Wednesday, March 15

The Top 12! (3/14/06)

Intro stuff - 'How they got here' montage, predictable comments from the judges, and "theme" announcement: Stevie Wonder songs. Video clips are mostly about how overwhelmed the contestants were meeting & singing for Stevie.

Ace: "Do I Do" - One of several songs tonight with which I'm not familiar. I remember Mario did it last year but that's about it. So, Ace starts his song running down one of the side entrances, gets the audience clapping, & proceeds to cover almost every inch of the new, larger stage (and the platform by the judges, making him the only one to use it tonight). It's good I guess; hard to say since I don't know the song, & there's a bunch of words crammed into that middle part & it sounded like he might've been behind the tempo?? I liked it better than last week's but "Father Figure" is still my favorite of his. I think sometimes he tries to hard, he should relax & enjoy it more. Randy is meh; Paula loved it; Simon said the vocal wasn't great & it was "a bit manic." Oh, and he danced - not too much, but enough to add some flavor... of course, that's assuming one could actually see anything below his torso, because the cameramen/producers tend not to show full-body shots whenever people dance! (boo!)

Kellie: "Blame It on the Sun" - Ok, a slower one so safer for her. She's wearing a fancy, tight black dress & her hair is curlier; if it were a little shorter she could seriously pass for Carrie's sister, if not her twin. Randy said it was a "non-event" & that the key was too low; Paula & Simon both said it was boring & she was out of her comfort zone. Simon didn't like her outfit (too old?), and said it was her worst performance yet, to which she replied, "I'm sorry." Continuing the conversation Ryan asked about her make-up and she says her eyelashes resemble tarantulas. Alrighty then. At least she knew how to say "genre."

Elliott: "Knocks Me Off my Feet" - which didn't. Elliott's done Stevie songs 2 of the past 3 weeks, and this is his style/genre, so I expected a lot, and was disappointed. He's still got an awesome voice and did a good job, it just didn't really entertain me; I kept waiting for something that never happened. Randy said it was good, not his best; Paula said nothing related to this particular performance; and Simon said it lacked a "'Wow' factor," though it was better than the 1st 2 tonight.

Mandisa: "Don't You Worry 'Bout a Thing" - Another one I don't know, and another one that started out boring. Picked up speed though & the high parts the ending were awesome. Oh, previously Ryan was chatting w/her in the Red Room & she said her feet hurt, so he asked if she wanted him to take off her shoes, and he did! So she performed barefoot. In her clip Stevie said she was "right on the pitch" and that he was "really impressed." Randy said it's the best so far tonight but not as good as she was last week; Paula said she "can sing anything"; Simon said "Now we have a competition."

Bucky: "Superstition" - Great choice!! He said while he wasn't familiar w/Stevie's work previously, he fell in love w/this song & now wants to get some of Stevie's albums. Also said he appreciated the constructive criticism Stevie gave him, that when he gets excited he tends to go sharp; so Bucky said "now I know what to work on." He did a great job; as Randy said, better than we expected! Still too shouty for me, I prefer his softer voice, but the audience & judges liked it. Randy said he could tell Bucky was having fun; Paula said it was somewhat of a safe choice but it was good; Simon said it was his best performance yet! (I wouldn't go that far.) He said the performance was fine, but the "Jessica Simpson hair" had to go - I agree (too curly) & I think Bucky did too, as he made sure to point out that it wasn't his idea!

Melissa: "Lately" - Ok, the judges are being really strange tonight. They're almost reverse pimping; playing down everyone they've lathered w/compliments in the past (except Chris who can apparently do no wrong) and building up the people they've seemed to hate. So, we see Melissa messing up the lyrics *while practicing with Stevie,* and she does it again during her performance!! Yowch. Though Randy & Paula mention it, they don't criticize her for it, and the clip in the recap at the end of the show has the correct lyrics; so either she got them right 1 of the 3 times that phrase is in the song - I only remember it twice - or they used a clip from the dress rehearsal, which I think they often do anyway as then they have more time to edit. Ryan also brought up before she went out that her voice was strained, and it showed during the performance. However, the judges didn't think so! Weirdness. Randy said she did have some problems (pitch-wise) but ended well; Paula said she looks beautiful (Melissa had said it's the first time she'd worn a dress) and that she likes her unique voice; Simon said it was "edgy" and "contemporary" and that it was her best performance so far! This is definitely one of those nights where I wonder if I'm hearing the same thing the judges are. Or maybe they realized these folks' fans having been voting in "Save Bucky/Melissa" campaigns and think if they praise them they'll be seen as safe & not get as many votes? Who knows at this point.

Lisa: "Signed, Sealed, Delivered" - Well, I wanted her to do something more up-tempo, but she added too much 'performance' to it instead of just having fun, IMO. She said Stevie had encouraged her to take the feelings she has when singing (her preferred genre) ballads and infuse them into this, & there were definitely moments when you could tell she was. Still too many 'act out the lyrics' gestures & a lot of switching back & forth between light & serious moods during the song. Randy said he liked the end (especially the stops w/the band as more of her personality came out); Paula acknowledged her nerves but said she "shined" when she was "outside the melody" (um, ok); Simon loved it because she really "took control" of the stage and has "the It Factor" (take note, Gedeon)! He said it was one of the best of the night.

There was a quick shot of JPL (Jon Peter Lewis, Season 3) in the audience!

Kevin: "Part-time Lover" - Ok, who told a 16-year old geeky looking kid that he could sing this song convincingly?!? Sigh. Pre-performance chat w/Ryan includes having 2 girls come up on stage to actually give Kevin a sign they made. We see Stevie saying Kevin has an "interesting" voice (bwah!) and that he brought "a sense of fun" to the song. Kev also played up his "sex symbol" status & said he tried to make his voice/the song sound sexy. I thought he looked really nervous, was behind the tempo for much of the song, & had way too much makeup on. Randy said it was better than expected & that he loves Kevin; Paula & Simon both said that he sang "in tune" (#1 - I disagree, I don't think he was; #2 - if the best compliment you can give a contestant is that he sang in tune, I'm thinking he's not really finalist material in a SINGING CONTEST, now, is he?!). Paula mentioned his "strange dance steps" but still praised him. Simon brought things back down to earth, saying it was "appalling." Kevin replied that he didn't expect much from Simon anyway. :-) Ryan came up & read another sign which said "Kevin is my heaven," and then said, "Simon is my hell." Hee!

Katharine: "Until You Come Back to Me" - Good but not amazing; the high parts were the best. She said that if anyone had asked her to name the one person in the biz that she'd like to work with, she'd have said Stevie! Also mentioned the "emotional moment" that the contestants shared when they all met him. Stevie said he thought she has a "lot of potential." I thought her eye makeup was way too heavy, & I really don't understand her wardrobe choices (the pregnancy rumor? not doing tons to dispel it visually & she certainly has the figure if she chose to highlight all of it; though my guy friends think she's doing just fine on that account!). Anyway, Randy said the Katharine he fell in love with initially is back, that she was "hot" & "unbelievable"; Paula said her voice "pierces to the heart" & it was her best so far; Simon just said, "You're good!" & then added that at times she reminds him vocally of Kelly Clarkson (at "this stage" of the competition).

Taylor: "Living for the City" - Good job! Possibly my favorite performance of his; great song choice for his voice & not too OTT performance-wise. The crowd loved it as well. He'd mentioned in his clip that as a child he "tried to play" the harmonica like Stevie. Stevie said he heard the feeling & soul in Taylor's voice. The judges loved it: Randy said "hot" and "fearless"; Paula said it was fun & the band were all smiling; Simon said it was "like every dad who's ever got drunk at a wedding (& took the mic to sing); the difference is, you can sing!"

Paris: "All I Do" - As a few others, she was moved to tears by working with Stevie. She appreciated that he told her it was ok to express her emotions in her singing, & he said her "excitement" reminded him of Fantasia. She sang very well, & connects well w/the audience on faster tunes. Randy said she was "hot"; Paula said she's a "seasoned performer"; Simon said it was like 2 different competitions tonight, with the 1st half 'ok' & the 2nd half being great.

Chris: "Higher Ground" - This was the speculated choice for him, & he admitted he was very nervous about this week before learning that this song (covered by The Red Hot Chili Peppers) was by Stevie! He said he was trying to combine the versions, and I'm not sure it worked. I don't know, maybe it was just that the whole rock thing (complete w/psychedelic lighting) didn't fit w/the rest of the night's performances. But to me he seemed really off pitch several times, & I just didn't enjoy it much (another song I didn't know though, which is one factor). Chris has hit a rut for me but I've still thought he was a great singer; I didn't even get that tonight. However... judges' pimping of him is still full on. Randy said he loved how Chris "made it his own" like he does every week; I didn't get Paula's response, but Simon said it was the best of the night (Not by far IMO!) and the only "real world" performance of the night, meaning he could see him having this song as a hit right now. Wow. Oh, and Stevie had said he liked the tone of Chris' voice & that he "sounds sincere." I will say I loved how he went over & stood by the backup singers & the band for part of the song.

And that's our first week of finals. Overall disappointing, but mainly due to the limited song choices. And I know several of the contestants were more nervous w/the different stage & larger audience. (I threw Bucky & Lisa a few votes each, but no one wowed me enough to be craxy about, since Will's gone....) So hopefully next week will be better. Stevie is performing on tomorrow night's results show, so I'm guessing there won't be a group number. But, I forgot to mention - Bucky did a little choreography during his song & totally ended w/a pointy pose! Yay, pointy pose!!! :-)


Anonymous said...

Bucky was great- can't really sing a lick and he moves like most of us white boys but he's real ( take note, Kellie). He should get a lot of roadhouse gigs. Taylor is awesome-if he does "Came In Through The Bathroom Window" he'll bring the house down. I think Kevin felt a little guilty up there with the safe group. He should. But I gotta admit: my wife and I both agreed with the judges: he was in tune. Mostly. Well, some. OK- once.

Kat said...

Hee! Thanks for your comments. I don't know that song but Googled & see The Beatles & Joe Cocker did it; just given that I agree it would be a good fit. ;)