Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Threes Company, but Two is a Final

After thousand of auditions, only three Idols still have a chance to sing a really bad song on a lot of talk shows in the next few weeks. I mean, um, win American Idol! David Cook, the Chris Daughtry of this generation, survived the cut last week and has a chance to become only the second ‘rocker’ to make the Finals. Syesha, who has been counted out more than Hillary Clinton, could surprise world and sneak into the boys club. But, the odds on favorite to glide into next week is the little engine that could; unfortunately the man at the controls of the locomotive is an out of control over controlling obsessive stage father. Let’s face facts; David A.’s dad makes Ike Turner look like a passive observer. I wonder if there is anyway we can link Revered Wright to David A. to hurt his poll numbers. How about a sermon suggesting the United States government created David A. just to annoy African Americans? Tonight should be interesting; each Idol will sing three songs. As departed Idol Jason Castro lamented upon his elimination, doing two songs is significantly harder than one, and doing three songs is nearly impossible. Thankfully the Idols get to pick one song themselves. Unless they were incredibly stupid they all picked a known song that they extremely comfortable singing. I could see Jason picking a song he has never heard before and then in the interview, with a huge smile on his face, saying, “So I’ve never heard it before, but the title was like really…cool…so…ah…we’ll see,” but unfortunately he is slacking off and yawning somewhere. One thing to look for tonight – David A.’s lack of versatility. He sounds the same on almost every song. Will singing three songs in one night show how little performance ability he displays? Or, will the judges continue there incessant ‘pimping’ of him with no regard to the repetition.

Ryan walks by a high school student, an actress, and a bartender and says they are all on the verge of superstardom. Right, like all the other superstars that finished in third place on Idol. Ryan pushes the stage door out of his way like He-Man when he takes the stage. This might be the most masculine Ryan has looked in 7 seasons of Idol. Meri Lu Henner and former Idol Brandon are sitting in the audience. I am relatively sure there are NO males in the most pit tonight. Poor Syesha, there goes her primary demographic. The judges picked a song, the producers picked a song, and the contestants picked a song, which means at least one of them is going to be less than stellar.

David A. - And So It Goes

Tonight is hometown visit week and we start with David A. who gets his judges’ song choice from his mayor (the mayor looks like an inn keeper in a Steven King novel). Paula gave him a Billy Joel song and signed her letter “Forever Your Girl.” Oh Paula, you are so funny and creative. David cannot even speak when he hears the song choice; instead he just stands there with his patented stupid expression. David A. is wearing a sweater in his hometown visit and a jacket on the stage, just like always. I swear this kid is a reptile or something – he is always wearing a jacket or a sweater…always! Paula says she picked this song to showcase his amazing vocals. She believes the difficult melodies will allow him to demonstrate his brilliance and exploit the timbre of his voice. David says this really pretty song is exciting. He is singing it in a much higher key than Billy. After a brief opening by the string section, he goes into an accaplla section. He sounds good on the higher soaring notes, but when the song goes lower his voice isn’t nearly as strong. He adds one of his little runs in the first verse and then continues to incorporate this annoying habit throughout. At least it is not as annoying as his palm turned upward right hand – the hand of emotion. David A. uses this hand to let the audience know when to tear up and wave their hands and swoon. The hand of emotion only works on girls under the age of 16 and really creepy old men. He is really changing around the original melody. This sounds like a completely different sound than the original, and not in a good way. He turns every song into a ballad out of a Disney animated musical. He tries a big vocal run near the end of the song and half way through runs out of steam. He flubs it a little and the low notes at the end are less than molten hot lava. This song feels a little too big for his voice whenever he gets near the lower notes. Imagine if he tried to sing it in the original key! This is one of his most mediocre performances in weeks, but will the judges actually state the obvious? I am guessing they might because they will still have two songs to rehabilitate him, and they can point out a less than positive critique as proof the show is not fixed in his favor. Randy asks David to check it out and is happy because David can sing anything. Even though he wishes David sat at the piano and played his own music like Billy (umm dude, did you hear him play the piano on the show…he is more Billy Madison than Billy Joel) he thinks David is still in the zone. Paula says the performance was pure and he was a storyteller. Simon says it was very good but offered no surprises. Wow, he actually calls it predictable. He says it was only good, but not outstanding. The judges will not say anything bad about this kid, no matter how weak he performs. I hope instead of singing the next song he walks out and reads from the phonebook. I bet the judges will say he was in the zone, beautiful, and in it to win it. Sigh.

Syesha - If I Ain't Got You

Back from commercial Ryan is sitting in Randy’s seat saying Dawg as Simon, Paula, and Randy sell itunes. Paula of course cannot do it without an incident; she reads half of her script so far away from the microphone she is barely audible. Randy picked her song and of course it’s a song from her favorite artist. Randy says he picked this song for her because she is young, hot and talented and he thought she loves Alicia just like him. Considering she sang this exact song on the canceled after two episodes show “The One” on ABC a couple years ago, I’d say yeah, she likes this song. I wonder if the Davids have already performed their judges’ choice song on national television. She sounds good in her lower register to start the song. She is reserved and controlled. She can go lower with her voice than David A. I’m just saying. When the song gets bigger she still sounds good, avoiding the shrieking that sometimes plagues her songs. She is blending really nicely with the backup singers. She finishes off the song with an impressive vocal run that starts high and rolls all the way into a very low note. This is an excellent performance, far better than her predecessor. If the judges do not like this I might just give up on this show. Randy says he thought it work well with her and he is happy she is peaking at the right time of this competition. Paula is proud of her because she is the last female left and then says it’s really hard to do a song so identifiable with Alicia Keys. Huh? So, did she do good job or not? Paula never actually says. Simon says she sang it very well but he wishes Randy picked something for her where she wouldn’t try to sound like the original. Randy tries to correct Simon, stating that she did chance around some notes. Then, he turns into Paula and says she looks gorgeous. Ryan asks her if she has been holding back up until now, but Syesha says no way, it was just nerves.

David - The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face

David gets his song while he is live on the air at his local Fox affiliate. He is less than excited by Simon’s song choice. Simon says he picked the song because, unlike Randy, he wanted to be different. Simon says that even though the song is very tough, he thinks David will do well. David has a ‘why the **** are you making me sing this song’ look on his face. David starts the song before Ryan is even off the stage. He is singing the song straight in his upper register and he goes into his falsetto. I think his mother is standing in the audience directly in front of David. Oh no, LeBron James comes out of no where and screams at David’s mom to ‘sit her a** down.’ Halfway through the song he shifts from the original into a rock song as the drums enter. He might have missed a couple of pitches in the slow beginning of the song, but once he hits the ‘rocking’ part his vocals really take off. He repeats ‘your face’ a few times, building in volume and ascending the scale each time. Unlike the other David, he finishes very strong. This performance is not perfect (the first few verses of the song), but he made less mistakes than David A. Will the judges agree? Randy says he has been a David Cook fan since day one, but he wishes Simon picked something that wasn’t as predictable as this older song. Predictable? Huh? A rocker just sang half a boring ballad, how is that predictable? He wants David to rock. Way to hold Simon’s song choice against David Randy. Nice job dawg. David mouths ‘it’s ok’ as the audience boos Randy’s ridiculous comments. Paula says she David is her second favorite person to ever sing that song. I assume she lists the original artist as her favorite. Simon says it was one of David’s best performances so far. This is what makes David brilliant he says – round one goes to David and Cowell. It was David’s mom earlier and he wishes her a belated happy mothers day.

David A. - With You

He gets a sit down with Ryan and holy cow he is not wearing a jacket. He does in fact have arms. He picked his song because he hadn’t done anything youthful lately. This is his big attempt to try something that doesn’t sound like it belongs on an elevator. But, I bet we still get the hand of emotion in full effect. When Ryan sends David to the middle of the stage so he can sing, the young Idol is completely befuddled and almost trips over his own feet. I give him credit for trying a faster paced song, but the first verse is borderline train wreck. The Mormon teenager just said ‘boo.’ Does he even know what the word means and can he use it in a sentence. He is bouncing back and forth while he sings. This kid has no dancing ability at all. Dick Cheney would love more comfortable moving around a stage than David A. He misses a few notes during the early parts of the song. He improves a lot later in the song. I give him credit for trying something outside his wheelhouse, but come on judges, this is not a smooth performance. It just feels forced and awkward. Is that Gavin DeGraw in the audience? Randy applauds him for trying something new, but he didn’t really believe the performance. He also didn’t like David using the word boo. Paula thinks the song is perfect for him and showed another part of David A. She actually says something useful when she tells him stop extending the phrases. Simon also applauds him for not doing a ballad, however, he says it was like a Chihuahua trying to be a tiger because it wasn’t really him. He thinks the dancing was awkward.

Syesha - Fever

She also gets a sit down with Ryan to explain her choice. She picked her song because she likes the song’s vibe. She is going to use a chair in the song and work it a little bit. At least she didn’t ask for them to install a pole. She has a bassist next to the chair as she sits down and starts singing. If she reenacts the scene from Basic Instinct we’ll know she REALLY wants to win. Syesha is apparently aware she is the only girl remaining, because with this performance she is courting the male vote. She seductively rises from the chair and circles the bassist. Ricky Minor has never been so happy in his entire life. Her vocals are pretty good, but half the viewing audience is barely hearing her sing. Like her first song, this one has a lot of upper and lower register moments. She avoids the shrieks on the higher stuff but disappears a few times during the lower notes. Even if her vocals are not perfect, she is selling this performance so well she just entered the ‘zone.’ I wouldn’t be surprised if Randy and Simon like this more than Paula. If only they had replaced the all girl most pit with a bunch of sailors just off the boat. Randy says it was an interesting song choice sang amazingly well. Paula says she looks lovely, but she is surprised she selected this song. She isn’t sure the song shows off who Syesha is as an arists. Simon says she will probably regret this in the tomorrow because instead of showing off who she is as a performer, she imitated a rather lame cabaret performance. I like how they call out Syesha for doing a non contemporary performance, but apparently fail to remember Madonna redid this song a few years ago successfully. Also, EVERY SONG DAVID A. SINGS SOUNDS LIKE IT IS FROM AN ANIMATED MUSICAL. There is virtually nothing current that sounds like David A. but of course they never mention this fact.

David Cook - Dare You to Move

Ryan is sitting in Syesha’s chair while he interviews David C. David seems happy the audience has heard of the band whose song he chose. For him, the song’s lyrics wrapped up his experiences perfectly. He seems to resent that Ryan called him a bartender a little. David has his guitar again. The song begins in his lower register very softly. The song is a little boring until the midway point when the rest of the band enters and David goes into ‘rock’ mode. The problem sometimes with David’s songs is their brevity. He likes to start soft and slowly crescendo into the big power notes. In such a compacted song this can feel forced – like this song. He sounds good on the big notes, but he goes flat a few times, especially on the last note where he goes so flat I wonder if he did so intentionally. I’ve never heard this song, so I have no idea. I also have no idea what the judges thought of this one. Randy likes the song choice but doesn’t think David did his best – it was a little pitchy. Paula feels like David had a hard time getting the beginning, middle, and end of the song into such a short performance. Simon says it was about what he expected; he didn’t think the song had enough melody. Simon basically says all three tied in this round – they all were not that great.

David A. - Longer

He is singing the producer’s choice as he sits on a stool near the front of the stage. This song is really boring but he is hitting all the right notes. I’ve never heard the original, so it’s hard to tell how much Archie he is adding to the song. Unlike the first two songs, this one is perfect for his voice and comfortably in his range. He sounds really good near the end of the song and hits the last few notes pitch perfect. Although the song is really boring, he is hitting every single note. Randy says the song choice is interesting, but David can sing the phone book and calls this another hot one. Paula says it was very lovely. Simon says he will not criticize him because he sang the song well, but he does knock the song choice. He predicts David A. has done enough tonight to make it into the Finals.

Syesha - Hit Me Up

I wonder if she is planning to sing this song in a bikini to top the last number. Ryan walks around the audience as he sells the Idol tour. He stops next to Sideshow Bob, oh wait, that’s Justin from season one. She is in Beyonce mode for this song. This girl has more personalities than Cybil. She seems to be having a lot of fun with the song as she bounces around the stage, but this song is not really meant to show off vocals. She hits some nice sustained notes in the middle of the song. I really like the way she ends the song with an understated subtle note. I am not sure how I feel about this semi chaotic song. Following after David A.’s snooze fest it feels a little out of place. The judges should give her credit for singing something you can hear on the radio today. Randy says its was just ok, alright, for him. Paula says the song is not about penguins, but as much as she liked it she doesn’t think the song defines her as an artist. She isn’t sure if this was good enough to warrant a trip to the Finals. Simon says although this song was better than the second one, she had her best moment last week. He says the song was fun and young but not memorable and certainly not a ‘moment.’ Again…they do realize she didn’t actually pick this song right?

David Cook - Don't Want to Miss a Thing

Ryan is in the audience surrounded by people, including a very scared looking older lady and a creepy looking teenage male. This is another one of those slow building songs that are sometimes hard to fit into 2 minutes, but this has been done on Idol before, so I know he can do this well. The entire string section is behind him on the stage playing the song more staccato than the original. He has a really unique transition into the second part of the song, I haven’t it head it done like that before. When the song hits the ‘power’ part I must admit I miss the Steven Tyler scream, but David is doing a good job. However, the song is so abbreviated, like the previous one, it feels rushed. More than David A. or Syesha, he would really benefit from a longer song. He is doing more than just a cover version. He is elongating a few of the phrases. He creates a nice effect on the last note by hitting it a half step off, sustaining it, and then rolling into the proper pitch. This is a good performance, but it does not reach greatness. I think he could have in a 3 minute song, but not this uber brief package. That being said, this is the best performance of the night. Paula is standing up clapping for David. Randy says he loves the song, but it was only ok for him – very predictable. Paula says this song has a beginning, middle, and end and points out the songwriter is in the audience. A lot of people don’t realize Aerosmith didn’t actually write this song. She says, “See ya in the finals…that’s what I predict.” Simon says this is one of the best songs of all night and that David Cook wins the night.

Final Thoughts

David A. is still not Billy Joel, still can’t dance, and still sings ballads well. Syesha still wants this more than anyone, still has a fever, but not Mcfever, and still wants us to hit her up. David C. is still singing a weird song choice, is still singing a boring song choice with no melody, and is still not Steven Tyler, but is still best of the night. This was a good, if uneven night. A few of the song choices were weird, but no one had a horrible performance, which means the voting should come down to fan base size. Based on everything we know about Idol this season, Syesha, mayor of the bottom three, has a small fledgling fan base. Jason Casto had a strong and large fan base, but he was so mediocre last week they couldn’t bring themselves to vote and vote and vote. This week, both Davids did well enough to inspire repeated speed dialing and texting from their Cookies and Archies, meaning Syesha was right, a change is going to come. Unfortunately for her, the change is her leaving the show.


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