The Top 10 Performance

Spoilers were all good tonight, except for Kellie’s…but that was a last minute rumor.  I’m not surprised it didn’t pan out.  Awesome job, kids.

The Top 10 Performance – Recap  video caps later, peeps

Songs of the 21st century

This is the modern world

A picture named Top10Lisaa.jpegLisa Tucker – “Because of You” by Kelly Clarkson.  Kelly cleared this song for Idol.  But maybe for Lisa’s sake, she shouldn’t have.  Covering a popular song by Kelly Clarkson, who is easily the most beloved of all the Idol winners, was a huge risk for Lisa.  The performance began promisingly, and then Lisa’s pitch problems kicked in. Simon said that the song “was too big for your voice.” and yes, by the end, she was screaming the melody.  Watching Lisa beam at her parents out in the audience,  I got the feeling she hasn’t experienced the kind of family angst found in the song’s lyrics.  She tried to covey some sort of meaning, but she just didn’t seem to be feeling it.  The judges were extremely harsh.  Lisa looked like she was going to cry, and I wonder if the scathing reviews won’t send a lot of pity votes her way this week.  She could be safe.  Bottom three, but safe.

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Kellie Pickler – “Suds in a Bucket” by Sara Evans – Sure, this was a dopey little novelty song, but I think it suited Kellie’s modest vocal abilities and “cute” country style just fine.  I can’t understand why the judges are suddenly picking apart her vocals. Do I detect some de-pimping here?  Paula said she was “way better than that song didn’t show your range or personality”  Actually, I think the song was exactly in keeping with Kellie’s appeal.  Kellie IS a novelty and a gimmick.  The song was perfect.  Bonus:  The hour-long show was on such a tight schedule, there was no time for Kellie-shtick.  Thank the heavens for small favors.  And Kelly, when the judges criticize you, quit apologizing

A picture named Top10Acea.jpegAce Young –  “Drops of Jupiter” by Train – This performance was better than last week.  But, I have to say, Ace is still not bringing it vocally.  His problems–weak, out of tune vocals (I hated the way he was warbling around on syllables like “hair” and “there” rather than actually singing them) could probably be mostly fixed in the studio, but are exposed on the big Idol stage.  However, Ace’s attractive vulnerability could be molded into radio-friendly pop, with a little help from Pro Tools. Randy, the judge who praised Ace for having “the best voice so far” in his Denver audition, didn’t like the vocal.  Simon said it was “karaoke”.   When Ace actually pointed to his scar when he sang the word “scar”, it made me giggle.  But no, I didn’t need to see it.  Ace could be in the bottom three again this week, but I can’t see him going yet. Oh, how the mighty have fallen…

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Taylor Hicks – “Trouble” by Ray Lamontagne –  First, Taylor got a little live one-on-one with Ryan, where he introduced a ten-year old in the audience with gray hair (Yikes!) and was able to throw a little shout-out to his fangroup, the Soul Patrol.  Shout-outs rock!  There were no real spoilers for Taylor tonight, except a report that his song was “less known…perfect to show his vocal range”.  I never heard of Taylor’s song choice and boy did it ever show off his voice!  WOW. This performance was easily one of the best of the night, and my personal favorite.  In a clear, soulful voice, Taylor showed us all that he indeed can sang. The judges:  Randy didn’t like the song because “it didn’t let you show off.”  Huh?  It showed off his vocals.  Taylor got criticized last week for picking a song that didn’t show off his vocals.  Paula said, “It was nice to see you just stand behind the mic and sing a song.”  PAULA, the voice of REASON.  What?  And then Simon said he liked the song and thought it was an excellent vocal.  YES!  No love for the outfit though–Simon inexplicably compared Taylor to Clay Aiken.  NO.  I thought the jacket and the hair were awesome.

George Huff, AI3 in the audience….

A picture named Top10Mandisaa.jpegMandisa – “Wanna Praise You”  by Mary Mary –  I wasn’t feeling Mandisa tonight for a couple of reasons.  I like gospel music, but as she sang,  I had this feeling she was preaching at me, hard.  It felt a little heavy-handed.  And, the song highlighted the problems Mandisa has singing in her lower range.  The thing is, she only sounds really good when she’s belting.  But tonight, she even sounded shrill on the high notes. She may really love this song, but it wasn’t a good showcase for her vocal abilities.  Paula stuck her foot in her mouth.  When she said “40 million people just joined the church of Mandisa, ” Mandisa smiled and shook her head, NO, vigorously.  Uhh, Paula, pay attention to the lyrics, next time, will ya? You totally missed the point of the song. Simon, very dismissively, simply said, “I thought that was a bit indulgent, I just didn’t get that, not for me.”  Mandisa is a really gifted singer, but I don’t think the producers want her in this for the long haul.  Her star may be falling.

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Chris Daughtry – “What If” by Creed – Just as I thought, “Chrisgate” was handled tonight–albeit briefly and awkwardly.  In a little sit-down with Ryan before his performance, Chris mentioned that his version of “Walk the Line” was Live’s version, and that Live was one of his favorite bands.  Chris looked extremely uncomfortable, but mercifully for him,  the mention was brief and didn’t touch at all on the controversy itself.  I’m not sure what else Chris could have done at this point.  Flog himself with a wet noodle?  The judges acquitted themselves later by criticizing Chris’s performance–which was the same competent, well-executed performance he always gives–rather than laying on the usual pimp job.  Simon, unbelievably says, “Creed would not be seen dead on American Idol.”  Oh, I beg to differ, Simon. Scott Stapp?  I think he’d do Idol.  Live? Red Hot Chile Peppers? Seether? Those other bands whose songs Chris performed?  You know, the ones you heaped praise on?  Maybe not.  Then, incredibly, after all these weeks of Chris giving the exact same performance, Simon’s drumbeat of, “You know who you are” suddenly turned into, “You never change it up.”  Whaat?  In the immortal words of contestant Kimberly Locke, AI2–Simon, you suck.

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Katharine McPhee –  “The Voice Within” by Christina Aguilera – Katharine certainly has her fans.  In fact, I’ve been saying all along that she’s a middle of the packer, but I’m revising that.  She’s got so much momentum right now, If she keeps going, she could end up in the Top 4 or 5.  However, I still think she’s a one-trick pony.  She’s incredible with the old-school tunes, but when she goes contemporary?  Not so much.  Tonight was a perfect example.  Katharine’s typical vocal weaknesses–melisma that just misses the notes and a stridency in her upper register–were on display tonight.  Plus, she was sharp through parts of the song.  And, like her take on Aretha’s “Think” in the semis, she lacked soul.  It was another white bread, cabaret treatment of an R&B song.  I still can’t imagine Katharine cutting it as a contemporary pop star.  Simon said, “I think it was the best tonight” without a lot of conviction. And then, he said unsmilingly, “it was almost as good as Christina.”  It seems Katharine is being groomed to advance, probably at the expense of Mandisa.

A picture named Top10Buckya.jpegBucky Covington –  “Real Good Man” by Tim McGraw –  Sweet, sweet Bucky. His days are numbered, but he’s hanging in there despite the fact that The Powers That Be have no love for him.  Thanks to a mighty fan base,   Bucky keeps plugging ahead.  Tonight, back in the country saddle, he looked extremely confident on stage, working some cool little dance moves into his performance.  This was a good song choice for him.  His raspy vocals sounded good, despite being drowned out by the band at times.  Paula and Randy liked his performance.  Simon, who doesn’t like Bucky at all, accused him of “winging it”.  Bucky will probably have to suffer through the Bottom 3 again this week, and might finally go home.  But, I wouldn’t be surprised if that fan base of his slides him through to another week.

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Paris Bennett – “Work it Out” by Beyonce – As long as I didn’t have to look at Paris as she sang this, I thought it was great.  I agree with Simon, it was a bit “indulgent” (his favorite word tonight, for some reason).  The lyrics and the dirrrty dance moves were a bit beyond her 17 years (despite Paris saying in the clip that she gets to be like a teen–heh, not if you were my daughter, girl).  Having said that, I think her vocals on this tune were outstanding.  The incredibly unique tone that Paris brings when she’s on her game was all over her performance tonight.  I’m not really down with Beyonce, but I loved the way Paris worked this song vocally.  When she’s got the right song, Paris just blows it out of the water.  She’s continuing to sing like that confident girl we saw during the auditions.  If she keeps it up, she has a chance to make the Top 4 or 5.

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Elliott Yamin – “I Don’t Wanna Be” by Gavin Degraw –  Ok, you wanna talk original?  I thought Elliott’s souled-up slightly hip-hop arrangement of this song was it.  I didn’t think of Bo Bice once as he performed it, even though Bo’s rendition was a highlight of last year’s competition for me.  Along with Taylor, I think Elliott brings a really special talent to the Top 12.  He’s got oodles of raw talent that hasn’t even been tapped yet.  So much potential here–he’s the kind of contestant who can blossom and grow as the competition heats up. I’m a little concerned that the producers are going to abandon Elliott for some of the “sexier” contestants like Chris and Katharine.  Giving him the pimp spot tonight gives me hope they might want him around for a bit.  The judges were all complimentary tonight–Elliott should be out of the bottom three for another week.  The hoodie/jacket combo was sweet.