Tuesday, May 08, 2007

How do you mend a lackluster Idol?

Going into tonight's American Idol, I was thinking that we might have one of the strongest, most balanced final fours in the show's history. Sure, last year's final four of Hicks, McPhee, Yamin and Daughtry was better, but this year's group is certainly better overall than season three, which include Diana and Jasmine along with Fantasia and Latoya, and season four, which had Anthony Federov and Vonzell joining Carrie and Bo. Season one had Kelly, Tamyra and Justin, but also had Nikki dragging it down. Season two might have been superior--Josh Gracin wasn't that bad, and Clay, Ruben and Kim Locke were all good--but it was arguable. And then I watched tonight's show, and saw a heaping pile of mediocrity, and maybe I was wrong.

The theme was no excuse--the Bee Gees have written lots of good songs, that lots of different artists have sung, over the years, some up-tempo and others ballads. And still there was a lot of struggle. I guess a generally disappointing year for American Idol isn't going to end with a flourish. Oh, well....

Having said that, it probably still wasn't as bad as the judges made it out to be. No one was outright bad, but no one really stepped it up. And thankfully, nothing was quite as cheesy as that "How Deep Is Your Love?" video they showed when they introduced Barry Gibb.

Melinda Doolittle ("Love You Inside and Out")--There was an article in today's USA Today which went behind the scenes and followed the Idols most of the past week, from choosing their songs to picking out outfits. The article says that Melinda had originally chosen this song, but changed her mind because she felt the lyrics were too sexual and her pastor was going to be in the audience. Later, the story says that Nigel Lythgoe told her that the line "loves you inside out, backwards and forwards" was not a sexual reference and she went back to the song. Wow, if Melinda really thought that reference to backwards was referring to, well, you know--she's either got a much better imagination than I do or some serious issues. Anyway, Melinda stuck with the song, and of course, once again Melinda's voice didn't miss a note. But it was kind of boring, Simon made a good point in saying it was a background singer's version of the song--the background singers seemed to have a pretty large part in the song, for that matter--and it just wasn't the kind of performance that excited me.

Blake Lewis ("You Should Be Dancing")--Blake went into the competition saying he wasn't going to beatbox every week because it was a singing competition. And now he seems to be beatboxing every week, probably because Randy and Paula were always telling him he should be beatboxing (You should be beatboxing, yeah!) I reacted to this performance similarly to how I reacted to his performance last week--I liked some of it and didn't like some of it. Strangely, I actually liked the beatboxing in the instrumental portion of the song--it seemed to fit, as Barry Gibb said. But the beatboxing during the lyrical part of the song was annoying (the "yeah-uh-uh-uh" was horrible) and the singing in general wasn't all that great either. In the USA Today piece, Barry Gibb says he was surprised Blake didn't do "Jive Talkin." That's not a bad choice either, but this song should have been better. By the way, sfter reading a piece on the Entertainment Weekly website by a reporter at one of last week's show noting how the majority of people in the crowd seemed to be Blake backers (or Blaker Girls), I was starting to think he actually could win this thing. But I'm not sure that performance will bring in the votes. Then again, we don't know how the votes are going. Sure, Blake may have been in the bottom three a few weeks ago, but maybe he's been the top vote-getter in most weeks and he'll actually cruise to the title. Or maybe Melinda has got the thing wrapped up. I think that's the real reason American Idol doesn't show us the vote totals. If one contestant was consistently winning by 10-20 percent of the vote, no one would be interested the last few weeks because there would be no suspense.

LaKisha Jones ("Stayin' Alive")--Barry Gibb and his brothers have sold like 800 billion records. So when he tells you to sing a particular part of a song higher, and to follow the melody--and it's a song he and his brothers made into one of the best selling songs ever--I would think it might be a good idea to listen to him and take his advice. But I'm not LaKisha. What is wrong with her? She's done this before with Tony Bennett and others, and she continues to do it--even though her choice to shun the advice never turns out well. Tonight, I thought the first verse of the song was good, and then she got into that chorus, it never really went anywhere and the rest of the performance went downhill from there. I just don't get LaKisha, and then she went it did it again on the next performance....

Jordin Sparks ("To Love Somebody")--Jordin seems to be getting more attractive as the weeks go by. Unfortunately, her singing seems to have plateaued a little the last couple weeks. Actually, this was pretty good, and I liked how she tried to make it her own, but I was hoping to be blown away and wasn't. Another USA Today anecdote: the producers originally told Jordin she couldn't sing this song because Barry Gibb was going to sing it on the results show, but the next day they said it was OK. Some people on the Internet are already saying this proves Jordin is the producers' choice for a winner. Actually, I think that was exactly the right choice--why would you take one of the best songs by your guest judge and not let people sing it on the show? But the fact that Jordin has the last, or pimp, spot two out of the last three weeks on the show? That does seem a little suspicious and not really fair.

Melinda (How Do You Mend A Broken Heart?")--Simon was correct--the second half of Melinda's performance was excellent. But the first part was kind of boring. I don't have much more to say other than I can't believe is that concerned that one line in the song says "How can a loser ever win?" Wow, if I had heard that lyric come out of her mouth, I definitely would have spent two hours tonight voting for the other three singers.

Blake ("This Is Where I Came In")--The reason this never was a hit for the Bee Gees, as Barry Gibb had hoped, is because it wasn't a particularly good song. I wrote down "weird" in my notes during this performance and was glad to see Simon agree. From his outfit (did that sweater only have one sleeve? Was it actually all one big shirt that was supposed to look like a sweater with one sleeve? Is that hip now?) to the song choice to the singing/beatboxing, it just didn't add up to much more than a "Huh?" Bad night for Blake with a theme that one would think would be right in his wheelhouse.

LaKisha ("Run to Me")--Sure, she cracked on that last night, but much more problematic was once again disregarding Barry Gibb's advice. He was correct--if she did the soaring chorus the first time, it would have made the song more exciting, and I suppose she could have repeated that the second time with a slight variation. But no, she's LaKisha, so she did it her way, and it took until the second chorus for the song to really get going. It was better than her first performance, and not bad overall, but could have been better.

Jordin ("Women in Love")--I think we know who Barry Gibb's favorite is--he said Jordin is going to be "one of the greatest female recording artists" around. High praise for a 17-year-old...sorry, I morphed into Randy for a few seconds. This was fine, but once again nothing special or memorable. I didn't think it was as bad as the judges said it was, but I don't have all that much desire to hear it again.

Who's going home? I guess we'll get a bottom two tomorrow with only four left, and I suppose I'm not exactly going out on a limb by picking LaKisha and Blake to be there--although in previous years, the final four results show has brought us the surprise departures of Tamyra, Latoya and Chris Daughtry. I don't think that will happen this year, and I think it will be LaKisha going home.

And did you hear? Seacrest brought back his sign-off tonight! Seacrest out is in, and Fingerhut is out.



Anonymous kson220 said...

You should have never stopped doing Fingerhut out. It was one of the reasons that I liked you from the start.

Oh my heavens!!! Last night was such a snoozer.

Melinda-As we well know, I am a Melinda fan. But, her 1st song last night was very disappointing. She was just very boring; which is her biggest obstacle in this competition. The 2nd song was much better, especially once she got it going in the last half. Like Simon said, the 2nd half of the song put her in the semis. She should have no problem this week, even with the boring 1st performance.

Blake-I just didn't like the beatbox in the 1st song. I don't think he sang it well, and it just didn't work for me. I really enjoyed his 2nd performance. I remember the song when it came out in 2001, and I liked it then. I thought that Blake did a really good job with it. Once again, I could have done without the beatbox. BTW, Randy is such a hypocrite. he was all, Yo dawg, do the beatbox thing, it is you hook. Now, he decides that the beatbox thing is superfluous and redundant. He really needs to make up his mind. Randy is starting to be as wishy-washy as Paula.

LaKisha-There was nothing about either of LaKisha's performances last night that sparked any fire in me. Her 2nd song was undoubtedly better than the 1st, but the 2nd was a bore. I agree that she needs to learn to take the advice of others or she won't make it. She has proven repeatedly that her way is not the best way, and I think that it is going to hurt her. Not just in this competition, but in her future career if she has one.

Jordin-Yes, I think she does get cuter each week (minus that scary hair last week). I really enjoyed her 1st song, and the 2nd wasn't bad. Definitely not as bad as the judges said. She definitely went downhill on her 2nd song, but it was good enough for her to be back next week.

As you said, I believe that Blake and LaKisha will be in the bottom 2, and LaKisha will be voted off. Even though she was "back" the past few weeks, her performance last night makes me think that she is almost deliberately sabotaging herself. So, we will see this evening.

5/9/07, 11:47 AM  
Anonymous John said...

I did notice "Seacrest out" and immediately thought of you.

As someone who likes the Bee Gees, this was a particularly disappointing show. And even Blake's second song choice was still a decent song...but he could have done "Words" or "I Started A Joke" or "Don't Throw It All Away" and been much much better.

5/9/07, 2:48 PM  

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