Top 12 Performance

I took a peek at all the hints I posted from “Jim”,  of,  regarding Taylor Hicks’s song choice this week,  and realized they pointed to 4 different songs.  None of which Taylor sang.

Well, the riddles were amusing.

Idols–excellent job keeping those song choices under wraps this week!  I doff my cap to thee.  As usual, song spoilers found on message boards = 0. 

Oh well, at least Taylor’s goldfish knew Taylor would be whipping out that harmonica on stage–even if he didn’t play it. And Pauler looked suitably impressed.

Tonight’s recap – give me a day or two for the screen caps.

The Top 12 do Stevie Wonder

I don’t know how thrilled I am by the return of artist Theme nights.  What usually results is a mixed bag–with some of the contestants comfortable with the artist’s particular genre and others not so much.  Tonight was no exception. I really liked last year’s broader themes–I think it made for much better performances all the way around.

Each performance was preceded with a little film clip of the contestants working with Stevie and talking about his music.  Some of the kids were visibly moved.  It was pretty cool.

A picture named Top12Acea.jpegAce Young –  “Do I Do” –  I wish I liked Ace’s performance as much as his film clip where he seemed completely humbled by the fact that he got to work with Stevie.  Ace’s thin vocals were unremarkable and completely overpowered by the band.  Again, he really needs to choose songs that play up his vocal strengths and minimize the weaknesses.  One of Stevie’s sweet ballads might have been a better choice for him.  Both Randy and Simon were unimpressed.  I think Ace has been demoted for now–both Taylor and Chris are pwning him.  Both appear to have all the heat at the moment.  After three meh weeks, Ace needs to step it up pronto.

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Kellie Pickler – “Blame it on the Sun” –  Did I ever mention that I find Kellie’s “I’m just a poor lil country girl and I don’t know nuthin” act  really annoying?  I mention it every single week?  Oh. Ok.  I’ll just move on to her singing, then.  It wasn’t very good.  She performed this song with out modulating or coloring her vocals at all.  She seemed to barely understand the lyrics.  For the first time, the judges actually critiqued her vocals and they were a bit harsh–especially Simon who said, “Every thing went wrong” and called her boring.  And her apologizing after every critique–“I’m sorry, I’m sorry”–just bugged.  It doesn’t matter.  America loves Kellie.  I don’t particularly, but I did like her hair.

A picture named Top12Elliotta.jpegElliott Yamin – “Knocks Me off my Feet” –  It was cool to see Elliott so genuinely moved to meet Stevie, who has obviously had a big influence on his vocal style. This was one of my favorite performances tonight.  Though it lacked some oomph, and Elliott was obviously nervous, I thought his smooth vocals were beautiful.  Just a really lovely performance.  The judges felt that he lacked the “wow” factor–not enough vocal runs and glory noting, I suppose.    I’m a little worried that Elliott, who has no gimmicks except for that gorgeous voice, is going to fall through the cracks.  I hope his run doesn’t end prematurely–he deserves to stick around for awhile.

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Mandisa – “Don’t you Worry ’bout a Thing” –  Mandisa finally had an off night.  She had trouble singing in her lower register and only sounded decent when she was belting out the top notes.  And the high notes came so suddenly, it was jarring.  The judges “complimented” her by saying she was the best of the night so far.  Actually, I’d say that was Elliott.  But, considering she was only the fourth performer, that really wasn’t saying much.  This song was not a good choice for her–difficult and out of her vocal range–there had to be a better song from Stevie’s catalog for her to sing.


A picture named Top12Buckya.jpegBucky Covington – “Superstition” –  Bucky comes across as a simple, sweet-natured guy.  It’s no wonder that he’s got a loyal and growing fan base.  “Superstition” was a perfect song for him.  But, his gruff growly vocals don’t quite translate to the big AI stage.  And it’s obvious that he’s used to working much smaller venues. He still needs to learn to work the entire stage.  I think Bucky did a good job, considering he was working out of his comfort zone.  The judges were generally positive.  And Simon had very little to say, except about his hair–which was very pretty and shiny!  Bucky was rockin’ the “Breck Girl” look tonight. I would suggest a little less blowing out next time.  Hee.  I absolutely loved the John Travolta move at the end of the song.  That was awesome.

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Melissa McGhee – “Lately” –  Oddly, Melissa’s video featured her working with Stevie, and forgetting her lyrics.  Stevie chides her gently for this.  But then, when she actually performs the song, she forgets the lyrics AGAIN.  Her delivery was good, but she was really flat during most of the performance.  I expected the judges to cream her again, but they were complimentary, especially Simon, who called it “edgy” and her “best yet.”  Hmmm.  Melissa mentioned that she had a last-minute song change.  I wonder why?  Could the producers still be trying to ditch her by toning down the critiques, in hopes that folks will forget about her?  Or maybe my cynical self is just reading way too much into this.

A picture named Top12Lisaa.jpegLisa Tucker – “Signed, Sealed and Delivered” – I dunno.  Despite the fact that Lisa was perky, spunky and really worked the stage, I thought this was a dull performance.  I think she needs to work less on her choreography and more on how she connects to the emotion in a song.  In other words, less Disney and more passion.  Lisa’s got a megawatt smile and tons of personality, in few years she may learn to really live the emotion rather than mimic.  Again,  like the other teens, she needs more time to mature.    Simon thought this was one of the best of the night, but I wonder if he wasn’t trying to give her a little boost.  She’s another one who could fall through the cracks. Hey! Was that JPL? The shot right after Lisa finished singing?  Why, yes it was.  Hee!

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Kevin Covais – “Part Time Lover” – Kevin is one gutsy kid.  I can’t believe he busted out with that performance.  I mean, holy crap, did he just thrust his pelvis at me?  Please don’t do that. The dance moves were awkward–even JPL, the king of crazy dance moves, was probably mouthing no no no from the audience.  The goatie vibrato was back.  The song was a joke.  I think.  At any rate,  I believe Kevin could have tackled one of Stevie’s ballads and done a decent, heartfelt job, like last week’s “Vincent”.  Shtick performances like “Part Time Lover” can be good for a laugh, but aren’t going to keep a contestant in the competition for the long haul.  But, maybe Kevin figures he’s got nothing to lose and is just going for it.  The judges continued the good judge/bad judge routine this week.  But, when Simon told him the performance was appalling, Kevin snapped back, “I wasn’t expecting much from you anyways.”  Yikes, talking back to the judges can turn the audience against a contestant, fast.  Be careful with that, Kevin.

A picture named Top12Katharine.jpegKatharine McPhee – “Until You Come Back to Me”  –  I think this performance was a best-ever for Katharine.  She didn’t over-do the runs and kept her sometimes wayward pitch in check.  She navigated her upper register quite nicely this week, rather than sounding strident on the high notes,  which is sometimes a problem for her.  This song was a perfect choice–sultry and smooth to match Katharine’s simple, elegant vocals.  The judges raved, and deservedly so.  Hated the dress–ugh to the peasant look.  Something a little dressier would have been nice.  Simon’s comparison to Kelly Clarkson was a little out of left field.  I don’t think Katharine sounds like Kelly at all.

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Taylor Hicks – “Living for the City” –  Taylor brings it again.  Fantastic song choice.  Passionate delivery.  Smooth dance moves–he should never ever stop dancing on stage-ever.  I really think he’s hitting his stride here.  And he toned down that Ray Charles shtick–which was beginning to look like a gimmick.  I expect Taylor to be one of those contestants who will always entertain.  When he’s finally eliminated,  he’ll take all the energy of the show right with him.  Randy and Paula raved.  Simon dished out a backhanded compliment–comparing him to a drunk dad at a wedding–a drunk dad who can sing.  Whatever.


A picture named Top12Parisa.jpegParis Bennett – “All I do” –  Welcome back, Paris.  I missed you.  I thought you’d never return.  Paris’s audition was amazing.  Unfortunately, since then, she hasn’t lived up to the hype.  Poor song choice has been the main culprit. But tonight, singing a great song–she was back to her magnificent self.  Paris at her best is a little powerhouse, singing a song like she’s been around for decades, like she’s pulling her performance from some other worldly place.  Tonight she was completely on, and she’s back in the race.  Randy said it, “Effort, fearless–all that.”


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Chris Daughtry – “Higher Ground” –  Chris was very worried about Stevie Wonder week until he found out that the Chile Pepper’s “Higher Ground” was a Stevie Wonder song.  Yeah, Chris, it’s a Stevie Wonder song.  He must have been relieved–one more week that he didn’t have to step out of his box.  The Chile Pepper’s arrangement was perfect for Chris.  Stevie said he sounds “sincere”  Chris’s sincerity, coupled with his power and command of the stage are why I always enjoy his performances despite the fact that he doesn’t change it up much.  Simon said, “Thank God for Chris.”   Again, acknowledging Chris’s future commercial appeal, Simon said, “This performance for me was the only real-world performance.”  Poor Ace, I think he’s been usurped by Chris as the Chosen One.

Who will go tomorrow?  This is getting harder to predict.  Who could go:  Melissa, Bucky–I wouldn’t have said this before tonight–Kevin.  Longshots–Lisa or Elliott. Please not Elliott….