all the big genres. I’d feel the same if Paris had never heard a Willie Nelson song.
Coolia: I remain mystified at how this bumpkin made it to the Top 24, much less the Top 12. His vocals sound like gears grinding together. Slim Whitman is easier to listen to and possibly even more attractive.

C. Crumpet Swank: I think this was his best performance yet, but that is faint praise. I am surprised he is even able to sing more than ten minutes a day. The gravel in his voice sounds entirely manufactured. It is something he could employ to good effect as an embellishment, perhaps, but to use it as his "normal" singing voice throughout a song just makes me uncomfortable. It feels like a stylistic contrivance and it makes me wonder what his "real" singing voice sounds. Plus, each week as he batters his way through a song I half expect to see a loogie issuing forth from his snaggle-toothed kisser.
His perfectly coiffed hair looked nice in a purely objective way, but not at all "like him." I doubt it has ever looked like that in his life before, and therefore, it was not a wise move. One thing that I find bizarre about him is that he seems very comfortable on stage (which is a good thing), yet he has a kind of goofy, loping-along way of moving. If Taylor is a Dad jumping up at a party and grabbing the mic, then Bucky is a frat boy at Hillbilly U jumping atop a beer-soaked coffee table to sing for the brothers at a good kegger.

Melissa McGhee - "Lately"

Terry: and it may just be the "late" Ms.Melissa after forgetting the lyrics AGAIN! I think she actually sang quite well, but to forget the lyrics is nearly inexcusable.
Nerdia: She really needs to slam it, She’s facing such indifference from so many. Sadly, she didn’t slam it this week. She tripped over it.
Coolia: I didn't even notice she messed up the lyrics until Randy pointed it out. That is likely a fatal error for Melissa. She looked great all dressed up. With her looks and smokey voice, she definitely has the most sex appeal of the women who are left, but I don't know if that's enough to save her.

C. Crumpet Swank: Has anyone checked the emergency rooms in the Boston-metro area? Surely Ayla was admitted after kicking her foot into the television in the moments after Melissa's performance. The irony is that with her bloody stump of an electrocuted foot, her basketball career is now in jeopardy as well.
But seriously...what a waste for Melissa to squeak by Ayla into the finals and then be the first to go home. I have no doubt that Ayla would have progressed to the Top Six or even better. She would have been a stealth attacker like Vonzell. I didn't notice Melissa's lyric mess-up. I thought her performance was weak overall--very uncertain, as she didn't seem to have control or comfort with the song. She tried different things vocally throughout, but it was more like a seek and destroy mission than anything else. Her prospects were always severely hampered by her total lack of pre-finals coverage. To overcome that handicap she would have had to be among the best three singers in the twelve, not the weakest three, which she undoubtedly was.

Lisa Tucker - "Signed, Sealed, Delivered"

Terry: Sign me, seal me, and deliver me when you turn 18! She looked like a hot rocker but the performance was lacking and her nerves really showed.
Nerdia: “Signed, Sealed, Delivered” is a bouncy balloon of a song. Lisa dragged the balloon around like it was an anvil.
Coolia: I think she should stay on Broadway. This was just aiight for me.
C. Crumpet Swank: Solid and polished as usual. But she, more than anyone, looks absolutely terrified during the results shows. It indicates to me that she this means so much to her that she might actually crack because of her nerves. Also, her offstage personality is proving to be bland. She will invariably be compared to the other two black women, who have far more sparkly personalities. I don't think Lisa will make it into the Top Eight at the rate she's going.

Kevin Covais - "Part Time Lover"

Terry: Are you kidding me!? I've heard better versions from trained monkeys. His bad performance was exceeded only by Kellie's...and he has stunk ever singe time, so how in the world do the 3 stooges keep showering him with praise? GO HOME!!!
Nerdia: Hilarious song choice. He can stay one more week for those dance moves alone.
Coolia: There is something really endearing about him. I agree he's bad, but he's really entertaining. He may have blown some votes by smarting off to Simon. I remember Justin Guarini landed in the bottom 3 one week after sassing Simon and coming off as arrogant. If Kevin starts to seem arrogant, he will lose all of his cute points.

C. Crumpet Swank: Beware, Kevin, no one likes a twerpy smarty-pants. If he starts making cocky remarks--like he did towards Simon--on a regular basis I think he will siphon away a great deal of his votes. And it wouldn't surprise me if he does commit that mistake, because he obviously took great pleasure in zinging Sir Scowl.
Regardless, Chicken Little's performance was ludicrous. He totally comes across as a joke when he attempts the uptempo stuff. He should stick to the ballads, but the fact that his ridiculousness didn't even land him in the bottom three could be just the sort of misguided encouragement he was looking for. Last week someone at work told me that Kevin reminds her of entrants at her daughter's middle school talent competition. Kevin's Part-time Lover certainly fit that bill. Lastly, it occurred to me, as an admitted late-developer myself, that Kevin may barely have entered puberty. And when one sets aside the singing, the terrible dance moves, and the quivering, out-thrust chin, it simply doesn't seem appropriate to anoint an American Idol who does not have pubic hair. A pube-free Idol is just wrong.

Katherine McPhee – “Until You Come Back To Me”

Terry: Her best performance yet
Nerdia: Still not feeling her. It’s like she has no experience under her belt to draw real emotion from.
Coolia: A very strong performance from her but I’m still not seeing much personality.
C. Crumpet Swank: So seasoned. (And gorgeous.) She sings effortlessly, much like Paris and Mandisa. Although this performance didn't WOW me, it was still highly accomplished. If she gets the right song, WATCH OUT!

Taylor Hicks – “Living For The City”

Terry: His best performance yet
Nerdia: I agree with this. The first performance of his that I’ve liked at all. His spastic moves were toned down and thus palatable and he was the only one who really got into the Stevie spirit.
Coolia: You know Taylor did well if Nerdia was converted! She thought he was a spastic tard. I loved this performance and watched it twice. It was the perfect song for him and he put so much heart, soul, and energy into it - like he does every week. I'm beginning to think he can win it all - if he doesn't dye his hair.
C. Crumpet Swank: The best performance of the week--two weeks in a row! Top Four here you come.

Paris Bennett – “All I Do”

Terry: A very good broadway performance (very loud, powerful, controlled but ultimately boring and somehow...fake). There's just something fake about her. I can't put my finger on it but she lacks sincerity. It all just appears to be part of "her show."
Nerdia: Thank you!!! I agree with Terry. There’s something too studied about her, not natural enough. This performance was good but she has never bowled me over.
Coolia: She looked very frumpy. Her style of dress is beyond bizarre. She does have the pipes, though, and I find her watchable.

C. Crumpet Swank: I'm having difficulty getting beyond her horrid appearance/
wardrobe week after week. FUGLY! With or without the stylist. Her singing is crackerjack good, but I'm not excited for her. And the fact that her grandmother is a well-known recording artist is always in the back of my mind; like, save the competition for the non-connected folk, okay?

Chris Daughtry – “Higher Ground”

Terry:, you poured it out again. By far the best and most ready for prime-time player on this year's tour.
Nerdia: Very lame that Chris took a Wonder song that had already been rocked out by the chili peppers. It’s like turning in someone else’s homework assignment. L-A-Z-Y. Not cool at all.
Coolia: Excellent analogy. I was a Chris fan but my fandom is waning. He hasn't proved he can do anything other than grunge rock/metal. The point of these theme weeks is to show you can stretch. He'll be able to find a metal remake of virtually any genre they come up with for theme weeks, but if he keeps doing that, he's not going to last.
C. Crumpet Swank: I have to agree wholeheartedly with Julie. Choosing a Stevie Wonder song only because it is a song that you can make sound nothing like Stevie Wonder is not an accomplishment to be lauded within the context of these themed nights. There has to be a happy medium between slavish interpretation and gutting a song so that you can remake it in the only style in which you can perform comfortablly. I thought the unanimous praise by the judges for this performance was a mistake, and will only encourage Chris not to take chances in his future interpretations. Whether that unadventurous direction will come back and bite him on the ass remains to be seen.

Steve Wonder

Nerdia: Seems like he’s only there to promote his new material. All his distancing, flaccid comments about the contestants seemed to imply dismissiveness; it’s like he couldn’t think of anything legitimately nice to say.
Coolia: He was probably just irritated that Taylor said 'Stevie, it's so nice to see you."

C. Crumpet Swank: I think Stevie snagged some of Paula's drugs, because he seemed kind of out-of-it.
Not impressive as a guest, and too vague and diplomatic in his brief comments about the contestants.

Who do we think is going home?

Terry: Bucky, with Kevin and Elliott in the bottom 3
Nerdia: Melissa, with Lisa and Bucky in the bottom 3
Coolia: Melissa, with Elliott and Bucky in the bottom 3

Read More......

Sunday, March 12, 2006

American Idol - Final 8 Boys

GEDEON MCKINNEY – “When A Man Loves a Woman”

Coolia: I still don't buy that he's 17. He does nothing for me. He's not the worst singer in the group, but nothing special either. I think he's going home tonight, although being the only black guy left may help him demographically speaking.
C. Crumpet Swank: If you told me he was 37, I'd believe it. Maybe even forty. He gave another strong performance last night and has definite showmanship, but I find him utterly creepy when he's in non-performing mode. The way he speaks drives me crazy! Vomitous! He's not ugly, but he's certainly not handsome either. Merely plain, which is actually a negative when you're alongside sexy Chris, sultry Ace, boyishly cute Will and twerpy-cute Kevin. He lacks any sex-appeal because of his eunuch-like quality. Lastly, ethnographic rooting doesn't come into play if you're a fey black male contestant. This boy is no Anwar. Oh yes, how can I forget? He loses points every week for having a deliberately misspelled name. There's got to be a contingency of grammatically sensitive Idol watchers who can't abide it.
Nerdia: There’s nothing I like about this one. He comes across like a fair 70s-era back-up singer. Not engaging enough to lead a group. Not even good enough to be a Pip. I wish I knew what a pip was.
Terry: Another false prophet the 3 Stooges (the judges) placed on a pedestal. His performance was way too safe and just average. AVERAGE, not "brilliant" (will someone please slap Paula and get her out of her stupor!?)


Coolia: This was his weakest performance yet, I thought, but still better than most of the boys. It just wasn't exceptional. I think the main problem was song choice - not a great song and it didn't show him off. He's still a hottie and the boy to beat.
C. Crumpet Swank: Weakest yet, but in relative terms of course. Again, he gave the most professional performance of all the men. The problem here is that he's sung three songs in a row in the same fashion--wounded, intense, angsty. He has to show that he can lighten up. He needs to sing something rollicking. He should sing Time by Hootie & the Blowfish.
Nerdia: Not a stellar song choice but I’ll give him a one-week hall pass.
Terry: Was his performance this week as good as last week's? No, but it was still very good and that puts him as the best performance again this week for all of the men.

KEVIN COVAIS – “Vincent”

Coolia: This was laughably bad to me. I don't see why Paula and Randy encourage him. The song choice was wack and his overly serious delivery was comedic. This was straight out of a junior high talent show. Still, I think Simon is right - the grannies will vote for him and so will a lot of little girls.
C. Crumpet Swank: I actually liked it. He does have a nice tone to his voice and he is much better when singing a ballad than anything uptempo. I thought the earnest delivery perfectly suited the song. I felt like I was listening to an authentic 50s love lament, "Tell Laura, I Love Her," et al. He seemed to push his vocal range, too, which is good on one hand (in terms of effort), but bad on the other (we saw the limitations of his voice). His quivering, out-thrust lower lip makes me a bit queasy.
Nerdia: I love this tortured Don McClean song about Vincent Van Gogh…but this is the kind of song school bullies would beat you up for singing. So I don’t know if Kevin was brave or clueless for singing it. This isn’t American Guilty Pleasure.
Terry: Okay, let's get real. Kevin is NOT a "very good singer" as the 3 Stooges oozed. That's like saying I'm a selfish lover. It's just simply, absolutely, completely and categorically not true!

BUCKY COVINGTON – “Wave on Wave”

Coolia: Seeing Bucky's twin Rocky was truly terrifying - there are two of them! If we get them wet, will they multiply like Gremlins? I think the introduction of his twin and the fact that he's the only country guy will propel him into the next round. But his vocals were very rough and sludgy to me. I don't see the appeal but America does. Everyone with a gun rack on their truck will be voting for him.
C. Crumpet Swank: He is the poor man's Chris Daughtry, literally and figuratively. I too think he will make it to the next round, but how can he possibly survive much longer, when his votes should certainly go to Chris? From week to week I can't even recall what Bucky has sung. He's not memorable at all. I will acknowledge that this was the best of his three performances thus far, but I can't understand why Paula and Randy are so encouraging. Simon's observation that his performance was completely "average," was right on target.
Nerdia: I think his life-story is something Flannery O’Connor would write. On some level, he scares me. But I kind of like being scared so he can stay.
Terry: Bucky - OH MY GOD!!! There's another one waiting in the mist! (yes, mist, not in the mist of the country bayou they hail from) You have Chris' powerful and controlled melodic rasp and then there was this horse broken rasp...and again, the obviously drugged (perhaps possessed?) 3 Stooges shower him with accolades. What is going on here? Are we in the throws of the beginning stages of Armageddon?

WILL MAKAR –“How Sweet It Is”

Coolia: This song choice was a real cop out - not challenging in the least. He needed to raise his game to stick around and I don't think he raised it. His only hope is that millions of pre teen and teen girls are responding to his Peter Brady looks.
C. Crumpet Swank: Again, I have to disagree. I think he has the best voice, after Chris, and I thought he acquit himself nicely with this song. I was genuinely shocked by Randy's harsh assessment of this performance. I really think Will's voice is strong and clear, and he delivers emotionally. With perhaps the exception of Chris, he has the best sense of vocal control among the men. Also, he has fine showmanship and there is a kind of unexpectedly sexy glint in his eye which he lets loose at different moments when he's singing. He actually reminds me of a teenage Robbie Williams. I don't know why he's not clicking with people more.
Nerdia: Sweet is a dime a dozen. The Osmonds were sweet. The Jacksons were better.
Terry: I just got to stop and wave good bye, baby. You've just got to stop. And take your butt home, baby. Actually, I like the kid but the better talent far outshine him. Very nice karaoke performance (certainly better than anything I could ever hope to achieve).

TAYLOR HICKS – “Taking It To The Streets”

Coolia: So Taylor finally decides to do Michael McDonald since everyone has been comparing him to Michael. I'm not sure that was smart. He did a fine job with the song, but his dance moves were beyond goofy. I thought he was seizing and expected Ryan to rush on stage and stick something in his mouth so he wouldnt swallow his tongue. Anyway, he's still my favorite, despite it all. He brings a lot of fun and surprise to the show - and he really can sing when you get beyond the mugging and jitterbugging.
C. Crumpet Swank: He was GREAT last night! Hands down, the best performance of the evening! Did you see Simon's enormous smile when the camera cut away to the judges just as Taylor finished? The arrangement of the song was dynamite and he sang it with real texture. Dare I say, I think it sounded better than the original? There was real drama to the way he sang it and he made me hear the lyrics for the first time in my life, which is no small accomplishment since I've probably heard this song on the radio a few hundred times. I totally didn't mind his seizure-ish movements since he was so in the moment. In fact, it was kind of exciting. Again, he connects with the music--directly and infectiously-- moreso than anyone--boy or girl. He even beats Chris in this department.
Nerdia: Taylor is absolutely ridiculous. He would make a good court jester so I was not surprised to learn he has a secret Easter Bunny past. I’d feel perfectly safe leaving him with my children and then going off to see the real Michael McDonald or the real fake Ray Charles (Jamie Foxx).
Terry: The judges telling the energetic and visually entertaininig flailing Taylor that he "nailed" the vocals was akin to Marylin Manson being told he's a good role model for little children. It’s not true! He butchered Michael McDonald (who will probably not be as nice to him as Christopher Cross, should they ever meet).


Coolia: This was a really boring song choice and he did nothing to make it his own. I think he has a good voice but I don't think he has any charisma. His admission that he's deaf in one ear won't help him - remember Jim Vararos and his deaf parents? He still got voted out early. I just don't think his talent is enough to compensate for what he lacks in the charisma and looks department. He'll have to start picking really challenging songs to stick around.
C. Crumpet Swank: I thought it was awful. I actually groaned while listening to it. Imagine my surprise when Randy raved. I thought surely he would take him to task. Simon exactly captured my opinion. Indeed, for the first time there was a "disconnect" between Elliott and the song. It was apparent vocally and physically, and Simon called him on it. He also mentioned how Elliott's a soulful singer and that this song was the wrong choice from the get-go. "Heaven" is a well-written song, and it was suprising to see that it definitely takes a certain type of vocal to do it justice. The fact that Elliott has quite a good voice and couldn't pull it off makes me want to tip my hat to Bryan Adams. The whole deaf thing--Paula shouldn't have even commented on it. Lastly, his looks remain a huge liability and he's not giving us a winning enough personality to compensate for it. I think he's going home.
Nerdia: I sort of started to see what the hubbub was about last week with this guy. But this week I forgot again.
Terry: Uh, "may be the best male singer ever on American Idol"? WHAT!? He's not even the best this season! And, after a very, very, very weak vocal performance the 3 Stooges again heaped praise on him. From the get-go all I could think was, "Is he sick? He sounds terrible."

ACE YOUNG – “Butterflies”

Coolia: Wow, that falsetto was unexpected and a bit unsettling coming out of such a stud. But this was a good performance for him - he showed his range and that he brings something unique to the competition. He'll sail through to the next round.
C. Crumpet Swank: This song was the second single from Michael Jackson's ill-fated last album. It peaked at #2, I believe, on the R&B chart and it hit #14 on the Hot 100. Ace's vocal was quite close to the arrangement in the Michael version. Again, I agreed with Simon's assessment--very strong opening and ending, but a little off-kilter in the middle. When Ace did his longest stretch of falsetto in that mid-portion of the song, he kind of derailed slightly at one point, and I think he even knew it, because he tried to right himself. This boy oozes sex appeal in an utterly effortless, vanity-free way. Let's hope it stays that way (no "My name is Constantine, aren't I sexy?" developments, please). Every woman in America (and many men) must surely be wondering what he looks like totally naked except for his "toboggan."
Nerdia: Competent falsetto. Better than other performances; not quite Off the Wall.
Terry: And, last but not least, our Ace in the hole. And, for all I care he could sing his falsetto warblings into a hole. I thought that he was terrible. He broke notes all over the place AND THEY SHOWERED HIM WITH PRAISE! Oh the humanity!! Unfortunately, we are going to be stuck with him for a while because his looks will carry him much further than his singing talent.


Coolia: Will and Gedeon
C. Crumpet Swank: Elliott and Gedeon
Nerdia: Will and Kevin
Terry: Kevin an
d Will

Read More......

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

American Idol - And Then There Were Eight Girls...

Last night's show began with Ryan Seacrest in a wrinkled suit and unknotted necktie, much to the outrage of Art Haarper: "Tighten your necktie and get a shave. He looks like he just staggered out of happy hour." Overall, the girls' performances could have been neater too.

Paris Bennett - "Conga"

Cr. Crumpet Swank: Paris was good but not great. When Gloria Estefan was on the show, Simon, of all people, commented on how challenging her songs were to sing, and that people didn't necessarily realize that. Paris's performance was further proof of this. Her Gladys song remains her best performance, but that was now two weeks ago. Also, she better watch out for Mandisa as the field shrinks, since their similarities will cannibalize each other's votes. If push comes to shove I think people will side with Mandisa. Both girls have strong, expressive, totally effortless voices that are very R&B/funky/churchy. Vocally they are pretty much equal, perhaps. And they both have sunny, appealing personalities, but I give Mandisa the edge here because she comes across as merely fun and sassy and sweet, whereas Paris risks coming across a little too cutesy.
Coolia: I gave Paris the lowest scores of the night. I thought her timing was off on the song and she looked uncomfortable to me. She probably has enough fans to keep her safe, but performing first and not doing well could land her in the bottom 3 as a surprise.

Lisa Tucker - "Here's Where I Stand"

C. Crumpet Swank: Lisa gave another strong performance. That I remember. But the song and its details? I can't recall any of it, even though it was only last night. I think she is someone who is going to need serious help with song selection in order to stay in the game. As always her poise is exceptional. What distinguishes her from Mandisa and Paris is that her singing is a little more Broadway and less R&B. This might help position her more distinctly in people's minds as times goes on.
It was not a song I knew, and I think the judges dinged her for that. I think she will make it this week but will eventually lose out to Paris in the precocious teen dept.

Melissa McGhee - "What About Love"

C. Crumpet Swank: Although I liked Melissa's performance, I don't think she has enough charisma. She is also very plain-looking, which doesn't help. There's a little bit of a white-trash quality to her as well. Was that the same muffintop-baring outfit as last week? Is that "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" wardrobe decision based on her moving forward last week? While by no means fat, she doesn't quite have the figure to pull that look off.
Coolia: I thought you would love her for doing a Heart song! I thought it was a good song choice for her, suited her well. She did look trashy.

Kinnik Sky - "If I Aint Got You"

C. Crumpet Swank: I thought Kinnik was okay, and not as bad as the judges concluded, but there's some essential quality missing with her. I can't quite put my finger on it. I think it has something to do with the fact that her voice is not particularly distinctive--both in terms of its sound, nor in its technical range, so when you put these two aspects together it leaves her wanting in the company of the other gals.
Coolia: Agreed. I think she picked a song that was too big for her and it showed her limitations. She's also not particularly likable or beautiful - although one might call her a handsome woman.

Katharine McPhee - "Think"

C. Crumpet Swank: Katharine was excellent. She looked like she was having a good time, was totally relaxed, and nailed virtually every note in an extremely challenging song. It was a delight to hear her sing something so funky and do it so well. Cathy Dennis and Lisa Stansfield would be proud. Two areas in need of improvement: 1.) Wardrobe. Wearing jeans and a solid, no-style top week after week is not going to cut it. She needs to hire Nadia Turner to be her personal shopper for the next few months. 2.) Post-performance composure. She's starting to come off a bit twit-like. She's too giddy and silly. It makes her seem a little dumb, when I don't think she really is. Good thing she's not blonde. Let's keep in mind, too, that she's really gorgeous in a totally unpretentious way. I don't think she realizes how beautiful she is, which is a good thing. Nevertheless, someone needs to get her going in terms of delivering a look which can capitalize on her assets.
Coolia: Agreed. She doesn't seem arrogant at all. She needs to show more personality if she wants to last, or she will end up like Latoya London who proved that great vocals weren't enough to win. But she should sail through to the next round.

Ayla Brown - "Unwritten"

C. Crumpet Swank: Ayla was done a disservice by her song selection, exactly for the reason Randy said: it was not a difficult song to sing, relatively speaking. Nevertheless, she was polished and delivered the goods. "Unwritten" is in the Top Ten currently, so who knows, maybe people will really connect with it, since she did do a good job with it, after all.
Coolia: I really don't like her, and that's probably influencing my pick for her to be voted off, and I will probably lose a point over it. Her performance was less robotic this time, but I still don't see any warmth in her, even in her interviews. Her voice alone is not enough to sell her to me, with her absence of personality. And being a hard worker isn't enough, although Paula keeps congratulating her for that.

Mandisa - "I'm Every Woman"

C. Crumpet Swank: Even though Mt. Disa is absolutely gigantic, she actually has a very pretty face which belies her weight. I know that's an old saw, "but she has a pretty face..." yet here it's true. So, Mandisa is grossly overweight but has a pretty face, whereas Paris is tiny but has a plain and middle-aged looking face. Which combination will people find more appetizing? Also, I think it's interesting to note that the fact that she's black actually cuts Mandisa some slack in terms of her weight. I maintain that, on a visual scale, people don't find bigger black woman, especially singers, as off-putting as similarly-sized white women. Do we perhaps have Aretha Franklin, "The Hippo of Soul," to thank for this? Mandisa's performance was rousing. My only complaint about her, and it's an ongoing one, is that her voice lacks a truly distintictive quality. I want there to be something in her voice which I could recognize as unique, and I haven't heard it yet.
Coolia: Ugh...I cringed, and I'm sure all my fellow Lane Bryant shoppers did too, when Paula told her she had a pretty face last week. yes, she does, but that's such an irritating cliche. She's so far ahead of the other girls vocally, and I'm hoping that people will get behind her. She also seems to have a really nice, sweet personality that gives her an advantage in the "likeability factor." I am curious to see if people will vote for a big gal. It will be a breakthrough if she goes far. Aretha was not that big in her heydey and I can't think of any obese chicks who became big popstars (Carnie Wilson doesn't count - her function in Wilson Phillips was to make Chynna look hotter). My wardrobe advice to her would be to stick to loose, flowing tops and skirts, cleavage-baring stuff, and avoid jeans which make her legs look like two giant redwoods.

Kellie Pickler - "I'm the Only One"

C. Crumpet Swank: How can one not love her? She has to be the most charming Idol contestant of all time. And as long as she continues to deliver solid performances like last night, she will make it into the final handful of competitors. God Bless Simon for proclaiming that he liked Kellie better than Carrie, since his constant praise of Carrie's singing helped (mistakenly) pave the way to her ascension as last year's Idol. Not only was he complementing Kellie through this comparison, it was as if he was finally admitting that Carrie is and was a dud when it comes to personality. Indeed, I was always mystified by how Simon never seemed to realize how supremely boring Carrie was/is; how she always seemed so stiff performing; how she exuded practically no charisma. For someone as astute as he to downplay such glaring deficiencies seemed incomprehensible to me. While AI is a singing competition, it is more than that as well, which Simon and the other judges have acknowledged repeatedly. So yes, Carrie has a lovely, technically impressive voice, but she is an utter bore to watch, further evidenced by her guest performance last Thursday. So let us now remember to celebrate Kellie Pickler as a total package: the clear, beautiful, strong voice; her fetching looks and sexy physique; the playful, innocent, joyous personality; her identity as a lover of dogs; that fighting spirit; and her growing confidence and charisma on stage. PICK PICKLER!
Coolia: Nerdia's comment about the DJ saying she had been rude to wait staff is still in my mind and now i'm questioning if she's genuine. I am waiting for The Smoking Gun to reveal she's been stripping in vegas for the past few years. But when I turn this cynical voice off, I do enjoy her. I cheered when Simon said she was better than Carrie - but I don't think she has the pipes to win. Her personality is much better than Carrie's, but her voice is not in the same league. Her voice is really pretty average. And I don't think she should win right after Carrie - it will turn the Idol competition into a repeat of last year. If she makes the final two with one of the boys, I bet a boy will win. She really shouldnt make the final two though - PICK MT. DISA!

Who Do We Think Is Going Home?

C. Crumpet Swank: Kinnik and Melissa
Coolia: Ayla and Kinnik

Read More......