It's Digital Download night, and I have no clever intro to offer., except to say it's been far too long since I wrote anything of interest to anyone. Amy and I are guest judges tonight for GG's AI Season 8 project: read his mashup here. That business over, down to other business.
Usher "Caught Up"
Anoop says that he's "eager to get back to the high energy stuff". Ah. I hadn't realized that 'Noop was lighting up the stage at any point this season. The ballads have been all right so far, but after the judges give him a well-deserved "meh", Desai begs to differ by explaining that Usher's popular and energetic version was great. Which apparently means that Anoop's version must also have been just as good, because he sang a lot of the notes. Um, no. 7 out of 10 for managing a couple nice runs, 4 out of 10 for forgetting his high energy promise. And I'm not going to give him the benefit of rounding up: 5 out of 10 for 'Noop Dawg.
Bob Marley "Turn Your Lights Down Low"
Megan doesn't know how to choose the right song. Period. She has a unique, interesting voice, but that's about it. As with Desai, Megan has very little energy on stage, doing very little to connect with the song, much less communicate it well. I think she's just going through the motions at this point, waiting around to be cut, singing songs because she has to. Kara spells it out for her - wrong song, forgetting her strengths. Paula throws away a few hundred thousand dollars worth of air time, Simon lays it out there as usual "BORING", and Randy book ends the proceedings by agreeing with Kara. My scores - 6 out of 10 vocally, 3 out of 10 for performance: a well deserved 4 out of 10 from me.
Rascal Flatts "What Hurts the Most"
DISCLAIMER: I am a BIG fan of Danny Gokey. I would give Amy's new iPodto be able to sing like Danny ('cause you KNOW how much that would end up costing me) - he's real, he's raw, and he can probably sing anything. But here's the thing about tonight's performance - it was good. But it just wasn't quite good enough. I think he can go bigger than that in a song like this, and if he was holding back for any reason, I don't know why. Sure, it sounded great, and his voice is miles better than the first two (thank you for agreeing with me Simon), but it didn't quite satisfy my expectations for him. The judges lap it up, and set him up for future greatness. I give him 8 out of 10 for an ALMOST great vocal display, 7 out of 10 for a performance that should have given at least a little more. Danny gets the benefit of the doubt from me, so 8 of 10 for Mr. Gokey
No Doubt "Don't Speak"
And from the moment she opens her mouth, Allison shows that she is the dark horse of the competition, and quite probably soon to be the frontrunner if Adam ever slips up or gets lazy. I gotta agree that her outfit is distractingly awful, but appearance is only a small part of what I look for. The guitar wasn't necessary, and as Amy points out, it kept her in place, when she really should have been pacing the stage angrily and letting the song really take over. Tough call here - mixed responses from the judges, and from me as well. 8 of 10 for vocals (I LOVE her tone) and 7 of 10 for handcuffing herself to center stage. But I'm going to use my Judge's Extra Point and give her an 8.1 of 10, ahead of Danny.
Billy Joel "Just the Way You Are"
Scott is nice. I like Scott. His piano playing is nice. I like his singing. Scott should consider enrolling in the David Foster Institute for Young Men with Lots of Hair Who Sing Nice and Can Sell Tickets to Older Women and Their Daughters Who Have Finally Realized That What They Really Don't Want to Do is Spend Another Ninety Eight Bucks on Josh Groban. That would be a smart career choice for him. I know. He has a Great Back Story. He has Sympathy on his side. I get it. I like him just the way he is, but that's not good enough to win this thing. 7 out of 10 is a nice score.
The Fray "You Found Me"
Interesting song choice, could be pretty cool. Playing keyboard in the middle of the college cutie corral is a new conceit for Idol... none of the cuties seem very enthused about the performance until the end when they do the obligatory clap they are instructed to do for everyone (seriously - they are brought in to look good, sway and clap on cue). And Matt doesn't manage to make this one sparkle - I think it COULD have worked, but as with Allison's positioning at center stage, I think he limited his performance by having to stay behind the keyboard out in the middle of the corral. He can sing well enough, he can play piano well enough, but this one just falls flat, and the judges let him knowit. 6 out of 10 vocally, 5 of 10 for performance - I'll give him 6 of 10 overall.
Celine Dion "I Surrender"
Uh oh. Can Lil manage to avoid the "Don't Even Go There" problem that plagues many contestants who've tried and failed to do Big Songs by Big Artists? (Also known as the"Whitney Houston" rule). And the answer is...No. This is too much song for Lil. Randy actually compliments her singing. Dude. She was FLAT. She was UNINTERESTING. And Paula gives her first decent advice tonight - I don't want to see the Adult Contemporary Lil ever again. I don't understand why they are saying that she sounded good, because she was not all that tonight. 5 out of 10 for relatively poor vocals, and 5 of 10 for a boring performance. Lil gets a lil 5 of 10 tonight.
Wild Cherry "Play That Funky Music"
The lovechild of k.d. lang and simon le bon struts to center stage and turns out another hot vocal performance. For me, the thing about Adam is that his performances usually feel forced; vocally, he's easily the best in this competition, but I would like for him to find some way to make his performances feel more real. I'll give him a well deserved 10 of 10 for that vocal and a great arrangement, but the performance gets an 8 of 10 from me. Adam takes the lead with an overall 9 of 10.
Bill Withers "Ain't No Sunshine"
A lot of artists have done this song - ever hear Paul McCartney's version? LOVE. IT. This is a make or break choice - if Kris can make it his own, it could work really well. I really like the quiet and reflective start, and the string quartet is a nice touch as well. Kris sells the song convincingly, but almost ruins a near-perfect vocal workout with a weak finishing note. If he could have hit that solidly, I'd call it even with Adam. Kara's right - it was artistry. Simon agrees with me about the good arrangement. I'm going to give him second place tonight - 9 of 10 vocals, 9 of 10 forperformance, a 9 of 10 overall.
And as we wrap things up, oh yeah - Anoop sang tonight. Awoops. Forgot about him. NOT a good sign. But the next clip seals it - I think I called it correctly when I wrote up Megan's Mess. Buh-bye, Miss Joy. With a side of Lil Annop on the stools tomorrow night.
Adam gets the nod over Kris by a very slick hair's breadth, with Allison taking third.
Da Middle 3