Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Wow, what a mess

There was so much wrong with tonight's show, and I'm not even referring to the singing yet. Bad song choices, repeat songs, and forget about Simon's accusation about Ryan--were the judges drunk tonight? They seemed to like just about every performance in what was a pretty average night. But as I said last week, why should the last few weeks of this season be any different that the weeks that came before?

Before I get to the show, one housekeeping note. I got at least one comment wondering why I hadn't commented on Barry Gibb's see-through shirt. I must say that I was so disturbed and distracted by his horrible singing--as well as the 45 minutes I had wasted watching a content-less show--that I was restless and barely could pay attention. But I watched the clip on YouTube and that shirt was disturbingly thin.

So tonight we had the traditional "one choice from the judges, one from legendary record executive Clive Davis and one from the singers" night, except that Clive Davis was missing. Perhaps he was upset over last year's fiasco, when he picked "I Believe I Can Fly" for Katharine McPhee and Randy said it was the wrong choice for her. Randy was probably correct, and Katharine was certainly correct when she retorted "I didn't pick it," although Randy didn't appear to understand that. The whole thing might have made Clive uncomfortable, though.

Jordin Sparks ("Wishing on a Star")-- So we began tonight with the judges choices, and Simon, a reliably good picker of songs (the McPhee-"Somewhere Over the Rainbow" shidduch he made last year worked out pretty well for her) picks a song that I've never heard before, Jordin has never heard before and I would presume much of America has never heard before. (Even more strangely, when Jordin was informed of the song choice, she applauded and smiled, and yet she said later she had no idea what it was. Maybe she was drunk too.) I'll believe Simon when he says that the arrangement was too jazzy, because the song didn't seem like it really gave Jordin the opportunity to shine that it should've. Jordin did a good job, and it was well sung, but nothing particularly special.

Blake Lewis ("Roxanne")--When it was announced this was Paula's choice, I intially thought that it was a bad idea, because singing iconic, classic rock songs on American Idol usually ends up paling in comparison to the original. But I must say I enjoyed this performance--Blake gave an energetic performance on stage, and he changed the vocal just enough that I disagree with Simon and feel his cover of this song didn't sound just like an impersonation of the original. It was very good.

Melinda Doolittle ("I Believe in You and Me")--As pointed out by Ryan, Randy repeatedly talks about how hard it is to sing songs by famous singers like Whitney Houston, and criticizes singers (as does Simon) for failing to measure up to the original. So, of course, Randy picks Melinda to sing a Whitney Houston song. But to be fair, this isn't one of Whitney's famous songs (I think I've heard it a few times, but I'm not even sure) and therefore, most people have nothing to compare it too. And I'll give Randy a break, because at least he's trying to make Melinda stretch a little and do something difficult, at least as Randy would define it. But the reason this is one of Whitney's lesser-known songs is because it is kind of boring. Melinda did a fine job with it, in her make-it-look-easy, don't miss a note style, but it just didn't excite me like I hoped it would.

Jordin Sparks ("She Works Hard for the Money")--I have said a number of times on this blog that I'm convinced the producers of American Idol lucked into a hit show, because they so often do such a poor job of producing the show and, in the process, angering viewers and fans that I can't believe they knew what they were doing when the show was initially created. And the "producers' choice" tonight does nothing to dispel my impression. Why would you pick a song at this stage of the competition that is so repetitive lyrically? And Jordin didn't do a particularly good job on it, either--the choruses were fine, but I thought the verses were fairly lackluster and devoid of much passion or excitement.

Blake Lewis ("This Love")--This song was, as former Washington Nationals broadcaster would say, right in Blake's wheelhouse. I guess the producers had no interest in actually making Blake stretch his voice, try on a new style, etc., because this sounded pretty much like most of Blake's song choices over the last few months. That's kind of boring, but not Blake's fault. And he did a pretty solid job on it. I'd still like to see him actually really have to stretch his voice and sing, but I guess that won't happen--although if he makes it to next week, one of those awful coronation songs might force him to do it.

Melinda Doolittle ("Nutbush City Limits")--I suppose the producers heard Randy compare Melinda to a "young Tina Turner," and used their tremendous creativity and decided to have her sing ... a Tina Turner song! More specifically, a Tina Turner song that only hard-core Tina Turner songs have heard. Once again, it's a song right in the singer's wheelhouse (sassy, allows her to make faces and wave finger,some talk-singing included) and she does a solid job, but once again the fact that the song doesn't really go anywhere impedes Melinda from really doing anything to surprise us.

Jordin Sparks ("I Who Have Nothing")--I may be annoyed by the producers, but the singers choice portion of the show just made me angry. One of the only disappointments of last year's Idol was having two of the three songs that the finalists sang on the last Tuesday of the competition be songs they had previously sung during the season. In past years, finalists had picked one song from earlier in the year, and I could accept that as sort of a greatest hit to go with two new songs. But having two-thirds of the show essentially be a rerun made me angry, and many other viewers I talked to weren't pleased either. I watch American Idol because there aren't reruns--it's new every week (although I do watch those reruns of the first season on the weekends--but I know going in they're reruns.) So tonight, what do we get in the second to the last show of the year? Incredibly, reruns! Yes, this was arguably Jordin's best performance of the season, and she did it very well again tonight. But I don't care--I've heard it before. I want to hear a new song.

By the way, the last time I can remember a singer repeating a song before the final was back in season one (although my memory could be faulty), when Justin Guarini sang that song "Get Here" every chance he got.

Blake Lewis ("When I Get You Alone")--Blake wins points from me just by doing a song he hasn't done before, unlike the two women. And while I've never heard this song before, after watching Robin Thicke stink up the stage a few weeks ago on Idol (he made me want to listen to his father Alan Thicke sing), Blake certainly must have improved on Thicke's original. Once again, a pretty entertaining performance, although nothing new or challenging about it. The biggest question comes from Blake's visit home: Did Sir Mix-a-lot just show up, does he live in Blake's hometown--basically, how'd he end up there?

Melinda Doolittle ("I'm A Woman")--Although she was able to add a little to the version she did in the semifinals by adding the female backup singers on the stage, this was still a rerun. Really good, but once again, I'm not interested.

Who's going home? I'm not sure. If you asked me who the best singer is, it would be Melinda. If you asked me who I liked the best when you combine all the factors (likeability, singing talent, personality, look) that go into making an American Idol, it would be Jordin. If you asked me whose album I would be most likely to buy, it would be Blake. None of this really means anything as far as the national vote goes--I just thought I'd throw it out there. Blake had a pretty good night tonight, but I still think he'll be eliminated--although I wouldn't be surprised if any of the three got the boot. Fingerhut out!



Anonymous Mom said...

I thought last night's show was totally boring. I did vote for Jordin and amazingly I got through 4 times very easily. I don't know if that's a good sign or a bad sign. I'm ready for it all to be over.

5/16/07, 10:28 AM  
Anonymous John said...

You and Mom are exactly right. Boring and I'm tired of the show.

Personally, I like Blake the most but the other two bored me.

5/16/07, 12:04 PM  
Anonymous kson220 said...

I actually enjoyed the show last night. I believe that part of this competition is being able to adapt and being able to Different strokes for different folks, I guess. So, on to the performances.

Jordin-Wishing on a Star-I know this song well as it was one of my favorites growing up. Not sure what part of America you are speaking of when you say that no one has heard the song. I am 41, my husband is 31, our neighbors who watched with us are both 24. All of us knew the song well. I have a camparison for Jordin's rendition, and I was not at all impressed with her performance. Granted, the arrangement was weird, but she did not do a good job with the song.
Jordin-She Works Hard for the Money-I think this was better than her 1st song, but nothing to write home about.
Jordin-I Who Have Nothing-I didn't like it the 1st time sge sang it, and I didn't like it last night. For me, Jordin was at best 1 out of 3 for me.

As an aside, you noted that last night's show was basically 2/3 repeat. That fraction should less than 1/3. 2 new, 1 old for all but Blake.

Blake-Roxanne-As a died in the wool Police/Sting fan, I was offended by Blake's rendition. Maybe the problem is that I am such a huge fan, I can't be objective. So, I will leave this one alone.
Blake-This Love-Not much for me to say. I agree with your assessment completely.
Blake-When I Get You Alone-Gosh you are hard on Robin Thicke. I have heard the song before, and Blake did a pretty good job with it. My husband is as ascerbic and brutally honest as Simon, and when he doesn't like a performance, he lets you know. Last night, he actually was grooving to Blake's version of the song. So, I am giving Blake 2 out of 3.

Melinda-I Believe In You and Me-Once again, we differ on how popular the song was. This is a song that everyone in my crew knows. We were all waiting for her to get to the "I believe in miracles part" because we know that is where you really start to go for it. Melinda delivered for us all last night. I thought her performance was "spot on".
Melinda-"Nutbush City Limits-When I heard that this song was picked, I actually got excited. And once again we disagree on the popularity of the song. I am NOT a hardcore Tina fan, and I know this song. This was a perfect song choice for Melinda's voice. It also let her come out of her shell some. I thought she rocked it.
Melinda-I'm A Woman-Liked it the 1st time. Liked it the 2nd time. The back-up singers just made it sound more polished. If you are going to pick a repeat, you may as well pick something that you can nail, and Melinda did. I give Melinda 3 out of 3 for last night. (Big shocker there. Were you really expecting anything different?)

So, who goes home? For me, Melinda stays simply because she is so much better than the othere. The choice comes down to Blake or Jordin. For all of the reasons that you stated, I say that Jordin stays. Blake just isn't as good a performer as Jordin. We shall see. Talk at ya tomorrow.

5/16/07, 5:00 PM  
Blogger Eric Fingerhut said...


You are correct about the show being less than 1/3 rerun last night--actually 2/9 to be exact. The 2/3 rerun comment was actually referring to last year's final show, in which both finalist redid two songs from earlier in the competition.

As for the popularity of the various songs, I'm 36 and I don't recall ever hearing that Rose Royce song. I just found the video on YouTube and it still doesn't familiar, so I guess I'm just not with it on that one.

I might be wrong about the Tina Turner's song popularity, but as for the Whitney song--it may have been more popular than I gave it credit for (its highest chart position was 4), but I'd still say that there are about 12-15 other Whitney songs that are more well known and popular than this one.

5/16/07, 11:49 PM  

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