Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Top 11 Perform 50s Songs...no not Fiddy Cent!

Ryan is wearing a soft suit with a bright blue tie in his best young Dick Clark impersonation. Although really the show would be a lot more fun if he did post stroke Dick Clark and his words were more slurred than George W. Bush during the pre-born again years. Idol took this 50s theme a little too far tonight as they made Mandissa, Lisa, and Paris use separate water fountains and bathrooms. I assume the contestants will go in reverse order tonight; Ace in the rear and Chris in the front. Chris occupied the revered closing spot three times this season so its only fair he starts off the show. Well, so much for that idea…

Mandisa – I Don’t Hurt Anymore

This song is a tribute to the fact her feet no longer hurt. For the first time in weeks she doesn’t look like a beached whale trying valiantly to reach the sea before the sun dries out her skin. She looked really elegant tonight capturing the essence of the 50s, an era where your sexiness was often not defined by how you looked, but how you held yourself. Mandisa looks great tonight; her less than slim figure disappears the moment her voice joins the music. Mandisa sounds really good tonight; she finesses the song along the way instead of belting out the big notes with a scream as per her norm. She found the pitch on just about every note. For maybe the first time this season her lower register’s soft notes sounded really good. This is her best performance of the season, far superior to her scream as loud as I can on sustained note “I’m Every Woman” performance. She has the tough spot of opening up the show. A spot that kills many contestants, but she did great. Randy tells us he is sick tonight and then butchers Mandisa’s name. Paula says it took her back to the 50s. Simon is getting slow in his old age. I thought for sure he would have played off that comment by saying something about Paula being in high school in the 50s. Simon said Mandisa was sexy tonight, and he was right. Mandisa cannot be in the bottom three this week – she is safe.

During the commercial break ironically the first commercial features a girl trying to figure out which pair of shoes to buy (Mandisa) and then we see a commercial for the Chicken Little DVD (White Urkel).

Bucky – Oh Boy

Oh Boy, we get to hear the Buckman again! My guess is Buck has never heard of Barry prior to flying out to Vegas. Yet, Barry helps Bucky make the song different from the original adding a key change and a few vocal stylings. Buck always looks a little drunk for some reason. I think this is an aliment that affects many from the south. Thankfully southerns are a little slow and lack intensity, if not we might have lost that civil war thing and NASCAR would be more popular than football. This is a pretty easy song to sing, and Buck sounds pretty good. However, his raspy voice is getting a little old; it wouldn’t be nearly as annoying if he sang in a different style sometimes. Barry’s key change certainly helps the song along and removes the repetitive factor a little. The highlight of his performance is at the end when he does a wicked mic spin between his fingers. I’ve seen that move performed a thousand times with a drum stick, but never a mic, you go girl! Randy calls it the perfect song for Bucky and Paula says something useless. Only Simon called out the performance for what it was – very average. Bucky should be in danger this week, unless the country vote comes out in force he might be going home tomorrow night.

Paris – Fever

Barry thinks she will have an amazing career, which for him means getting your songs playing in as many waiting rooms and elevators as possible. She is doing Fever? Hmm this could be really creepy doing this type of song at her age, especially since the judges are always telling her to sing her age. She hits the stage in a gold dress looking far beyond her 17 years. She is really great tonight; she pretty much hits every note. More importantly, she sells the performance. She keeps it clean, no over the top sexy moves, just great singing. Paris has this amazing ability to change her appearance every week of the show and never seem contrived. Randy says she “blew it out the box.” Paula tells her she “forgot you were seventeen,” which is also the usual legal defense for R. Kelly. Paris is really talented and should be safe from the bottom three again.

Chris – I walk the line

Its time for Chris again so I wonder will he take the easy way out and completely avoid the theme of the week and do a rock song again? My guess is yes. He is doing “Walk the Line” by Jonny Cash. Last week we learned that Chris didn’t know Stevie did the original version of “Higher Ground.” I’m not a huge Stevie fan but I knew he did that song when I was about 12, so I was surprised Chris didn’t know. I think its more than coincidence that the movie Walk the Line just hit the DVD market and Chris picks that song. That leaves two possibilities: 1) Chris is a marketing genius and knows people will like his song selection since Jonny Cash has been in the news so much or 2) that Chris has no real knowledge of any music besides hard rock and picked this song since he recently saw the movie or 3) he has heard the version by the band LIVE and did an exact carbon copy of their version. I’m guessing the latter. Ryan introduces “Chris the Rocker” and we see the Barry work session clip. Chris said Barry seemed like a really genuine guy, but didn’t give him props on his talent. Barry says he has a real good handle on who he is and what is his strength. At least Chris wears all black as a tribute to Cash, but why does he have the wallet chain thing going on, is he afraid someone is going to try and steal his wallet after the show?. I can’t help but feel like I’m watching a “Live” concert every time Chris performs, tonight especially since he ripped off their song. At least last week he mentioned he was doing the Peppers version, this week he took credit for an arrangement not his own. The song starts off too low for Chris; he has trouble hitting some of the early low notes. He opens up and screams at the end of the song (off pitch I might add) and assumes his normal I have more intensity than a suicide bomber pose - this guys makes Henry Rollins look passive. Wait a min didn’t I see this same song last week? Yeah I did! I’ve seen it every single time he performs; its like one never-ending song from him – it never ever changes, although his head does cock to one side when he really gets into the song. Randy and Simon both say not the best vocal we’ve heard from him and Paula says he should be touring already. Simon tells him he is the first artist we’ve had on this show that has refused to compromise. Simon lauds Chris for his stubbornness, in large part since he hates the theme nights. Why bother having theme nights now? I guess the rule is that the contestants can ignore the theme and perform the song in their own style. This is the second consecutive week Chris has “cheated.” He is the steroid taking Barry Bonds of American Idol, refusing to follow the rules. The theme tonight is 50s night and we are supposed to be transported back to that era through the songs. Instead, Chris takes us all the way back to about 2003. Last week everyone tried to sing Stevie even though Kellie and the Buckman were WAY out of their element. Even Melissa who was going home soon no matter what she sang took on a very difficult song and crashed and burned. Compare Chris to Mandisa. Mandisa tried several songs out of her element in the first couple weeks of the show, doing a Faith Hill and a Heart song when she could have done stuff more in her comfort zone. Its in those first few weeks you do your own songs, build up good will with the audience, and then do your best to fit into the theme. Unless of course you are Chris, then you do whatever the heck you want and ignore the theme. Imagine any of the contestants as the musical act at the “Enchantment Under the Sea” dance performing their songs from tonight. Everyone would have been pretty well received except for Chris who would get the same looks from the crowd Marty got when he tour up Jonny B. Goode. I actually would like Chris to go home this week to teach him a lesson, but that will not happen. He is one of the best talents on the show and will be safe again this week, but he has lost me as a fan. Chris we have a show for you, its called ROCKSTAR INXS, why don’t you pull a Mario and go on that show instead.

Kat – Come rain or come shine

In the presong interview we learn that Simon doesn’t know her last name. She seems really excited to meet Barry. She said working with him was so effortless and comfortable, isn’t that what the girls always say about the photographer the first time the pose nude? Kat tells us she will be thinking about a person while she sings this song, but she won’t reveal the person. Please god, let it be Kellie! Kat looks great this week: no jeans, no moo moo, just cheekbones. She sounds fantastic. She is the best technical singer in the competition. This is a really hard song to sing and she does it effortlessly. I notice for the first time tonight that she looks a little bit like Brittany Spears BF (Before Federline). Randy says it’s not her best and Paula says that Kat is the only contestant that could sing this song. Holy crap, Paula just said something really intelligent. I’m buying some tuna fish and putting it under my bed – the end of the world is near! Simon says Kat became a star tonight and loved her performance. Ryan comes on stage and tells us all that Kat is taped down. This could mean two things: 1) that Kat is indeed very special and has a male genital that is taped down or 2) that Kat’s top is a little too revealing and her breasts are taped into place. If it’s the former I’m never watching this show again. Kat was great tonight and she should be very safe.

Taylor – Not Fade Away

I’m a little worried when I hear he is doing a Buddy Holly song since I think it probably won’t give Taylor a chance to show off his voice. Taylor walks into the Barry session singing Mandy “in tune.” Taylor respects Barry and Barry loves Taylor’s whisky tenor. Barry says he is one of the best male vocalists on the show, next to Kevin of course. The Silver Fox is wearing a suit straight out of a bad Happy Days episode – I love it. Paula is dancing more during the song than Taylor. During the sax solo Taylor runs over and sings into the Saxophone. He then runs into the audience dancing behind the judges. Unfortunately he took out the great ending they showed when Barry and him were working on the song. At least they showed it once so America knows what it would have sounded like if he did the big finale. He is not as good as he was last week, but that’s only because this song is a little too small. He sounded really good on the soft notes in low register, which is pretty darn hard. Each week Taylor sings in a different style and creates new bizarre dance moves. He doesn’t stay in his comfort zone and give us the same thing every week, in other words, he is NOT Chris. Paula says the Silver Fox should make an exercise video, as long as he didn’t wear the Richard Simmons shorts I’m not opposed to that idea. Simon called Taylor’s performance a complete mess. Although I disagree with Simon, I understand his point. Taylor was a little manic running around the stage from place to place. His big problem was trying to cram a 5-minute performance into 2 minutes. However, it was true to the 50s. It was corny and a little over the top, which is precisely what you would have seen in the audience during one of the record sponsored tours across America’s fair grounds in the 1950s. Ryan says Taylor looks like a cross between Jay Leno and George Clooney. Jay Clooney is safe this week, there is no way he enters the bottom three.

Lisa – Why do fools fall in love

Barry says she sings this song like she has been singing it her entire life, which is probably true. You get the feeling she had the kinda parents that discovered her talent at an early age and dragged her all town showing her off. She is wearing Capri pants with her standard fake smile implanted on her face whenever she looks into the camera. This number could have easily fit into the talent show at the end of Dirty Dancing. “I carried a watermelon” I love that line. Vocally Lisa sounds good tonight and really nailed the last half of the song. Unfortunately for her, people are going to compare her to Paris every week and Paris is just better than Lisa. Paris has natural spunk and a better voice. Randy says it’s not the “dopest” thing he has seen so far and Paula liked her, glad Lisa returned to her youthfulness. Simon said it was an ok performance, but he felt like he is trapped in a high school musical. ‘High school musical’ sums up a lot of the pop rock in the 50s, can you tell Simon hates the theme nights yet? In the 50s you had a lot of simplistic rock, jazz songs, and country songs. Not until the mop heads came over did rock get a little more sophisticated. Lisa gave a good performance tonight and therefore should be safe, however, she was in the bottom three last week and is competing for the same voting demographic as Paris, so I think she will be returning to the bottom three.

Kevin – When I fall in love

Barry says that Kevin is the sweetest of all the contestants, how cute. Kevin tells us he picked this song because when he first met Ryan he fell in love with his affable personality and stylist wardrobe. Can you really blame him? Kevin is wearing a polo shirt and a pair of slacks. This is the best he can come up with the capture the 50s? Geez, nice job American idol stylists. Kevin does his best to carry the song but he is off pitch a lot and just plain misses a few notes. I have no proof, but I assume Josh Groban has both testicles. Kevin sounds like Josh might if he lost one of his testicles. Even when Kevin hits the right notes, his voice is too thin to sound truly pleasant. He is really close to sounding good sometimes but never quite gets there. Maybe once he hits puberty his voice will mature into a real instrument. My birds do not like Kevin, as soon as he sings they voice their displeasure. This gives me an idea for farmers. Instead of scarecrows I suggest they use loud speakers to blast Kevin’s voice over their fields to ward off lurking crows. If I market this idea I can create a Fortune 500 company, sell it, and then Mark Cuban the Orlando Magic. Randy says he can see some of himself in Kevin. This is tonight’s creepy moment. Paula commends Kevin’s moxy. Simon says Kevin’s audience (the hearing impaired) will love his version of the song. If American idol holds form Kevin will be going home this week. Normally there is one singer that stays a bit too long, delivers their best performance of the show, Simon is nice to then, and then they go home that week (think Anthony Federov). Speaking of inferior contestants the camera pans to Jasmine in the crowd adorned with her flower. Does this mean the state of Hawaii is obligated to vote for Kevin?. At least when Kevin panders for votes by holding up the number 8 with his fingers he didn’t place the mic in between his legs like Kellie.

Elliot – Teach me tonight

Elliot says he wasn’t too fond of Barry’s work. Sure he is being honest, but dang dude, don’t knock Barry. You just lost the vote of all women over the age of 50! I bet if Barry was black and blind Elliot would like him more. Thankfully for Elliot he saves himself and declares himself a Fanilow. That’s right 50 year old women, you can vote for him again. Barry tells Elliot he has to crawl into the lyric. Good coaching Barry. Elliot’s biggest problem to this point is his inability to emotionally connect with the audience. The stylist cannot be working this week; Elliot is horribly dressed in an untucked yellow shirt with a gaudy tie and a pair of jeans. Elliot sounds great tonight; Kat and him are the two best technical singers on this show. This is not an easy song to sing and despite one or two rough spots he hits everything. He went for and landed the quadruple axel. Unlike Chris, who stuck with the triple axel. That is the last time I will ever write out a male figure skating analogy. Well at least until Vancouver. We see Ryan Cabrera and Constantine in the audience. Maybe they are both gay and dating; now that would be a story. Randy said he hit all the modulations and Paula said he moved her. Simon summed it up best calling Elliot fantastic. This week we will learn about Elliot’s fan base. He doesn’t deserve to be in the bottom three, but anything can happen.

Kellie – Walking After Midnight

Next to Bucky, Kellie has the least chance of knowing about Barry Manilow. Kellie’s grandfather told her to do Patsy Cline, maybe I can convince him to tell her to do me next. They seem poor, 50 bucks and a bottle of Jack Daniels should do it. Kellie says Barry is so sweet and she likes him. She is wearing a canary yellow top with jeans; no more black prom dresses for Kellie! Kellie employs a bit of interpretive dance and walks around the stage ultimately ending up behind the judges. Wow she sounds fantastic tonight. This is her best vocal performance of the season by far. She even manages to end up on her knees again belting out the song’s last note. When she finishes she does some sort of impromptu clogging that destroys her microphone. This must be what it sounds like all the time if you are in the apartment downstairs from Mandisa. Randy liked it, Paula called her a Tigress, and Simon said she got it all right tonight. She tells the judges she thought Simon was calling her a coat a few weeks ago. Most males in America would wear her if that were the case. There has been some speculation whether Kellie is putting on an act with this whole country girl thing, but tonight when Ryan gave her a chance to say something cute and adorable to garner another 10 million votes she blanked and said nothing. She really is dumb! I love her even more now! Kellie was not very good last week and she was safe, this week she was great, therefore she is going home this week. Just kidding, Idol is weird sometimes but not that weird; she will be safe this week.

Ace – In the Still of the Night

Ryan introduces Ace with the help of a little girl. She is the best co host Ryan has ever had, and I’m including Dunkleman. Ace tells Barry he is doing an urban jazz version of the song, much to Barry’s surprise, he likes what Ace changed. Barry tells Ace to use his falsetto at the end of the song since “we all kind of melt when he does that.” Barry melting over Ace is tonight’s second creepy moment. Ace doesn’t really do the 50s wardrobe but he does stick his arms out to his side and pretend he is flying again; he does this every time he sings a slower song. He has some pitch problems at times, especially on the held out notes, but this is his best vocal performance in weeks and he belts out a falsetto “Night” to grab a standing ovation from the audience. Randy says Ace is back tonight baby. Randy must have taken some cough syrup he sounds better than he did two hours prior. Paula, who is in love with Ace, thought he was great. Simon said he didn’t have the best vocals tonight, but it was a lot better than last week. Ace does not always hit the right notes, but in the studio with a little cleaning up he could make a really good record. Ace was good tonight and his fans have to be terrified after the debacle last week, so he is safe tomorrow night.

Final Thoughts –

Overall, tonight was another good one for American Idol. This is the best top 11 yet; there were no horrible performances tonight. Even Kevin didn’t suck. He wasn’t really good or anything, but he didn’t suck. The bottom three is going to get tough to predict the deeper into the season we get, and this week is already a little tough. Bucky seems to have a fan base, but he gave an ‘ok’ performance tonight and should be in the bottom three. We will gain insight into Kevin’s drawing power tomorrow; if he is not in the bottom three it means he is an unstoppable force not seen on television since the days of I Love Lucy. Simon was nice to him and he wasn’t so awful that people had to call just to keep him around, so I think he will join Bucky in the bottom three. Since I have no one to take her spot I’m putting Lisa in the bottom three again. But this time she will be the first back to the coach. That leaves Bucky and Kevin in the bottom two, Buck will have to wait a week to face his friends and admit that he now likes Barry woManilow.


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