Sophie’s Ontario CA American Idol Tour Re-Cap

My Idol weekend is now two-thirds of the way done. I thought about waiting until after the San Diego (my hometown) show to re-cap, but my brain is still full of Idol, and I don’t have to work tomorrow (yay!), so I thought I’d write down my thoughts tonight.

I’m a twenty-something, music-loving Southern California girl. Like many of the others who have posted, I attended the Idol tour this year for the first time, much to my complete and utter amazement. Yes, I am a music snob. Well, actually not so much a music snob as an AI snob. In past years, other than being grateful that it gave us Kelly Clarkson, I considered AI the devil. This year I made an exception. It all started with one fuschia-haired, gravelly-voiced teen, and eventually grew into an obsession thanks to one tall raven-haired insanely talented guy from my hometown. However, keeping in line with my strange, out-of-character AI love affair this year, I attended the shows in Los Angeles and Ontario with an open mind, determined to enjoy each and every Idol (what has happened to me?). So, with that out of the way’ ¦ here goes with my long-winded post:

Michael Sarver, much to my surprise, is so darn likable. Who da thunk? He’s a sweet opener. He will never be a star, but that’s okay. In fact, knowing that makes it easier just to appreciate him for who he is ‘ a hard-working guy with a decent voice getting the opportunity of a lifetime.

Megan Joy is the most aggravating Idol to watch because you know she’s being showcased all wrong. The satin dress, the pink lighting, the song choices. Wrong, wrong, wrong. I was happy to see Megan this evening because I knew she wasn’t feeling well yesterday, but she didn’t sound any better (especially on the second song and during the medley). The couple in front of me tonight exchanged glances every time she opened her mouth’ ¦and not in a good way. I wonder if Megan is reading the reviews. At the very least, the producers should let her change her clothes. I’m sure she has something in her suitcase more suitable.

Out of all of the Idols, Scott has managed to surprise me the most. Of course, my expectations for his set were lower than low so really he could only have gone up in my estimation, but still I enjoyed his set an inordinate amount (both nights)’”and not just the singing. It is, and will probably always remain, a complete mystery how such an unlikable (if not obnoxious) interviewee can transform into a charmer onstage. His jokes work! His songs also work, primarily because he chose somewhat current songs in his natural range and exudes a surprising amount of confidence on stage. Really, it’s as if he’s been doing this his entire life.

Lil. Oops, nearly forgot Lil. Lil has a strong voice and some moves, and picked some popular songs by some great artists that fit her style. Yet, she still fails to shine. Truly, it’s all teed up for her and she fails to hit it out of the park. At first, I couldn’t figure out why, but after reflection, I really think the issue is that she doesn’t own the songs. She simply sings Mary J. Blige, Beyonce and Alicia Keys. She doesn’t twist the songs to make them work for her, so she comes off as simply a decent karaoke singer. Lil is also hampered during ‘Single Ladies’  by the lyrics being displayed on the screen, karaoke-style, in the background. In L.A., I was so transfixed on the screen that I completely forgot to watch Lil’s dancing. In Ontario, I paid attention to Lil and realized that I hadn’t missed much. Oh Lil, oh well.

Anoooooooop. Anoop should be flattered by the rallying cry. It reminds me of a certain favorite artist of mine’ ¦Bruuuuuuuce (Springsteen). Both of the calls come off sounding like boos, but no, it’s all yelled with complete affection. And I have affection for Anoop. He’s got a smooth voice, some smooth staging, and looked pretty smooth wearing blue jeans without the glasses tonight ‘ ¦ but he’s not a star. He’s got the Clay Aiken thing going on’ ¦ he’s a geek chic crooner. However, while Clay found his niche on Broadway, I can’t see Anoop moving in that direction. In fact, I’m not quite sure which direction I see him heading in at all. (May I add at this point’ ¦’ My Prerogative’ ? Seriously Anoop? You all but beg for a record deal on stage; that can’t possibly be the best way to get one. Kinda fun for the concert. Not a great advertisement for the future.)

Matt’s a smart cookie. He opens his set with a high-energy number, feeding off the energy in the arena left by Anoooop. ‘Hard to Handle’  is a really great showcase for Matt. It shows off his voice, his moves and his piano skills. The only downside to the song is that it sounds pretty dated. (I kept getting flashbacks to ‘Back to the Future’  during the song.) Unfortunately, Matt can’t carry the energy of his first song through the entire set. With each song he loses the audience a little bit more. ‘Georgia’  is a tad snoozy, and his final song by The Fray doesn’t work for him. Matt is in fine vocal form on his first two songs, but he falls apart on the third. At this point, I have no idea if it’s the song or how Matt is choosing to sing the song. Anyone? I vote that he changes his last song to something more uptempo.

The first half closing medley is still one of my least favorite parts of the show. The entire thing, except for the closing minute, sounds very dated. Very carnival cruise ship revue.

Intermission Notes: All of the Idols looked a little drained tonight. I think playing the Staples Center was a HUGE deal for all of them and tonight they were a little tired. Still, props to them for pushing through it and putting on an entertaining show for an excited sold-out crowd. (Ontario didn’t have the buzzy excitement of Staples, but there was a certain innocent pleasure to the excitement tonight that was really sweet.)

Iraheta in the house. Allison was one of my favorites from the beginning of AI8. Her cool voice instantly caught my attention. I love rocker chicks and there hasn’t been a great one in way too long. I’m honestly very excited for Allison’s future because I think she’s got the chops, the energy and the individuality to go far. Unfortunately, I think she has a little growing up to do first. ‘So What’  still comes off more than a little ‘Radio Disney.’  I balked at the term when it was used in a recent review, but it’s apt’ ¦for the first song. She looks like a little kid playing dress up with a big guitar singing lyrics a little too mature for someone her age. Of course, she redeems herself big time with ‘Cry Baby’  and ‘Barracuda.’  ‘Cry Baby’  is still lyrically too mature for her (listening to her sing/lecture this line always makes me chuckle: ‘All you ever gotta do is be a good man, one time, to one woman.’ ), but her passion overrides all else. And she’s just plain fun on ‘Barracuda.’ 

Gokey, the Gokester, arrived to HUGE applause and cheers. Good for him. This was a really good night for a potential record label to show up’”the crowd showed him mad love. If only the riotous cheers were matched by an amazing performance. Here’s the deal: IMO, Gokey is a competent singer, but not a great one. He has a lot to learn about using his voice and interpreting songs. Gokey is also a passionate performer, but not a charismatic one. I can’t get the substitute teacher analogy out of my head. It’s apt. Tonight’s sermon was shorter and more bearable than last night (apparently the Staples crowd was treated to something a little extra special), but the overall vibe at the end of his set left me cold. (Sorry!)

Which, of course, left it to Adam to warm me back up again. I love Adam’s arrival onstage: a cocky swaggering strut up to the mic to the opening chugging guitar line of ‘Whole Lotta Love.’  Oh yeah, he’s here. Ontario, once again, was an Adam crowd. I was up and just off the stage to the right, and it was the only time all night my section stood up in its entirety (and they stayed primarily standing throughout his set). Adam changed up his vocals all night, and kept WLL fairly tame (by his standards) and threw in ‘baby.’  Adam has some of the best staging. I love the lights during ‘Starlight’  (he stayed at the mic tonight) and the screens for ‘Mad World.’  Adam was smart to pick a slow song that everyone knows and loves from the show. It allows the audience to stay involved. ‘Slow Ride, ‘  which ended in a sweet hug, had a pure joy about it tonight. I agree with whomever said that it doesn’t advance Adam’s set in any way, but I consider it simply ‘a bonus’  because otherwise Adam would only have four songs. Bowie was great tonight, as always, but was danced completely different than last night (my favorite version). Anyone judging the Bowie medley solely through YouTube is getting a skewed vision. Trust me, it all works live. Just like the entire set, it’s totally captivating (and over entirely too soon).

Kris Allen’s staging is also fantastic. The curtain was a stroke of genius. It sets Kris’ set apart. Choosing ‘Heartless’  to kick off his set was also brilliant because it is one of Kris’ most beloved songs from Idol, the one that propelled him to victory, and the audience, still on its feet from Adam, stays involved and excited. However, my favorite song of Kris’ set is the new Killers’ song. I can’t even imagine what a set killer (haha) ‘No Boundaries’  was at this point. Kris loses some steam with ‘Ain’t No Sunshine’  (what I wouldn’t give to hear him perform it without the band blanding it out), but comes back strong with ‘Bright Lights.’  Kris performs BL with remarkable energy and his interactions with the band are excellent. They have a really great jam session to close the song. I’m still not sure how I feel about ‘Hey Jude’  at the end, but I love how Kris starts the song without any accompaniment (once again showing off his superior arranging skills and surprisingly strong voice). Like I said last night, Adam and Kris are a fantastic top two, and in a totally different league. Cheers to them, I’ll see them both again in the future.

Finale: ‘Don’t Stop Believing’  is pure cheesy, irresistible fun. Tonight, it was funny to see Scott and Matt laying back in the ‘pit’  on their respective piano benches during the end of ‘Hey Jude, ‘  getting ready to pop up for DSB. They were waving and making faces at the Idols above them. I can’t even imagine how that looked from higher seats’ ¦probably pretty ridiculous. Also, Adam has changed the “glory note” at the end. He doesn’t go quite as high. I wonder if he’s conserving his voice a bit?

To wrap-up (in the shortest way possible’ ¦sorry so long): The three who received record deals absolutely deserve them.

About mj santilli 33470 Articles
Founder and editor of mjsbigblog.com, home of the awesomest fan community on the net. I love cheesy singing shows of all kinds, whether reality or scripted. I adore American Idol, but also love The Voice, Glee, X Factor and more!