Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Setting a high standard on Idol

With tonight’s theme of standards, I and many others figured that Paris, Katharine and Elliott should all do well tonight because their voices fit those types of songs well, while our four other singers could have varying degrees of trouble. Well, none of the former disappointed, but almost all of the others–emphasis on almost–did pretty well too. The only problem with that: It’s much more difficult to recap the show with so many good performances–less opportunities for jokes and discussion topics. I’ll try my best, but this may be shorter than usual.(I guess that means I’ll have even more time to work on writing a long, meandering post on the Duke lacrosse scandal, which I’ve been meaning to do for a while but haven’t because I can’t really figure out what exaclty to say.)

First of all, we had Rod Stewart, 61 years old, showing off his young baby–which is always interesting. And Rod seems to have once again traded in a beautiful blond wife for a younger model (I presume she has “hot legs,” but we didn’t get to see.) As for Rod Stewart singing standards, he’s done four of the albums, so obviously lots of people are buying them. But from what I’ve heard of them (admittedly not much), I’ve never completely understood their popularity. Sure, they’re great songs, but it doesn’t seem like the raspy voice of Rod Stewart is the right person to sing them. I’d rather hear him sing “Maggie May” and “Do You Think I’m Sexy” (and of course the classic “Love Touch”). But what do I know? As for Rod’s comments before the songs, they weren’t extraordinarily insightful, but kind of interesting and thoughtful. I did think he spent a little too much time marveling at the fact that the contestants were singing these particular songs (Rod, they had to! It was the theme!), but liked that he kept saying that he was out stealing cars or something at their age or whatever he was yammering about.

Chris Daughtry (“What A Wonderful World”)–So as Chris walked on stage, from the lighting it looked like he was wearing a muscle shirt, and I thought, “Wow, that’s an odd look for Chris on standards night.” Then I realized he was wearing a vest and felt really stupid. Anyway, I thought Chris did very well, and he even cracked a smile during his performance–somewhat appropriate, I suppose, if you’re singing about what a “wonderful world” it is. More importantly, he proved the doubters (one of which was me) wrong–he can sing something besides a rock song. And if Simon is going to take credit for getting Chris to do something different, then I’m going to also because I wrote something similar a week before Simon jumped on that bandwagon. (Yeah, I know, it’s not clear that Chris Daughtry is reading my blog, but you never know...) Of course, Chris had no choice but to step out of his box tonight–did Staind do an arrangement of “The Way You Look Tonight”? Did Scott Stapp ever sing “Mack the Knife”? Actually, I really hope not.

One other thing about Chris–on last week’s results show, he said that the reason he picked the obscure “Innuendo” last week, and continued to defy Simon’s advice to do something different, was because “his fans” expect him to do those types of (rockin, shouty) songs. Chris, you might want to remember Nadia Turner last year, a talented singer who said she picked obscure songs because that’s what “her fans” liked. Her fans liked those songs (which were obscure for a reason) so much she was quickly voted out.

Paris Bennett (“Foolish Things”)–So Paris has her 18th hairstyle of the season tonight, but she’s still got that same great, powerful voice, and she used it well tonight. She was in her element, and sounded great. As for Paula’s comment that she could put out an album of standards and it would “blow up,” I’m not so sure about that. Then again, Paula did make a video with a cartoon cat and it was a hit, so maybe Paula does know something about what sells.

Taylor Hicks (“You Send Me”)–So this week’s Ryan interview goes to Taylor to ask about his appearance on Saturday Night Live (and can Ryan really not mention the name of that show on Idol?) I did see it, and it was pretty funny–I don’t even remember what the guy playing Taylor was saying, but just having a guy with gray hair yelling “woo” and “soul patrol” a lot made me laugh.
Also interesting was that they bleeped Rod Stewart saying “balls.” So Simon can say a performance is “ballsy,” Kellie Pickler can ask “What’s a ballsy?” but Rod Stewart can’t say “balls.” Makes a lot of sense. Is this the FCC’s fault?

So like Randy and Simon, I intially thought, “This is just OK,” and that no one can sing this song like Sam Cooke can–because nobody has a voice like Sam Cooke. But, they’re right, once Taylor got to the bridge of the song, he got better, although I don’t think he was nearly as good as the “magic” that Simon felt. As for the big jazzy finish, I didn’t really love that–it reminded me of the South Park movie, when Cartman sings the big finish to the song about Kyle’s mom. Just a little too showy.

Elliott Yamin (“It Had to Be You”)–Even though he was in the bottom three last week, I think Elliott is starting to pick up a little momentum, judging from crowd reaction tonight (that, of course, means he’ll probably be kicked off this week). I thought Elliott was excellent tonight, even though the judges didn’t seem as impressed as they did with the first three performers. Paula said something about how Elliott was kind of like Michael Buble, but really more like Harry Connick, Jr., which I guess was a compliment–but I can’t really be sure since no one in America understood what she was talking about. As for Simon’s remark that he was “slightly concerned” for Elliott, if I was a conspiracy theorist–which I was just last week regarding Idol–I would say the way he made that comment seemed to be a signal: Hey, Elliott fans, he needs your support tonight. As for Simon’s criticism that Elliott was lacking in personality, that has been a problem with Elliott, but I thought tonight he showed more personality than he really had at any point yet during the season. And unfortunately, no interview of Elliott this week by Ryan before his song, so we don’t get to find out if he’s been eating bread for the past week.

Kellie Pickler (“Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered”)–If I was a conspiracy theorist, I would say that the judges are still hoping Kellie Pickler makes it far in this competition, because while they did criticize her tonight, I’ve seen Simon say a lot harsher things for performances better than that. Although admittedly she did start off the song well, it seemed like she got tired in the middle, her singing got flat, and then she wasn’t even in line with the music– which is just inexcusable. Did you catch that camera shot from the back of the judges late in her performance, when Simon just put his head down in what seemed like a “I can’t believe this is happening” reaction?

Of course, we can’t finish our discussion of Kellie without her weekly dumb comment. To be honest, I’m not going to beat her up over her failure to get Rod Stewart’s “do you have the words and the lyrics” joke because, well, should we really be surprised that Kellie didn’t get a joke based on the meanings of words when she doesn’t really seem to know the meaning of many words? This was like an advanced level test Rod Stewart was giving her. But my favorite part of Kellie’s appearance tonight was Paula’s comment that she “can’t wait for your acting career to begin.” Huh? Is this part of the American Idol contract now–that finalists get a movie? Does she have some roles in independent films already lined up? How do we even know she can act (other than the fact that, well, she must be acting because she can’t be that dumb....)? You know, I’m not even sure Kellie can read, so it’s going to be tough to get into acting.

Ace Young (“That’s All”)–I was pleasantly surprised by Ace’s performance tonight–he was much better than I thought he’d be. And he kept his falsetto to only a few seconds near the end of the song. I don’t know what Randy was talking about, but the idea that Ace should sing “a whole song in false had me hiding under my bed in fear–and sounds like a ticket home. Does Randy not remember that horrible mostly-falsetto performance of that Michael Jackson song that Ace did in the semifinals? As for Ace’s ponytail, I really don’t have much to day–I just thought it needed to be mentioned for the records.

Katharine McPhee (“Someone to Watch Over Me”)–Tonight was certainly Katharine’s night to shine. She took an old classic and sang it beautifully, and of course looked fabulous too. Did it make everyone else look like amateurs? Well, I think Simon was exaggerating a little, but she probably was the best of the night. As for Paula’s ramblings that she was seeing Katharine again for the first time or whatever, I wish someone would tell her how foolish she sounds (actually, Simon indicates it by his snide remarks and facial expressions, and she doesn’t listen.) And here’s a weird coincidence–Mimi Rogers was in the audience tonight, and she starred in the movie “Someone to Watch Over Me.”

So Randy tonight was raving about how much better everyone was tonight than in recent weeks. Here’s why, Randy: They were singing classic songs, that have been sung by all kinds of great singers over the years and stood the test of time. Compare that to the kind of songs we heard in songs of this century and country weeks, most of which we’ll never hear next year, let alone 50 years from now. And while Queen wrote some great songs, many are sort of stylized and are tough to be duplicated by any old singer. So Randy, don’t stay up too late wondering how everyone got better; a good theme cures a lot of problems on American Idol.

Who will go home? Pickler should, but she won’t. I think Ace will–just like Bucky, he’ll leave after one of his better performances. Who will join him in the bottom? I’ll guess Elliott–who hasn’t built that fan base up enough yet–and how about Kellie Pickler for her two bad performances in a row.

Good morning, everybody.

2 Comments:

Anonymous John said...

This was a good write-up of kind of a boring episode, I thought. Strangely enough, Rod Stewart was the highlight of the thing for me. He actually seemed like he was having fun, unlike our friend Brian May. Though have you read his post on brianmay.com, where he blames the show and the editor for how unhappy he looked? Well, I still love him...

I'm not going singer by singer, for two reasons. The one reason I'll discuss is that I thought overall, it was too dull of a show to comment on everything.

Paris: what is up with her mom? When they showed her watching Paris and Rod rehearse, and she was lying on a pile of coats in the back of the room and crying, it made me happy that my parents are so emotionally distant and witholding.

Elliot: I thought he was good. Simon referred to Ace's as a charming performing, but I actually thought Elliot was more so. I'd love to hear his false...

Kellie: she didn't "butcher" it, though she did have problems with the lyrics and the words. But she was the worst of the night.

McPhee: okay, if I was forced to choose my 20 favorite songs of all time, Someone to Watch Over Me would probably make the list. She was very good and did a great job. Now if she could only worked her wriggly dancing from the Queen rehearsal into every performance, we'd really be clicking.

4/19/06, 9:48 AM  
Blogger Amy said...

well, I was on a plane back from Boston so thanks Eric for filling me in on the details. I am hoping Ace goes tonight and it will be getting better each week.

4/19/06, 1:03 PM  

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