Wednesday, March 08, 2006

You were looking LIVE at American Idol

So we had the first LIVE performance show of the season, and I guess it really wasn’t all that much different than the past two weeks, but I’ve always thought that the liveness (is that a word?) adds just a little extra excitement to the show. So I was pumped up to watch the show tonight, and glad that it left me feeling a little better about the women than last week’s fiasco did.

First, we started the show with no mention of what some have been referring to as Paula’s extremely bizarre behavior on last week’s results show–during which she said someone would be eliminated based on whether they ate pizza or salad, rambled on about some bizarre proverb from a fortune cookie and blamed it all on Simon. Personally, this seemed like par for the course for Paula, so I didn’t even feel it notable enough to mention in the blog last week. But I’ve seen a couple people writing–including the esteemed Washington Post TV writer Lisa DeMoraes in a Web chat–that this was disrespectful to the contestants because the results were one of the most important moments in their lives (something Seacrest mentioned at the time.). I guess I see their point, but maybe we’re taking this a little too seriously. It was the cutdown to the Final 16 on American Idol, it’s not like they’re giving away a scholarship to Harvard. It’s not even the finals yet. And if you’re someone like Heather Cox standing there, don’t you kind of know you’re not winning? Sure, you want to stick around a few more weeks to keep the party going in Hollywood, but if you have any self-awareness you must know you’re just not as good as a bunch of the other singers. But let’s get to the singing.

Paris Bennett (“Conga”)–I’ve never liked this song–in fact, I think I spent an entire winter break in Florida at my grandmother’s when I was a teenager complaining to my sister about how there were way too many “Conga-like” songs on the radio down there–so I was surprised that I didn’t hate this performance. I didn’t particularly love it either, but when Paris actually sang a little–instead of just chanting “do the conga,” she sounded pretty good. I enjoyed her little dancing too. It wasn’t a great choice of a song for American Idol, but give her credit–she actually did follow the judges’ instructions and pick something younger and more fun (even if I don’t think doing the conga is fun, it’s still more fun than the “Wind Beneath My Wings.”) And just as I have been predicting would happen over the last couple weeks, Randy didn’t like the song choice and suggested that maybe Paris do a ballad next week–providing her the exact opposite advice of last week, when he said she shouldn’t sing songs that are “too old” for her. (Not that every ballad is old, but you know what I mean.) Randy, dawg, you’re an idiot. Do you even listen to what you say? Do you have as much trouble understanding you as we do sometimes? At least Simon acknowledged that Paris was doing as suggested.

Lisa Tucker (“Where I Stand” by someone I’ve never heard of, Tiffany Taylor)–At first, it seemed kind of cool when Lisa played Hendrix on the electric guitar, but there was something just slightly wrong with it that I couldn’t put my finger on. And then I realized what it was–something about watching her play the electric guitar reminded me of one of those really smart 10-year-olds that go to college and look all grown up even though they’re not. It’s kind of the problem I have with Lisa’s performances, too. As I’ve said before, it doesn’t look like she’s spontaneous or natural or having fun–it looks like she’s acting like she thinks she’s supposed to act and perform like she’s supposed to perform if she was a big star. Yes, she has an excellent voice, but she doesn’t draw me in at all. And unlike Paris, she didn’t take the judges’ advice at all–she was told the same thing as Paris, to pick a younger song, and did nothing of the sort. And she violated two of my rules for picking a song to sing on Idol–she picked a song that just about everybody in the audience has never heard before in their life, and picked it because she liked the words and they were “appropriate for the Top 12.” (Lyrics included “Here’s who I am, love me and we’ll make it through.”) Lisa, no one is paying attention to that. You should be picking a song to show off your best singing voice.
One last thing–Simon said Lisa’s song choices don’t show “who you are.” I beg to differ–I think after three weeks, we’ve seen who Lisa is, and that’s someone who likes to sing those kinds of songs. And if people used to say that Clay Aiken is “too Broadway,” couldn’t you say the same thing about Lisa?

Melissa McGhee (“What About Love?”)–I don’t have much to say about this, except that it just was missing that spark that makes a performance good. It wasn’t terrible, but it wasn’t particularly good, and Simon, although he was really harsh in saying that she had “blown it” (I think she was likely to go home Thursday no matter what she did tonight), she’s probably done.

Then we had the lengthy interview with Katharine McPhee, which was kind of odd since no other singer tonight got that kind of camera time before their song. For those conspiracy mongers out there on Internet message boards who think the producers try to “pimp” their favorite contestants to make sure they make it far in the competition, I can’t argue that was certainly some ammunition. And considering I had not heard this rumor of Katharine leaving the show (and I’m usually on top of all the American Idol rumors), the whole thing was sort of strange.

Kinnik Sky (“I Ain’t Got You”)–I’m not even sure how Kinnik is still in the competition, considering her first two performances were so unremarkable, but this should be her swan song. That was not good–at one point, she kind of hurt my ears.

Katharine McPhee (“Think”)–So finally Katharine did a fun song, and it worked. She was really good, and Simon was right–she seemed sort of effortless. She didn’t try to overpower the song, like some people do with Aretha songs, but just sang it and put her own slight spin to it to make it just a tiny bit different than the original–it seemed a little more relaxed than Aretha’s version. To be fair, though, Diana DeGarmo, whom I was never a fan of, did a version of this song in the first week of the finals two years ago, and it may have been better.

Ayla Brown (“Unwritten”)–So last week Ace did a Daniel Bedingfield song and I remarked about how much I like his sister Natasha’s songs. And this week Ayla does a Natasha Bedingfield song. Maybe she’s reading my blog. So I like this song, but I wasn’t crazy about Ayla’s version–she seemed to sort of struggle with it. But to be fair, she was also taking the judges’ advice and going out of her comfort zone to try something challenging–and while Randy may be right that the song only has a “five-note range,” wasn’t she doing a Celine Dion song last week with a huge range of notes? And even though it may not have a huge range, isn’t this a song with a complicated melody that must be difficult to sing? Anyway, I ran back my tape and watched Ayla again and it wasn’t as bad as it sounded the first time–although it still wasn’t great. But it should be plenty to advance her to the next round.

Mandisa (“I’m Every Woman”)–Mandisa has a great voice and did a good job tonight, but am I the only one who gets annoyed when someone on American Idol spend half a song doing call-and-response with the chorus and singing long held notes? Sorry, in the words of Shania Twain, that don’t impress me much. But that’s what Mandisa did. Sure, that’s how the song goes, but she didn’t have to pick that song–after Chaka Khan and Whitney Houston sang it, is there really that much you can do with it that’s original? I’m not saying Mandisa wasn’t good tonight, just not as good as the judges think she was.

Kellie “Pick” Pickler (“The Only One”)--.She was rocking tonight, I loved when she went down to her knees during the song, and her voice sounds better each week. Certainly her best performance on the show. (The only minus was no video of her and Katharine McPhee rolling around together on a bed this week.) I’m not sure what to make of Simon’s comments that he prefers Kellie to “last year’s winner.” I think Carrie Underwood is a better singer, but I think he was saying that Kellie has a lot more personality–and he’s certainly correct about that. As for Kellie not knowing the difference between a minx and a mink, would those words be considered more unfamiliar to the average North Carolinian than calamari? I really don’t know.

So it’s easy to pick who’s going home tonight–Kinnik and Melissa both deserve to go home and will go home. And if it’s anyone else, the voting public should be ashamed of itself.

Fingerhut out!


Blogger Amy said...

Yes, I will say that Kinnik was hurting my ears as well...I actually fforwarded the TiVo during her.
OK, back to Paula-she looks so much prettier this season then in all past years so that is one positive in her corner.
Paris-We know she can sing and perform. She just needs to find the right song. It can still be young and a ballad but she is worthy of being in the top 5 or 6 of the whole competition.

Lisa Tucker bores me and Melissa was just whatever.

I was more impressed with katherine McPhee then even before last night. She did a good job and looked good as well.

I am a big Natasha Bedingfield fan (I own her CD and it is good!) and Ayla did not pull off that song neraly as good as her but it was okay..she is still good.

I do not care what they do in the song if they can sing and Mandisa sure can. That was a great performance and she really moved. Her face is beautiful, just do not want to see happen to her what did to Reuben(she needs to drop 40 lbs)

And, Kellie-yes, Eric you do not even realize what people from South Gerogia and small North Carolina towns do not would amaze you!

3/8/06, 9:36 AM  
Anonymous John said...

Damn my dvr! I missed a great Kellie performance?

Ugh, I'm going to have to make sure that I watch this live and stop relying on technology.

Anyway Eric, this was a great blog--very funny.

3/8/06, 9:51 AM  
Blogger Amy said...

John, what happened with your DVR? why did it not record? My TiVo never lets me donw =)

3/8/06, 10:25 AM  
Anonymous Joe said...

Fingerman and Jon: it is good that you like Kelly. Remember I did first!

3/9/06, 3:34 PM  

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