Wednesday, April 19, 2006

American Idol - The First Cut is the Deepest

Terry: Well, first let me say I was STUNNED by how NOT overall disgusted I was like last week. I was taken by complete surprise that everyone did at least decently and most did rather well. Just stunned!
C. Crumpet Swank:
Today is a dark day for me It is the day when I have to admit that Kellie Pickler does not deserve to be our American Idol. Her performance last night was really the worst of the bunch and confirmed her total lack of consistency. The Idol deserves to be someone who delivers week after week, and it appears that my girl Kellie is only delivering the goods every other week I will always love Kellie and I do think she's got a wonderful voice, but she doesn't have sufficient control over it as an instrument and/or she lacks sufficient interpretive ability to warrant a million dollar contract at this point. The girl needs more training. Please send tissues to my home address.

Chris Daughtry – "What a Wonderful World"

Terry: "and I think to myself, what a wonderful world" would be if you won this thing. I enjoyed this performance very much. Second only to Katherine's for the night. However, I will go on record as saying that this still paled in comparison to the Louis Armstrong. This was MUCH better than that slop (sorry Rod Stewart diehards) version that Rod Stewart put out. But, Louis Armstrong’s version is simply THE definitive version. You just can not do better than that.
Nerdia: I agree with Terry. Chris redeemed himself somewhat this week (even made it his own a bit) not that he holds a candle to the original.

C. Crumpet Swank: It was refreshing to hear him sing something that wasn't totally angst-ridden, and to do it capably, to boot. But I must grouse: I think the judges' enthusiasm had more to do with their relief that Chris was trying something different, rather than his actual performance, which was good, but not emphatically "great" as Simon declared. And even though this song is mellow in terms of its music, its lyrics are full of joy. Did anyone feel the joy in Chris? No, neither did I. He still needs to sing something through which can hear a smile. Please. At least once.

Paris Bennett – "These Foolish Things"

Terry: Definitely in her element. But, she enunciated SO much that it frequently took me out of the song. Despite the fact that her vocals were pure gold, this emphasis on enunciation made it seem as if this song took great effort for her. Beautiful vocals/singing but once again the result simply did not come across to me as genuine at all.
Nerdia: I was bored.

C Crumpet Swank: Oh, you two. I thought this was far and away the best performance of the evening. It was like she channeling Dinah Washington. The vocal was so crisp and clear, so lovely--yet powerful. I have to say that it felt genuine to me, fully so. There was a wonderful, controlled passion in the singing. It was shiny and elegant and transported me to the past in the way that no one else's performance did. She seemed totally relaxed and enjoying every minute of it. It was a truly effortless performance in the best sense of the word. Better for me than Fantasia's much ballyhooed Summertime.
I can't believe that Nerdia was bored by this. I think her trauma from Queen night has dulled her senses to the point of incomprehensibility. Oh yes, I almost forgot to mention--judging buy the looks of her outfit, I guess that on the days the show doesn't air, Paris is supplementing her weekly Idol stipend with a stewardess gig on Alaskan Airlines. She looked so smart in their salmon-colored regulation suit!

Taylor Hicks – "You Send Me"

Terry: "you-ew-ew-ew, send me"....and send yourself to your best vocal performance yet. I liked this a lot. Began a bit week but quickly grew and improved and was fantastic at the end. Nice!
Nerdia: I was bored at first (love Aretha’s version); but Taylor sent me at the end with his crazy scat. My favorite of the night.
C. Crumpet Swank: I think everyone who watched probably feels the same way about this performance, more or less: ho-hum throughout and then a slam-dunk at the end. That ending was truly astonishing. It was a goosebump-inducing moment. And not that the whole song can be sung in that way--but...let us not forget the first 4/5 of his rendition was pretty uninspiring. Therefore, I don't think it was the best performance of the evening--how can it be when it wasn't great overall?

Elliott Yamin – "It Had to Be You"

Terry: I sincerely like him as a person (from what I can see and have gleamed from the show), but once again, just a so-so performance.
Nerdia: I couldn’t help but think wistfully (and better) of Harry Connick Jr.’s performance. This was like a less-charming version.
C. Crumpet Swank: Good but not great. As always. Bye, bye Elliott.

Kellie Pickler – "Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered"

Terry: Began as if this would be her best vocal performance yet (and oh my goodness did she look soooooooo goooooood.....she dresses up nice!!); but the she got all pitchy and progressively worse. Very well may be her first visit to the bottom 3 this week.
Nerdia: I was bewitched, bothered and bewildered when Rod Stewart defiled Cher by singing this duet with her. Brings up baaad memories. Kellie is out of her performance-league but I think she’s winning the popularity contest. Was she trying to flirt with Rod? I think she was. Smart girl. He’ll be divorced soon enough.

C. Crumpet Swank: Nerdia I wish you would have commented on Kellie's actual performance, which you didn't.
Nevertheless, I totally agree with Terry. It started out so promisingly...and then...yikes! I almost had to take a personal day off today to come to terms with my feelings. I think it's clear now that Kellie does not excel with the ballads--remember her bland performance on Stevie Wonder night? At least that evening she sang everything in tune. But then, and last night, it was obvious that the ballads seem to straightjacket her. She's been truly uncomfortable and unconvincing with them. In her first audition Simon told her she somewhat oversang "Since You've Been Gone," even though he liked both her voice and her rendition. I think that performance spoke to the fact that Kellie likes to belt, and a soft-edged ballad like "Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered" certainly doesn't permit that, so she ends up feeling at a loss with what to do with her voice (which echoes Simon's comment that she herself appeared truly "bewildered" last night). In such situations such as this Kellie attempts to hew closely to the melody. When this works (as with the Stevie Wonder) you end up with a bloodless, but technically sound performance; when it doesn't, you just end up with a mess (last night). She was like the captain of a ship trying to resume the rightful course--you could see it in her face as she was struggling to get everything right once she went off track in the middle of the song. I have to give her props, however, for the gracious way she handled the judges' comments. On this show no contestant is ever willing to cop to a bad performance. When confronted with the question, "Well, how did you think you did?" as a prelude to some negative criticism, virtually every contestant says, "Well, I felt good/I did my thing/I have no regrets/Etc." At best, these standard responses are phony, self-courage boosters; at worst, arrogant delusions. That was why it was so refreshing to hear Kellie admit that she didn't do the song justice. Moreover, she could have deluged us with Jasmine-like tears and she didn't. In fact, she was totally composed (and still comedic, too). She seemed genuinely disappointed in herself and yet not defeated or despairing. Very clear-eyed for a dimwit, eh? I wonder if she'll even end up in the bottom three, considering how gracefully she handled the aftermath of her performance. I still love Kellie, lest anyone forget.

Ace Young – "That's All"

Terry: His best yet. But, still not good enough when compared to Chris, Taylor and Katherine...or even Kellie or Paris or Elliott for that matter.
Nerdia: He annoyed me this week with his humorlessness and weak sultry looks. I’m not buying.

C. Crumpet Swank:
I completely disagree with you, Terry. After Kellie, this was the worst of the night (and, remember, I'm someone who thinks that Ace is often unfairly maligned). I thought he would do exceptionally well this week, given that ballads are his forte (I thought he gave the best performance of Country Week), but his vocals last night seemed quite forced to me. It was like he was singing his "idea" of what the song should sound like, rather than just singing it "for real," as Randy would say. It all seemed very deliberate, and not successfully so. Also, the transition into the falsetto was weak for the first time, so he loses points for that. And he sang the final word in a weird vibratory way that was totally distracting.
I'm not buying either, Nerdia. (Although I do have to say that it was fun seeing how much Simon's approval meant to him.)

Katharine McPhee – "Someone to Watch Over Me"

Terry: Just great. Best of the night by far! And yes, even though I'm this huge Chris fan, I have to give props when they're due...Katherine blew me away! Just fantastic!
Nerdia: Snoozefest.

C. Crumpet Swank: The camera eats this girl alive! She looked breathtaking--like a movie star from the 1940s. And let's face it--the vocal was superb. I liked Paris ever so slightly more, but that is not to say that Katharine's wasn't an exceptional performance. And in it, something crystallized for me about why I like her voice--there's a kind of ache, which is very compelling.
I do still feel, though, that overall she's a little bit too calculated; that the emotional connection to the music is not entirely authentic. I almost typed earlier "she employs a kind of ache," and the way the word employ came to mind made me realize that there is something of the technician in her which predominates. I'm not entirely convinced of it, but I wish she'd offer some definitive proof to the contrary.

Rod Stewart

Mary: I was annoyed by Rod Stewart but found him mostly innocuous. I almost felt sorry for him when Ace was clinging to him for validation.


Terry: Elliott, Kellie, Ace
Home: Elliott

Nerdia: Paris, Chris, Ace
Going Home: Ace

C Crumpet Swank says to Terry that "Great Minds Think Alike."
Bottom Three: Elliott, Ace, Kellie

Going home: Elliott

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