Thursday, March 6, 2008

Idol's Top 16: The Girls

When something is amazing, you can gush about it (or you know, if you want to be professional, praise it in a controlled manner). When something is absolutely awful, I find it fun to gleefully rip it to shreds (the evil part of me has lot of fun). But when something is just middling and unremarkable and middle-of-the-road…it’s hard to know what to say about it. Welcome to the dilemma of trying to analyze and critique last night’s American Idol.

I always try to support people (and characters) fortunate enough to be named Amanda. Historically, this has been hit or miss for me. Amanda Bynes is a good physical comedian, but (with the possible exception of her role in Hairspray) her career is entirely forgettable and unremarkable. I love Mandy Moore, but she loses huge points for going by “Mandy” (if you are not a blonde cheerleader or a dog, you should not allow anyone to call you this). Amanda from Can’t Hardly Wait was played by Jennifer Love-Hewitt. Enough said. Amanda from Melrose Place was a bad girl bitch who slept with anything with a Y chromosome (I suppose some people would find that awesome…). Amanda from Ugly Betty does indeed have layers (and she’s hysterical), but she’s an empty-headed Barbie doll.

Then along came Amanda Overmyer on Idol. She made it this far because she’s actually different: her voice (whiskey-soaked and raw as it is) is far and away the most unique in the competition. Unfortunately, that doesn’t make it fun to listen to. I’m really disappointed; I tried valiantly to learn to love her over the past three weeks. I just can’t get behind her, though.

Represent our name better. Seriously.

“I Hate Myself For Loving You” is the absolute perfect song for her (and happens to be my karaoke song of choice) and she did a technically proficient, rockin’ job of it. But I still didn’t like it very much. I think she’s got enough support to make the Top 12, but I can’t bring myself to care either way. Especially when she doesn’t seem to care all that much herself. I have a sneaking suspicion that she doesn’t really want to be there anymore. The fire in her earlier performances is gone, she never looks comfortable in the Idol universe and, when Simon tries to coax a smile out of you, you know there’s something wrong. I’m sad to say that she’s the latest in a line of like-named girls who falls far short of earning my adoration and solidarity.

On a happier note, Carly Smithson is slowly but surely winning me over. Once again, she and Brooke White delivered the strongest performances of the evening and are definitely through to the Top 12. Carly gave me goose bumps during the chorus of “I Drove All Night”: the strength of her voice and her ability to hit every single one of those notes (and it’s not an easy song) really got to me. Brooke White earned props for completely reinventing Pat Benetar’s “Love is a Battlefield” (though it’s one of my favorite Benetar songs and I’m not convinced it should ever be reinvented). Brooke has a very solid identity as a performer and she’s smart enough to remain true to it. She turned in a really good performance for the second week in a row and I’m curious to see how the big stage will treat her.

Is that Amy Winehouse on her arm?

Covering the divas (Whitney, Mariah, Celine) is a huge no-no on this show. I get it, I’ve heard it countless times before. Simon will automatically hate it because there’s no way anyone could do it better. I don’t understand why, six seasons in, contestants haven’t learned to just stay away from their songbooks. Are they really big-headed enough to think that they, of all people, will be able to take it on?

Asia’h Epperson and Syesha Mercado both ignored that cardinal rule and sang “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” and “Saving All My Love For You,” respectively. I thought they both did a great job. Neither did anything new with their songs (and really, what could you do?) but they delivered strong, tuneful Whitney-wannabe performances. Asia’h continues to show fantastic stage presence; I just love watching her perform. And, unlike many other bloggers, I actually like the slight rasp in her voice (though that is perhaps the best argument as to why she should avoid diva songs). Syesha continues to be the male equivalent of David Hernandez for me: I love her voice, but I feel like she’s holding something back…and because of that, she doesn’t hold my interest for very long. Also, it was really unfortunate that she sang last on a night where Idol ran short on time because it meant she got really short-changed on feedback. I hope they both make it into the Top 12 (and I think they probably will).

Ramiele Malubay has lost her mojo. Her ''Against All Odds (Take a Look at Me Now),” while solid and in tune, was lacking any sort of emotional impact. Randy’s right: she seems to be over thinking and way too caught up in singing the right thing in the right way at the right time. Her performances look like they’re an awful lot of effort and as a result, she’s incredibly boring to watch. I want her to stick around, though. I think if she can rediscover her confidence she’ll be great fun to watch.

What the heck happened here?

That leaves Kristy Lee Cook, who is the female equivalent of Luke Menard: she’s been getting better each week but she’s just not good enough. There doesn’t seem to be a whole lot to her other than curly blonde hair and skinny girl cleavage. I appreciate that she took Simon’s advice and played to her strengths, infusing Journey’s “Faithfully” (awesome song, BTW) with a bit of a country tinge. I don’t think she has the potential to get any better than she already is, so I’m hoping she’s the second girl to go tonight.

Kady and Kristy get my vote to be ousted. However, this week was so strong (for the men) and so mundane (for the women) that the results show is probably going to be incredibly unpredictable.

A short coda to this entry: who the hell dressed the girls last night? High-waisted pants look good on no one. Tiny Ramiele looked dumpy in her shapeless skirt and zip up hoodie. Surprisingly, Amanda was the only one who looked nice and normal last night. I felt like I was having a fashion nightmare (and I feel like Idol knows it too, seeing as there still aren't pictures of the Top 8 girls up for me to point to and mock). Not cool on all counts.

1 comment:

DC said...

I too, thought Brooke was great :) 'Twas a fabulous rendition.

I got "blog tagged" for the first time today, so I'm tagging you too! haha.

you've been tagged