Wednesday, March 29

AI5 - Top 10 (3/28/06)

Tonight's theme is "21st Century" songs... alrighty then. Pretty wide open genre-wise, so everyone should have been able to choose something they could do really well in. Unfortunately it didn't play out that way. Part of the problem is that we're down to 1-hour shows so they're stuck with a really short time frame, and some of the editing is just strange, while others just plain aren't long enough.

Lisa starts off with "Because of You," and though I still love her to death, I didn't really even need to hear her (or the rest) to know that she's going home tonight. She's been in the bottom 3 the past 2 weeks, and goes first with a version that is almost certain to pale next to the original because of the writer/performer's emotional connection. Even if she weren't the 1st Idol winner! It's a weird edit, doing part of a verse & the bridge before the chorus. She does it well until toward the end when there are some pitch problems. Randy thought it was just ok and a weird way to start the night (of course she didn't choose her own performance order, nor find it out before she'd chosen a song). Paula said it was a tough song to do well & needed a twist to give it something original; Simon agreed that it didn't work and said the song was "too big" for her voice. Ryan somewhat condescendingly asked her if she was aware of the risk in her choice and she said that of course she was, but "no guts no glory"! Good for her. ;-)

Kellie chose a Sara Evans song called "Suds in the Bucket." I didn't know it but it's a cute little ountry song & fits her personality; not much to show off vocals except a really long glory note uring which she went off pitch. Randy was "puzzled" by the song choice; he & Paula agreed thatit didn't show her vocal range or talent. Simon concurred that it was a bad choice. Kellie apologizes, twice.

Ace sings "Drops of Jupiter" for several reasons, one of which is just silly because he says he chose it to show a "rock edge"! Hee. But boy does his homework: besides saying Train is one of his favorite groups, he says it's a "Grammy award-winning song that went double platinum"! I loved it; still wish his voice weren't so nasal, and that he'd tone down the stretched out shaky hand and way OTT intense puppy-eyed camera looks, but it was good. Not rock but he did get a bit of a growl in toward the end. Definitely needs to stick to this genre IMO instead of the r&b/hip-hop/obscure Michael Jackson stuff. The crowd seemed to like it, but Randy was disappointed; he said it was a bad choice and he didn't sing it well (I disagree). He missed Ace's usual "soul vibe". (again, huh?) Paula said it was better than the first 2 performances but not her favorite of his. Simon said not a great vocal and "quite karaoke." Oh, I forgot the scar - during the line that mentions a scar he pulls his shirt back a bit to reveal a scar of his own near his collarbone. Strange but whatever; Paula asks if it's "a real scar" & he said yes (from a basketball accident). Ryan asked Ace's opinion on the feedback and he says he's still glad he chose it, he likes the song and felt it. Didn't seem rattled by the comments, which was good (so maybe the shaky performance is just from over-intensity Marty Casey style instead of nerves? hard to tell). Regardless, Kellie, take note; don't apologize!

Taylor looks very nice tonight, maybe his hair is shorter or something? He also gets Idol pimping in that Ryan shows a grey-haired kid in the audience *and* has Taylor explain what "Soul Patrol" means (an online fan group). He sings a song called "Trouble" that I don't know (not Pink's, lol) but is definitely his style. He also stands "still" (for him) at the mic & mostly just sings. He said he wanted to show his "vocal range" but I don't think it was the best song for that; it was good but nothing fantastic. Randy said it wasn't great because it didn't let him "show off," and in reply Taylor reiterated that he just wanted to sing. Paula said she liked that. Simon "quite liked the song" and it had an "excellent vocal," but thought his "styling" was too "pop school" and "very Clay Aiken" (one more time with the huh?!).

GeorgeEEEE! in the audience! Yay! I miss George.

Mandisa sang "Wanna Praise You" by gospel duo Mary Mary and said it means a lot to her because it's a testimony that "there's nothing too hard for God." It's very yelly, but then that's common for that style of music. Also really fast words - of course the whole show seems like it's slightly in fast-forward to me, everything's so rushed because of the time crunch. She's also wearing jeans which are so very not flattering. She sings fairly well and shows a higher range than she has before, but it could be better. Randy doesn't like the song choice; Paula makes a comment that there's a "new religion" and millions have "joined the church of Mandisa," which Mandisa didn't like but she didn't say anything. Paula also says she'd like to see her "color" her performances with "more vulnerability." Simon says it's "indulgent" and he "didn't get it" (obviously). In response Ryan just mentions in giving voting info that it was a "very personal song," which was nice.

Chris is up next and, surprise, surprise, we talk about last week's song. There's been a "stir" online and in the media about the fact that Live (Chris's favorite band) covered "I Walk the Line" in a similar style to Chris' performance, but the judges all praised him for being so original and he didn't say anything to refute that. At least not that was shown; I just assumed it was on purpose as part of his "Chosen One" pimping, but obviously TPTB didn't expect the backlash it caused, so they cleared things up. Ryan asks Chris if he did Live's version of the song, and he says yes. Easy enough. Of course he could have mentioned it in his intro clip last week & it could've been edited out; don't know. Ryan asked him if he actually "worships" Live, and Chris hesitates & then jokes that "we don't need to say that here." Ryan then asks him about potential upcoming themes and how Chris would feel about doing some Celine Dion during a 'romantic song' week, and Chris says sure, "I've got some of that up my sleeve, yeah." Hee! Hope we get to see more of this sense of humor.

Chris sings too. :-) He does Creed's "What If" and prefaces it by saying it's the "hardest" song he's done yet (assumedly referring to style, not difficulty), which proves correct as it's pretty much just a lot of screaming. Oh, he also mentioned how many copies it sold; interesting we get 2 of these tonight & I've never seen anyone do it before, but then Ace & Chris are best buds & roomies so they probably did their research together! Which is kind-of cool. Anyway, I don't care for screaming so I didn't like the song; too bad Creed-loving Mr Pez was out of town so I don't get his opinion. Randy liked the choice but said Chris was sharp for most of the song (wow, a judge admitting he's not perfect?!). Paula said something short & meaningless. Simon started by saying he was going to "be negative for the first time with you," and Chris corrected him, saying it was the 2nd! Hee. Simon said it was "indulgent" and that while this is obviously Chris's preferred style, he needs to remember that "this is American Idol" and do something to show off a different side of him. (This coming from the same person who praised him last week for "refusing to compromise," but Simon has given conflicting advice before.)

Katharine sings Christina Aguilera's "The Voice Within," because she's a fan and because thoughout this entire process" she's learned that "the only person you can really trust is ourself," which sounds somewhat loaded. ;-) She looks great; finally has a flattering outfit! (nice fitted jacket w/jeans) She sang it well and it showed great vocal range; definitely one of her best performances, & that best shows her potential to be "commercial". Randy said it was "a good choice, I guess," but that she sang it "just like the record." Paula agreed that she should have done something to change it up but also said it was her best performance yet. Simon said it was the best of the night and "almost as good as Christina."

Bucky went all-out country and looks mighty fine in his black shirt and hat. He chose Tim McGraw's "Real Good Man" because (I love this) "I just flat out like it." It's obviously a song he's performed before as he does more dancing & 'planned movement' than usual. He had some pitch problems but I thought it was a good performance overall and that country music fans should like it. And boy definitely knows how to play to the camera, yet without being overly dramatic about it. :-) The band covered him up at points but that's certainly not his fault. Randy said it was "the right kind of song" and that he liked it "a lot better." (than the Stevie Wonder he was forced to sing last week? Again, whose fault?) Paula agreed about song choice but cautioned him to watch his diction/enunciation. Simon said it was "unimpressive," "just ok," and that he couldn't understand what he was saying.

Paris says that she chose Beyonce's "Work It Out" so that she can have fun and be a kid, and dance "for the young ones." She then proceeds to sing about having sex on the living room floor and performs dance moves definitely not intended for children. Kind-of like last week's Fever but worse. Does she not realize the inappropriateness of this for her age? (Obviously not.) Vocally it was excellent. Randy loved it, calling her "fearless" and "da bomb," and the best of the night thus far (a nice change from Simon's "best of the night" claims when several contestants remain!). Paula loved it, saying "those weren't kid moves" in a complimentary way. (But then Paula has experience being a young female singer in a genre that requires dancing and knows you gotta shake what you got to be popular, or at least that those who do, are.) Simon disagrees, calling her "precocious" and "a little girl trying to be Beyonce." Ryan called her "Princess P," twice (which was annoying IMO).

Last up is Elliott singing "I Don't Wanna Be." He mentions Bo's cover last season as rock, saying he wants to bring his "soulful vibe" to it. The arrangement is definitely different, more R&B than pop, but feels really rushed to me. The rhythm's different & he seems behind (though he may not be), & trying to dance too much. The vocal improved mid-song & he finished strong; overall good, not great. However, Randy, Paula, & the crowd absolutely loved it. Paula praised the arrangement & said "you are one funky white boy" (he laughed) & that it was "unbelievable; fantastic." Simon disagreed, summarizing "great song, terrible arrangement, good vocal, and dancing was hideous." But how do you really feel, Simon? ;-)

I think Lisa will definitely go (sigh) but I'm having a hard time predicting the rest of the bottom three. Probably Bucky. I'll say Mandisa for the 3rd but that's iffy.

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