First off, nearly everyone sounds better recorded. Some of the improvements were really unexpected. Some didn’t surprise me at all, as I sensed good recording voices with a few of these kids.
The problem I see this year is a lack of performance skills. These kids can sing, they just don’t know what the eff to do once they hit the big stage–Crystal, Siobhan and to a degree, Big Mike being the exceptions.
On with the critiques. (After the Jump)
- Michael Lynche – “Miss You” – I’m digging the soulful, funkalicious vibe on the recorded performance. The transitions between Mike’s falsetto and his chest voice are much smoother in the recording. – Get it at iTunes
- Didi Benami – “Play With Fire” – I wish her interpretation of this song had more of an ominous, don’t-eff-with-me vibe, and the recorded version loses some of the live version’s slinkyness. But still, I love Didi’s lovely tone and phrasing. With the right songs she could be killer. – Get it at iTunes
- Casey James – “It’s All Over Now” – This may sound nutty, but I’m getting a 60’s era Mike Nesmith vibe from Ricky Minor’s arrangement, especially the riff. And Casey sounds fantastic. His gravelly country growl is immensely recordable. Now, he’s just got to loosen up some in his live performances. Get it at iTunes
- Lacey Brown – “Ruby Tuesday” – With the pitch problems cleaned up, the recorded version is a big improvement. Except I’m not crazy about some of the phrasing. Stretching “knows” and “mind” from the verse into three syllables is a little precious. – Get it at iTunes
- Andrew Garcia – “Gimme Shelter” – Kill me now, but this recording is really good. And it’s more than just cleaning up Andrew’s vocals. He sings the song with a conviction and dynamic range totally absent from his live performance. Astonishing – Get it at iTunes
- Katie Stevens – “Wild Horses” – Ugh. Katie turns the song’s bittersweet, sad sentiment into a prettified, souless dirge. Better than her pitchy live performance, but…Zzzzz. – Get it at iTunes
- Tim Urban – “Under My Thumb” – The recorded version of this song is even more f*cking insane than the live version. It’s incredibly creepy and offensive to hear lyrics like “The squimin’ dog has just had her day” sung as if it were a happy shiny Jimmy Buffet jam. – Get it at iTunes
- Siobhan Magnus – “Paint it Black” – I didn’t care for the live version of this, and I’m sorry to say I don’t like the recorded version either. There’s something about this that just leaves me cold. When she pushes the upper-reaches of her vocal range, I find it unpleasant. I had the same issues with Carly Smithson and Adam Lambert in their season. But it’s more than that–her singing voice sounds like a monotonous moan to me. Absent the visual presentation, I’m not feeling a connection to the lyrics. – Get it at iTunes
- Lee Dewyze – “Beast of Burden” – I love, love, love Lee’s recorded voice. He’s got a really pleasant rasp, and he knows how to phrase a song. It’s too bad he comes across nervous and unsure on stage. Get it at iTunes
- Paige Miles – “Honky Tonk Woman” – I do get a Tina Turner vibe off of Paige. But there’s something missing. Even in this recorded version, I keep waiting for her to ratchet up the energy a notch. I do like her vocals, though – Get it at iTunes
- Aaron Kelly – “Angie” – Aaron’s recorded voice sounds good. I wouldn’t say he’s not connecting to the lyrics, but I’m not hearing the deep heartbreak the lyrics of this song convey. I found that when I listened to Aaron’s live performance, without looking at it, I liked it more. – Get it at iTunes
- Crystal Bowersox – “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” – Words I would use to describe Crystals recorded performance: Bold, Soulful, Effortless. Like some of her fellow Idols, she’s not overthinking or trying too hard. Instead, her phrasing and interpretation seem to come from instinct. Love this girl. Get it at iTunes