Wednesday, May 07, 2008

It's Still Rock & Roll To Me

Tonight’s theme is based on a list of 500 songs from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. This might be the largest and most diverse group of songs ever available for the top 4. Even though there are a number of songs that are not exactly ‘rock’ or ‘roll,’ you would have to think David Cook is on the odds on favorite for the best performance of the night. I’m guessing Michael Johns is sitting at home swearing at the television that he isn’t able to sing tonight. They should do a spin off show from Idol that airs on Friday night called “Idol Rejects” where the people voted off Idol sing the songs they would have sang if they were still on the main show. This is ratings gold Jerry…gold. Syesha, David, and little David are normally pretty good at selecting their songs, but not Jason. If ever there was a contestant accused of ‘mailing it in,’ it’s Jason Castro. Last year, as the judges stinging comments piled up against Sanjaya he seemed to take the show less and less seriously. I fear after last week’s debacle (when Paula judges him on his not yet performed second song) Jason has lost the will to compete. He certainly looked disinterested and bored during his second number last week. There should be numerous songs on the list that he has heard or performed; tonight could be a great opportunity to recapture the judges’ good will.

Ryan says three of the remaining contestants have already been number one in the vote total. I wonder which three? I’m guessing NOT Syesha. Ryan walks out the stage door. It was cool the first few times he did this, but now I want something more. I think he should lower himself down from the rafters like NBA mascots do to liven up the show. 4 people left with just two weeks to go, anything can happen since nothing is guaranteed. Ryan introduces the David A. fan club, whoops, I mean the judges, and then the Idols. Former Idol Luke is sitting in the audience no doubt wishing he could be on the stage tonight. During the video sequence about Rock and Roll, Ryan says there is no stopping the rock and roll revolution – I think David A. is going to test that theory. Speaking of David A., if the order they are standing on stage is any indication, he will get the pimp spot yet again. Ryan wonders if any of this season’s Idols could end up in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. If David A. is ever inducted there I will officially lose all respect in mankind. Thankfully, the judges will get the chance to evaluate the Idols after each song, not all at the end. Simon rolls his eyes and says ‘thank you’ when he hears tonight’s plan. I was curious, so tonight I used my watch to time the first part of the show; turns out, Ryan wastes the first four minutes on the introductions. You would think with such a packed show they could shave a few minutes off the front.

David Cook – Hungry like the Wolf

He says even though the song didn’t jump out at him immediately, he felt he could make some changes that would make it work for him and stand the song on its head. His arrangement is much harder than the pop original. He sounds pretty good in his lower register. For some reason I thought he might slow down the chorus part and show off his rock god abilities. Paula loves this song and is dancing like crazy. Of course, she will dance for anything. In fact, I bet if she hears a cell phone ring tone go off she starts to dance uncontrollably. David is suffering a little tonight because of his past ‘moments.’ He has more expectations tonight than any other Idol, so even though this is a really good performance with no errors, it does not have a ‘wow’ factor. His family in the audience certainly liked David. Randy says he was interested in seeing which songs they picked tonight. He thinks the first song was only ok, not amazing. Paula says his Hungry like the Wolf left her with a big appetite. She thinks his growth has been remarkable. Simon felt the song was a little bit copycat, but good enough to get him into next week. If by copycat he means more rock than pop than yes he is correct, otherwise, I’m not sure if he was actually listening.

Syesha – Proud Mary

She gets a sit down with Ryan. He asks her about living in a bubble in L.A. and if she is excited about the upcoming tour. You have to love how Idol manages to promote stuff without seeming as though they are promoting it. Syesha even goes a step further and mentions Idol Gives Back, which I’m sure got her an extra cookie or something in her dressing room. She is taking on a classic that has been covered 100 times. She almost didn’t take on the challenge, but she followed the advice of Nike and just did it. She starts the song in the Tina style – real slow with lots of hip movement. She has obviously been watching some video of Tina, because she has the moves down pretty well. She might be a little shreiky on the higher notes, but this song is one where screaming a little is almost necessary. Her voice sounds great on the low slow part and controlled, if a little screechy, on the high parts. The judges are always telling the Idols to take a risk, don’t play it safe. Well, this is about as risky as you can get. Will the judges give her credit for taking on the challenge, or slam her for not being Tina? Randy says he is laughing because of the difference a couple weeks makes. He says she showed up in the zone and did a nice job showing the heat late in the competition. Paula says she looks like a star. She has evolved from a pretty girl with a big voice into a beautiful woman with a magnetic voice. She says when you feel the fear and do it anyway, magic happens. Simon apologizes for putting a damper on things. For him, it was a bad shrieky version; a bad impersonation of Tina. Syesha says that she had fun. Simon says sorry he did not. I can already hear Simon praising David A. before it happens. I wish last week instead of knocking Jason’s second performance, Paula had praised David A.’s not yet performed song – then we’d have a real controversy on our hands. Ryan asks Randy how him and Simon can be so opposite each other on the same song. Randy says it’s because he is from Lousiana. Syesha says she is trying to show people who she is and she just wants to have fun. Well, we already knew that, since girls just wanna have fun.

Jason Castro – I Shot the Sheriff

Ryan is walking around the audience holding a ‘face on a stick,’ complete with long locks of flowing hair, of Jason Castro (somewhere the PTI lawyers are preparing a lawsuit). As Ryan continues to walk around he stops by Carly and says she looks a lot like a former contestant. Jason says there were a few songs on the list he knew and although he has never performed this song, he thinks it is the perfect choice. He says it’s obvious for him, no doubt referring to the hair, but I’m thinking a lot of the voting public just thought about massive use of marijuana instead. He has a guitar slung around his back and the band starts off with a brass introduction. He begins playing the guitar after a few measures. His voice sounds like typical Jason Castro, and he is changing up the song to ‘make it his own.’ I actually like the brass heavy arrangement. Near the end of the song he tries a descending run of notes and cannot quite complete the phrase once he reaches the lower notes. This is easily the most energy Jason has ever displayed on the Idol state. He still isn’t moving around the stage, but he is bouncing, which is far different than his normal sit on the stool approach. This is a bad sign – the girls in the mosh pit that normally sway their hands to anything all look confused instead of overjoyed. Most of them have probably not heard this song before and are wondering how long they have to wait until they get to see their future husband David A. This is a song that is not defined by ‘great vocals’ and Jason is doing just enough vocally to qualify for ‘just ok’ status. When he finishes he has a smirk on his face. I don’t know if that’s because he didn’t do as well as he thought, or the fact he knows no matter what he does the judges will say bad things about his singing. Even though he didn’t finish the song playing the guitar he is holding it in front of him when the judges begin their critique, almost as if he is using it as a shield and hiding behind it for protection. Randy says ‘aw man dude.’ He thinks it was really karoke Bob Marley. At this point in the show he wants someone to demonstrate they really deserve to be in the finals; it wasn’t good enough for him. Paula likes the way he performed to the audience, but she wasn’t crazy about the performance or the song. Is that the guard from Prison Break in the audience they randomly show? Simon says it was utterly atrocious. He thinks you do not touch the song. He feels like it was a first round audition masacare. Simon says he doesn’t know what Jason was thinking, and Jason screams out, “I was thinking Bob Marley.” Ryan asks Randy and Simon if they are pissed off at Jason, which they do not deny. Ryan tries to get some positive feedback for Jason before his next song and Paula says she is good. Well, I’m sure that will be enough to inspire him into a great performance.

David A. - Stand By Me

He always sings this song in his room by himself or to his dog, but never in public. Please, someone find a youtube video of David singing this song on stage so we can prove the little guy to be a big liar. He is so ‘aw shucks’ during this video package he is nearly vomit inducing. He hs three back up singers on stage to compliment his ‘hand of emotion.’ It takes him 20 seconds to alter the song with one of this annoying over singing moments. He is over elongating the phrases like he always does; he is doing a great David A. impersonation. If I close my eyes and can no longer see the hand of emotion his vocals sound pure and on pitch. He throws in a few lines from the recent song “Beautiful Girls” near the end of the song. I wonder if the judges will be displeased with his alteration of a timeless classic, or not even mention his changes. However, when I look at him I cannot take him seriously. He finishes the song with a weak unpleasant falsetto. I think this is his first foray into the higher ground. I can see why he hasn’t done it up till now. David is doing exactly what he needs tonight; sing just well enough that the judge can call you the best singer of all time and not be CLEARLY biased. Randy cannot even begin speaking because the little girls are screaming so loudly. Finally, he says he is so happy that at least one guy hits the stage trying to win the whole thing every time. He says David brought “the hot mad vocals, it was hot.” Paula loves that David communicated with this eyes per Sir Andy’s suggestion. Simon says David could have whistled a song and it would have sounded better than the last song and was very well placed. David, who is always aww shucks, to his credit, responds to Simon’s massive insult of Jason by saying, “I liked Jason’s song.” Kudos to David for sticking up for his fellow contestant; if he adopted the ‘how dare you insult someone in my presence face’ created by Brooke White, I might even vote for David tonight. Simon thinks David struggled a bit near the end, but in the grand scheme of things, he considers David the best so far. David says the judges faces scare him and since he has no idea what they are going to say he gets nervous. Well David, considering they have basically never said anything negative about you, maybe you should be a little less nervous next time.

David Cook - Baba O'Reily

David gets the second sit down tonight. Ryan asks him if this is his element this week and David says as they got closer to performance night he realized how much people expect from him in this genre. He agrees with the judges he didn’t do enough on his first song. David picked this song because it’s an iconic rock song never performed on the show. The beginning of the song sounds a little weak on the little keyboard. David has rearranged the song. The beginning is very slow and soft and shows off him softer side. He is in his middle register playing the guitar when he reaches the Pete Townsend solo. The song explodes with drums halfway through. This is a hard song to shrink down into a 1 minute 30 second song; give him 3 minutes and I think he tears the house down. I could also use a little move movement form him on the song. I know he isn’t the Who, but come on, throw the microphone around a little, or jump up and down while playing your guitar. He sounds great when the song gets loud and finishes it up with a massive power note. I really wish they made David A. sing this song instead with this arrangement. Man that would be good TV. David looks almost embarrassed when he is finished. Randy says there is something different going on with David tonight, but this is more what he expects from the resident rocker dude, but says he was great. Paula wants more, more, more Dave Cook. She is humbled to get to watch his soul. Huh? Simon says, “Welcome back David Cook.” David really doesn’t look very happy tonight. Maybe he is a big Hillary fan following the election returns back stage?

Syesha - Change is Gonna Come

Rascal Flatts is in the house and Ryan is selling itunes again. She picked this song and researched its background. She compares the civil rights struggle with her struggle to win Idol – riiiiiiiiggggghhhhhhttttt. Gone is in her tight fitting dress from round one replaced with an elegant evening gown. She has balladized the song. This might be the biggest change in emotions from one song to the next in the history of Idol. I mean the first song she is running around the stage, and on this one she is almost crying while singing an emotional power ballad. Her vocals are excellent. She keeps her voice under control and subtle almost the entire time. The end of the song really demonstrates how big her voice can be when she controls her power. This is one of her best performances this season. Randy says he loved the first song, but not this one. He didn’t love the arrangement with the music or the vocals. He doesn’t think she needs to do anything different with the melody trying to make it something it wasn’t. Paula, perhaps sensing how unfair Randy was, says nothing, but stands up and claps for Syesha. For all the flak she gets for being an idiot, which usually she is, this is a touching moment. Carly is standing behind Paula also giving a standing ovation. Paula says this is a superstar moment and welcomes Syesha to her dream. Syesha starts tearing up when she hears those kind words. Simon says he has to be fair and agrees with Paula, which sends Syesha even more over the edge. Simon says Randy got it completely wrong. Syesha says this means a lot to her and retells us what the song is about and how it took on a new meaning when listening to it after the last results show. Ryan is asking someone off stage for a tissue and Syesha, covered in tears, says she probably looks like crap right now. Simon keeps telling Ryan that Randy made her cry. After letting things run on a little too long, Ryan reminds them Hell’s Kitchen is about to start and introduces Jason.

Jason - Umm I Forget What It's Called

He says you cannot go wrong sticking to the Bobs. He relates to the folk rock genre. He has his hair back sitting on a stool playing his guitar. He sounds pretty good, until he reaches the second line of the song. Uh oh, he just hummed an entire passage. I’m guessing this is not some creative statement, but instead forgotten lyrics. When he remembers the words, he actually sounds pretty good. Like David A., he sounds the same every time he opens his mouth, so people will either like him or hate him. He finishes the song with an extended falsetto note. This is again, not fantastic, but should be in the ‘just ok’ range. Carly is giving him a standing ovation. Randy asks Jason how he performed. Jason says he lost some lines. Randy says he is not in the zone tonight and doesn’t know what’s going on. He never says anything about Jason’s singing and is visibly perturbed Jason forgot some lines. The judges were not mad at David A. when he massively screwed up his lines, nor where they this frustrated with Brooke when she forgot her lyrics and restarted the song. Paula says that even though he didn’t blow them away, he still blows her away. Simon says Jason should pack his suitcase. Jason looks more perplexed than sad. I think if this whole singing thing doesn’t work out, he could be a life coach and help people manage their stress, since nothing seems to affect his demeanor.

David A. - Love me Tender

He picked an Elvis song and researched all the different versions of his song. He thinks it will be cool and fun because he hasn’t done a really romantic song on the big stage yet. Really? Dude every song you sing sounds like a romantic love song. He is sitting on the stool. He has his sincere face in full effect. It takes him only 20 seconds to add a big soaring note randomly into the song. This is so different from the original, I wonder if the judges will say he shouldn’t be changing around the classics. Mr. vanilla ice cream is doing his thing, like he always does, until the end when he butchers his falsetto notes. Two falsetto endings in one night? I wonder if the judges will mention that David couldn’t hit the falsetto notes, or just ignore his mistake like they usually do every week. Randy says this is another great performance. He likes how he caressed each word and calls him the hot vocalist of the night. Paula could feel his heart and calls his singing beautiful and fantastic. Simon says he didn’t just beat the compeition, he crushed them. I like how this week is Rock and Roll Hall of Fame week, but David A. gets off singing two ballads. Sigh. This kid has less range than an 700 pound shortstop. Ryan calls David ‘crusher’ as he rubs his shoulder before sending us to the video recap. This is just a little creepy Ryan.

Final Thoughts

Most people assume the Idol powers that be want an all David finale. Tonight did nothing to alter that progression. Conspiracy theorist would suggest the producers want Jason Castro off the show before the final three. Why – because his fan base is made up of a lot of young girls; the exact same group that supports young David A. Although extremely unlikely, it’s possible if the guys comprise the final three, Jason could somehow slip by David A. into the final two. Jason appears to want an Idol victory less than the other 3 and I think even his fan base will find it hard to vote and revote for their beloved dreaded dude. Therefore, if he isn’t the one, as Simon predicted, packing his suitcase tomorrow night the entire world will be shocked. Some crazy things have happened at this point in the show in past seasons, but with Jason’s lackluster performances, I am not expecting the unexpected.


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