Wednesday, March 12, 2008

American Idol 7.1

Let's blog this thing LIVE... (well, OK. 90 minute TiVo delay)
Tonight's Theme: Lennon / McCartney Songbook

1) Syesha Mercado "Got to Get You Into My Life"
"a song I can get into and show a little more of my personality"

I hate to use Simon's favorite critical phrase, but this is definitely cabaret.Sysesha is not getting on top of these notes - she sounds a bit nervous, and she is fighting the arrangement. I think the arrangement is winning.Not awful, but not a good way to start things out. Not memorable at all.

  • Randy says it's an EWF arrangement, "loosen up and fly with it", he calls her on some pitch problems
  • Paula copies Randall on the pitch criticism, then says she sounded good from the midway point to the end
  • Simon liked the choice, and better than alright. He thinks she was nervous, and actually liked the arrangement

Come back from commercial and Ryan and Chikezie chat with each other about his job as a guard at LAX, and how they set things up for Paula and Ezie to meet when she fliesEzie is sporting a tie under that sweater, and a sweatband watch as well. Hmmm.

2) Chikezie "She's a Woman"
"putting my own funk on it"

Oh yes. Bluegrass jam (banjo, tambourine, fiddle), and Chikezie is working it sitting down with this trio. He gets up and the band kicks into a kickbutt rock groove, and Chikezie is definitely keeping up. Stutter vocals, nasty high falsetto screeches. I LOVED IT. Greatness. THAT is how the show should have started. The whole world just forgot about Syesha - It was really refreshing, and it was completely original.

  • Randy "I was thoroughly entertained." "Who knew you had the falsetto? Chikezie smashed it"
  • Paula "those who take the risk, the greater the reward" She says she's been waiting for this sort of thing from him
  • Simon "I'm... really surprised... that I actually agree with these two." "unlike the first singer you actually changed from last week"

Ryan's overdoing the cheerleading afterwords

3) Ramiele Mabulay "In My Life"

"it's for my close friends who've left the show already" (a reference to Danny?)

shaky start, but fixes it pretty quickly. Nice tone through the verse. Very beatle-esque string arrangement, slowed down a lot from the original. A bit of R&B touch in her voice through the second verse. Need to control that last high note - it popped out noticeably. OK, but again - not memorable.

  • Randy "you know, it was kinda pretty, but pretty boring" "didn't move any earth for me" ????
  • Paula "it was pretty safe." positives positives blah blah blah blah blah "I feel like you're holding back"
  • Simon "I was bored to tears throughout the entire song" Forgettable, boring, and I expect a lot better from you
  • Audience doesn't sound enthused either

Ryan stands on a vanity platform up top - hey, we can download audio AND video. "Thank you iTunes" he says chirpily

4) Jason Castro "IF I Fell"

Jason tells us he failed his music minor class at Texas A&M. "oops" "it's a song I can really relate to"

Jason is seated on a stool, and playing his guitar. It's pretty much the Beatles track as originally recorded, and Jason is having a hard time getting into the groove when the band comes in. Jason adds some falsetto here and there, changes up the melody in places. That's about it for making it his song. Yeah, he's cute, but this isn't going to win it.

  • Randy "I liked it, I didn't love it..."
  • Paula disagrees with Randy "what is so special and unique about you - I feel your heart" blah blah blah blah blah "unique" "special" "emotional connection"
  • Simon "Last week you were incredible. This time, it was all a bit student in the bedroom at midnight" "is he going to make the same impact this week - no"

Have to agree with Simon on this one

Ryan and Simon are toying with each other, trading dumb barbs againRyan asks if America wants "the dreads" back again. Ryan and Carly are seated on "the most uncomfortable stools in television history" How is rooming with Amanda going? "pretty good"

5) Carly Smithson "Come Together"

"usually, it goes down a treat - I'm going to change it up a bit"

Well, it's a bit more bluesy than the original, and she's really belting it out (quite well, I might add). She's working the stage, selling it well, overall a great performance

  • Randy loved it.
  • Paula thought she was "already watching a star"
  • Simon thinks she chose the right song - finally. "this reminds me - six years ago - exactly the same week - of Kelly Clarkson"

Ryno high fives Smithson and throws it to commercialAd for Horton hears a Who - the entire cast is singing I Can't Fight This Feeling Anymore - is that in the movie, or made just for this show?

6) David Cook "Eleanor Rigby"

"this song is already so powerful - if I were to play guitar, it would be overkill"

It's a David Cook groove - a moody rock groove, and David drags the mic stand around with him. I LOVE the minor piano arpeggios. And a really strong chorus, HUGE rock orchestra sound. BIG screamer note at the end that he holds out pretty well. I LIKE. I think he's my favorite so far, even if he's not technically the best in this season

  • Randy "once you hit the chorus it was rockin!"
  • Paula "I've been telling everyone you're the dark horse in this race"
  • Simon (after enduring stupid comments from Randy and Paula about him being a Donkey) "David, I thought you were brilliant" Simon also postulates that David COULD win this whole show

Ryno is now hanging out with Ricky Minor on is perch "what up Ricky?" sheesh as we come back from the ads (what ads? we has tivo!!!)

7) Brooke White "Let It Be"

"I really connected with the story"

Brooke is playing the piano. It's the McCartney concert intro I've heard for myself in 1990 at Berkeley. The arrangement behind her at the chorus features more strings, a bit of gospel backing vocals. Second chorus, the band comes in a bit stronger, but it's restrained. She's not able to get the power going that the chorus needs. This week, Brooke just seemed like one of the girls, and in a season that obviously belongs to the boys, that is NOT a good thing. She lost her originality this week

  • Randy "you gave a very heartfelt performance. The dog is a fan"
  • Paula mentions the emotional connection again - it's the emotion that makes people fall in love with you
  • Simon thought is was one of the best songs of the night, brilliant song choice. "It's believable"I wasn't so impressed this week, but I LOVE that Brooke is so real, so genuine, and is just doing her thing the way she wants

At the break, Judge Amy says "prepare for plastic man" referring to David H's pending performance

8) David Hernandez "I Saw Her Standing There"

"it's fun, it's upbeat, and I'm gonna work the stage"

Hmmm. It's the Beatles arrangement with some instrumental breaks thrown in to change things up. David "works the stage" by starting out behind the judges, singing a bit, failing to impress the girls in the moshpit as he runs to the stage. The only good thing I can say about this performance is that David H is actually capable of sounding like Kenny Loggins. But Kenny sings better than this.

  • Randy "I was a little lost. Too much going on for me"Paula "I love your voice" David "I love you too" OOOPS.
  • Paula's trying to keep it positive but failing
  • Simon "No. No. No. Corny verging on desperate"

Ryno and Amanda site on the not so comfy stools. "What's it like back stage?" Amanda "tends to sit in a corner and wait"

9) Amanda Overmyer "You Can't Do That"

"I'm going to speed it up, rock it up a bit"

When you speed things up, start at the right speed, and make sure you don't lose it either. This performance feels more like Tina Turner than Janis Joplin - Amanda needs to sing less sloppy, slurring things up and down into each other. It's energetic, and she's doing pretty well, but it's not up to the same standard David Cook is bringing right now. However, she and Carly are having no problems keeping up with the boys

Randy and Paula love it, blown away.

Simon uses my word! "slurring the words" woo hoo!

Ryno is up in the crowd exhorting them to hold signs higher.

10) Michael Johns "Across the Universe"

"you're not a real musician if you haven't been affected by the Beatles"

He's singing it smoothly, pretty nice until he gets to the jacarudayuh word. It just doesn't work that smooth. How Lennon made it work, I'll never know, but it certainly doesn't work here. The song is nice but should be filed with the forgettable performances of the night

  • Randy "a little sleepy but aight"
  • Paula disagrees with Randy again and gets applause for it. She says connected again.
  • Simon agrees with Randy, then forgets Carly's name referring to her in praise "now is the point you've got to let yourself go a little bit - I'm frustrated still that we haven't yet heard what you're capable of"

Ryan plays judge four again and gives Paula a chance to state her case again. Ryan - you're the presenter. Stop editorializing

11) Kristy Lee Cook "Eight Days a Week"

"I'm changing it into a country song"

News flash, Kristy. It's already a country song. OH. My bad - she's turned it into a hoedown. At least she's doing what works with her voice. WWCUD? I have to say that this speeded up, Hee Haw version is completely boring. There's absolutely no dynamic change, nothing to make the song interesting except the novelty, and I don't think they'd allow this on the stage at Grand Ole Opry.

  • Randy is laughing "I actually liked the idea of the song. Kinda torn with this one"
  • Paula is hemming and hawing. She didn't enjoy it - she thinks that Kristi took their advice too much to heart (to stick with country)
  • Simon "you sounded like Dolly Parton on helium - a very brave, but very foolish thing to do"

And the crowd goes wild as Ryno introduces...

12) David Archuleta "We Can Work it Out"

"definitely the most nervous I've ever been"

He's doing a funky version (is this the Stevie Wonder arrangement?), and he forgot the words of the second phrase. Yes - think of what you're saying David. He's forgetting more words now. I think that this would be a much better song if he was more confident about the words of this song. I will say this - he set a high level of difficulty for himself - he is not in control of this song. I think he bit off more than he could chew.

  • Randy "it was not on point. this kind of vibe is not your vibe. felt very forced - all I heard in my head was that Stevie"
  • Paula keeps it on a positive tip, natch, but she's right that this wasn't his week
  • Simon "I'm going to keep this fair. That was a mess"

In the recap, my daughter says "oh yeah. Syesha performed"

And as we go through this again, I think that Chikezie won the night, with David Cook and Carly Smithson following close behind. Several forgettable performances and a few very, very good ones - here's the kicker. Kristi's performance was horrible AND memorable, so I'll choose her as this week's VFTW target. I think that Ramiele is the one in most danger of going home at this point.

Better formatting next week - promise!

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