Wednesday, April 23, 2008

The Music of Tuesday Night

Idol is all about throwing conventional wisdom out the door the last couple weeks. There are two constant themes during Idol’s first 6 seasons. First, never ever sing a Mariah Carey song because doing so implies you believe you are a better singer than her and the judges will eviscerate you. Second, being too ‘Broadway’ will always earn you an insult from Simon. For Clay’s first four weeks or so, Simon constantly pointed out that his facial expressions were too Broadway for a pop star. Well, last week they did nothing but songs from Mariah Carey and now this week they are doing the songs of Andy Llyod Weber, the dean of the great white way. Thankfully, they did not do this theme earlier in the season. I think they realize that not everyone in the top 12 could handle a Broadway song. Perhaps, Idol finally embraced the whole Broadway thing, considering everyone that has ever been on Idol ends up in a musical. Dianna, Fantasia, Ruben, Frenchie, Tamyra, and Clay have all been in a musical. I think this night could be really good for some and really bad for others. As always, it’s all about song choice. The Idols without big voices (this means you Jason) need to select their songs very carefully.

Ryan starts off up in the rafters and says tonight’s theme is the toughest test yet. Even though he started off 40 feet in the air he still managed to get downstairs behind the stage door. I really think they film the opening sequence ahead of time, because Ryan should really be out of breath sometimes with how much ground he has to cover. David Duchovny and Rosalind Sanchez are both in the audience tonight. I am always impressed when non Fox stars show up to the show – it means they really like Idol and are not there just to plug something (it’s possible each have a deal with Fox for a movie or something unbeknownst to me). Ryan says it’s Earth, Wind, and Fire day…oh wait, he just said Earth day. Idol is going green power for the finale, so look forward to dim lights and no fireworks or flames burning on the screen behind the Idols while they sing. The band is sitting on the stage and Rickey is in formal wear. Ryan shows off his conducting skills for a moment before Rickey wrests the baton from his grasps. The top 6 Idols are so small in number they can walk out right when the stage opens. Gone are the days of waiting around forever for it to open wide enough to allow passage. The contestants flew out to the Las Vegas home of Phantom to meet Andy. He says he wants to help make the songs work for all the Idols. Andy is in the audience wearing a shirt that looks like he picked it up at Walmart. Randy says him and Simon think tonight will be the toughest night of the season. Simon says the challenge for the Idols is to make the songs sound memorable but contemporary.

Syesha - One Rock and Roll to Many

Unluckily she gets the death spot after being in the bottom three last week. Andy says she had an interesting song choice. By that I think he means ‘wow I didn’t think anyone would pick a song from Starlight Express tonight. Syesha is excited because she can finally show some personality and be theatrical. Andy tells her to just have a laugh with it and do an animated version. Andy thinks she could well bring the house down by being witty and a different incredient than the rest of the program. She starts off standing on top of the piano. She rather effortlessly manages to get on her knees and slide off the piano even while wearing a tight fitting dress. That’s some pretty impressive movement, but can she do it on roller blades. She might start the song a half beat too early, but if she did she quickly fell into the rhythm. This is an excellent song choice. She isn’t trying to belt out the massive power notes, instead she is singing and having a good time. She might sound a little shrill on one of her few big earlier notes. She might miss a few pitches during the song, but she is subtle and playful instead of overbearing. A welcome change for Syesha. She goes big at the end and I think misses the note just a little. However, she had a lot of fun with this and is more likeable this week than ever before. She manages the first ever ‘dancing with Ricky’ moment in Idol history. Thankfully the band can still follow the beat while he is dancing with Syesha. On a technical basis, she was probably better last week than tonight, but no where near as enjoyable. If she could ever combine her vocals with her performance she could survive a few weeks longer than I would have thought possible. Only two of the three Syesha family and friends are standing. Dude, stand up for your girl. Randy says he feels tonight is not only her element he thinks she could be a huge Broadway star. He thinks it was her best performance yet. Paula says this is her happy place and she is really good at it; she says she brought the house down. Simon says it was very sexy and agrees with Randy. He thinks was one of the strongest so far and showed personality we haven’t seen before. Simon says she is definitely more comfortable in this area. She has two numbers tonight. She was good enough she might actually need two numbers to handle all her votes.

Jason Castro – Memory

I’m not saying this might be a bad song choice….but this might be a really bad song choice. Jason gets a Ryan sit down and is wearing a suit looking thing for the first time. Jason says he recognized all the songs but he has never seen a musical and was a little concerned. He didn’t have the words memorized yet when he worked with Andy. Andy says he never thought he would hear this sung by a guy with dreadlocks. He tries to explain the origins of the song but Jason didn’t even know a cat sang the song. Oh boy this is not looking good. Andy says he thinks Jason ‘gets it.’ Jason says he is a little worried because this is such a popular song. Andy whimsically suggests Jason might ignore everything he said and do it better because he is him. Well I think it’s safe to say Jason will not be in the touring production of Cats anytime soon. Jason is sitting in a chair when the song starts. His voice sounds decent on the upper register beginning but as soon as the song hits the lower notes his voice disappears a little. The song gets HUGE in a little, and I wonder how he will handle that moment. Jason doesn’t do HUGE. He doesn’t do huge, he doesn’t even do huge so the big moment of the song is more a dud than anything. Other than the low notes he is hitting all the right notes, but this is just not the song Memory. Instead of the power ballad bring the house down song it was meant to be, Jason is singing it as a soft contemplative almost plaintive plea for mercy. For me it doesn’t work, but I can imagine a lot of the youth vote unfamiliar with the original song really enjoying his even softer side. The judges could either credit Jason with knowing his limitations and what works for him or criticizing him for having absolutely NO range. Jason looks nervous waiting for the judges’ comments. Randy thought vocally it was a train wreck but did like the dreads; he thinks the song was too big with too much melody. Paula says this is normally a female power ballad, but still considers this song a wise choice. Huh? She says it showed how unique he is as an artist. She compares his version with the Joe Cocker classic “You are so Beautiful.” Randy says Jason is a beautiful guy. Simon says it felt to him like the longest two minutes of his life. He says it came across as a young guy being forced by his mom and dad to sing a song he doesn’t want to sing at a wedding. Jason laughs, but doesn’t argue with Simon’s explanation. Ryan asks Simon how do you vote this week based on the theme and Simon says, “for that you don’t.”

Brooke White - You Must Love Me

It’s like Idol decided to put the small voiced people back to back tonight. Ryan is in the crowd selling intunes with his arm around a grey haired woman named Betty. Andy says he doesn’t think Brooke has a clue what she was singing about. Andy explains the meaning to Brooke and she looks like she might be crying a little. Andy wonders if she will be able to keep up the emotion; if she does he thinks she can do something that hasn’t been seen before. Oh my goodness. Whoah. Haven’t seen this before, at least not since the last time she screwed up the start of a song. Brooke gets the first few words out then blanks and says she is sorry and looks to the band to start over from the top. Wow. Jason is backstage high fiving people. Kristy Lee Cook and Michael Johns are watching thinking why couldn’t you screw up this bad the last few weeks. How is she going to be able to emotionally connect on this song now that she is restarting it? This is the first super cringe worthy moment in Idol history I think. Is this like track and field. Is she disqualified after the second false start. Ricky quickly starts again. She is struggling to hit all the notes. She song is too big for her within the first few moments. She is trying her best to connect emotionally, but I don’t think I am buying what she is selling. Why did you pick this song Brooke? Because you heard Madonna sing it a few years ago? She would have been far wiser to select an upbeat non ballad song to hide her vocal deficiencies. Even the arm waving crowd looks like they are bored. She doesn’t hit any particularly bad notes, but she doesn’t hit any really good ones either. This is an ok performance you might see at your local small town talent show. Unfortunately for Brooke and Jason their voices belong on Broadway about as much as Randy Jackson belongs in a speedo. Brooke just can’t pull off this song. Let’s see if the judges give her effusive praise that she recovered from her suckitude or if they lambaste her for messing up so badly. Brooke can’t even look at the judges at first. Randy says for him this wasn’t great. He liked some parts, but he is glad she listened to Andy and believed what she was singing. But for him, vocally, it was pretty tough. Paula can barely start talking. She says you can never start and stop. Paula says she is great enough to pick up the pieces and likes that Brooke didn’t overact. She says any of the missed notes added to the emotion of the song. Right Paula, so to emote when I sing I should miss as many notes as possible? Great advice. Simon is going to crucify this girl, or will he feel so bad for her he goes all nice and fluffy. Simon says this is why he loves live TV. It was so dramatic when she froze. He thinks she was so upset with the mess up and screwed up the rest of the song and made her voice sound strained. He thinks she will be really disappointed when she watches it back. Ryan asks her what happened and Brooke says she was so sad about missing her sister’s wedding she couldn’t concentrate. Ok actually she says she lost the lyric for the first time on the show. Simon says he would have done what she did if he forgot the words. He says it was a very brave thing to do. She looks like she is about to have a nervous breakdown. Paula suggest Brooke could have sang anything there and Randy and Simon point out the lunacy of making up your own words. Paula is in rare form tonight.

David Archuletta - Think of Me

David gets the second sit down tonight. I am not really keeping track but I think he has more of these than anyone so far. He is back to wearing a jacket. A bunch of girls walk up on stage and give him a huge hug. Groupies are fantastic. Andy says he can’t wait to hear David sing a song written for a girl. He cannot imagine how a boy could sing this song. Well Andy, it’s because David is more girl than boy. Andy tells her to open his eyes and to open his eyes. David says he tends to close his eyes and get lost when he sings and knows he has to work on that problem. Andy says he must keep them open! David changed the song around surprising Andy, but he didn’t say ‘no you killed my song’ so this should be interesting. The changes are evident within the first two notes where a guitar is playing the melody. He Davidized the song. He is turning a powerful song into a boy band anthem. I loathe his alterations. Words cannot capture how his changes are anathema to everything in Phantom. His vocals are the normal David vocals. Great on the higher soaring notes and nonexistent on the low notes. Will the judges ever point out David has NO lower range. I know the judges will eat this up like cake at a party but his changes were horrible and notwithstanding the cheering giddy musically naïve and stupid teenage girls’ praise, this just wasn’t that spectacular. I think the Idol producers were wise when they put their golden boy after Jason and Brooke, knowing anyone who could sing a song all the way through hitting the right notes would look pretty good. I am so over David. Wait, I was never into him. They show Andy who looks like he is about to start crying. Is it possible he also can’t stand the David’s changes. Randy says what is really cool you can sing anything. He likes that he put his personality into the song and says David is the one to beat. Paula thinks it was perfect because he took a risk on a known theatrical song and turned it into a pop ballad. Simon says it was pleasant but one of his weakest performances because no one will remember it, but it will get him through to next week. Thank you Simon. I’ve decided I hate David a little more every time the girls scream for him.

Carly - Jesus Christ Superstar

Ryan is standing behind the judges selling itunes when he introduces Carly. She started out singing All I Ask of you and Andy cuts her off and says she picked the wrong song. He says she needs a song to show off her big voice. Andy says you have to pick a song that suits your voice so you can live in the song. He says a girl with that much art work on her arm has to do Jesus Chris Superstar. He thinks the smiling Irish eyes have it. She is clearly having fun singing this song wearing a dress that could have fit in nicely in the late 60s/early 70s. Ricky is rocking out too. She sounds great showing off her big voice. She is intentionally singing the chorus out of sync with the back up singers, which is harder but gives the song even more edge. It’s hard for any bad notes to really stick out on a song like this, so as far as I can tell she has none. This is her best performances all season and if the judges says David A.’s was better I think I might have to start drinking. Andy gave her some really good advice. Randy says the bigger voices are doing better tonight because the songs are hard and even though he isn’t sure this is her best ever he thinks it was good. Paula loves that it was unexpected but she loves what she did in the chorus. Simon thinks it was a little shouty in the middle, but was one of his favorite performances of the night. Carly runs over and gets a “Simon love me (this week)” shirt and holds it up. Even Simon can’t help but laugh.

David Cook - Music of the Night

Ryan might be standing behind David’s parents. David, rather surprisingly, says he grew up doing musical theater – didn’t see that coming. Andy is the dude he says. Andy says this song is the most sensual song he has ever written and you must pretend you are singing the song to the most gorgeous girl in the world. David had to stare longingly into Andy’s eyes. Andy says David might be able to pull if off if he really allows himself to speak. Wow David is doing the song straight – I expected him to rock it up or something. But, unlike the little David he has the courage to sing the song the way it was composed. David sounds pretty decent even though he doesn’t quite have the vocal seniority to pull off the lowest notes. He sounds better further into the song when hits his low notes. So he can hit them, just not when they are really soft. He does a pretty good job with the first big note of the song. He is putting a little of his own spin on the song changing up the melody ever so slightly. He created his own ending adding a little raw power. I am pleasantly surprised by David tonight. He doesn’t have the voice to sing the song straight so he put a few minor changes into it that allow him the chance to sing it without totally changing the song. I give him a ton of credit for picking the most well known song and trying to sing it like you might see on Broadway. He sounds pretty good, but not on par with something you would see in even a touring company of Phantom. If nothing else, David has more guts than anyone on this show. He is showing his range tonight. Combine this song with his rocking Bille Jean and we have EASILY the most well rounded Idol this season. I hope the judges are fair. Randy says if you can really sing you can sing anything and he thinks David can sing. He says it was amazing, unbelievable another hot molten hot lava bomb tonight. Paula says David is well rounded with a beautiful instrument – he was fantastic. Simon says he made the most of the song tonight even though this isn’t the side of David he prefers. Ryan sings, “if you want to vote for David.” Sadly he sang it better than Brooke could tonight.

Final Thoughts

Syesha is still having a ton of fun. Jason still can’t sing like a cat. Brooke is still not singing the song well. Would it have been wrong for them to show the part where she screwed up here instead? David is still destroying one of my favorite Andy songs. Carly is still rocking the house down. David Cook is still braver than the other David and gets a ton of credit from me tonight. Andy is on stage with Ryan and the kids. Andy says he loved working with everyone. All the judges are wearing Phantom masks, even Simon. So tonight was interesting. There were two pretty bad performances by Brooke and Jason and a few really good ones by pretty much everyone else. Personally I didn’t like David A.’s version, but I am biased because I’m so familiar with the original. Someone that hasn’t’ heard that song 100 times will probably really enjoy David’s version. Best of the night goes to Carly who sang a song so well I never once wondered why there wasn’t a black guy singing it. The two David’s will be safe along with Carly (I hope). meaning Jason, Brooke and Syesha will end up in the bottom three. Brooke might get a sympathy vote tonight because let’s face it, she was horrible, meaning Jason could unfortunately be leaving us in a surprise dismissal.


Post a Comment

<< Home