Here’s the deal: there were three episodes of Idol this week. So I have five hours of show to write about here. That’s too much to do a proper analysis in its entirety; my fingers will fall off from typing. So I am giving myself one hour–ONE HOUR–to type as much as I can, based on memory. Because if I don’t remember it, then it must have been boring so why write about it anyway?
Please keep in mind, I’m super-obsessive about analyzing American Idol. If Bryant Gumbel can break down a football game, I can do the same with Idol singers. In my head, they’re all reading what I’m writing and learning so much from the pearls of wisdom I have to offer…”If _______ would just sing _______, s/he’d be GREAT!” And so what if they don’t read it in real life? At least I try to help.
They’re at the semi-final 24, working down to the final 12. The ladies sang on Tuesday, the dudes sang on Wednesday, and then there were results on Thursday.
So here we go. It’s time to get very serious about this. Start the clock! (click!)Las Mujeres
First of all: was it just me, or did Paula Abdul look like Barbarella? At times she does act like she’s stuck in the Orgasmatron.
I’m never going to get through this if I keep going on tangents. First up:
There was a point when Mandisa was singing, and the cameras swept up to the balcony where the other female contestants were watching. Paris Bennett and Lisa Tucker, two good singers who have no worries in this competition yet, were dancing along. Becky O’Donohue had a look on her face like “Oh, shit.” Yeah Becky, meet Mandisa, your competition.
I always say the way to win Idolis to take a big step out of your comfort zone. Kelly Clarkson basically won her season on Big Band night, when she belted out “And Some Like That There” like she had been singing those songs all her life. Ruben doesn’t sing country, but he nailed “Sweet Home Alabama.” Fantasia is strictly R&B, but people still talk about her rendition of the showtune “Summertime.” Bo Bice could have won his damn season, had he JUST ONCE done anything other than his acoustic-rocker thing, which started out great but became a yawnfest after a while; yet Carrie Underwood, a personality-void girl who is currently establishing her foothold in utterly boring Contemporary Christian music, blew everyone away when she wailed “Alone,” by rock supergroup Heart. These are the moments the Idols shine.
Entre’ Mandisa–definitely not a rocker chick–who jumped on the Heart train and tossed her weave around while shreiking out rock anthem “Never.” She picked that song, she said, to show “sistas can rock too.” Did she have pitch problems? Yeah, she sang sharp a few times; I chalk it up to adrenaline. Did she pull it off? Absolutely! Put her in a studio immediately to record it. She gave me chills. I’m telling you, versatility is key to an Idol win. And Mandisa knows it. Smart lady. She was so good!
Ugh, that took too long. Tick tock tick tock.
2) Kellie Pickler–”How Far”
Cute girl, sang her song as an ode to her dad in jail. She sounded cartoonish, sang most of it flat, doesn’t have enough range for that song. Doesn’t matter, we love her. Standing with Ryan Seacrest, she smiled into the camera and chirped “Pick Pickler!” like she was running for Student Council. She’s very real. See you next week, Kellie! NEXT–
3) Becky O’Donohue–”Because The Night”
Becky, do you want me to give you Hugh Hefner’s phone number? I am friends with some Playmates, I can get it for you. You and your sister will make millions. And you can sing at Hef’s mansion. Won’t that be fun?
4) Ayla Brown–”Reflections”
Who knew she could wail? Rock on, Ayla. She needed this performance to be great to establish her presence with the other big personalities, and she nailed it. For the first time we saw personality in those eyes. This was her best so far that we’ve seen. I’m a little proud of her, and I don’t even know her.
5) Paris Bennett–”Midnight Train To Georgia”
Has the bluesy voice, has the perky pop in her step, even worked the Gladys Knight feathered hair. Fabu. Singing? Great, especially since she didn’t go the Idol route of singing a song with all sorts of long sustained power-notes to show how loud she can be. And that has its place, but this time around, Paris just sang a nice song and gave it a lot of chuztpah. That’s hard to pull off. And when she was singing, the cameras cut over to Kevin Covais, who was shaking his money maker for all it was worth. That’s a pretty strong endorsement, I say. She has the power to touch people. Or maybe just the power to touch Kevin Covais. Whatever, Kevin needs as much screen time as he can get.
6) Stevie Scott–”Where You Are”
What the hell happened with Stevie? She blew it. Apparently she thought she would be artistic and original and sing a soft, elegant ballad, all in her lovely operatic falsetto…but she forgot to breathe when she sang. It was just awful, totally high school talent show. And how sad, because you know she’s good, but she’s too caught up in her own head. KISS: Keep It Simple, Stevie.
7) Brenna Gethers–”You Are The Sunshine Of My Life”
I’m not even typing about Brenna. It hurts my fingers too much. I want her gone. Although I do like how Ryan clocked her when he said “I notice you’re constantly posing.” We love Ryan for that. But only for that. Seeing Ryan Seacrest and Brenna Gethers on stage together makes my eyes bleed! NEXT–
8) Heather Cox–”When You Tell Me That You Love Me”
This song was like a Tylenol P.M. Nice voice, but so what? You want her to spice it up, you hope she does, by you know she never will. So we’ll suffer for a few weeks, watching her flounder around and hoping she can pull it together because it just seems like she could…but she never will. And the minute she’s cut we won’t care.
Who was next? Kinnik Skye or Melissa McGhee? I’ll go with Kinnik–
9) Kinnik Skye–”Get Here”
Sounded exactly like Oleta Adams. Otherwise known as “Trenyce 2.0.”
10) Melissa McGhee–”When The Lights Go Down”
I hope Melissa makes it to the Top 12. Not that she’ll win. But if she makes it to Top 12, she can pull a Kimberly Locke: establish a small but devoted fan base, get a recording deal with a small but respected label, and have a lovely and lucrative career in adult contemporary, leaving Idolmania in the past. She and Taylor Hicks should do a duet. We likey.
And, like Taylor, she needs some help from the Idol stylists. She wears too much makeup and needs to go back to blonde.
11) Lisa Tucker–”I Am Changing”
I bet Lisa uses that song as her audition for all her high school musicals. It was good, and fun, but so…safe. Everyone loves her right now, but she really, really needs to step out of her comfort zone and wow us with something totally unexpected, if she wants anyone to take her seriously later on down the road. And she can do it, she’s fantastic. But does she have the guts? We’ll see. I say she is the first “shocker” elimination, about halfway through the finals.
12) Katherine McPhee–”Since I Fell For You”
I love that Katherine sang a Barbra Streisand song, and actually pulled it off. I love that she batted her eyelashes at the camera the whole time. And I love that at the end of the day, she’s just a giggly girl who’s having the time of her life. She can sing, and she’s fun. Perfect.
…tick tock tick tock…
First to sing: Patrick Hall–”Come To My Window”
Cute pop voice and medium emotional investment, which is jarring with this song, since Melissa Etheridge screamed it like she was singing for her life. Why is it that when I watch him sing, I think of Eeyore from Winnie The Pooh? His personality reminds me of Eeyore. Not his voice, his voice is good. But his eyes seem like they’re just waiting for the bad news to come at any moment. Just like Tyra said to Gisele on Season 1 of America’s Next Top Model: “If you don’t believe you’re fierce, we won’t believe it either.” Mandisa and Paris Bennett believe they’re fierce, Patrick. Why don’t you?
2) David Radford–”Crazy Little Thing Called Love”
I totally jazzed on his vibe. Not that his “cute-guy-turned-lounge-singer” thing has any future in this contest, other than going on the “American Idol Tour” if he accidentally makes it to the Top 12. Because seriously, David isn’t exactly Michael Buble’. It’s piano bars and steakhouses for him once this show is over. But tonight, I liked him, he sang great. He just makes me nervous; I don’t want him to be on the show long enough for people to start being mean, talking about how they don’t understand why he’s on the show at all. Because at the end of the day, he’s legitimately talented, and he seems like a nice guy. I worry about these things.
3) Bucky Covington, singing some song that I forget the name of.
I didn’t pay any attention to this one, so I don’t know what he sang, honestly. I didn’t like what he was doing with the whole throaty-voice thing, that wave of music is pretty much over. Grunge already happened, like, ten years ago…and yeah, Creed’s still around, but they already have a lead singer. That’s it. Try something new, please. There’s a voice in there somewhere. NEXT–
4) Will Makar–”I Want You Back”
Bad, bad, bad song choice. While a teenage boy exiting puberty may be appealing to Michael Jackson on a personal level, a teenage boy exiting puberty needs to sing songs like “Human Nature,” not the Jackson Five bubble-gum stuff. On a surface level it seems he did alright, he sang the song technically well and he’s cuter than a basket of puppies; but it also established his image as boring. This cracked his foundation. It was a bad night for him. Strike 1.
He showed up in purple velvet sportcoat and cocked white hat, and sang mostly in falsetto. And I LOVED it! Why? I have no idea. It was crazy. But it takes a big man with a big voice to sing in falsetto, hardcore old-skool style, and pull it off. And pull it off, he did, even though Simon called him “pimpy.” But doesn’t Simon get it? That’s what we love. I am Swayed. I’m totally a Swaymate now. Pimp on, I say.
6) Chris Daughtry–”Wanted: Dead Or Alive”
Oh please. Do we need another Bon Jovi? Yes, he was very very good. The judges went ga-ga for his rock-solid performance, and still I think Chris is the bee’s knees, but the cheese factor was too much for me with this song. He told a story how he likes to sing this song at bars because the “crowd goes crazy.” And you can totally see him singing that song in some bar, in Cleveland or Daytona Beach or someplace where Bon Jovi fans go to die, surrounded by a gaggle of barfly floozies with bad halter tops and visible thongs and acrylic nails, all planning how they’re going to be the one he bangs that night. Blech. I still voted for him. Did I mention I look pretty fly in halter tops?
7) Kevin Covais–”One Last Cry”
I want to keep Kevin as a pet. I love his little speech impediment/lisp thing he gets when he sings. But the actual performance? Well… Kevin Covais singing Brian McNight is like me trying to play in the NBA. Futile. Josh Groban, fool! Sing Josh Groban!
8) Gedeon McKinney–”Shout”
Gedeon and his eyebrows sang “Shout” like the wedding singer he is destined to be. NEXT–
9) Elliot Yamin
I was on the phone when he started singing so I didn’t hear the name of his song. And with him on mute, I was fixated on his underbite and unfortunate need for dental work. But when I hung up, I turned the volume back up, and he’s was good, y’know?…he’s good. I want him to take a big breath and support his tone, so that nasty hyper-vibrato he’s got will disappear. But the vocal coaches at Idol should help him with that. Otherwise, I dig him. Okay, I get why Simon showers with Elliot Yamin-shaped soap. I get it.
10) Bobby Bennett–”Copacabana”
What’s there to say about Bobby Bennett? Hmm…well, my friend Regina called me right when he finished singing, and our conversation went something like this:
“Did you just see that guy on Idol?”
“It was like Jackie Gleason got drunk and decided to sing Barry Manilow songs.”
And there you have it. See ya, Bobby.
11) Ace–”Father Figure”
Ace gets the award for “Perfect Song Choice” for the night, sailing through that song all sultry and silky-smooth. “American Idol” title or not, he will soar, singing songs on Top 40 radio and making girls cry. All the girls who liked Constantine will like Ace, even though Ace sounds far more pleasant than the alarm clock that is Constantine’s voice. Because, like Constantine, Ace knows how to gaze directly into the camera and raise his eyelids juuuuust enough to tease you with how he would look lying in your bed, wearing nothing but his skivvies, pulling you down to spoon. Gay boys and straight women have his voting number on speed dial. Straight guys vote for him because they admire his hair. And the lesbians of America?…well, perhaps they like his voice. Because on top of it all, he’s actually good. Ace is going to give Katherine McPhee and Paris Bennett and Mandisa a run for their money.
12) Taylor Hicks–”Levon”
This song was not my favorite Taylor moment; he sang somewhat forced, straining out of his range too much. But no matter. He’s all good. Simon even admitted he was wrong when he said this competition was not the right place for Taylor. Because this is is home. This is the arena which brings Taylor to us so we may bask in his glow. We love Taylor and can’t wait for him to sing again.
But isn’t there someone who can give him a better haircut?
I HAVE FIVE MINUTES LEFT HANG ON–
Two dudes and two ladies were to be cut from this show, so they streeeeetched it out for as long as possible. First, the contestants all sang some group song, I forget what; Chris Daughtry and Ace were given solos, although Kevin Covais got the most screen time when singing back-up and what-not. Blah, blah, blah.
Muppets come to life.
They have this new system of making people stand up on the bleachers in groups of lowest-votes-received, but it makes no sense, because at first they say Bobby Bennett and Sway are together, but then Patrick “Eeyore” Hall gets cut, and Sway is fine. Then they called Heather Cox up to the stage, but as she stood up Ryan pulled a “Psyche! Just kidding! It’s Stevie Scott!” moment. Stupid, stupid, stupid. I only watched because I knew I had to write about it for TVgasm.
Oh, and Becky O’Donohue got cut too. Big surprise. Simon suggested a modeling career. Because obviously that’s why the judges put her into the Top 24. Every Idol success story helps publicize the show, whether it’s for singing or not. And she thanked the judges and American Idol and America for giving her this opportunity. Very Miss America. I said that before, too, this show is the new Miss America.
No tension here.
Brenna goes for the hug. But…
And I would talk about that more but I’m out of time. Hopefully there aren’t any typos, I’m not fixing anything. Peace out!