Thursday, May 25, 2006

AMERICAN IDOL SEASON 5 ENCORES

It's time again this year for the new A.I. compilation CD. It hit the shelves and started sucking money out of fans' pockets this past Tuesday, but with all the hoopla surrounding the finale, I haven't had time to post much about it.

First off, where was the single this year? Remember last year when they released the group performances on a single to benefit the Red Cross? The one where Constantine couldn't hit his line in "When You Tell Me That You Love Me?" Hmm. Well for one thing, the Idols didn't do many group performances this year, possibly because they sounded like Meat Loaf getting electro-shock therapy when they did. I've never seen one group of kids less able to harmonize since Kris Kross left the music scene. I'm not sure if it's because they're all divas or what, but they don't play well with others.

So anyway, here's a blow-by-blow review of the new CD:

Melissa McGhee - What About Love: The CD starts off with one of the most short-sold talents of the year, in my mind. Melissa is definitely gifted, but her singing ability got swept under the rug early on, partially because she made critical errors early on in the top 24, and partially because of the "don't hate me because I'm beautiful" factor. This song is one of the best songs that Heart ever recorded, and being the song that it is, it can't be all that bad. Melissa's vocals on it are nice, though I wish she'd have toned down on the melisma (which, as one recapper explained to me this year, is where the singer sings multiple notes per syllable--aaOOOeeeaaaOOOo.) Ann Wilson was not Mariah Carey, nor did she need to be. One major problem--and this is the case for EVERY song on this CD--the studio musicians are about as skilled as drunken simians. They could've gotten a better sound out of professional karaoke CD makers. Still, this song shows perfectly the niche market where Melissa belongs. She would make an awesome chick rocker, a la Avril Lavigne. With her recent relationship troubles and her family history (worse than Pickler's!) she would make a credible men-suck/in-your-face rocker chick. Hey, Kelly Clarkson made it work on Breakaway! If they miss this with her, then they're nuts.

Bucky Covington - Superstition: One of my favorite tracks on this CD. Bucky's country/western rendition of the Stevie Wonder classic just gets up under you. I can sum it up in one word: fun. Better than the original. Bucky is a LOT different in the studio than he was on stage, not that I thought he was all that bad to begin with. Someone NEEDS to take this kid under their wing, package him correctly as a country and western artist, give him a lot of feel-good honky-tonk songs to record, and sit back and watch him rise. You can hear him having fun with this song, he's lost the diction problem, and he makes a credible case for having been cut too early. I can't wait to go to one of his concerts.

Mandisa - I'm Every Woman: Oh dear. Let me preface this by saying that I loved Mandisa on A.I. I don't, however, love her on this CD. It's not just that she's singing a tired Chaka Khan/Whitney Houston song (depending on which version you prefer.) It's just that it's not the right fit for her. Mandisa is a tough one to market. She's obviously got diva power, but there are some songs she's just not right for, and I think this was her downfall this season. She's a soul ballad singer, but not EVERY soul ballad, if you get what I'm saying. Once again, the background singers sound generic and not so great, and on this song, they tend to take over while Mandisa screeches in the background. I cut this song off halfway through.

Chris Daughtry - Wanted Dead or Alive: Hmm. First off, the song is paced WAY too fast. And what's with the drum at the beginning? I may be a little too hard on this performance, because I only listened to this song approximately 58,289,198,124.5 times growing up. Seriously, Bon Jovi's "Slippery When Wet" got played so much on my stereo that my speakers could sing it without having the tape in. I'm not sure where they were going with this song on this album, though. If they were trying to update it as an alt-rock song, they failed completely. If they were trying to capture the 80's fantasy-cowboy-cum-rock-star feel of the original song, they also fell just a bit short. Now, if I judge this from a purely vocal standpoint, it's not a bad performance. There's still a bit of Chris's goat-bleating vibrato, but for the most part he's got it in check, and his voice actually sounds very pleasant in parts. They should take whoever is doing lead guitars and beat him over the head with drumsticks. I think Chris would've been better covering a more current song. Still, I'd buy the track.

Ace Young - Father Figure: You just had to know he'd be doing this song, since his performance of this song was the high point of the competition for him. Ace had a major problem throughout the whole competition; he's incredibly talented as a singer, but he doesn't know how to package himself. This is as close to his element as he gets. Still, if you want the best performance by this song, you're better off with an mp3 of the original performance. The CD track lacks the breathy quality that makes this song what it is. The producers have tweaked his voice a lot too...filtered and layered to the hilt. Is it a bad performance? No. Will you remember it five minutes from now? No.

Taylor Hicks - Takin' It To the Streets: Taylor just asks for us all to compare him to Michael McDonald by singing this song. It's an energetic song. Vocally, it's good. C'mon, y'all, I'm trying to stretch and say positive things about this forgettable song! It's just an average choice, in my mind. Nothing that will have me wanting to hear it ever again. I'd much rather hear the original (although this is true of just about every song on this whole CD, with the exception of Bucky and Elliott.) It's not as fun as "Superstition." It's not as distinctive as "What About Love." It is completely overshadowed by "Moody's Mood for Love." It's a good performance, but I'm much more looking forward to hearing "Do I Make You Proud?" when it hits the shelves.

Lisa Tucker - Signed, Sealed, Delivered (I'm Yours): How could anyone do well with a junior-high level band accompanying them? The song starts off bland, and then Lisa follows suit. The background singers overpower her. Where is the girl I saw in the auditions?? I've been waiting to see her again! Lisa is much more equipped to sing power ballads, so I don't know why they chose for her to sing this song. It sounds more like Stevie Wonder meets Lizzie McGuire. If you're buying the whole CD then you're stuck with this track. If you're purchasing from iTunes, give this one a miss. Thankfully the song runs just under 3 minutes.

Kellie Pickler - Walkin' After Midnight: My recent reconciliation with the Pickler notwithstanding, this song went horribly wrong. First off, who decided to slut up the backing instrumentation? This song sounds like it's straight out of a sleazy strip club. Kellie's nasal. You all know this. The recording showcases the worst of her vocals. She would've done a lot better with a lower-key slow country song, possibly something by Tanya Tucker or the like. Patsy Cline, she ain't. Sorry, Pickler, you're cute, and I sort of want you now, but your song is the YUCK.

Elliott Yamin - Moody's Mood for Love: Ahhhhh... Now on to the cream of the crop... I don't want to type; I just want to listen. This song is perfection. Take what he sounded like on the show and multiply it by about a thousand. I will buy anything he puts on disc. Period. End of review.

Katharine McPhee - Think: Or I guess it's "thank" as Katharine's non-southern self pronounces it. Who told Kat that she's a soul diva??? She's at best a pop singer and doesn't have the voice for these songs. She runs nasal, tries to make up for notes she can't hit with melisma, and screeches! (Note to Kat fans: this is not me turning my back on Kat...this is me having my ears assaulted by a sub-par track.) Do I think she could've done better on another song? You bet. Do I ever want to hear this song again? NO. Ask me again when "My Destiny" comes out.

Paris Bennett - Midnight Train to Georgia: I just love Paris when I don't have to hear her talk after singing. I still have no idea why there's such a dichotomy with her voice. She sounds like a cartoon when speaking, but then she sounds as deep as an ocean when she sings. This is a good performance by her. The girl has skills, and I think if she had been 3 or 4 years older, she would've walked away with the competition in her pocket. This song is done well (even though yet again the background singers stick out like sore thumbs.) I'd definitely give it another listen.

Kevin Covais - When I Fall in Love: The CD ends on a very low note. A note so sour that rotten eggs seem sweet in comparison. Kevin Covais deserved to be there even less than Kellie Pickler, and this track shows you why. Listening to it is like nails on the chalkboard on a stadium amplifier. Awful. Just awful. I've heard more pleasant sounds coming from public bathroom stalls. If you buy the CD, cut it off before this sears off your ears. If you buy this from iTunes, check yourself into the nearest mental institution post haste.

And there you have it! I recommend purchasing via iTunes so you can pick and choose your tracks. Trust me, the whole CD is only worth it if you are a die-hard fan of the show.

3 Comments:

At 3:41 PM, Blogger Hannah said...

i like melissa song

 
At 4:05 PM, Blogger Edward Ott said...

Great review, and i have to agree all divas.

Peace out

 
At 8:56 PM, Blogger Ali said...

Thanks - you just saved me $15 bucks!

 

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