Tuesday, May 08, 2007

American Idol 6: Top 4 Perform

It's that time of the week again. Time for the best of what's left to dazzle us with their vocal acumen. I fully intend to enjoy tonight, since I like most of who are left.

I did want to say that I thought, in retrospect, that some of the things I said about Chris Richardson last week were probably a bit over the line, so I certainly want to apologize for that. I have striven to keep my recaps from becoming mean-spirited, and I sort of lost grip with that with my review on Chris. So Chris, if you happen to be reading, I'm sorry for that. And Lakisha...well, I'll try to be a little bit more humane to you tonight too.

I guess part of my feeling bad about it comes from the fact that I've been talking to former Idol hopefuls pretty much all day. And while that's a good thing, it reminds me that these kids are people too, and don't deserve such a hard time. I promised I wouldn't do that to them this year, and I kinda did, so ...not much I can say but sorry!

Now that my Kellie Pickler moment of the season is over, let's move on...

It looks like the Reality Convention is shaping up to be quite an event for Idol fans, and there are just as many Idols who are looking to get involved as there are currently confirmed. Some of the possibles are Celena Rae, Heather Cox, Sarah Mather, Dani McCulloch, Brooke Barrettsmith and a few others that I'll keep under wraps for now. I found out last night, as I posted in a previous blog, that I will be conducting the 45 minute American Idol panel discussion, so I'm looking forward to hanging out with all of them. The VIP passes don't hurt much either! I hope some of you guys will be able to attend as well.

Anyway, on with the show!

30 Million Americans will decide the fate of the Top 4. If you break that number down, you come up with approximately nine 13 year old girls with speed-dial and one Fanjaya who doesn't yet realize Mr. Malakar is no longer with us. THIS is American Idol.

Ryan escaped a near-death experience with his razor again this week, and comes in as unshaven as if he were attending a frat party. His suit at least is better attire than Simon's cleavage-baring t-shirt. Man-boobs...not so sexy! Of course he somehow manages to look better than Paula, who, as my wife observes, looks like a re-animated corpse tonight. Randy is here too, just sort of sitting there, existing.

And now it's time for Barry Gibb, best known as a member of the Bee Gees, who, in terms of career stats, have been played in more gay bars than any other band in history, with the possible exception of the Village People. I have this little vision of a miniature John Travolta dancing across the bottom of my screen. Say what you will about 80's hair, but those Michael Landon manes they sported in the 70s are just repulsive. Barry is impressed by the Top 4, and quite possibly wondering how his career came down to this level. I mean, when was the last time this cat had a record out?

Melinda Doolittle is going to sing "Love You Inside and Out," which, as Barry points out, is a falsetto song, but Melinda is going to punch the song right in the gut, bring the soul out of it, and hopefully re-invent the song to the point that I'll actually like it. Melinda's stylist needs to be given a raise, because the girl finally looks like a woman tonight! I like her vocally. I mean, what can you say? There's rarely any fodder for criticism from this one. I'll be honest and say that I wasn't excited by the beginning, but the song does build up, and by the time she's approaching the bridge of the song (or where the bridge SHOULD be) I'm groovin' with it. As always, much love for Melinda, even though I liked every single other of her performances better. I have to admit it. This wasn't her night. Randy calls it solid, and since there's nothing REALLY to criticize he can't really say that it sucked, even though he wants to. Paula confirms this and nails her on her consistency. Dang her for always doing well! I wondered when this would happen...Melinda is just so good that if she isn't spectacular, we won't like her. Simon wasn't that impressed by it, expected incredible, but didn't find it to be anywhere in that ballpark. And for the first time this whole entire year, Melinda gets a bad rap.

Randy attempts to call Simon from the other end of the table, probably because the vacuum between Paula's ears is causing too much of a roaring sound for them to communicate verbally across the table.

Blake Lewis is going to sing "Dancin," and ladies and gents, I give you the beat-box. He's going to work it out in falsetto, which should be interesting. He starts off just a tad flat, but he corrects quickly. As falsetto goes, I think I much prefer Sway Penala from last year. Remember when he did Earth Wind and Fire? Hot dang! As for Blake, up until the beat-box part, I'm not incredibly impressed. It's okay, but I wonder just how much of a CD I would listen to with someone doing this sort of thing. I like that it's unique, but at what point does it become hackneyed? The breakdown in the middle is nothing short of phenomenal, though. I have to give credit where credit is due. Altogether, it's not a wretchedly bad performance. Randy thinks that the beat-boxing didn't work tonight and that the song didn't need it. He found it to be distracting. Paula thinks it started weakly, and she of all people complains about his pitch (have you heard "Rush Rush"??), and then she dives directly for the beat-box to have something positive to say. Simon thought it was terrible. Ryan attempts beat-boxing, and I think legislation should be passed to keep that from ever happening again.

Lakisha Jones can't find another Idol winner's song to sing, so she'll go after the Bee Gee's signature song. She has a right mess of a time trying to tackle the falsetto. First off, the part that's not totally her fault: I don't care for the arrangement on this song. It sounds like something you'd hear in a cheap strip club. It's too downbeat, also, and it's not danceable unless you have a pole in front of you. Vocally, I feel like she performed the verse better than the chorus, and I was starting to feel her, but once she dropped to the low notes in the chorus, it turned into a hot steamy mess. I give her points for better fashion this week, but there's a lot about this performance that I'm not buying. It seems very very cabaret to me. It's like that song that you hear on the radio that you kinda like, but you know something's wrong with it, and you can't help but imagine what it would be like if they just did something a little different. At this point, with all the light show and everything, I feel like Austin Powers is going to come out from backstage at any moment and moon us. Randy dawgs on Lakisha for flippin' the script on the song. I know a lot of people are going to point out that they praised Blake for changing a song last week, but Randy does have a point. Some songs are good when they're remixed, and some songs are just right the way they are. This song is that song. Paula thought slowing the tempo of the song down was a horrid idea. Simon cheekily suggests that everyone would be running for the exits, and then gets all up in her kool-aid about the screaming and everything else. I don't think he'd kiss her tonight if she had money on her lips.

Jordin Sparks gets the pimp chat in the Coke question booth. What has she learned about herself? Apparently a big honking LOT. And she summed it up all in 97 words and ONE breath. She's making good grades in school, though, and even sitting down, she towers over the hobbit-like Seacrest. She's going to sing "To Love Somebody." Every time I hear this, I think of the Michael Bolton version, which is okay, so long as I don't think about it any longer than a few seconds. Hopefully after tonight, I'll remember Jordin. She sounded great in the video package, so let's see what happens here. Well, so far so good. It starts out nice for me, and I can tell that Jordin has really been working on this one. She has NOT been working on her wardrobe. At first I thought "nice dress" and then I saw the jeans sticking out of the bottom. She has sort of a Punky Brewster look tonight. If only she were wearing mixed-matched Converses and a skate key, it would be perfect. This performance, though, is easily the best of the night so far. I think it was an excellent choice of song. The peppy ones have been giving her fits lately, so slowing it down was nice. Randy agrees that it was the best vocal so far. Paula physically grabs the mic and attempts to gulp it down. Simon calls it the best vocal so far and declares the competition back on.

Melinda Doolittle's first tape that she bought was Michael Jackson's Bad. Her mom crossed out the word and put "Good" on there. I prefer "Weird Al" Yankovic's take on it. (Even Worse.) I feel old now, because the first thing I bought was a 45 record. It was "Thriller." Melinda is going to sing "How Can You Stop the Rain From Falling." Melinda and Barry go back and forth over something about leaving a line out that I missed because I'm too busy trying to be a smart aleck. Okay, I like this song a bit better, but I really really reeeeeeeeally wish she would've chosen an uptempo number to close out. They need to fire whoever is running the sound boards tonight, because the backup singers are over-modulated, and at times they're drowning out Melinda altogether. Melinda, yet again, is living the song, almost literally teleporting herself into whatever setting the song was written in, channeling the lyricist's emotions through her every pore, and leaving us with no doubt as to what the song means. Once again, an impeccable vocal, but song choice? Can't be sure. Randy thinks it was much better, calls her the "resident pro" again, and says she has it going on. Paula babbles on and on about how she wishes that Melinda would finally emote, which is the most idiotic judgment I've heard in all six years. She wants to be wowed, which just goes to show you that where Sanjaya could fart and get praised for it, Melinda has to bring it 150 percent every time or else she'll get dissed. With great power, comes great responsibility, I suppose. Simon thinks the second half of that song just bought her way into the semi-finals, but not unless you VOTE VOTE VOTE.

Blake Lewis picked an obscure Barry Gibb song that he could contemporize. It wasn't a hit record for them, and who knows if Blake might bring some extra funk to it. I like the opening, and the funk groove is nice for me. I really wish Snoop Dogg would come out on stage and start busting a rhyme right about now. It would feel right in place. I don't think the mix on this is being done just right...someone fire the mixer guy! Thankfully, Blake shies away from too much of the beat-box in this song, though I think it will likely come out a few more times before the season's over, or even this song for that fact. This time, though, he's showcasing his vocals, which are quite nice, and it's now okay that he throws a bit of that beat-box at the end. Much better than the last performance. Still, I'm not dazzled. Randy emphasizes that the beat-box is going to get old the more that Blake does it. We all wished he'd do it when he stopped doing it for a while, and now that he's doing it, we wish he'd do it less. Ah, so fickle, the American public! Paula said something. Don't know or care what. Simon calls the song tuneless and bizarre. And either they've just sent him home tonight, or (more likely) they've charged up his fanbase to vote. Which means nothing but bad things for...

Lakisha Jones...

But first, Judge Judy and Simon's mom, and we now have definitive proof that one is not the other. Ryan babbles too long with the combustible TV judge, and then has to all quick-like toss to...

Lakisha Jones, who will be singing "Run to Me." A slow, soulful ballad that she will nail IF she can emote and tank if she cannot. I definitely liked the original outfit better. I feel like I could pull up Lakisha's chest and use it to sit on while I play Nintendo. A bit too much displayed for my taste. Boy, howdy, what a boring song. This would've been a much better opening number, but it's certainly not something you want to close out with. You want to leave the audience with something that they'll be humming while doing laundry, not something they'll have to wrack their brains to remember tomorrow. Her diction on this song is terrible, and she's chopping up her words. The money notes at the end fall flat, and she's behind the beat ever so little, just enough that it causes her to lose the necessary punch. Don't even get me started on the final note that just flat busted. Randy gave her a pass on the hoarseness. Now, I'm not sure how much the Idols perform during the day, but losing your voice after two songs (four if you count the dress rehearsal) is just not going to cut it in the real world. Randy says it was better, but not good. Paula says good job. Simon says good job, and we must be REALLY short of time because we are OUTTA there. Ryan is talking in double-time, and there's a lightning quick toss to break. This may just be the nail in Lakisha's coffin. No pimp talk time after performing and a lackluster reviewing pretty much spells H-O-M-E.

Jordin Sparks will be closing the show by singing Barbra Streisand's "Woman In Love," and methinks that Ms. Sparks has caught on that these particular songs are right smack dab in the middle of her wheelhouse and that the judges like her to sing them, no matter what they say about the young fun Jordin. Barry thinks that Jordin will become one of our greatest female recording artists. Wow. Big praise. Y'know, Jordin is just...just... pretty. Not pretty in a supermodel on catwalk sort of way, but just darling adorable in a warm fuzzy sort of way. I like her vocal here. I got a little worried with her on the closing part of the song, but she pulled it off well. She almost missed the key change and she does start it out ever so slightly flat, but she corrects, and closes it out with a wail. I actually quite liked that one, even if I don't quite think I'd ever buy the single. Randy calls it pitchy all the way through. Paula and Randy both immediately cut from Jordin to compliment Barry's songs, almost all of which turned into steaming messes tonight. Simon calls it pageant-y and complains that it's much too elderly of a performance, a judgment which I've quite frankly become tired of hearing this year. Y'know, some people like songs other than Backstreet Degrees in Sync Dating Britney Spice.

Bad on the director tonight for pacing the show so horribly as to run out of time at the end. And c'mon FOX...you couldn't time shift House for just a few minutes?

Predictions: tomorrow night, I fear for Lakisha. Blake has the power voters behind him. The only way Lakisha doesn't go home is if Melinda and Jordin voters get complacent and don't vote.


At 8:05 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a pussy (for the apology) and a LOSER for partaking in the Reality TV Convention with the other mental retardees.

At 8:11 PM, Blogger J.D. said...

Hi Mary

At 8:44 PM, Anonymous JY said...

Ahh, J.D., you are too funny! No need for you to apologize, you have a talent for writing and I love your wit! And I AM MUCH older than you because the correct title of the second song Melinda sang was "how can you mend a broken heart" and what you missed her saying was she didn't want to sing "how can a loser ever win" because she didn't want to sing about losing on American Idol! I am a huge fan of Jordin, I thought her second song was great, I didn't understand why the judges didn't care for it. Oh well, I'm not a music expert though! Oh, and speaking of Chris last week, I'm surprised that you didn't mention that he scratched himself right in front of America while and he Blake were standing on stage together. Yep, he grabbed 'em. I was sure you'd have something to say on that, but you must have missed it! Please keep doing what you do, don't change it, it's what keeps me coming back!

At 10:57 PM, Anonymous MA said...

JD we def. agree this week. The thing that gets me about "Kiki" is she brings a notebook and pencil to meetings with the mentors and then ignores their advice! And you are dead on with the mixing being off. At first I thought it was the band arrangement but I listened to some of the performances again and it was def the mix.

At 6:25 AM, Anonymous smarmy said...

Blake jumped the shark.

At 2:29 PM, Anonymous Cleo said...

Heyhey JD,

Thanks for being a leetle nicer to my homegirl LaKisha this week. (Melinda is still my favorite and who I want to win; I call LaKisha "homegirl" because she's from a town so close to my home.) I too thought Jordin's first performance was the best of a lackluster night, but LaKisha's were #2 and #3 for me. Still, I fear for her, because I voted for her like a Fanjaya last night and got through a whole bunch of times. Oh well.

You made a couple of astute points in this recap that I would like to (re)point out:

* Melinda is just so good that if she isn't spectacular, we won't like her.

* We all wished [Blake]'d do [the beat boxing] when he stopped doing it for a while, and now that he's doing it, we wish he'd do it less. Ah, so fickle, the American public!

Melinda set the bar oh so high for herself.

And Blake is already hackneyed, moreso because he makes almost every song sound like a 311 song than because of his beat boxing.

Thanks for another good recap,

At 2:33 PM, Anonymous Cleo said...

Oh, yeah, Thriller was one of my first two records, too! That and Irwin the Disco Duck, which was like a kiddie disco collection. I was like 8 years old when I got them on 33 1/3 LP's.


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