Wednesday, March 22

Top 11 (3/21/06)

Another 2-hour show! This week our theme is actually a theme, yay! It's 50's songs. And, since Barry Manilow just released an album of 50's songs, he's our guest star! He will be performing tomorrow night, and the contestants flew to Vegas to work with Barry on their songs. He's so cute... he's such a fan of the show, and such a great arranger; he said if for some reason he had to stop performing tomorrow, that "this" is what he'd do - help other people sing! :-) (Need a fun game while you watch? Count the key changes!!)

Mandisa chooses "I Don't Hurt Anymore," with which I'm not familiar. Barry loves her. I didn't think it was one of her better performances and wouldn't be surprised if she's in the bottom 3. The crowd seemed to love her, as did Randy, saying she was "classy, amazing, great," and that she "set the mark" for the night. Paula said her "performance was flawless," which is not the same as being enjoyable (though I really didn't even think it was flawless). Simon said she's "blossoming" and "sexy."

Bucky sings "Oh Boy!" by Buddy Holly. Great choice!! He had a lot of fun with it, looked confident, showed his vocal range (nice falsetto toward the end), and ended w/a fun little mic twirl (that Randy said he needed to learn, lol). Randy & Paula said it was a great choice for him & was good; Simon gave him a "reality check" and said it was basically "pointless karaoke." Well, karaoke maybe, but certainly not pointless; he & everyone watching (except Simon) had great fun! :) Go, TeaBiscuit, go!!

Paris - "Fever," not surprisingly. Barry was "shocked" by the "depth & power" of her voice, & said she has an "enormous career" ahead of her. Her look is very 50's, very nice. Performance is good, great in points... but something is still lacking. Vulnerability maybe? Not that it's appropriate for these lyrics per se, just she's such the "seasoned performer" that it loses authenticity, which I think she had earlier in the competition (Midnight Train). The audience lovedit, as did Randy and Paula (looks incredible; vocals "impeccable"). Simon said this is what she does best and that she has the perfect voice for that type of song. Which is neither here nor there about her actual performance, mind you.

BTW, we have Ryan Cabrera and Constantine sitting together in the audience! Man, Connie is like the AI5 groupie! Not that I'm complaining or anything.... There was also an ad for Chicken Little on DVD; at least it didn't come on right before or after Kevin's performance!

Chris does "I Walk the Line" for several reasons, including feeling a connection with the lyrics because of his wife [insert programmed "awww" response here]. Barry said Chris has a great "handle" on "who he is and his strength," which lately seems to be mimicking rock covers of songs that fit that week's genre. (I'm told Live did this?) I really liked most of the performance; it was very intense, focusing on his great vocals (though he missed the lowest note); something a bit different, which I think he really needed to show. And the all-black outfit was a nice Cash tie-in (oh, and the stubble was nice). However, he "rocked" the end, turning into every other song he's done so far. Now, prepare to be told what to think: Randy said it wasn't the best vocally, but he loved that he "changed the song to fit" him, and that he's "ready." Paula similarly said it was "true to who you are" and that he grows each week. Simon said he just "loved" it, mainly because Chris is "the first contestant who refuses to compromise." !!!!!! Sigh... no, he's most definitely not. It's just that Simon likes Chris (read, sees dollar signs), whereas he hasn't liked everyone like that in the past, and when *they* don't "compromise" their style, he criticizes them for it. It's unfortunate, because I like Chris, but what they're doing to/with him annoys me so much that I'm starting not to. Oh, Ryan even mentioned how Connie was jammin' along and asked if he's "a fan" of Chris?! Well, of course he's going to say yes!

Katharine needs a new stylist, because I hate the dresses she's choosing. She loved seeing Barry in concert, and said that "now" she understands why he's had such a successful career! Heh. She sings Ella Fitzgerald's "Come Rain or Come Shine," which I'm sure I've heard, but I don't know it well enough to be able to compare it to anything. It's very jazzy, and Kat makes the most of her assets, including playing up the smouldering looks to the camera. The vocal wasn't her best; nothing wrong, just nothing exceptional, until the very end. The audience seemed to love her. Randy also said it wasn't his favorite vocal but it was still strong and that it was a very tough song to sing. Paula didn't say anything worth noting. ;-) Simon said that he thought "tonight, you turned into a star," and he loved it.

Taylor chooses a Buddy Holly tune called "Not Fade Away." When he walked into the room to meet Barry, he was singing "Mandy." He said Barry isn't just a singer, he's a "performer." Barry said Taylor has a great "whisky tenor" voice and that he's one of the best male vocalists on the show. The song itself is very, very, very, very repetitive, and doesn't do much to showcase vocal ability. Taylor focused on some dancing and had fun and entertained the audience well, but it was way too safe & easy for him. Randy acknowledged that it wasn't vocally challenging but he "worked it out." Paula referred to his energy & said someone should film him for an excercise video! Hee. Simon - thank you! - said it was a "complete mess" (ok I wouldn't go that far) and that it was like a "hideous party performance." (To which Randy replied, "that's what the 50's were!") Simon reminds everyone that it's "a singing competition." Heh.

Lisa said as soon as she heard the theme she chose "Why Do Fools Fall in Love?" Barry thought that at her age she "shouldn't" know the song as well as she does! He called her "great" and "a powerhouse." :-) I thought her outfit was adorable (from the waist up, anyway), and I liked the arrangement because it/she changed up the melody (both note-wise and rhythmicly) from how I usually hear the song. Randy basically said it was good but not great; Paula liked her "youthfulness" and "energy"; Simon said it was too cutesy & high school-ish, no 'wow'.

Kevin picked "When I Fall in Love," because, as Barry said (calling it a "good song for his age"), he's young & hasn't been in love yet and would like it to be like this when he does [insert 2nd programmed "awww" response here]. In describing Kevin Barry said he's the "sweetest" contestant; hee! Kevin likes to sing ballads strongly (his attempt at belting), but Barry advises him to be more "vulnerable" & sing it more softly; he said Kevin "got it" right away. He starts the song seated and is still vocally way out of his league here, *but* this was probably his best performance yet! Other than a bit much vibrato he sounded pretty good, and did connect to the lyrics emotionally/performance-wise. Randy said that's one of his favorite songs and said that there were pitch problems; however, he still loved it (?!). Paula said he has "moxie." Simon complimented his attitude, starting with "I like you" (to which Kev replied, "I like you too"), & said that Kevin takes things well (Simon seems to admire the confident/snarky comeback Kevin gave him last week, though many people - allegedly including fellow contestants - thought he was cocky and rude). Anyway, Simon said that Kevin knows his audience and that his audience will have enjoyed his performance.

Elliott is almost too honest, telling us that he didn't like Barry's music. However, after working with Barry he feels he's an amazing songwriter, a "genius" at arrangements, and a great "storyteller" from whom he learned a better performance style. Elliott says he's now a "fan-ilow." Ok then. He chose "Teach Me Tonight" ("the Al Jarreau version," which means nothing to me as I don't know the song At. All.). Barry said that Elliott "sings great," but needed to connect more w/the lyrics. The song sounded very "Elliott" (heh) to me, in the phrasing and style (atypical melody/rhythm). He used more gestures than usual (Barry style!) but looked like he was having fun & enjoying the performance more than he has others. It was very good, and he looked great. Randy said it's a tough song to sing & that he did well; Paula said she was "moved;" Simon said the singing was "fantastic."

Lots of ex-Idols in the audience tonight... Jasmine Trias, Lindsey Cardinale, & apparently Carmen Rasmussen though I missed seeing her.

Kellie called her grandfather for song choice advice and when he said Patsy Cline, she chose "Walkin' After Midnight." Barry said she's "a natural" and has "beautiful" voice. He admits he's ignorant about country music though (being from Brooklyn & all) and didn't know the song, he ut likes it and understands why it was popular! Hee. He does, however, give Kellie advice on connecting more w/the lyrics, emoting to tell the story. Ryan introduces her as "*Living* the story...." (Can you get a little *more* obvious, Ryan?) Kellie fittingly "walks" a lot during the song, including on the platform near the judges, & also sings a line or two right to them. Part of me hates to admit it, but I thought she was *really* good tonight! Barry's coaching paid off; definitely one of her best, if not the best. Randy says it was a good choice & she's "back"; Paula calles her "authentic" and a "tigress" (in contrast to the previous "mink/mynx"); Simon said she was great, did what she does best, and was "ballsy" and "sexy." Which dissipates as soon as she stops singing and begins hopping around in excitement, pointing out her own signs (one is pickle-shaped), and not knowing how to answer Ryan's questions. Oh well.

Ace is last, which means they really liked his rehearsal! ;-) He chose "In the Still of the Night," but says he wants to sing in an "urbanized, jazzy" style. Barry is skeptical! But listens... and likes it! I think this is notable though the show didn't play it up, that after showing just about everyone else taking the song to Barry and having him arrange it, Ace suggests an arrangement/style himself (and admits he's never heard anyone else sing it that way)! Barry does say that he "asked" Ace to end with falsetto, saying he thinks "the audience - we all - melt a little" when he does the falsetto! Hee. Ace does a great job; exactly what he needed to do, a recognizable song w/his own twist on it (which I loved), strong vocals over a large range, and had an awesome glory note in there! Ends with just one word in falsetto (and gets the spinning camera treatment which is kind-of annoying, but whatever). The audience loved it; Randy said "Ace is his best vocal tonight but definitely one of his stronger ones, & that he won't be in the bottom 3 tonight. Oh, there was an adorable 8-year old girl in the audience that Ryan called his assistant & he had her toward the beginning of the show & now again before Ace since he's her favorite. That was kind-of cute, in a 'stop wasting my time with fluff and get to the singing' kind of way. ;-)

Overall a good night, and my favorites did well. Too much obvious pimping of *their* favorites, but I can't help that. And no one was terrible. I voted a few times for Bucky, Lisa, & Ace. I expect the bottom 3 to be Kevin, Mandisa, and Paris, with Kevin leaving (*crosses fingers*!!!). Ok I admit that's a bit idealistic. Bottom 3 will probably be Mandisa, Bucky, and ... Kevin, please?!? I don't know. But Mandisa & Bucky both went early, had mistakes, & got good comments from the judges, which means most of their fans won't be in "save ___" mode, so they're likely in trouble. The 3rd really could be Lisa, Paris, Elliott, or Kevin.


Thatchermom said...

I read somewhere else that Chris' song was a copy of Live's version. He's falling fast in my rankings. He needs to admit it if he's copying already produced rock covers, like he did with Higher Ground, rather than letting the judges tell everyone he "made it his own". I think Chris is pretty good, actually, but he shouldn't be portayed as this great original performer that he isn't. Elliott admitted he was singing the Al Jarreau version of his song; Chris needs to fess up, too. Who knows, he might have said it in his pre-interview and the producers cut it out. In any case, I'm less impressed with Chris than the judges are, that's for sure.

Thatchermom said...

Forgot to add - Carmen was sitting next to Terry (Simon's girlfriend). I don't think they put her name up on the screen. It's nice to see so many former Idols in the audience, even lower place finishers like Lindsey Cardinale.

I've been seeing Carmen a lot lately. I think she and Anthony Federov competed as a team on Fear Factor (nasty!!). I've seen her interviewed a lot on talk shows etc, as an Idol "expert" of sorts. I almost hate to say it, but good for her for keeping herself out there.

Kat said...

Hiya! Not ignoring you, just been busy. :) So yeah, obviously the Chris/Live thing got cleared up this week.