Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Kristy Lee Cook Says It All

With a song choice most befitting of the night, Kristy Lee Cook sang "You're No Good" on American Idol. And really ... the girls WERE no good, with a few exceptions.

The exception(al):
*Brooke White ("You're So Vain") - The performance of the night. Brooke really hit a home run with this song. It was the perfect song choice, and she delivered it so well. The acoustic beginning was a great touch that I quickly got over my disappointment that she wasn't singing "So Far Away".

Another exception:
*Carly Smithson ("Crazy On You") - It's suspicious funny how Randy turned on Carly a bit this week after his undeserved over-the-top praise last week. Because Carly was actually really good this week, singing a song that was more her forte than that Barbara Streisand crap.

You're Not Bad:
Kristy Lee Cook ("You're No Good") - She sang well enough to probably avoid an ironic elimination song. She improved a lot from last week. Her performance skills (not to mention her outfit), however, are no good. She's very bar band.

You're Only Half Good:
*Syesha Mercado ("Me And Mrs. Jones") - Paula was dead on; Syesha was out of tune on the soft verses but sounded terrific when she powered the notes on the chorus. I liked the interpretation as well, but those verses were pretty rough.

You're Not As Good As Last Week:
*Ramiele Malubay ("Don't Leave Me This Way") - For all that talk about how she likes to dance and how she MAY dance on the show if she sings a fast song, she sure ... didn't move her feet on that stage. She sang well, but I couldn't get over the lack of movement.
*Alaina Whitaker ("Hopelessly Devoted To You") - She's always just slightly off the beat in her songs. I'm very distracted by the gap in her teeth how wide she opens her mouth when she sings. And she wussed out on that last note.
*Alexandrea Lushington ("If You Leave Me Now") - She keeps surprising me with her song choices. I never would have thought she'd pick such an elevator song. She does manage to infuse a little bit of her own spin on things that prevents it from being a total snooze-fest, but this song is just so dreary.
*Asia'h Epperson ("All By Myself") - What a waste of the pimp spot. She totally gagged on the first high note. It was a pretty decent recovery, but this song was just way too ambitious for her. Randy and Paula may want to give her credit for hitting it in the end, but you can't ignore the fact that she biffed part of the song. You can hit the hardest element at the end of your skating routine, but if you fall earlier (on something easier), you still get deducted for it and you're probably not going to get the gold. And in this case, Asia'h won't be anywhere near the medals tonight.

Baby, You're No Good:
*Amanda Overmyer ("Carry On Wayward Son") - That was like watching really bad bar karaoke. The pitch was all over the place, the screaming was wretched, the outfit hideous.
*Kady Malloy ("Magic Man") - Her intro video was all kinds of awesome, but her performance was so not. She started off out of tune and never really found her way home. She doesn't have the vocal chops or the edge to pull this kind of song off, and I really had no idea what the heck she was singing.

Out this week: Probably Amanda and Kady. Amanda and Carly can't co-exist in this competition too long. And one of the blondes has to go, and it ain't gonna be Brooke!

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Improvements From Idol Guys

The American Idol Top 20 guys are making it a little more difficult to decide who should get the boot. Last week had about 5-6 mediocre performances to choose from, but this week, some of those guys who stuck around actually made big improvements, leaving just one marked as a sure-thing elimination.

Improved (But that's not saying much):
*Jason Yeager ("Long Train Running") - Much more interesting than last week's "Moon River" snooze-fest, but good gawd this was such a cheesy performance. We had finger guns, white-boy dancing. Ugh! It's a shame because his vocal was actually pretty decent, but it was SUCH a cruise ship performance. The judges have it wrong, though. It wasn't the song choice; it was the performance.

Most Improved of Last Week's Meh:
*Chekezie ("I Believe To My Soul") - He improved his attitude (although he couldn't help but get a dig in to Simon at the end), his wardrobe (slightly), and most importantly, his performance. Now I know why he made the Top 24.
*Luke Menard ("Killer Queen") - Pretty boy didn't bore me this time, and his vocals were much stronger than last week. He has no grit, though. It was akin to watching Dawson Leery singing that song.
*Danny Noriega ("Superstar") - He struggled with the low notes but sounded good otherwise and delivered a cheese-less performance while still showing his personality during the post-song banter. I just can't match up his image with this song. I have no idea what kind of singer he is. He looks very emo but has sung Elvis and the Carpenters. So ... huh?!
*David Hernandez ("Papa Was A Rollin' Stone) - Not that he was bad last week. He was just kind of boring. But tonight? WOW. He was my favorite tonight. Excellent vocal and performance. David really excels in the Motown. Is it sad that I was expecting a Team Carrie Ann-like Step break in this song?

Taking A Step Back
*Michael Johns ("Go Your Own Way") - The first chink in the armor. Loved the fact that we finally got a Fleetwood Mac song on AI, but he couldn't pull this rangy song off. Michael struggled mightily with the chorus.
*Robbie Carrico ("Hot Blooded") - That was more lukewarm than hot blooded. Pitch-wise, I thought he sounded good, but he definitely lacked punch. It should have been louder, more powerful. His "I'm RAWK! I'm RAWK! DAMMIT!" defensiveness is going to ultimately hurt him.

Taking A Step Back (But Not Because Of Their Performance)
*Jason Castro ("I Just Want To Be Your Everything") - I actually really liked this and was kind of blown away by the choice of doing this song partially acoustic. But the judges hated it, and he wussed out on doing the high notes in the chorus.
*David Cook ("All Right Now") - Again, another performance I liked (he really showed Robbie Carrico how to rock), but he continued to come across as a total prick, and one that Simon now HATES. Which means he won't be long for this competition.

Taking A Huge Aided Step Forward
*David Archuleta ("Imagine") - And I thought Carly was pimped last week. This was a pimpage level I have never before seen. Getting the pimp spot, Paula crying, Simon already saying the kid was going to win, filling the audience with the David Archuleta Tween Fan Club. It was good, but I've seen similarly good performances in the semifinals - three in particular last year from Melinda and Lakisha. And the kid really needs to fix his breathing when he's singing, and he especially needs stop that distracting lip-licking.

Going home? Jason Yeager for sure. And probably either Robbie or Luke.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

AI7 Top 24 Girls Mostly Bore

My feelings about a good majority of tonight's Top 24 Girls performance show on American Idol can be summed up by taking a look at the Top 24 Guys sitting and watching the show next to the stage. In years past, the other contestants stood for each other, particularly last season with cute little enthusiastic AJ Tabaldo waving his arms in the air at every good performance. This year, almost every time they flashed to the guys, most of them were just sitting there looking as bored as a 5th grader at his kid sister's 2nd grade recital. And for the most part, that was me in my living room.

Kristy Lee Cook ("Rescue Me") - Boring. Vanilla. Bland. Robotic.
Joanne Borgella ("I Say A Little Prayer") - She was rooted to the floor like a marble statue.
Amy Davis ("Where The Boys Are") - The boys were searching for that pitch you couldn't find.
Kady Malloy ("A Groovy Kind Of Love") - Bad song choice now that the judges have pigeon-holed her as "Fun Kady", which I don't think she appreciated. And yes, she is more interesting as an impersonator. She should have gone on that impersonator show on NBC.

Then we had the ones who had to scream to be heard over the band:
Amanda Overmeyer ("Baby Please Don't Go") - She picked a song that featured the band more than her and got way overpowered.
Syesha Mercardo ("Tobacco Road") - That was a hot mess for me. Her vocals were shouty (and a bit off-tempo), and while she moved well, her eyes were just dead. It was creepy.
Carly Smithson ("Shadow Of Your Smile") - Randy Jackson needs to STFU. Best vocal of the Top 24? Of course HE would say that, considering he was the A&R guy on her label back when she had a recording contract. And she did not get left behind when the label imploded. She sold about 300 records after they spent $2 million in promotions on her. Thank you Simon Cowell for being the voice of reason because she was NOT all that. Carly's singing is only set to belting, and she wasn't on pitch a lot of the time.

A couple of people actually exceeded my expectations -
*Alaina Whitaker ("More Today Than Yesterday") - Carrie Underwood v4.1 actually did a good job performing this song. Like Carrie quite a few times on Idol, Alaina was a bit off-tempo, but overall it didn't matter. It was a hundred million times better than Jacuzzi last night.
*Alexandrea Lushington ("Spinning Wheel") - That name sounds straight out of Dynasty. Heh. I like her personality. She seems fun and sassy. Vocals were pretty good too. The TLC circa 1991 wardrobe, though? Gotsta go.
*Asia'h Epperson ("Piece Of My Heart") - After her gut-wrenching audition, I wasn't sure she'd be able to do up-tempo, but she lit it up. She's adorable.

Also adorable -
*Ramiele Malubay ("You Don't Have To Say You Love Me") - She is the cutest thing ever. Even cuter than David Giggle Monster Archuleta. She picked the wrong song to reflect the cuteness, but man alive did she sing the hell out of it. And proved that she can deliver a serious, mature performance. Best of the night for me.
*Brooke White ("Happy Together") - She's kind of a Disney character, isn't she? Very G-rated and puppies and rainbows. With a LOVELY voice. It's so interesting and distinguishable. She is the one person on this show who I could hear a song from and know exactly who it is without looking. Simon is always talking about relevance in today's music scene, and she really is.

So leaving tomorrow ... I'm thinking Amy Davis and one of the blondes. Hopefully Kristy Lee.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Rockers Rule On AI7

Tonight was the first performance night of the season the American Idol people have been calling the best yet. I'm not quite sold on that after seeing half of the guys' performances today. The rockers were fantastic, the others? Not so much.

Highlights came from:
*Robbie Carrico ("One Is The Lonliest Number") - He made me sit up and take notice from the first note on. This guy can really sing, and he can perform too.
*Michael Johns ("Light My Fire") - The Aussie is in a whole different league than the rest of the crew. He's a total pro.
*David Cook ("Happy Together") - He was the first one to make any good impression on me, turning a total pop song into a modern-sounding rock song. He comes across as a smug bastard, though, so he needs to watch that. But if he keeps on performing like that, I can't really hate.
*Jason Castro ("Daydream") - He's the guy with the gorgeous eyes and Adam Duritz hair (and way too much stage makeup). He picked a perfect song for himself and set himself apart by playing guitar. His vocals weren't perfect, but he did quite well.
*David Archuleta ("Shop Around") - This kid comes across as such a 12-year-old dork with his constant giggling. I really want to hate the kid because he seems like such a precocious little monster, but there's something about him that just wins you over. I think it's his unbridled joy at performing. That, and he can really sing. He had a little Peter Brady vocal moment towards the end, though.

*Chikezie ("I Love You More Today Than Yesterday") - "Jacuzzi" couldn't find the key if it was laying out on a padlock for him. My god. That was horrible. And the presentation? So lounge singer, between the suit and the song. The talking back won't help him either.
*Jason Yeager ("Moon River") - Another lounge singer. Unlike Chikezie, he sang in tune, but his problem is that his voice is very undistinguishable, and the performance was very forgettable. For a guy who had zero airtime prior to this, he needed to make a big impression, and he didn't.
*Garrett Haley ("Breaking Up Is Hard To Do") - Man alive, this kid's singing voice grates. And he gave a snooze-worthy performance. I cannot believe they actually put him through on the first audition, and if he survives another week, I'll be shocked.

*David Hernandez ("In The Midnight Hour") - I thought he oversang this song. I really expected a lot more from him performance-wise after his Hollywood showing, but he looked like a scared puppy. Vocals were pretty strong though.
*Danny Noriega ("Jailhouse Rock") - I actually was expecting way more camp from this kid because he comes across as the campiest camp that ever camped. Maybe the campiness comes from such a flamboyant guy singing a song by the most testosterone-filled singer in the history of rock and roll music. While it wasn't "grotesque", I wouldn't call it "almost hot" either. But at least it wasn't boring.
*Luke Menard ("Everybody's Talkin'") - His saving grace may be his Scott Speedman meets Patrick Dempsey looks, but his vocals are really weak - there's not enough power, and the pitch was off. But with looks like that (and after some of the other performances), he may last another week.
*Colton Berry ("Suspicious Minds") - It was like watching Ellen DeGeneres and Macaulay Culkin's lovechild singing Elvis while wearing suspenders hanging down from his jeans like it was 1985. Gotta say, though, that the vocals were actually pretty good, if not slightly breathy.

Predictions: See ya' Jason Yeager and either Jacuzzi or Garrett.