Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Who made the best choices on Idol?

So we’re down to the final three, always a bittersweet time–because in eight days, there will be no more American Idol until next January. But we’ve coped in the past with the absence, and we’ll deal with it again this summer and fall.

So the less said about the whole Chris Daughtry situation the better–I already commented some on it in my post below this one, and I think the United States will survive. I do hope that those who were extremely upset by last Wednesday night’s developments are feeling OK and have recovered enough to watch and enjoy tonight’s show. I do want to say, though, that Chris probably should stay away from that job offer from the band Fuel. First of all, I saw somewhere that Fuel–in their “offer” to consider Chris on the TV show “Extra”–had to “retain” their alleged credibility by saying that, you know, they’re not really into American Idol and everything, but they’d heard him sing and thought he was good, etc. Hey guys, get over yourselves. Chris Daughtry is a lot bigger than you are right now. In fact, I’m really confused. In an interview Chris did on Ryan Seacrest’s radio show Thursday morning (a friend sent me the link to a mp3 of the show, and I listened, and yeah, I’m a little bit ashamed, but it was a slow day at work ...), Ryan told Chris that a band that was a “household name” was going to offer him their lead singer job. On what planet is Fuel a household name? To steal a line from the sportscaster Warner Wolf, Fuel is only a household name in its own household. Did Ryan mean that every household knows what fuel is and that it goes in cars and stuff?

Let’s get to the show, where Roseanne is in attendance and even has better seats than Clive Davis. Not sure what that means, although considering Clive’s song choices were, for me, just OK tonight, maybe it’s punishment. Oh, and Randy continues that ridiculous booing of Simon–maybe he’s made that Simon said Randy was offered “one dollar” to pose for Playgirl last night on the Jay Leno show. Actually, even more interesting than Simon’s appearance on Leno was Teri Hatcher’s visit to the Letterman show last week. She was asked about the now famous (and fairly innocuous) photo of her and Ryan Seacrest kissing and made a reference to something from earlier in the show that I think was meant as implying that Seacrest is gay. Then she said Seacrest called a few days after their date with the kiss and offered her $50,000 to be his date to some party or convention or something in Las Vegas (and offered her assistant $5,000 to convince Teri to do it). There are so many things that fascinate me about this story, I need a couple more days to think about it.

Elliott Yamin (“Open Arms”)–So Clive Davis picks a song for Elliott that Clay Aiken sang in the semifinals four years ago (I actually remember this only because I was recently perusing a list of the “Top50 American Idol Performances” of the first four seasons on a Website called www.foxesonidol.com and that performance was on it. Apparently, that list was put together by a bunch of drunks, because two performances by R.J. Helton–the singer who led Simon to immortalize the phrase “Boy band yes, American Idol no”–made the list. Anyway, Clive’s choice and his reasoning made sense–Elliott hasn’t sung a lot of straight-ahead pop/rock songs, but seemed to have the right kind of voice for this song. And he did OK, but it wasn’t great–more like, as I said of Chris on “Suspicious Minds,” a solid single or double when everyone kind of wanted to see a home run. Unlike last week, when he came out swinging, he seemed very slow and tentative on the first portion of the song, and while he picked it up by the chorus, he really needed to, as Simon said, “loosen up.”

Katharine McPhee (“I Believe I Can Fly”)–Katharine, your superpower of beauty is not working on me tonight. That was not good at all. So Clive said he wanted to hear what the “Katharine McPhee sound” was, and gave her a big, bombastic ballad of the kind that the judges–even Paula–had been recommending she not do in recent weeks. And it was a mess. First of all, Katharine, please sing the whole chorus. When they got to the lyric “I believe I can fly,” it sounded like she stopped to take a drink of water or something–she just stood there while the backup singers sang the main part of the song. That’s one of my Idol pet peeves. And all those runs, or whatever Randy calls them, at the end of the song were just annoying. Speaking of Randy, one of the best moments of the season was hearing Randy complaining about song choice and Katharine saying, “I didn’t pick it.”Yeah, song choice is important, but it’s all Randy ever talks about these days. It was so satisfying to hear that retort. On the other hand, I did think that Randy was correct when he said sometimes it’s better just to “sing the melody” in reference to Kat’s performance. Oh, and what happened with Paula? She said she had something to say that was going to be very hard, then someone yelled something about Katharine being great, and she never really said much of anything. Paula did have an “I’m going to break down” vibe going on at the time, so maybe it was all for the best.

Taylor Hicks (“Dancing in the Dark”)–So Taylor sang an old favorite of mine, and did a better job than I expected he would. Having said that, I didn’t think it was anything special. From his explanation, I think I understand why Clive picked the song–he was hoping to marry Taylor’s two specialties–the fun, crazy dancing and the soulful singing. But the soulful singing part of this song isn’t that souful, and the dancing part isn’t that crazy, so it just came off as a entertaining but average mishmash of his two styles. And I was amused by Taylor’s dance with Paula–I don’t know if it was rehearsed, but it was enjoyable. As for Bruce Springsteen allowing a song to be used on Idol for the first time (all because of a call from Clive!), I can’t imagine that the fact he released an album a couple weeks ago might have any impact on that, would it? And actually, even though it’s a six or seven-minute song, Clive should have had Taylor sing Bruce’s “I’d Drive All Night (Just to Buy You Some Shoes).” That might have been a really great choice for Taylor.

Elliott (“What You Won’t Do for Love”)–Wow, I forgot that Doug Wilder is now the mayor of Richmond. So Paula said she picked this song for Elliott because “Elliott is full of love” and I became very frightened for Elliott until she also said it was the right key for his voice. And it did fit his voice well and is the kind of jazzy, funky song he likes to sing. He sang it pretty well, but I just found it (and it may have been the song’s fault) kind of boring.

Katharine (“Somewhere Over The Rainbow”)–So the song started and she was singing a capella and I got very frightened that we were going to have a repeat of Bo Bice’s a capella song in the final three last year. (Yeah, a lot of people loved it, but I can’t stand a capella singing unless it’s done by a big group–those groups that perform a capella in college are OK.) But then the music started up and I felt much better. And as bad as her first song was, this was good. You know Simon is always going to know a good song to pick because he is the smartest judge, and he didn’t disappoint tonight. That was the perfect song for Katharine because it allowed her to be “intimate,” as Paula has recommended, and yet still show a range without oversinging. It was pretty great. Was it the indelible “moment” of the season that many Idol fans say we haven’t had yet (like Clay singing “Solitaire” or Fantasia singing “Summertime” or Carrie singing “Alone” or Kelly Clarkson singing just about anything)? I don’t really know, but my sister said she cried while watching it, so that’s one vote for yes. But Katharine, can you please get off the floor? Twice in three weeks? Oh, and why did Katharine’s performance of this song seem so much longer than every other performance tonight? Yes, I could go back on the VCR and time every performance to check this out, but I’m too lazy. I’d rather spend my time reading about the new network television shows (which I promise to blog about later this week or over the weekend) and studying DialIdol.

Taylor (“You Are So Beautiful”)–The judges went crazy over this one (Simon, was this really Taylor’s best performance of the competition?), but I didn’t think it warranted quite that much acclaim. I did like his performance, but, because Randy picked it, I will criticize the song selection for not being a song with a lot of range. Actually, maybe I’m being a bit picky. Taylor did a solid job with what he was given, but I preferred his final performance.

Elliott (“I Believe to My Soul”)–After two not particularly memorable performances, I really liked this performance–it was fun, he showed personality and he sounded really great. He should have done more Ray Charles songs. It seemed Simon, though, thinks this song signaled Elliott’s departure–that “you’re a great guy, you’re a great singer, you’ve made your mom very proud” certainly sounded like a farewell. Oh, and did you catch him putting his name in the song? Who does he think he is, Big Country? Wang Chung?

Katharine (“I Ain’t Got Nothing But the Blues”)–I didn’t realize Katharine was from Sherman Oaks, Calif. That’s only significant so I can tell this quick story about the congressman who represents Sherman Oaks. His name is Brad Sherman, and whenever he appears somewhere, he introduces himself by saying, “My name is Brad Sherman and I’m from the best named town in America, Sherman Oaks.” It’s really goofy, and I wonder if Katharine has ever heard him do that bit. I’ve seen it about five times, and my reaction has gone from “hey, that’s kind of cute” to “that’s hilarious that he does this every time he goes anywhere” to “he’s still doing that bit? Come on.”
So the judges didn’t seem to like this performance that much, but I thought Katharine was pretty good, other than a little shouting at the end. Then again, by this time of the show, my shield and other defenses against Katharine’s superpowers were starting to weaken. Maybe I was mesmerized by the fact that somebody finally figured out how to dress Katharinee reasonbly well after what, two months? I’m far from knowledgeable on fashion, but was it really that hard to say, “Hey guys, in addition to being beautiful, she’s got big breasts and nice legs. You think we could show those both off at the same time? Maybe throw some knee-high boots on her too?” Yeah, I’m sorry, I’m way off topic here–but then again, Robin Givhan in the Washington Post wrote a whole column lamenting Chris Daughtry’s dismissal because he really knew how to wear faded t-shirts and macho silver jewelry well. Then again, I probably don’t know what I’m talking about.

Taylor (“Try a Little Tenderness”)–Taylor picks the kind of song that he should be singing and nails it–this was really good and the second best performance of the night. Simon was right–the ending was bad. I could do without the Cartman-like big finish I alluded to a few weeks ago. (And in the dress rehearsal, footage of which is used in the recap at the end of the show, the finish was even more over the top.) But I shouldn’t be spending so much time on the last 10 seconds of the song–the rest of it rocked.

So who’s going? The way tonight’s performances played out, I’d be surprised if it was anyone but Elliott. But I’m going to check Dial Idol before I go to bed to see if I’m right. Fingerhut to the Web!

7 Comments:

Anonymous John said...

Okay, I'm incredibly drunk and writing to you from a Hilton business center in Des Moines and I'm covered in stripper glitter, but great post.

I don't have much to add (I haven't seen the show yet and barely have enough control of my faculties to type this) but a great post all and all. I need to watch the show tomorrow night. kudos!

5/17/06, 2:03 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

5/17/06, 2:18 AM  
Anonymous John said...

Wow, there's a reason I don't usually drink.

5/17/06, 9:54 AM  
Blogger Amy said...

Ok, yes I was moved by Katherine's Somewhere over the Rainbow and I thought it actually won her the competition. But, you never know with this show. I tried to vote for her and Elliott for an hour and never got through.

I still love Elliott but I do not think he can beat out Taylor. (I just do not know why)
The girl I work with was in Florence Alabama last night and said it seemed like every 4th commercial was the local news clip and it was reminding everyone to vote for Taylor Hicks. They are soliciting the whole state as Florence is 2 hours from Birmingham!
I like Taylor but he just does not do it for me. Elliott is warm and I loved his third song. I like how he can range his voice.

5/17/06, 11:09 AM  
Anonymous Mike Dizzle said...

For me everyone was middle of the road last night. Nothing spectacular, nothing horribly bad. All of that doesn't bode well for Elliot "Snaggletooth" Yamin. Splitting the male vote with the OVERATED Taylor Hicks will ultimetly do him in.

Although The Fingerman obviously has something against Katherine I still think she is a lock.

GO CAVS!

5/17/06, 4:57 PM  
Anonymous Mom said...

I also tried to vote for Elliot last night and couldn't get through. I agree that Katherine will cause the male vote to get split between Elliot and Taylor and Elliot will lose out. But Katherine was really good last night, at least for that one song. If she can pull the win over Taylor for American Idol I'll be happy. As I've said before I just don't care for Taylor Hicks. It could go any of three ways tonight. We'll see...and John, what are you doing in Des Moines???

5/17/06, 5:33 PM  
Anonymous John said...

Hi Mrs. F.

Well, other than making an ass of myself on this blog, I was in Des Moines on government business. Not Mulder and Cully sort of stuff, just visiting one of our loan servicers.

5/18/06, 3:34 PM  

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