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.

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