Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Idol's got me feeling some emotions--but they're not necessarily good ones

So I'm about 20 minutes into watching the show on DVR tonight, and my friend John text messaged me to say "I'm so ... bored of all these contestants." And after reading that message, I immediately realized what the problem is with this season of American Idol. Almost everyone is kind of boring, because they do the same thing every week. American Idol used to be about singers having to do a song with a new style pretty much every week. But after the success of Chris Daughtry in season five and Blake Lewis in season six trying whenever possible to tailor the songs to their style, almost everyone is remaking every song in their style. And after a few weeks of it being sort of interesting and creative, it's now just boring. Every week we can expect Brooke to do a piano ballad, and Jason Castro to sing some guitar-strumming coffehouse type of song, and David Cook will do a modern rock tune, and Kristy Lee Cook do her country thing and David Archuleta sing an inspirational song and Syesha sing some song with a big vocal range (OK, Syesha isn't quite the same as the others, but it's still boring.) Whatever you think of Carly, she's a breath of fresh air most weeks--at least she's an old-fashioned Idol contestant who varies her style depending on the theme. Perhaps this whole playing-your-own-instrument thing has gone too far.

Having said all that, tonight's show overall wasn't bad. Mariah seemed like a relatively engaged mentor, and her catalogue is big enough that everyone can find a song that works for them. I do wonder, though, how you have a show featuring the songs of someone with 18 number one hits, and three of the seven singers pick songs that either are completely unknown to the viewing audience (Syesha's song) or were only minor hits (Archuleta and Kristy Lee Cook's). But such are the mysteries of American Idol....

(And speaking of mysteries, to follow up last week's post about "Shout to the Lord," the Idols also sang that song on Wednesday night but substituted the word "Shepherd" for "Jesus." I didn't notice that--because I didn't know the song--but apparently many Christians did and were furious, expressing their anger on the Internet and elsewhere. Whether this led to the producers putting "Jesus" back into the song is an interesting question, but one we probably won't get an answer to if I know the mysterious American Idol producers as well as I believe I do...)

Before I get to the song, by talking about how "surprising" Michael Johns' departure is, isn't Ryan kind of insulting everyone else that's been eliminated? He didn't talk about their "surprising" departure the following week, so I guess they were deemed to be expendable and the producers felt they had gone as far as they could go. That may be true, but it still seems kind of funny.

David Archuleta (When You Believe)--I had no idea what this song was until Randy mentioned it was the Mariah-Whitney duet. Yes, it did win an Academy Award because it was in the movie "Prince of Egypt," but this has to be one of the most disappointing songs in history. When I heard there was a Whitney Houston-Mariah Carey duet, I was expecting something impressive--and instead we got this unexciting song lacking in any good pop hooks. But it's inspirational, so of course David Archuleta sang it. And was he wearing leather pants? And if he was, why? (By the way, did you know that David was born after Mariah Carey's first record was released?) Anyway, I wasn't impressed by this at all. I thought the song seemed too big for him and a time or two he was almost drowned out by the music

Carly Smithson ("Without You")--I really wanted to love this and was expecting Carly to knock it out of the park, but it just wasn't as good as I had hoped. It was still fine, but nothing memorable. And I agree with Simon--it does seem like Carly was nervous and was holding something back. She looks different during her best performances--she's smiling and strutting around. But not tonight.

Syesha Mercado ("Vanishing")--So did Syesha pick this song that I and most of the country had never heard before because, as Paula said, she wouldn't have to be compared to Mariah Carey, or because it allowed her to do a 30 second vocal run or something near the end? I think the latter. This was like all of Syesha's performances: solid, competent, even very good vocals lacking anything unique or any emotional connection that would draw me in. And I agree with Simon--picking a song no one's heard before in a competition where people generally sing songs that everyone has heard before is a minus--because most viewers spend most of the song going "I know Mariah Carey, but I don't think I've ever heard this song. Have I heard this song? No, what is this...?"

Brooke White ("Hero")--So why couldn't Brooke go to her sister's wedding? Does American Idol not let you leave the show to do something like attend one of the most important days of a family member's life? If she misses a day of rehearsal, isn't that her problem if she chooses too? Would the world still turn on its axis if Brooke couldn't make the Ford commercial this week? As for her singing, it was back to Brooke White, piano player, this week, and I actually thought it might have been her best performance since "Let It Be." It was authentic, as Paula likes to say. But she's just not diversified enough or vocally strong enough to win this competition, as pleasant as her piano ballads are.

Kristy Lee Cook ("Forever")--Even though Mariah said not many people know this song, I was surprised to realize I'd heard it a few times before. Even more surprising was seeing Kristy sing it pretty well. While she had a slight twang in her voice, she basically sang it straight and I enjoyed it. Kristy seems to have stuck around long enough to figure out the right songs to sing, and may even be around a few more weeks at this rate.

David Cook ("Always Be My Baby")--OK, I may be tired of him making everything into that emo-style of his, and I may have thought he was getting too big for his britches--but for tonight, David, all is forgiven. That was great, just really cool--especially because it seems like he came up with that arrangement himself. I could have done without the vocal histrionics at the very end, but I still really liked it.

Jason Castro ("I Don't Want to Cry")--It was no David Cook, but that actually wasn't bad either, although I'm now getting bored with the whole Jason Castro vibe at this point. Like Brooke, his limitations are showing.

So who's going home? I really have no idea. I think that Syesha will make the bottom three, and other than it could be one of any number of people, other than David Cook and perhaps Archuleta. Let's say Brooke and Carly also make the bottom three, and Syesha goes home.

Fingerhut out.



Anonymous John said...

Wow, to have a text quoted in the opening paragraph. Pretty sweet.

David A.: more than ever, I was not "feeling it" with David this week. And seriously, I would have loved for him to be "Fantasy" or even "Vision of Love" if he can't tear himself away from a ballad.

Carly: I wish that she had been swinging for the fences more. This may have been the wrong song to play it safe with.

Syesha: well, I thought that she was sounding good and that she looked great. At this point, I was still not thrilled with the night in general.

Brooke: I think this is when I texted my "bored" comment. I mean, she was fine but it really was a sense that I'd seen her do this all before.

Kristy Lee: I guess that I just have low expectations with her. Because this was just okay and I found myself thinking, "one of her better ones."

David: this was nicely done. I wish he had gone a little teensy bit poppier and hadn't gone so heavy towards the end. My favorite of the night, though Syesha's vocal was probably a smidge better.

Jason: he was good. But I was bored before David Cook and I returned to the shores of boredom with Mr. Castro.

I guess all that we can hope for is that Mariah Carey blows the roof off tonight...or if not that, that she does something wacky like on TRL a few years ago, passing out ice cream and taking off her clothes.


4/16/08, 1:02 PM  
Blogger Amy said...

Okay - I disagree that this show is boring that they do their thing and all. They are the best final 7 we have ever seen. there is not one of them that I feel I need to press FF on my DVR like every other year (Sangaya, Bucky...)So, with that being said I am enjoying the season immensely.

Quick rundown:
Carly - good but not her bet and she has more talent that she is not using.
David A - so sick of him, done get rid of him
Brooke - last night was great for her
Kristy - Shocked out how good I thought she was last night
Syesha - who cares if I do not really know the song, it was great
jason Castro - kind of getting bored with him but he is still talented
David Cook - da bomb...awesome..that was so killer and I would download it on itunes - already listening to it today on youtube...Fingerhut #2 out..

4/16/08, 3:06 PM  
Anonymous kson220 said...

Your friend John hit the nail on the head. AI is boring this season. There were times last night that I just couldn't keep focused. Normally, I will "shush" people if they are talking during the singing, but last night, I just didn't care enough.

Mariah was actually a pretty good mentor. As far as her singing capabilities, there aren't many out there who're better. You can do worse than getting tips from someone with a controlled 8 octave range. The girl can "sang". With that said, I really am not a Mariah fan. She can sing, but she is not my cup of tea. That may have been part of my concentration problem that I mentioned earlier. I am sure that it would have been better for me if I knew the music better.

Comments were made about Michael Johns' leaving because it should not have happened. What? Michael Johns gone before Kristy Lee? Come on!!

David A.-The judges loved it, but their comments made me feel like we were listening to 2 different performance. David, Brooke and Jason all really need to break out of the niche that they have created for themdelves. Their boring factor is growing exponentially weekly!

Carly-Just OK. Nothing memorable about her performance from the singing to the stage presence.

Syesha-No need for comments from me. You nailed this review.

Brooke-It is what it is. More than likely, going home for the wedding would have taken more than a day. Some of the times, you have to make sacrifices. She has made a committment to this competition, and outside of a death, I would imagine that everyone has to stay put. You really can't think that over the past 6 seasons, noone else has had to miss an important family event? It's just that like with her comments, Brooke talks more than most of the other contestants. Don't forget, sympathy equals votes. I thought Brooke's performance was very good, but I am still waiting for her to show some versatility.

Kristy Lee-As much as I hate to admit it, once again, Kristy was not awful. Her timing for showing that she is better than we wre thinking could not be better. Now that she has a strong contender gone (Michael), her chances of staying around longer have increased.

David C.-David's performance was, once again, really good. He is probably the most consistent of the contestants. Still, his posturing during the performance got on my nerves. But, dang, he does give good song.

Jason-Another sound performance from Mr. Slow and Steady. He still has a shell that he needs to break out of, but he continues to perform well.

Bottom 3-Syesha, Carly and Kristy Lee (I just can't not put her there every week).

4/16/08, 3:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You can always tell the Cook fans.
They never miss an opportunity to b8tch slap a little 17 year old.
Well they have to. It says to do that in the idiot's guide to how to act if you like rock music.

Last time I checked Cook does the same thing every week too. He came fresh off the alterna-rock assembly line. Low, indecipherable mutter beginning followed by howling chorus. Rinse and Repeat. You know what else Cook does a lot? Plagarism. I wonder if he'll even be able to write his own songs. Perhaps we'll get "David Cook does xerox copy performances of rock covers: the album." Maybe we're better off he do that because if his favorite band is Our Lady of Peace (. . .really), I don't think I want to hear original music from him.

and yet there's even worse. Sayesha. No personality, not likable, horrible stage presence, can't pick a song to save her life, good vocals? She has a horrible tone to her voice. High notes sound like a cat being stuffed down a garbage disposal. Castro. They should have cannabis leaves fall down from the ceiling like confetti while he's performing. Loose the dreds, hippie!

4/17/08, 3:17 PM  

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