Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Idol's Top 11

Kristy Lee Cook murdered my absolute favorite Beatles song.

I’m having a hard time thinking anything beyond that. I was slack-jawed in disbelief the entire time, from the strangely building 80s-esque techno build up of the background sound (I really expected there to be a musical crescendo followed by lasers…and I’m kind of disappointed that none of that actually happened) to the odd choice of power notes. I should’ve seen it coming: after her “hoedown in Hell” performance of “Eight Days A Week” last Tuesday, how could anyone think she’d do better with “You’ve Got To Hide Yourself Away”? I suppose it was partly my own fault, but my morbid curiosity got the best of me. Now I have to play the real version over and over and over again until the memory of Kristy Lee dulls a little. It’s going to take a while.

So long, farewell, auf wiedersehen (wow, that's hard to spell)

I’ll focus on something else. I did spend some time wondering why the shoulder pads were missing from her hideous sheer-sleeved monstrosity of a prom dress from 1989. I also spent a few seconds hoping there was a (possibly malfunctioning) trap door in the floor of the stage (I imagined it was somewhere to the left of her and tried to use my mind powers to get her to take just a few steps). But none of that was enough to stop her from tainting the memory of “You’ve Got To Hide Your Love Away” for me forever. Thankfully, she was so absolutely horrendous and dull that there’s no way she’ll be back next week…right, America? RIGHT?!

That’s out of the way *huge sigh of relief*. Now I can move on to everyone else.

Does anyone else think that Amanda Overmyer sometimes gets drowned out by the band? I’m not sure if it’s because she sings in such a low register (and thus not as loudly) or if she just sings notes so close to what the band is actually playing that they blend together, but I can’t hear half of what she’s singing any given week. I should also possibly explore the possibility that I just plain can’t hear certain notes, but…I’d rather not depress myself, so I’m going to pretend that’s not a possibility. Anyway, I actually liked Amanda a lot better this week than I have the past few weeks. Her voice, which normally grates on me after about 10 seconds, never did while she was covering “Back in the USSR.” Plus, I had a lot of fun watching here. Whatever it was that turned her into a sourpuss (to borrow a word from my grandma) has thankfully disappeared and she turned in one of the most engaging, entertaining and charismatic performances of the evening. Obviously, she had technical problems, but I think she’ll stick around until next week. Despite Simon’s comment that she’s in danger of becoming “boring,” I think the “anti-Idol Idol” niche she inhabits is still novel enough to keep her around a couple more weeks.

David Archuleta remembered all the words to his song this week! To quote Chikezie’s mom “Praise Jesus!” (or the diety of your choice, in interest of religious equality). Archie’s starting to freak me out because I can’t, for the life of me, figure the kid out. He’s a 17-year-old cartoon character. Dude, he’s the human incarnation Snuggle from the old Downey ads…with a slightly deeper voice. He’s so humble an inoffensive that he offends me. I just don’t believe that he’s real, and it’s really off-putting. His version of “The Long and Winding Road” was technically superior to any of the other performers last night (though I thought he overdid the melisma) and those sparkling eyes and adorable smile pretty much win the whole world over in 3.2 seconds. But will he ever pick songs and sing them in a manner that is age-appropriate? You can’t be big, cuddly stuffed animal and a 40-year-old crooner at the same time. My brain can’t handle it. Still, he’s got a beautiful voice that I love to listen to and he rebounded nicely from his major blunder last week.

I’m starting to think that Michael Johns just really isn’t all that smart. Anyone with two brain cells to rub together wouldn’t have even fathomed trying to condense a long, complex song like “A Day In The Life” into 90 seconds. Even if he sang it beautifully (which he didn’t) it still would’ve been a bit of a patchwork mess. The funny thing is, like with Amanda, I really enjoyed listening to him sing this week…though their performances were technically subpar (I think I may be a bit “off” myself). I’m not a big fan of Michael’s voice in general – something about it turns me off – but I liked it a lot last night. Random aside: the guy walks like one of his legs is shorter than the other. Seriously, he has a strange lean to the right thing going on…what’s that about? He’s crap at choosing the right songs and is still on the fast track to booting himself out of the competition…just not this week.

Everyone took acid during the break between Michael and Brooke White. And I include Little Miss Vanilla in that accusation as well. It is the only way I can even begin to explain away what happened next. She got up and did a wobbly 360 (with a “Woo!” thrown in for good measure) exactly like that one aunt in your family who gets drunk at all the family gatherings and decides to dance when there’s no music. Then she approached the microphone stand and did what I can only assume was part of a choreographed dance routine she learned while on the drill team in junior high. Hand gestures and offbeat swaying and shoulder rolls and…I can’t possibly go on. Through it all, she looked ridiculously bright and shiny and happy and…yellow. Fugly dress on top of everything, Brooke. Shame. To top it all off, apparently Brooke is quite the chatterbox. She hasn’t really been criticized across the board before (that I can recall) and wow…thank goodness because the girls never shuts up. I wanted Seacrest to go over and clamp a hand over her mouth to stop all of the word vomit. Just no, Brooke. I’m annoyed that even Simon couldn’t bring himself to tell you to be quiet (which he would’ve done to any of the other contestants who tries to pull the same thing). He did, however, decide to describe her performance as “wet”…whatever that means. Nobody made any sense at all.

Watching this sober is scary. Seriously.

I’m sure you’ve noticed by now that I’ve said nary a thing about her singing anywhere in the giant paragraph above…it was passable. The end.

David Cook is definitely a bit of a smug, cocky little mofo (at least on stage)…and I love it. I’m not gonna lie. His performances are often a bit weird for me because they’re so dichotomous: he’s magnetic and he knows how to work a stage and have a good time, but he often seems disconnected from the audience and/or the song he’s singing. It’s incredibly strange and I have a hard time trying to explain it. I honestly believe (despite my obvious bias) that he and Archie have been the two consistently good performers going all the way back to Hollywood Week. His “Daytripper” was easily one of the Top 3 of the night, and hopefully he quieted some nitpicky haters by declaring in his package that he borrowed most of the arrangement from Whitesnake. The performance was fantastic, from vocals to instruments to his stage presence (I personally had no problem with the vocoder). The thing with Rocker Boy is, during almost all of his songs, I can actually picture him singing them to a sold out arena. Out of all of the Idols, he’s the only one I can picture (right now, at least) actually finding success outside the Idol bubble. Also, his segment was responsible for the most hilarious part of the show (second best – Ryan very obviously shilling the iPhone and then the camera cutting to the judges holding out their Coke cups in mock salute):

*Ryan nearly knocks David in the head with the mic stand and David mock falls over*

Ryan: Sorry about that…here let me grab you.

David: *gets up* I’m good, thanks.

My roommate and I had to pause the Tivo because we were in hysterics.

I just re-watched Carly Smithson’s performance of “Blackbird” and man, was Simon extra cranky and harsh last night. Usually, underneath the surliness he actually does have good, solid advice to offer…but last night he was just awful (and gave slightly nonsensical critique) to most of the performers. “Blackbird” is one of the most redone and overdone songs ever in life, but she did a beautiful job with it. It wasn’t anything groundbreaking, arrangement-wise, but vocally it was strong and clear and really just gorgeous. Carly has an amazing voice and I hope she continues to display her range, vocally and musically. I think I underrated her in the semis; she grows on me more every week.

I need to break here for a sec and talk about Simon. His insistence last night that certain people were becoming “boring” and “predictable” mystified me. People like David Cook and Amanda have very specific singing styles. If they were to deviate from them too much, they’d sound horribly out of place (and probably get torn apart by Simon for sounding “a mess”). This isn’t to say that they’re two-dimensional and one-note, rather that they should know their limitations as a singer and put on a performance that stretches the bounds of their abilities but doesn’t break them. Why is it a bad thing that Amanda knows better than to try and sing a ballad? Why would you want David Cook to do something to make him sound more like, say, David Archuleta? Someone please explain this to (admittedly) a music novice because I just don’t get it.

We need to have a talk, Jason Castro. It’s “Mih-chelle,” not “Mee-chelle.” That drove me NUTS. Also, you dialed your stoner persona up to 11 last night and that was just a wee bit too much. You looked sort of silly throughout that entire song, almost like you were going, “Hee, lookit me I’m singing in French…oh, now back to English. Singing in different languages sure is neat!” I think you get lost in your own little world when you sing, which is fine because you’re so charismatic that the audience is drawn in anyway, but this was just…weird. I’ll give you this: I really, really dislike “Michelle” but, in the vein of Michael and Amanda, I really enjoyed listening to you sing it. People love you so much that you’ll be fine for next week, but…get yourself under control, dude. Either smoke a little more pot or a little less, but find that balance or people are going to start to notice that serial killer smile and run away from their TV sets in terror.

What a loveable, goofy mofo. I'll have what he's having.

Holy pleasant surprise Batman! Syesha Mercado, way to rebound. She did a really nice, understated job with “Yesterday.” She couldn’t resist throwing in a few power notes (and we know that she can hit them and hit them well) that rang a little false for me, but overall it was a really solid performance. I think it’s telling, however, that while I managed to write huge paragraphs on almost everyone else…I’ve run out of things to say about Syesha four sentences in. I don’t think she has much staying power because she doesn’t have that much of a presence. Of everyone that Simon has ever called “forgettable,” I agree with him most about Syesha. I just don’t care that much about her.

I really, really want everyone to stop hatin’ on Chikezie. Next to David Cook, he has my favorite voice in the competition – smooth and velvety and just a joy to listen to. He always looks like he’s having fun and he’s almost completely fearless when it comes to trying a semi-“out there” song or an unusual arrangement. As a result he’s been really hit or miss, but there’s something about him that I really, really love. He gave two separate performances last night, which was rather weird. “I’ve Just Seen A Face” is another of my favorite Beatles songs, and when he started out by turning it into a ballad, my brain rebelled. But as I listened, the “nononononono” mantra in my head quieted and I fell in love with the slowed-down version. And then came the harmonica (which he’d only learned a couple days before), which led into part two of the hoedown that Kristy Lee Cook started last week. Possibly the most awkward musical transition that I have ever seen. Here’s the thing, though: the up tempo second half of the song was pretty freakin’ good as well. I enjoyed it a lot. However, he should’ve picked one or the other (finite decisions are your friend, Chikezie).

I love Chikezie...join me on the bandwagon.

I’m sad that I have to write about Ramiele Malubay last…because I was told the last spot is the “pimp spot,” reserved for a top performance. I don’t have many positive things to say about her performance (or her appearance, but that’s of lesser importance). Ramiele just can’t seem to help sounding like she belongs in a karaoke bar. I do karaoke a lot, and I’ve met several “karaoke professionals” who literally spend their evenings going from bar to bar singing. They’re (comparatively) very good singers in the karaoke universe…but they don’t belong on a stage with paying customers. Ramiele lacks “that certain something” that you need to be a good performer. Her voice just isn’t powerful or mesmerizing enough to really enrapture a crowd. She sings well, don’t get me wrong, but she’s uninspired. I think she’ll make it through this week (barely) but not much longer.

Overall, this was an incredibly strange night. Everyone seemed just a bit off kilter…was there a full moon last night? So odd. If Kristy Lee Cook doesn’t get kicked off…I may do something drastic.

1 comment:

dc said...

KLC survives!

Heterosexual males rejoice!

I actually went to the taping where Amanda got the boot. It was dead silent when they gave the results.