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

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