The boys. Oy. Tonight, bookended between 2 good performances is a whole lotta suck. Simon looks alternately distressed and bored the entire evening. Several times during this first live performance show of the season, Simon complains about the lack of “wow” factor and how disappointing the boys performances are. Simon speaks the truth.
At the top of the show, Ryan tell us, hyperbolically, “Not only will we give you your Top 12 on Thursday, we’re gonna announce one of the most important events in Idol history!” Yeah, I’ll bet.
This week, the contestants are asked to share something “revealing” about themselves
Blake Lewis – “All Mixed Up” by 311 – Blake “reveals” that he does goofy characters. Who knew. Blake knows how to stand out, that’s for sure. This week, he picks a song, the reggae infused “All Mixed Up.” Blake, while not vocally challenging himself, has me riveted throughout the performance, nevertheless. And on American Idol, making yourself a compelling presence is all-important. Blake is beatboxing again this week. Yeah, we get it. Now sing a sing a song that shows off your vocals, please. Really, Blake could advance easily without the beatboxing, no sweat. And, I don’t think we’ve seen the best of Blake yet. He also picks very cool tunes. Randy and Paula–who both work in the music business–have never heard this song. Seriously? Randy is impressed that Blake is so “current.” Never mind that the song was a hit 10 years ago. 311 are like, sooo 90s. Simon tells Blake he will “100% be here next week.” I have no doubt.
After the break, Ryan and Sundance chat about Sundance’s emotional breakdown during the results show Thursday. Sundance says he didn’t know the cameras were on him while he was sobbing like a little girl. Simon rolls his eyes. Har.
Sanjaya Malakar – “Waiting for the World to Change” by John Mayer – The stylists straighten Sanjaya’s hair this week. Cool. We’re back in the 90’s again. Sanjaya looks like Jennifer Aniston circa 1998. If that isn’t weird enough, In his video package, Sanjaya shows us his hula skills. Way to butch it up there, dude. Sanjaya, performing a truly current song–as in on the radio right now–starts off this John Mayer hit pretty well. It’s a good choice–the simple melody gives him the opportunity to show off his sweet voice. However, he makes the unfortunate mistake of trying to “bring it home” 2/3rds of the way through the song. He screeches a hideous glory note, and it’s all downhill from there. Simon goes in for the kill, alluding to Sanjaya’s “hula hooping and Paula hairstyle” which is Simon basically calling him gay. Simon harps on the fact that it’s a singing competition. Well then, why advance marginal talents like Sanjaya in the first place?
Sundance Head – “Jeremy” by Pearl Jam – Sundance makes a very lame joke in his package about wearing a fat suit on Idol, but, see, he’s actually really a skinny guy…or something. Yeah, he lost me. Sundance has his hair styled into a little lump on the top of his head. Sorta likethe Bob’s Big Boy guy. He’s trimmed his beard, so that’s a plus. Sundance tackles the Pearl Jam classic “Jeremy” and the results are not good. This week, he’s back to screaming tunelessly. Sundance is completely out of his element if he’s not belting blues oldies. The background singers are cool, though. Randy appreciates Sundance’s “Pearl Jam joint”. OMG. He likes the “Southern vibe” he brought to Pearl Jam. Is that what that was? Simon calls it right, “You lost your charm this week….he sounded like he shouted the entire song.”
Randy tells us that after the break “Chris goes urban” and I’m like, “When isn’t he?” then I find out later that he means KEITH Urban. Oh.
Ryan introduces Travis Tritt from the audience. Apparently, Randy Jackson is producing Tritt’s latest album. And to prove Randy’s worth beyond just spouting dumb faux-street sound bites, Tritt says he has heard that Randy is a really good producer!
Chris Richardson – “Tonight I Want to Cry” by Keith Urban – Chris claims that he used to be “fat.” But really, he just lost weight since playing football in high school. Shaping up to impress all those Hooter’s girls at work, Chris? Let’s get this right out of the way–Ace Young performed this song really well last season. Not only did he sing in tune, but he really conveyed the emotional message of the song. Tonight, I’m just not feeling it. At all. Chris continues to do his I-just-took-a-hit-of-helium impression, complete with weird-ass jazz hands. Paula and Randy are impressed, but Simon correctly points out that his voice is a bit “nasally.” In the end, though, Simon endorses Chris’s performance by calling out his “potential.” I’m thinking the producers view Chris as extremely marketable–like a JT Lite (tm a clever peep), despite his shortcomings. Ryan says Simon shouldn’t use the word “cutesy” and Simon shoots him an extremely dirty look. Simon seems very irritated tonight. The bad singing must be getting to him.
Jared Cotter – “If You Really Love Me” by Stevie Wonder – Ryan and Jared discuss the disturbing Jared “face mask” from last week. Jared says, “it’s for the ladies.” I say, “Please don’t.” Oh wow. Jared played college basketball. Fascinating. The last cut before the Top 12–time to pull out your best, right? So then, why does Jared sing a tired Stevie Wonder song? Jared implores the audience, “Let’s go y’all! Let’s have some fun!” When a contestant has to ASK the audience to have fun, that’s usually a sure sign that no fun will be had. His performance of “If You Really Love Me” is a total snore, and pretty much ruins his chances of advancing to the Top 12, if you ask me. Jared is still trying way too hard to be “sexay” Randy enjoys Jared’s “Stevie joint.” Stop it, Randy. Paula says Jared needs to “color up” the way that he sings. Simon says, more succinctly, that Jared’s performance was not original. To say the least. Simon is disappointed because the boys are not bringing the “wow” factor.
After the break, Ryan asks Brandon and Phil what they can do to turn the tide of suck that is tonight’s performances. Brandon mumbles something about “leaving it all out there.” Phil takes the opportunity to kiss some judges butt. “I just hope that Paula, Randy and Simon remember how passionately I love them.” Eww.
Brandon Rogers – “I Just Want to Celebrate” by Rare Earth – Brandon tells us that he’s a classical piano player. Actually, this is interesting. Why isn’t the musicality we see in this short clip evident in Brandon’s performances? Brandon is this season’s frustrating performer. He’s got a groovy neo-soul/rock vibe going. He could KILL on some D’Angelo, Wyclef Jean, or Amos Lee. But what do we get? RARE effing EARTH? What the hell!?! Brandon, yer killing me. He has a beautiful voice and smile, but he’s timid. He holds back when he performs. It’s either nerves, or maybe he really can’t step out from the background to become a star. Simon says he doesn’t think Brandon represented himself well at this stage of the competition. Simon has a “horrible feeling” that song may give Brandon a problem this week. Ok, I’m stubborn. I’m hoping Brandon gets another chance. Lucky for him, he’s competing in a field of weak performances tonight. He just might squeak through.
Phil Stacey – “I Need You” by Leanne Rimes – Wow, Phil Stacey hasn’t always been bald. Who woulda thunk it. Phil said he cut all his hair when he had to cut his long hair short (hmm, probably to attend Liberty University). However, pictures reveal an obviously receding hairline. Bald almost always = I-was-losing-my-hair-so-I-said-eff-it. Phil wins worst performance of the night. Oh and worst hat of the competition so far. Even worse than Blake’s Mraz knock-offs. Nearly every note of this performance is off. He starts badly in his lower register, as he usually does. But, when he goes for the big payoff, something goes horribly awry. Maybe he’s ill this week, I don’t know. Nevertheless, he’s awful. Randy’s name drop of the week: He compares Phil’s high notes to his buddy Steve Perry’s. Well, not exactly. But he rightly calls out Phil on his weak lower register. Simon says “The hat, the big eyes, it was all just insane in the beginning…” Phil is obviously offended and says curtly, “Simon, I’ll change my eyes if you want me to.” Phil may be in danger this week.
Chris Sligh – “Wanna Be Loved” by DC Talk – Chris shaved his head in 2005. He says he looked almost exactly like Phil Stacey, except better looking. No doubt. Phil’s pale tiny head scares me. Chris grew his hair out and discovered that he had “lush curls.” Me too! Chris and I should trade styling tips some day. Ok, maybe not. The song itself is a little Brady Bunch for my tastes. But, as always Chris brings it vocally. Power, tone, range–Chris has it all. This was easily the best vocal performance of the night, with Blake coming in right behind him. Randy and Paula didn’t like the song choice. Paula didn’t like the vocal, which I don’t get. Chris asks her if he was better than last week, and Paula says no. “Trouble” is a much better song, but I thought Chris really challenged himself vocally this week. Simon heard shouting, but I’m not getting that, either. Really, if Chris had a problem tonight, it was song choice. But otherwise, he was stellar. Chris helps Ryan pimp Cingular and then asks him for a hug. He just wants to be loved.
Ryan asks the judges how many boys they believe should advance to the Top 12. Ryan and Paula say 4. Simon says 3 and 1/2, which makes no sense whatsoever. I’m thinking they’re thinking: Chris S., Chris R., Sundance and Blake–if I were to take a wild stab.
Tomorrow (except for Melinda, who is terrific) I expect the remaining girls to bring the Christina-Whitney-Celine school of glory noting to the proceedings. Technically good, but hella dull. Bleah.
A very strange season, this Season 6.