Tuesday, March 25, 2008
The idols had to do a song from their birth year, in what's gotten to be a common theme each season. I personally thought it was going to be disco night, so this caught me off guard.
David Cook ended the show and it's a good thing he went last because he stole the whole show. Using his power to change any song into a angst-ridden rock ballad, he took "Billie Jean", rode the razor edge of cheesiness vs. brilliance, with the band cranking out power chords all the way, and really put it into the classic category by ending the song with a low "remember to always think twice", which earns anti-teen-pregnancy-public-service-announcement brownie points. If Cook wins the prize at the end of the season, he'll have done it with his brain rather than his voice. I kinda like that.
Ramiele needed to hit a home run tonight, and she didn't. It turns out she was sick and lost her voice this week. She did an admirable job overcoming it but the accuracy on the notes wasn't there. I'd probably put her in the bottom three.
Kristy Lee dipped into the cheese pot tonight and pulled out Lee Greenwood's "God Bless the USA". I buried my face in my hands when they announced the song, but she actually did a nice job on it. For once, the key of the song wasn't too low for her. Will pandering to the redneck demographic earn her some votes? She's been saved by luck twice in a row.
Michael Johns' performance convinced me that the judges are shilling for him. Also dipping out a double handful of cheese, he did a medley of "We Will Rock You/We Are the Champions". It stank to high heaven. Between Michael's missed notes, non-attempted notes, microphone-jerked-away-before-it-could-sound-bad notes, and general cringiness of his fake stage presence, the band completely failed to fill in the spaces between the lyrics. The buildup and chorus of Champions should have huge descending chords behind the singer's voice, and it failed to happen. The backup singers were so weak, it was nearly like an unplugged version of the song. I still blame the sound engineers on the show for this junk. Of course, the judges gushed about how good this was, showing that they have some hidden agenda to advance this guy.
Brooke was OK, not great, doing an unplugged "Every Breath You Take" on piano. I pretty much agreed with the judges that the buildup at the bridge of the song should have left out the band. She could have done it herself by hitting big chords on the piano and it would have fit better.
Carly was also just OK, with "Total Eclipse of the Heart". She didn't have enough edge to her voice and overdid the big notes. Again, the band failed to build up the chorus enough to make it convincing.
Syesha was probably a top three performer tonight, continuing her string of improvement. Jason Castro did a Sting song I haven't heard before but it was very good, albeit safe. No change from him - he'll be eliminated from the voters becoming bored eventually. Chikeze was OK, not memorable, probably not enough to keep out of the bottom three, maybe boring enough to be eliminated.
Archuleta picked the most boring song I've ever heard, no one other than Simon had heard of it, and he didn't juice it up at all. His vocal wasn't great, either. I'd call it a bottom three performance. Of course, the teenage girl demographic is going to put him in first place again, so why does it matter?
My predicted bottom three: Chikeze, Carly, Kristy. Maybe Ramiele.
Eliminated: I can't call it. All four were better than Michael and David A., but not good enough to be safe. My (considerable) gut says Ramiele may be gone, but I wouldn't bet the farm on it.
David Cook might be able to wrest the trophy from David Archuleta eventually, but right now Archuleta looks like he'll get the votes no matter how bad he is. I bet Cook is #2 on dialidol this week, though.
Thursday, March 20, 2008
Wednesday, March 19, 2008
Kristy Lee got a reprieve. America decided this was the week to send Amanda home, surprisingly. What was also shocking was that Carly joined them in the bottom three, and was genuinely surprised when she was declared safe.
DialIdol.com had the bottom two correct, but was stunned by Carly's presence in the bottom three as well. They had Chikeze there instead. Of course, margin of error made everyone except David Archuleta fair game for elimination. Archuleta had a score twice as large as the #2 ranked singer.
Kristy will have one last chance to get it together next week. It's Disco night (shudder).
Have you noticed that none of the themes this season have been music that the contestants would actually have encountered in their lifetime? (Aside from the 80's theme, but they'd have all been under 10 years old.)
It's like they're trying to keep them from getting anything they can actually relate to. Celeb coaches this season? Mariah Carey, Dolly Parton, Andrew Lloyd Weber, and Neil Diamond. WTF? Mariah's been irrelevant for at least 10 years and WTF with the old geezers?
Tuesday, March 18, 2008
I realized last week that I want my Idol posts to be less reprises of the show and more analysis. To that end, I present this week's thoughts.
Just like last season, Idol's producers have shown that they know nothing about music performance. Putting the band overhead and behind the stage looks great on TV, but it has disconnected the band from the singers and there's no rapport between them. The singers have monitor earphones - if they want them. Most of them didn't use them, which is just idiotic. If you can't hear yourself, you cant sing in tune unless you have perfect pitch - which is a rare talent. If you can't hear the band, how can you stay on-tempo? With the band spread apart like they are, you could be in-tempo with one instrument but off with one that's all the way across the stage. The sound levels are still terrible, just like last season.
Furthermore, the arranging is terrible this season. Just abysmal. The only good arrangements we've seen have come from those couple of singers who are capable of doing it themselves (cough-David Cook-cough). Kristy Lee's god-awful hoe-down last week and Ramiele's disjointed arrangement tonight were just unfair. This isn't supposed to be an arranging contest. Simon's been very critical of arrangements lately, and tonight he actually criticized the band a couple of times. I don't know who is responsible for arranging, but if it's Ricky Minor, he's doing a crappy job. I think they're giving the Idols vocal coaching but very little musical advice.
The decision to go with the Beatles catalog again as the theme was just moronic. I actually found a list of the songs in the catalog online and started scratching off the ones performed last week, the two from the group number last week, the ones sung by Ringo Starr, the novelty humor songs, the songs with lyrics like "I'm a Loser" that will get you eliminated, and the songs where the vocals are all harmony and no individual performances. There wasn't much left.
Finally, we're starting to get some separation between the contestants. I think we're seeing a couple of dark horses hitting their stride and a couple of contenders faltering. Between them, there are the ones who haven't found their groove yet but could still be a factor.
Best performances of the night:
1. David Cook (again). Another inspired rock arrangement of an old song ("Day Tripper"). This guy knows the keys he's capable of singing in, and pays great attention to detail. He's doing what Blake did last season: He's outthinking the competition and using his musical knowledge as a secret weapon. He's the only Idol that's fully in control of what he does on stage.
2. David Archuleta. Look, this is the winner of the competition. Last week he can't remember any of the words, and he's still the #1 vote-getter according to DialIdol.com. It's a popularity contest, and he wins. Game over. Tonight, he went back to the sappy ballad and did fine. He'll win, and have a nice Hannah Montana-like career until he grows up and gets into drugs and booze.
3. Syesha. I think this is the first time she's done a ballad ("Yesterday"). I liked the arrangement and the key she sung it in. This was a shift of gears and I think she pulled herself out of the bottom three vote-getters with it.
Personality rather than performance:
4. Brooke White. Went back to the same well as last week and it was dry this time. She's got to work on building up energy in a song and letting it peak at the end note. All we've seen from her is flat-line acoustical stuff, and it is becoming too predictable. She did her song well, but it didn't give her any momentum. Her shushing of the judges afterwards and self-admonishment won her some sympathy points, however.
5. Carly. Not a memorable song, but her commentary afterwards was excellent, slapping down Simon in a sweet but effective way.
6. Ramiele. Good song, good vocals, lousy arrangement. Her video and her reaction to the judgement were positives. She's got to get some momentum going or she'll be gone soon, as we haven't seen anything noteworthy for a few weeks in a row now.
7. Jason Castro. He's essentially singing the same song every week, and it's got to stop. He started the season as a "less is more" guy, and there's been less and less each week. He needs to support his notes, get some upbeat songs in his repertoire, and show us he can do more than coffee-shop vocals and make eyes at the audience.
8. Amanda. She is what she is and it ain't changing. I give her a couple more weeks, but she's essentially on her own show, she's so disconnected from the rest of the contestants.
9. Chikeze. Tried to clone his performance from last week, but it didn't work nearly as well. I like his voice, but there's something essential missing from his act, and he hasn't found it yet.
10. Michael Johns. Wow. He had such promise (-according to the judges, that is- I haven't been able to stand him from day one). He missed a big note in a big way early in his song and never recovered. The arrangement stank, anyway. There's a commercial out there that does this song in a much better tempo and style.
11. Kristy Lee Cook. I'm afraid this is the end. She never stepped up her game or tried to go outside her tiny comfort zone. She also has consistently picked keys too low for her voice and failed to put any excitement or personality into her performances. When you demonstrate that you can't tell good from bad on this show, you're gone.
Kristy Lee is gone.
Consulting the Oracle:
David Archuleta is the next American Idol. David Cook wins the "Chris Daughtry" award and a real career. Brooke White makes it on the country charts.
Tuesday, March 11, 2008
It would take me an hour to analyze tonight fully, so I won't. I'll hit the highlights:
1. David Cook (twice in a row...he's on a roll)
10. David Hernandez
11. David Archuleta (forgot lyrics and fell apart!)
12. Kristy Lee (did a hoe-down to "8 days a week"!)
Predicted loser: Either Hernandez or Kristy Lee
Update: DialIdol.com says it's Syesha going home. Could be.
Thursday, March 06, 2008
OK, I'm doing well this season. I didn't think Asia'h would go home, because she did a really good job on her song, but c'est la vie!
My wife simply hated Danny, but I kinda liked his style. Too bad.
OK, here's my rankings of the final 12, based on talent:
1. David A.
6. David C.
9. David H.
10. Kristy Lee
This won't hold up, because of the young ones being inconsistent from week-to-week. Here are my rock-solid predictions:
First to go: Chikeze
Biggest underachiever: Michael
Most annoying that will stick around forever: Amanda
Contender who will go into a slump late in the season: Carly
Dark Horse: Ramiele
Most likely to melt down on stage during a performance: Ramiele
Non-winner who will have a better career than the winner: Brooke
Most likely to make it as an actor after their AI run: Jason
Most likely to be heard on the radio after AI: David Cook
Already guaranteed fame and fortune in another country: Ramiele
Wednesday, March 05, 2008
Anyone who saw Idol tonight and thinks the boys were better last night needs to get off the drugs. 7 out of 8 girls gave pro-level performances tonight, whereas the boys had maybe one do that well.
Sadly, the eighth was Kady Malloy, whose inability to hit notes on pitch in the low range was once again compounded by her choosing a song ("Who Wants To Live Forever") that used low range heavily. Three strikes and you're out, girl. She made the same mistake three weeks in a row.
Amongst the others, I honestly don't think anyone deserves to go home.
Asia'h sang "I Wanna Dance With Somebody", took her lumps from Simon for singing a Whitney song, and did a darn good job.
Carly sang "I Drove All Night" and showed what it means to have pro chops. Vocal projection, harmonization, perfect pitch control, etc. She really doesn't sound like someone with lots of tattoos.
Kristy Lee did a country-fied version of "Faithfully" by Journey, and tried to Christian it up, substituting "Lord" for "Girl". She sang the song pretty well, but not as strong as she could have (we learned from Paula's comments that she's been sick all week). Personally, I think it could have been improved by incorporating even more country elements.
Amanda toned it down this week and also picked a predictably more appropriate song ("I Hate Myself For Loving You"), which she did predicably well. The problem? Predictable! I think she's the least versatile of the remaining performers, and I'm bored with her.
Brooke sat on the edge of the stage and did an unplugged version of "Love is a Battlefield". It was a brilliant tactic, and it totally worked. Bonus points for cleverness.
Ramiele did a very nice strong version of "Against All Odds", and followed it up by scoring points with the audience by rebuffing Ryan's attempt to get personal by asking her what made that song her choice this week. The answer? "Just....STUFF!".
Then the show was closed down by Syesha. I heard the intro, realized she was about to sing "Saving All My Love For You", and braced myself for what the judges would say about choosing too big of a song, etc etc. Well, first of all, I don't think Whitney Houston's recorded version was any better than this live performance was. Syesha blew away the big notes and stayed sweet and low on the verses. She hit all the highs perfectly and powerfully. Unfortunately, the show was running out of time, and all we got was cursory "Good", "Good", "Predictable, but good" from the judges. I hate to say it, but that stinks. Voters are actually swayed somewhat by the judges comments (except for us egotistical music critics), and to rob her of the opportunity for Randy and Paula to gush and for Simon to grudgingly admit she was good could actually hurt her vote totals. This was the best performance of the night, however.
Best: Syesha, Brooke, Carly
Worst: Kady (by a mile)
Predicted elimination: Kady and, sadly, Kristy Lee.
We'll only have one blonde left, unless America shows some taste and eliminates Amanda instead.
Tuesday, March 04, 2008
Luke Menard must go home this week. I missed his song the first time around, but on the reprise...oh my...that stank worse than his previous efforts. Wham. "Wake Me Up Before You Go-go". Falsetto. Plinky-plink keyboard backing. Can you say backyard karaoke? Thought so.
David Archuleta went for three slow, mournful songs in a row, and it failed to impress. There's no way in heck he's going home, even though this was the second-weakest effort of the night.
Then the gay bloc struck...
Danny Noriega with a remixed version of "Tainted Love". A for personality (CRINGE - seriously, this guy is becoming more of a gay stereotype every week), D for vocals. It was entertaining, however.
David Hernandez, recently revealed to be a gay stripper in Arizona, did a darn good performance of Celine Dion's "It's All Coming Back To Me Now". I have to wonder if his exposure on the news wire will cost him a lot of his fans. I think it will, and I wonder if they'll address that on the air if he gets voted out.
Michael Johns chose poorly, in my opinion (though the judges seemed to love it). "Don't You Forget About Me" isn't a stage-performance song, and it requires a booming low voice. Michael was very off-key on the lows, and he ended up taking most of the song up an octave, which didn't really work. I can't imagine that anyone would choose to stick with that song if it sounded like that during rehearsals.
Then came the wave of good stuff...
David Cook, who I admit I didn't like in the very beginning of the season, knocked out Lionel Ritchie's "Hello" by remixing it with a buzzy, chordy guitar...well, I'd describe it as a cross between Queen in Flash Gordon and Boston in Third Stage. Surprisingly good, and my favorite performance on the night.
Jason Castro did a song I don't think I've ever heard before "Hallelujah" from Leonard Cohen. I really liked it. Jason has mixed up his songs nicely so far in the competition, and I can't wait to see him go through the different genres they'll throw at him starting next week.
Then there was Chikeze. We had a burst of severe weather and it ionized my dish for a while, so I missed his song. It was "All the Woman I Need" from Luther Vandross. From the reprise, it wasn't too bad, although he's made a mortal enemy of Simon from his first two weeks of jabber during judging.
Based on performances tonight, I'd lay it out like this:
Based on my guesses as how the voting goes:
Safe: Cook, Castro, Archuleta, Johns, Chikeze
In danger: Menard, Noriega, Hernandez
Predicted Elimination: Menard, Noriega
Sunday, March 02, 2008
When I got up this morning, I realized that we really made Saturday count.
We got up early, took my parents to the airport, went to SC for cheap gas, walked thru the flea market next to the gas station where we ate fresh fried-mini-donuts as we walked, then we went to Nothing But Noodles for lunch (just OK - the Pad Thai was waaaaay too sweet, and I'll order something else next time), came home and did some chores, watched State piss away the game against dook, tried to go to the Reuse center, which was closed, went to Lowes to get grass seed and weed killer/fertilizer, went to the grocery store, watched the end of the Carolina-BC game, made dinner, fiddled on the computer for an hour, watched TV, watched Star Trek - the Motion Picture on DVD (which will make any day seem 12 hours longer), and went to bed finally.
Today, it's nearly 10 am and I haven't even made breakfast yet. I suspect Sunday's gonna fly by to make up for it.
at 9:48 AM