Wednesday, April 5

Top 9 (4/4/06) - Country Week!

Ryan has a disturbing 10:00 shadow, or something. And he'd been looking so much nicer this season with the less-spiky, shorter hair and actual suits instead of jackets over tees....

On to the show. Kenny Rogers worked with the contestants this week, and he will be the guest performer tomorrow night. His hair and beard are both completely white, and when he walked into the room I didn't even recognize him! In the scenes showing the group practicing, Bucky was shown a couple of times playing guitar. Another guitar player was next to him which I assume was Chris, though he wasn't shown. And Whoopi is in the audience. (As are Chris Rock & Rachel Bilson, shown later. Um, not together though.)

Taylor: "Take Me Home, Country Roads" - Ack! Taylor, Rule #1 of song choice is never, *ever* sing a song about leaving! They usually turn out to be premonitory (just ask Melissa, though you might have to define it first). Other than that, he stood the stillest he ever has, and just sang. The harmony was a bit strange and made him sound off-key; I'm not sure if he really was or not. I wanted it to be better than it was. (Which applies to the first 4 performances tonight.) Randy (wearing a red vest - wha?!) said it was a good choice, though the vocal was "just ok" as it didn't show his personality; Paula agreed that he didn't "shine;" and Simon said it was safe, boring, and lazy (the crowd booed, of course). Several things about this performance & his attitude (during it; he was back to 'normal' after) seem fishy to me given some recent online rumors, but I'll assume they're just that until proven otherwise and withhold judgment. So, good, not great.

Mandisa: "Any Man of Mine" (Shania) - Kenny commented that this song has more words in it than all the rest put together, but that Mandisa does it really well and has a good spirit (no pun intended, I'm sure). It didn't have *that* many words, and I wouldn't go so far as to say she sang *really* well, but it was good. She wore the most unflattering outfit yet, jeans (again) and a crochet-style top. Her background singers were rather pathetic, especially during the semi-a cappella part (as in, you feel like you're supposed to clap, except they sound depressed!). Overall meh. Randy agreed, though he really like the last 4 "bars." Paula went on about Mandisa "can sing," but said "I don't know" about the song. Simon just said it was horrible (and again was booed).

Elliott: "If Tomorrow Never Comes" (Garth) - Kenny said he has a tendency to oversing and encouraged him to sing more "simply" and "make them cry." Well I didn't cry, but he did sing it fairly unadorned (compared to his usual style, anyway) and it was very enjoyable, because it showcased the tone of his voice very well. (I suppose for anyone who hates his voice, it was awful.) Still, it wasn't as good as I'd hoped. Randy said that "finally the competition started," and it was "hot." Paula loves that Elliott is humble and understated and said it was a good song choice for his voice. (Um, yeah, but how was the actual *performance*?) Simon agreed that it was a good choice but then went on to say that it was safe and somewhat hesitant. He didn't think the vocal was great though it was better than the other two that have already sung tonight. (Note: I threw a few votes in for Elliott, and hardly got any busy signals. Could he be in trouble??)

Paris: "How Do I Live?" Kenny said something about how for being so small, Paris sings really "big." I love her hair tonight, it's short & straight. Wish I could say I loved her singing, but it was probably her weakest yet. When she went high it was great & showcased her range, but otherwise just "good" (which for her is weak). Randy said he could tell it was a tough song to sing and thought it was meh; Paula didn't see her connecting with the song and thought she "struggled" to "own the stage" like she normally does; Simon went the other direction and said it was "very good," an "excellent choice," and that it was like "early Dionne Warwick."

Now things start getting better and meeting expectations. Actually, all the guys slowed things down & mellowed out tonight. It worked for most of them, including...

Ace: "I Wanna Cry" (Keith Urban) - Whew! He needed to pull off something different & great to stick around, and I think he did it. Kenny talked about how he is very passionate, and thought his song choice was the best "match" of singer to song of the whole group. With that set-up one wants it to be good... and it was. He sat on a stool for the whole performance, and while he brought his hand to his chest 2 or 3 times (less than normal), he never stretched it out toward the camera once, not even at the end! Someone's listening to fan (&/or non-fan) feedback! Good for him. The light note toward the end was 'pitchy,' but the falsetto was perfect, and not overblown. Randy said he was bored but did like the falsetto at the end; Paula said it was a good choice, contemporary, and a nice "take" on the song, but I think she was also disappointed he didn't do more falsetto (because that's his trademark, or whatever - um, no, not really). Simon said his past few song choices were bad but this week's was good! I tried voting for Ace on & off for the whole 2 hours, and literally did not get through more than two or three times until the last 15 minutes. I'm crossing my fingers that's a good sign.

Kellie: "Fancy" (Reba) - Well, this starts out with Ryan attempting to address the "Is she really that naive?" issue, and he point blank asked her if the naivete was real, and she totally beat around the bush talking about how she saw articles with people making fun of her about the calamari and that she really didn't know what it was. He then asked if what people are seeing is the real her, and she said yes. Heh, I still don't think so. (Exhibit A, for those of you who think she is - according to one newspaper article, she had her hairstylist from home come out to California to do her hair. It's someone she's been using for several years now. The real kicker: his rate is $300/session.) On to the performance... I didn't catch all of Kenny's comments but he did say it was a "perfect" choice for her, and I agree, on several levels. She was really, *really* good! Definitely the best so far. Randy said it was "great," a good song choice, and "her element." Paula agreed that Kellie had "a great night." Simon said he didn't like it personally but acknowledged it was a "good performance."

Chris: "Making Memories of Us" - Kenny says it's a hard song (in general or for Chris? not sure). Chris tells us that his whole family likes country music and in going rock he was "the rebel." He sat for part of the song and was mellow, just singing and focusing on the words. (I believe he sang this song to his wife at their wedding?) It's a very pretty song, and he actually sings country very well! Overall it was awesome. The crowd, Randy & Paula agreed; Simon said it was a bad choice & boring.

Katharine: "Bringing Out the Elvis (In Me)" (Faith Hill I guess; I don't know it) - Kenny said the song fits her personality, and Kat talked about how she didn't know much country so wanted something more "bluesy." I guess this qualifies; it's kind-of sultry and fun all at once, which fits her perfectly. The vocal was great; she's definitely "back"! And the crowd loved it. Randy said it was "very nice"; Paula said "that's your niche"; and Simon was honest, saying "I don't know what to say..." & that the song was strange (his exact wording was more descriptive but that was the idea; I'll get it upon rewatch tomorrow). Kat was like, "Oh, you just don't like country music, that's ok, just say it, it's ok!" which was kind-of cute.

Bucky has the pimp spot?!?!! Ok, cool, I think... he sings "Best I've Ever Had," by Gary Allen, and I don't 'know' it but it sounds a little familiar. He starts back by the band looking up at the overhead camera... and boy does know how to play to the cameras!! I thought it was great; I really enjoyed the beginning where he had a lot of country 'inflections,' more than the later part which was a little thin & rough, though not bad in any way (on key and enunciated better, I think Kenny worked w/him on that too). Randy said it was pitchy at the beginning but he worked it out; Paula didn't say anything worth remembering; Simon said he's "not an expert" (ha!) but it sounded pretty good. Go TeaBiscuit!!!!! (Oh, I voted, he had some busy but not tons.)

I predict Mandisa, Elliott, and Paris for the bottom 3, though Taylor could slip in also. Mandisa will probably go home.


Kat said...

A correction: it was definitlely *not* Chris playing guitar with Bucky in that clip, as Chris can be seen standing next to him (with his back toward the camera). So, it's either Taylor or Elliott. I don't recall hearing that either of them play, but my guess would be Taylor... if anyone knows please help me out! Maybe one of these days they'll let all the contestants who are instrumentalists play live - even if just for a group song (like CI2 did).

Kim said...

You should look up Best I Ever Had, but not Gary Allan's cover - the Vertical Horizon original is one of my favorite, favorite songs. If you want the mp3, just let me know.

Kat said...

Thanks, I figured that's why it sounded familiar; I vaguely remember hearing it on the radio. I wasn't a huge fan but thanx for the offer. ;-)