Top 5 Performances – Recap
Songs from the Idol’s Birth Year
Anthony Federov in the audience tonight…
Elliott Yamin – “On Broadway” by George Benson – Elliott, nattily dressed tonight, again seemed full of confidence. My only quibble with his performance here would be a too-pronounced vibrato in spots. At one point, I actually saw his jaw quiver. But, he was energetic and his jazz stylings impressive–I loved the scatting. This song took some skill to sing, and Elliott pulled it off. It was a great song choice for him. The judges comments were very rushed. Simon said, “I don’t think that was your best performance, I thought it was a bit disjointed…” Disjointed? Huh? “…and you’re lucky you have two songs tonight.” Whatever Simon! Gotta save the Big Pimping for Chris, I guess…
Ace Young in the house too!
Paris Bennett – “Kiss” by Prince (Tom Jones in 1988) – Oh ye of little faith! So many of you didn’t believe this particular song spoiler when I posted it Saturday. Heh. Anyway. I thought the girl done good. Yeah, she’s a little young to be singing these lyrics, but she took command of the stage and her vocals, while they got swallowed up on a few lines (competing with “bandzilla” isn’t easy), were very good. Paris does a great job on these sassy, sexy numbers, even if she’s a bit young to be singing them. She’s really fun to watch. Simon said it was, “screechy and annoying.” I dunno, where was the screeching? I didn’t hear any.
Chris Daughtry – “Renegade” by Styx – In 1979, I was listening to The Clash and Elvis Costello. I was way too cool for Styx. And now I’m so cool, I watch American Idol! Heh. The point, is that in order to appreciate Chris’s vocals, I had to work past my complete and utter hatred of this song. Chris is a good performer. He really does work the stage like a pro, and he has an excellent “rock” voice. He nearly always delivers a solid performance, and he certainly did tonight. But, I don’t think the performance deserved the lavish tongue bath he got from the judges. Randy said, “We got a hot one tonight!” Paula mumbled something about setting it far apart from anyone else, and Simon said, “That was a million times better than the first two performances.” Hyperbole much, Simon? Yep, that’s some Big Pimping baby!
Katharine McPhee – “Against All Odds” by Phil Collins – Katharine discussed last week’s “wardrobe malfunction” with Ryan in her pre-performance chat. Heh. She got all giggly and embarrassed. And then she completely blew her performance. She seemed to start the song a little under pitch and never recovered. The beginning was a little too low for her, and then when she belted the higher notes, she was out of tune. I don’t think the song arrangement did her any favors, either. In their critiques, both Randy and Paula started off talking about how great she looked–that’s always a bad sign. And Simon said, “…tonight in parts, it was a mess. And the song ran away from you, basically.” I would agree with that. Then he misspoke, “I agree with Randy and Paula, it was by far one of your best performances.” Funny thing, he came back and corrected himself, but Kat didn’t notice that he misspoke in the first place. It was very awkward. And she took a page from the Kellie Pickler Admit You Sucked playbook by acknowledging her performance had problems.
Taylor Hicks – “Play that Funky Music” by Wild Cherry – Ha ha ha! I was concerned when I heard this song choice today. My thinking was that, at this point, Taylor needed to choose songs that showcased his vocals. The fun numbers can distract the audience–and the judges–from his singing. But you know what? Taylor just threw caution to the winds. It was like he stopped listening to the judges, the producers, the armchair idologists and just picked a song where he could do his thang. I had a huge smile on my face through this whole performance, while at the same time thinking, “Gah, Simon is going to NAIL him for this!” And then my next thought was, “But who cares.” The thing is, for anyone paying attention–the great, soulful vocals were there. But of course, Simon said, “It was like a horrible horrible wedding performance.” Nope, Simon don’t like those funky white boys! Taylor just laughed. And so did I.
Songs from the Top 10 Billboard Charts
Elliott Yamin – “Home” by Micheal Buble – For Elliott’s sake, I hope the viewers didn’t take the lyric’s sentiment to heart. Singing “I want to go home” could possibly send out some sort of subliminal message to the voting public. Nevertheless, besides a little too much vibrato again, Elliott’s vocal on this pretty and intimate song was lovely. He did a great job connecting with his audience, making just the right kind of eye contact with the camera. Unfortunately, though, the song doesn’t offer up the opportunity for the Big Idol Moment the judges crave. For instance, I really dug the hushed tones Elliott brought to the line, “I’m just too far, from where you are.” But, the judges don’t reward that kind of subtlety. In fact, Simon said, “I’m worried about you, because that didn’t have enough of a hook, enough of a wow factor.” At least Randy and Paula said they liked it. That surprised me. Hee. Elliott was so excited, he ran over to Ryan before his critique!
Paris Bennett – “Be Without You” by Mary J. Blige – The audio cut out, just at the point Paris actually didn’t say the S word. Were the censors attempting to bleep her? That was pretty weird. This was a very mature, assured performance from Paris. When she picks the right songs, Paris is really impressive. And this was a great song choice for her. She has a really unique tone, and if she isn’t straining or trying too hard to belt or hit big notes she sounds incredible. She’s also another contestant who really knows how to work the stage. This round, she got all positive comments from the judges.
Chris Daughtry – “I Dare You” by Shinedown – I understand why the judges didn’t like this performance as much as the first. The song is unfamiliar, there weren’t as much stage theatrics, and he got a little shouty and screechy on the top notes. But, I actually preferred this performance. It was a better song choice. Although there was some pitchiness–I was fine with the screaming. The song was a rock tune, after all. I know this is American Idol, but if yer going to do “Rawk”, screaming should be acceptable. It’s a typical convention of the genre. But, in keeping with the Big Pimp, the judges really didn’t criticize him. They just noted that his voice seemed tired, and that he should watch his voice. Simon said, “Great first song, so you’re going to be fine.”
Katharine McPhee – “Black Horse and Cherry Tree” by KT Tunstall – Excellent vocal from Kat. She picked a perfect song for her vocal range. The crawling around the floor was a little over the top. But hey, so was Taylor! Heh. Her theatrics were definitely attention-grabbing. She put on a compelling performance here. I have to say though, compared to the original this was the cabaret, white bread version. Kat tends to suck the edge out of a song when she sings it. The original tune had a much folksier bluesy feel to it, while Kat’s version was a bit smoothed out for my tastes. But this performance was leaps and bounds better than her first. She really redeemed herself here. The judges were very enthusiastic this round. Simon said, “It was a good choice of song.”
Taylor Hicks – “Something” by the Beatles (George Harrison) – Again, when I heard about this song choice, I was skeptical. I felt that Taylor needed to do something current to show that he was more than a throw-back to another era. But again, I think Taylor just decided to follow his instincts this week. So forget the theme–this performance was pure Taylor. While the vocal wasn’t perfect, it was raw and passionate. The phrasing here was incredible–the way he hesitated for a beat on “something in the way she woos me” sent the audience (errr, and me) into a tizzy. I felt like I was getting a glimpse of the real pre-idol Taylor. And ultimately, maybe this was for the best–that he chose songs for tonight that he felt comfortable singing. Even if the viewing audience were to reject him–he’d at least go out authentic. But I have a feeling Taylor is going nowhere yet. Simon said, “It’s easy to forget, with all your balmyness that you’re a very very good singer.” That’s right Simon.
So, the pimping of Chris continues. Everybody turned in good performances tonight, except for Kat’s first performance. If Taylor just continues to follow his instincts, he’ll be fine–whether he wins this thing or not. Simon is worried about Elliott. Maybe that lit a fire under his fan base. Paris was good tonight, but she’s the most forgettable. Bottom 2? Paris and Elliott or Paris and Kat. I think Taylor and Chris are safe this week.
Each of the five is a good singer. So I think I can safely say that we’ll be losing somebody who’s very talented tomorrow night.