Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Idol's Top 12

Idol fanatics have been telling me for two months that the big stage changes everything. I reacted the same way a guy who's trying to get in your pants does when you ask him if a dress looks good on you: "oh of course, uh-huh, sure it does." Right words, entire lack of conviction.

Last night I got smacked in the face with how wrong I was, because the new Idol stage sent 32 million people Through the Looking Glass, to a land where Chikezie blew the roof off the place and Archie missed music cues and forgot the words to 'We Can Work It Out" three times. Because I've been ill for the past few days, I still don't completely believe what I saw. Thankfully, YouTube is there to remind me.

Wow. I'm still lacking the proper words to describe Chikezie's "She's a Woman." It gave me chills and made my jaw hit the floor. Phenomenal. The arrangement was inspired, his energy was infectious and it was easily the best performance of the night. What a way to introduce yourself to the big stage, Chikezie. I hope this performance silences all of the haters who have been clamoring for him to get booted the past two weeks.

Big win, Chikezie. BIG.

David Archuleta, on the other hand, fell flat on his face on the big stage. And, I'll say it, I'm not entirely convinced the timing of his meltdown wasn't a bit too perfect. The semifinals set him on the flight path of Icarus: he seemed to be in danger of peaking too early and coming crashing back down to earth. His performance was an absolute mess, but I'm not surprised that he was still grinning like an idiot after it was all over.

He missed notes. Forgot the lyrics. Finally looked 17 and vulnerable. All of that, and he still probably got the most votes last night. Because his failure last night brought him firmly back to Earth in the best way possible: it proved he wasn't superhuman. By floundering his way through Stevie Wonder's (I'm sorry, I thought this was Beatles night, my mistake) version of "We Can Work it Out" showed people that he was normal after all. And everyone ate it up. Yes, Paula (!!) took him to task for forgetting the lyrics and Simon rightfully called it "a mess," but they said it all with a smile and a pat on the back and a "We still love you, you little cutie pie!" tacked onto the end.

I don't know if he was genuinely so nervous on the big stage that he choked or if it was a cleverly-concocted stunt, but either way, Archie wins. I'm both fascinated and appalled; I can't wait to see how far this schtick takes him.

If God has ears (and was listening last night instead of, I dunno, working on that world hunger thing) Kristy Lee Cook's version of "Eight Days a Week" will take her no further than tomorrow. I cannot think of a strong enough word for how completely horrendous, horrifying and completely awful her performance was (though those are three good adjectives to start with). I think she should be forced to hand write apology letters to Paul and Ringo for turning the song into what they force country music haters to listen to on the way down to Hell.

Seriously, it kind of sounded like the music they play in the freaky boat tunnel in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. The banjos and fiddles and country twang just kept getting faster and faster and Kristy Lee stood in the middle of it all looking slightly lost and slightly maniacal at the same time. What a ridiculously misguided decision...I cannot describe how much I hated it. Worst thing I've seen all year (and considering I saw Amanda sing "Carry On My Wayward Son," that's saying something).

The other Cook in the competition, however, translated nicely to the big stage. David Cook, looking like someone rubbed a balloon on the back of his head right before he went onstage (I generally have no problem with his hair, but last night it was just badbadBAD), tore it up with an uptempo rock take on "Eleanor Rigby."

David's charisma levels wax and wane from week to week, which is something he'll have to work on. But I'm glad he proved that he could still give a command performance without his guitar in front of him. He continues to prove that he's one of the most talented people in the Top 12, and it brings me great joy.

Hey David..."Why Don't We Do it In The Road?" Heh, get it?

Chikezie, Rocker Boy, Archie and Kristy Lee got extreme reactions from me. Everyone else fell somewhere in the middle.

"Jason Castro is for people who find Jack Johnson too edgy." In one sentence my friend Mike perfectly summed up the dreadlocked folk singer. I actually enjoyed his rendition of "If I Fell." It was a little too breathy for me, but I liked that he tweaked the song here and there to make it his own but not so much as to suck the soul out of it (pay attention, Kristy Lee!). He continues to show every note when he sings on his face (when reaching for the high notes the eyebrows shoot up and the shoulders tense) which is incredibly distracting and annoying. Jason has a good vibe and a nice tone to his singing voice...I kind of wish he'd do something a little more uptempo though.

Carly Smithson screamed and stomped around a lot in a bright blue mini dress. Next to Chikezie, she was the performer who brought the most to the stage: charisma, energy and the powerful voice. I thought it was a bit overdone, though. It felt like she was trying just a little bit too hard. In fact, I went back and re listened to her performance with my eyes closed, just so I could listen. The vocals, which were just fantastic, got sort of lost in her performance and that's a shame. I felt like she got drowned out by her backup singers a couple times as well. The performance, while strong, was just a bit off balance for me.

I really didn't like Brooke White last night. I understand that many amazing singers have imperfect voices, and that often those imperfections elevate a certain song to another level (please see Jeff Buckley's version of "Hallelujah" for reference). However, I thought Brooke butchered "Let It Be." She was cute sitting at the piano and I understand the vibe she was going for...I just think she fell flat. The imperfect notes and inflections made me wince, to the point that I wondered if she was recovering from laryngitis. It wasn't horrible, but I really, really didn't enjoy listening to it. Just no.

At least Brooke was interesting, which is more than I can say for Ramiele Malubay and Syesha Mercado. I can't really remember what either of them sang, just that it was dull and completely unremarkable. They're both in trouble, especially since this isn't the first time they've been accused of such.
I have nothing more to say about Amanda Overmyer that I haven't already said. Except to second my roommate's suggestion that she should've performed "Why Don't We Do It In The Road?" Heh.

I can't decide whether Michael Johns or David Hernandez is more likely to join the two girls in the bottom three. Michael's "Across the Universe" halted his semifinals downward spiral...a bit. I thought he ave a stronger performance here than anywhere in the last three weeks, but his voice still really doesn't impress me. Perhaps it's a case of not being able to find the right song, but at this point, dude, I'm not willing to cut you that much slack. David, on the other hand, way over performed. He was trying too hard and it was painfully obvious. He's got IT (the vocals and the charisma and *ahem* the dancing ability) but he's overselling it. Pull back a notch, dude.

I'll forget you as soon as you're gone. Sorry.

I think Syesha's going home tonight. Though it should be KristyLee (damn you, country fans!)


danielletbd said...

My jaw hit the floor when I saw Jacuzzi (sorry, but my new friend Jacob at TWoP would insist I call him that). He turned out a performance that seemed so uncharacteristic of him, of that kind of theme night, and of "AI" in general it just made me clap and smile.

I don't think David A. did that mess as a stunt. I have a feeling he ran off stage in tears and just got verbally berated by his stage dad for disappointing him in front of millions of viewers. I'm starting to feel bad for that kid... but that's not enough to make me vote for him.

Um, hello KLC, why are you still here? Oh right 'cause if our country can't elect a president properly, why would we be able to send the right person home on a talent show?

danielletbd said...

PS Have you seen tonight's set list yet? Thoughts?