Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Idol is making me feel old

After last week's disaster, this week on Idol was certainly much improved. Partly, it was a result of one of the better themes Idol has in its bag of tricks--a song from your birth year. It provides enough varied choices that the singers are able to pick something in the kind of style that they feel suits them best or that they would want to sing if they were to record an album. The only problem with the theme, at least for me, is it makes me feel old. I can't believe how many Idols were born in 1987--I was a junior and senior in high school that year. And thankfully, they worked out that volume problem they had last week and we weren't forced to hear the crowd cheering every 15 seconds during most songs.

Ramiele Malubay (Alone)--So Carrie Underwood does a great version of this song and it was a key factor in catapulting her to the Idol title in season four. Carly sings this song in the Hollywood round and everyone loves it. So Ramiele, with a voice that doesn't approach either one of them, gives it a try. Ramiele, you are dumb. Did you watch Idol before you auditioned? It's tough enough if your version is going to be compared to the Heart version, but to Underwood too? And even Carly Smithson? There wasn't any other song from 1987 that you could have picked? Having said all that, it wasn't as bad as I thought it might be. Of course, when it started, I thought it was going to be a train wreck. I did think it was amusing that Simon basically told her that her performance last week was horrendous, and yet she managed not to be eliminated. So since this one wasn't quite as putrid, she should easily survive--and Ramiele got really excited by that. Talk about the soft bigotry of low expectations. And, actually, Simon isn't even correct about that. Prior results never predict future performance on Idol--as we've learned, any particular week could surprise us.

Jason Castro (Fragile)--I believe I saw Sting perform this song in concert, less than a year after Jason Castro was born. I was glad to see Jason Castro didn't have dreads when he was a baby, but why was he holding a passport in that baby picture? Anyway, this was nice and, as Randy said, "pleasant," but nothing particularly special or challenging--even if he did alter the song slightly to fit into his style. And apparently he now only does songs that have some of the lyrics in a foreign language. My friend John tells me that's Portuguese not Spanish, but he suggests "La Isla Bonita" should be Jason's song next week.

Syesha Mercado ("If I Were Your Woman")--Syesha makes one of those "seems like it's cheating but I guess technically it isn't" moves by choosing a famous Gladys Knight and the Pips song recorded in 1970 and singing it becase Stephanie Mills recorded it in 1987. To be fair, I am presuming that the slowed-down version she did was how Stephanie Mills recorded it, but I really don't know and don't feel like trying to find a version online. Anyway, by the end of this performance, I said to myself, "Wow, where did that come from? That was really good." It wasn't really something that could have been expected from Syesha's previous performances, which were never good enough or bad enough to be memorable. I still, though, didn't love it. There's something about Syesha I haven't warmed up to yet--perhaps she needs to show a little more personality and charisma on stage.

Chikezie ("If Only for One Night")--I don't really know this song, but I think Paula said it was a Luther Vandross song and I'm not real familiar with his catalogue. And just like Simon said, it was kind of boring. Midway through the song, I zoned out for about 15 seconds from lack of interest. He gave a solid performance, but it was just unexciting--especially compared to the jumping around he's done the last couple weeks.

Brooke White (Every Breath You Take)--I started drinking the Brooke White Kool-Aid a couple weeks ago, but I really didn't understand why Randy and Simon gave her such a hard time tonight. Other than that hiccup at the beginning, she picked a great song and sang it well--another authentic performance by Brooke. They said they didn't like when the band came in and that part of the song sounded "old-fashioned." Huh? So singing with just a piano accompaniment is fresh, but having the band back you is "old-fashioned"? Whatever...I kind of liked when the band came in and gave it a little oomph. Maybe it's that whole "Brooke was good when she sings only with piano, like two weeks ago, so she should always do that" meme that Randy pulls out for a few singers each year.

Michael Johns (We Will Rock You/We Are the Champions)--Finally someone born in the 1970s! And he rocked the house tonight, finally, after showing lots of potential but never being able to put it together. As good as his singing, which was great, was his stage presence tonight. He wasn't doing that jumping around with the microphone bobbing in his hand thing he always does, but instead stalking around with a "I'm ready to kick butt" attitude. And Michael is now two-for-two on Queen songs after doing "Bohemian Rhapsody" during Hollywood week and hitting it out of the park. I propose he does a new Queen song every week. Next week, it should be "Under Pressure" and the following week, how about "Somebody to Love"?

Carly Smithson (Total Eclipse of the Heart)--I have to give the guy who writes about Idol for Entertainment Weekly some props. In the "Idolatry" video he made previewing tonight's show and picking songs for some of the singers, I believe he suggested "We Are the Champions" for Michael Johns and urged Carly to stay away from "Total Eclipse of the Heart." He thought that was a bad choice because the song was too long and with too many parts to fit into 90 seconds. I don't think that was the problem tonight, but Carly should have stayed away. It wasn't bad, but I kind of expected that to blow my socks off, as Kristy Lee Cook might say, and it just didn't. She didn't do anything with it except that not particularly pleasant last note, and it just didn't seem to show off her voice in the way I would have expected.

David Archuleta (You're the Voice)--David Archuleta was born on Dec. 28, 1990. I was a couple days into my first trip to Israel that day. Just thought I would impress everyone by recalling that. Getting back to the show, judging from Paula and Randy, apparently the entire country was sitting on their couches going, "Gosh, I was around in 1990, listening to lots of music, and I have never heard this song in my life." It's by some guy named John Farnham (when Simon said his name, I thought he said John Bonham, which really confused me since he was dead in 1990). Even more remarkable, according to the Internet, John Farnham actually recorded this song in 1986, and then Idol favorite David Foster along with some vocalist I've never heard of, covered it in 1990. So David must have really wanted to do this song. (More on that in a second.) I thought he sounded fine, but this wasn't special at all and I don't see this as the kind of performance that is going to win him Idol (although with his teenybopper voting support, that may already be a foregone conclusion and there's nothing us adults can do about it.) The most interesting part of his segment was when Simon made the somewhat cryptic comment that he would be surprised if David chose this song himself. Who else would choose it? There have been reports that David's father is a pushy stage parent, and perhaps Simon suspects he has too much influence. And it would be like a pushy stage parent to push his son to pick songs that appeal to the demographic he would be appealing to as a recording star (young girls) and choose a song like this that might appeal to that demographic but not a lot of other people. Or maybe Simon meant something else entirely. But I don't think so.

Kristy Lee Cook (God Bless The USA)--So I had only just started to watch the show tonight on my DVR when my dad called and said that he thought Kristy Lee Cook was better than Brooke White tonight. Well, my dad doesn't drink much, but I guess the booze was flowing at the Fingerhut home in Potomac tonight, because I think he went a bit overboard. I do know, though, that he does like this song alot, and I've always kind of like it too. As for Kristy, I don't think she blew anyone's socks off, but this was a very solid performance, and Kristy showed she has a decent voice when she uses it properly.

David Cook (Billie Jean)--First of all, it would have been a lot more interesting if David Cook had sung Michael Jackson's version of "Billie Jean," instead of Chris Cornell's version. He's now gone into Chris Daughtery territory, where every song he does has to be in his particular modern rock style and it does start to get a little boring and monotonous. Now that my editorial comment is out of the way, it was very good. But the way the judges praised it as being "brave," etc.--did they not hear Ryan mention it was Chris Cornell's version (which I admit I'd never heard before.) Sure it was a totally different arrangement, but he ripped it off from one of the top modern rock singers today. I don't consider that risky. Maybe smart, but not risky.

The bottom three is tougher this week, but let's go with Ramiele, Carly (because she made it last week and those funny faces she makes when singing aren't helping--oh, and that husband of her with the face tattoo is just scary. He looks like a Star Wars character), and, for tradition's sake, Kristy. And wtih her lackluster performance and her spot at the very beginning of a 90 minute show, she looks like a goner, despite Simon's assurances. Fingerhut out.

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13 Comments:

Anonymous Mark said...

Maybe I'm mistaken (and John can correct me if he wishes) but in the Archuleta segment, you have an aside about "there's nothing us adults can do about it". As a professional journalist I would hope you know it's actually "there's nothing WE adults can do about it"...
Otherwise, good commentary. Especially the part about how you went to Israel. You really took that whole "next year in Jerusalem" thing to heart.

3/26/08, 10:00 AM  
Anonymous John said...

Good blog and a decent show. I think that your bottom three is probably correct too.

3/26/08, 4:07 PM  
Anonymous kson220 said...

I could drink legally in 1987. Woo, we really are getting up there. But that is OK. It is not hold old you are, it is how old you feel. And yes, this week was much better than last. The variety of song choices was good.

Ramiele-Regardless of what the judges had to say, I am just not that in to her. Haven't been the entire season. Yes, her performance this week was better than the last 2 weeks, but is that really saying much?

Jason-As I have stated before, I am the penultimate Sting fan, so I was hyped to hear what Jason would do. We may have been at the same concert. Sting just really does it for me since he was in The Police. Back to Jason. I thought he did a good job on the song, but it wasn't memorable. Good, but not great.

Syesha-Even as she sang the song, I heard Gladys in my head. So, much better an any previous performance. I think she did not bad at all, but I am right there with you as far her Syesha needing more stage presence.

Chikieze-Unlike you, I am a HUGE Luther fan. In light of the faxt that doing Luther is equal to doing Whitney, for those in the know, I thought that Chikieze did a pretty good job. Luther is not someone that you can duplicate, only imitate.

Brooke-After hitting the wrong note to open, I thought she did a really good job. She held my attention with or without the band. As for doing a Police song, see note ob Sting above. I always worry when people perform "MY SONGS", but she didn't let me down. Good girl, Brooke!!

Michael-Atleast you have someone born in your decade. Never will be an Idol contestant born in the 60's, but that would be really icky if someone who is that age were on the show. I thought that Michael Johns totally rocked last night. We were all like, DAAYUM!! He blew my socks off. Note to Kristy-That is how it is done.

Carly-She took one of my anthems and didn't mess it up too much. I actually used to sing this for one of the bands I was in, so it was cool to hear it last night. She could have definitely done better, but all in all, not a bad job. And then there was the last note...

David A.-Could he pick something that someone other than he and his Dad know? He was good. Not great. But, it was nice that he didn't sing a really slow song. He really needs to work that up tempo thing. He is 17, not 57. Good enough to be with us next week.

Kristy Lee-Better than before, but still not great. She has a lot to do to bring me over to her side. I just don't think she is that good of a singer. We shall see if the good ole US of A is still on a Kristy high. Delusional is the word that comes to mind at this time.

David C.-And I still don't like him, but I am not close to being tired of his music. I wish that I could trash him, but he was really good. I had never heard this version of BJ before, so when he started, I was like WTF, but I really got into it.

Bottom 3? Ramiele, Kristy (with my fingers crossed), and possibly Jason.

Talk to you tomorrow. Can't wait to see what you have to say after tonight's elimination.

3/26/08, 6:13 PM  
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