Wednesday, May 24, 2006

I hate reruns on American Idol

The final Tuesday night of American Idol for the year–it’s kind of like a national holiday. And yet tonight’s show was sort of unsatisfying. It was kind of like when you have a day off of work and you’re looking forward to sleeping late, but you get awakened way too early and can’t fall back asleep. Then later on, you take a nap, fall asleep for about 10 minutes, and the phone rings and wakes you up.

OK, enough rambling metaphors–I’ll get right to my rant, and it’s pretty much the same rant I made last year on this exact night. Why would you make two-thirds of the American Idol finale a rerun? Part of the excitement of American Idol is sitting down each week, seeing what song the singers select, wondering what they’ll do with it, and then watching to see if they do something memorable, if they surprise you. But for the first four songs tonight, none of that excitement was present for me, and I would imagine most viewers, because we had already seen them sing these exact songs earlier in the competition (and in Katharine’s case, just last week!) Once again, it makes me wonder: Do the producers actually watch the show? Why don’t they know this? Does anyone disagree with me about this topic? And why does it happen every finale? Say what you will about the quality of the original songs they sung during the last third of the show, but at least neither of them had sung the songs on the show before.

Actually, this was by far the worst finale when it came to reruns–although I’m sure the Idol producers would rather call them “encores.” In year one, Kelly and Justin both sang one repeat song from the year. In year two, all three songs that Clay and Ruben sang were new for them on the show (their “coronation” singles, as well as “Bridge Over Troubled Water” and a Beatles song I can’t remember the name of for Clay and “A House is Not A Home” and “Imagine” for Ruben.) In year three, I believe Diana sang two repeat songs, but Fantasia chose to sing a new song as well as a repeat and the coronation song. And last year, Bo and Carrie each picked their favorite from the season and sang two songs new to the show. This year, for the first time, we had both singers performing two repeats and just one new song. And in every year except Clay-Ruben, the Idols would sing the same original song at least once, which was always interesting–one could compare how each of them interpreted the song and what kind of spin they put on a song no one had heard before. (For example, last year, although I wasn’t a huge Bo fan, comparing his rendition of “Inside Your Heaven” with Carrie’s was no contest in my mind–he was a lot better in interpreting the song. Of course, he still lost and that “The Real Thing” song he put out is pretty bad, so maybe I don’t know what I’m talking about.) This year, we didn’t even get the comparison. Just a disappointment on all counts. Come on, it’s the finals. It should be special. OK, I think I’ve made my point, and writing about it is just making me angrier, so I’ll stop and get to the songs.

Although with Ryan clean shaven and Simon wearing a blazer, they were sure dressed for something special, not reruns.

Katharine McPhee (“Black Horse and Cherry Tree”)–I don’t have that much to say about these first four performances because they weren’t that different from the times they originally performed. Well, actually, to be fair, Katharine got off the floor this time and did some dancing. And I enjoyed it, of course. It might have been a little better than the first time–Katharine sounded more confident, likely because she had already sung the song and received good reviews. And it made sense to choose an up-tempo song so that all three of her songs wouldn’t be slow songs. But Simon was probably correct, that the night was bigger than that song.

Taylor Hicks (“Living in the City”)–I was kind of confused when Randy said that when he heard Taylor was doing this song, he was worried because Stevie Wonder songs are so hard to sing. Did Randy not remember that Taylor had already sung this song–rather well–on Stevie Wonder week? The mysteries of this show never cease. Anyway, Taylor, like Katharine, also changed up the presentation on his song from his previous performance. I seem to recall that during Stevie Wonder week, he stayed at the microphone stand and did somewhat restrained dancing there. Tonight, he was off into the audience, dancing around, and I was kind of winded by the end of the song and kind of prefer the first way. But it worked for Taylor–with a crowd tonight of 3,000 instead of the normal 300 or so, he really fed off the energy of the audience and turned in a pretty exciting performance. But what was up with that velour jacket? Is he going to the Playboy mansion later?

Kat (“Somewhere Over the Rainbow”)–Katharine didn’t really change this one up at all from its first performance, which meant that while it was sung very well, I just heard it last week so it didn’t really excite me like it did last week. Couldn’t she have sung the beginning of the song in black and white and finished up in color or something? So I don’t really have much to say. Simon said that this song was her best performance, but I’m not sure what exactly separated it from last week. So instead of Katharine, I’ll talk about Paula, who was more insane tonight than she’s been since her crying breakdown after Elliott’s “A Song for You” a few weeks back. The dancing and clapping during Taylor’s performances was completely out of control, she was outright cackling at one point during the show, and she had this look on her face of pride after Taylor would finish that was akin to how a mother might look proudly at her son or a girlfriend might....oh, I better stop there.

Taylor (“Levon”)—This was the opposite of Taylor’s first song, in that instead of getting bigger with the help of the crowd, it got smaller and swallowed up in the big auditorium. Taylor sung this in the semifinal round in the small studio, and it worked a lot better in that intimate setting.. Tonight, there just didn’t seem to be much electricity with this song and I thought it was kind of boring.

Kat (“My Destiny”)–Finally, fresh songs! Unfortunately, it was a terrible song (and to be fair to Katharine, I really don’t know if she picked it or the producers picked it–or if she had to pick from a bunch of even worse songs that the producers picked for her, which might actually be closest to the truth). How you could pick out a pop song for an American Idol singer to sing as their first single that barely has a memorable hook? It didn’t really matter how Katharine sang this song, I’m not sure she could ever make it good. Having said that, she probably could have made more of an effort. Yes, I know, Katharine isn’t good when she tries to do too many vocal gymnastics, but it seems like she could have wrenched a little more emotion out of it. Two other things: Is Tori Spelling really one of “Katharine’s family and friends” or was that a mistake? Oh, and Katharine is still beautiful.

Taylor (“Do I Make You Proud?”)–This was a better song than Katharine’s–it actually had a good hook. But more importantly, Taylor made me believe it was a better song–I thought he sung this really well, and Paula was right (yeah, I’m stunned, too), Taylor made the song his own. I really enjoyed it–it had emotion, soul and was fun too.

Before I get to my prediction, was that Kellie Pickler’s dad, fresh out of prison, in the audience with her? I was wondering if anyone else saw that.

And please, please, please, leave me comments. I want to know what people thought of the final and who you want to win.

So who should be the next American Idol? Yes, I moon over Katharine every week, but this isn’t America’s Next Top Model. And Katharine does have a stronger voice with more range, but it’s a singing competition, not a scales competition.

And when it comes down to it, Taylor is a better singer than Katharine. He does have flaws–as I’ve said before, when he doesn’t sing a song with some soul, he doesn’t do much for me. But he was certainly better on his original song tonight, and has been more consistent throughout.

And who will win? Your next American Idol will be Taylor Hicks.


Anonymous Mike Dizzle said...

I agree wholeheartedly about the lack of thunder in last nights finale. Resinging songs is lame and the songs they write and make them sing are lamer!

I have been a huge Katherine backer from day one so I feel obligated to stand up for her. Katherine was not as sharp last night as in past weeks. Personally I think fatigue has seriously effected her performances for at least a month. She sings with punch and power and when that is lacking she isn't nearly as solid. That being said she is still leaps and bounds above Taylor when it comes to singing. Sure Taylor is a better performer and at times more fun to watch but to say he is the best singer is way off track. You seem to have been blinded by the same light that has lately caused the judges to trash Katherine for no reason.

Ultimetly I have to think Taylor wins for the following reasons:
1. Soul Patrol
2.The judges love him
3.He has sang more songs people know
4.He is like that Uncle everyone has that's great at parties but stinks at life.

Either way they both have kept me entertianed and will make plenty of cash down the road, til tommorow!

5/24/06, 5:14 PM  
Anonymous Mom said...

I was very bored with last night's show. I agree that the repeats don't provide any excitement for a finale that had so much hype before it. I'm sticking with Katherine. I voted several times for her last night because if she doesn't win and I didn't vote, I couldn't complain. Kelly Ripa said this morning that she thinks Simon used reverse psychology last night when he told Taylor that he was the next American Idol in hopes that everyone would vote for Katherine. We shall see tonight.

5/24/06, 7:09 PM  
Anonymous kson220 said...

It looks like we all agree that the resinging of songs takes something away from the show. Hopefully next year, they will pick songs from earlier in the season, and for both of them, songs that they perform better. Just as everyone else has said, I agree that Taylor was much better with his 1st song, than his 2nd; and the opposite for Katherine. I still wish that she would stop trying to dance, and GET UP OFF OF THE FLOOR. It just doesn't work for her.

The original songs were both pretty boring, but Taylor's did come across better. I have absolutely no problem agreeing with Simon when he said that Taylor's 3rd song made him the next American Idol. I am a Taylor fan from back to his audition, so I had no problems hearing this. I think that Katherine has a great voice, but she leaves me feeling anesthetized at the end of her performances. She just bores me.

As far as the judges being hard on Katherine the past few weeks, face it, she has not been as good as she was before. Don't give her the excuse of being tired. That is part of the business. You stick it out regardless. Also, do we really think that Kelly Ripa is in a position to talk about reverse psychology? She needs to stick to soaps and Regis.

Go Taylor!!!!!!!!!!! Soul Patrol Rules!!!!

5/25/06, 11:11 AM  

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