Thursday, February 26, 2009

Satisfaction came with the last singer.

Barack Obama promised he would bring change to America, unfortunately for Idol fans that change meant a day delayed performance episode. So not only does this group of 12 get an extra week to rehearse their songs, they get a bonus day. Therefore, we could expect better singing than last week right? Several additional questions surround tonight’s episode. Will Adam be too theater? Will Jasmine continue her steady rise to the Top 5? Will Idol security recognize Jeanine and let her in the building? Will Matt perform well without a piano? Will Megan sing a contemporary song? Will Kai lose his voice this week? Will Norman make an appearance? Finally, can Idol possibly make it through an entire night without talking about Danny?

Ryan is dressed Friday casual tonight. He asks us where else we can find a welder, a font designer, and a comedian all on the verge of stardom…American Idol of course. Alexis, Michael, and Danny are in the audience. At least they let Alexis and Michael come with Danny. Randy says this group has an advantage because they could watch the contestants last week. Kara says they must do their best because there are no second chances. Really? Does that mean the Wild Card show has been cancelled? Just once I’d like one of the judges to say something useful during the friendly banter portion that always begins each episode. Paula hopes they picked the right song. Simon, sitting on the other end of the judges’ table says it’s too late for advice now. Barring a last second costume change, Norman has left the building. Adam, just like Danny last week, gets the pimp spot.

Jasmine Murray – Love Song

She is only 17, but comes across as much older. She watched last season with her mother, yet never pictured herself on the show. She survived Hollywood Week by never losing focus. She is singing a currently popular song that does not provide a ton of vocal range. This could be tricky. Anytime you sing a song people have heard recently on the radio they are going to compare you to the actual artist, so you better be perfect or original. She is having a little trouble with the lower notes at the beginning. She completely misses a note in the second verse. For the first time this season she looks her age. Megan is having a ball dancing on the balcony. The performance picks up some momentum in the second half, but she is trying too hard to interject emotion into a relatively tame song. She hits a really nice note at the end, but this is too little too late. What a waste. She has one of the best voices this season and she, like so many others before her, picked the wrong song. I cannot imagine Simon giving her rave reviews. Randy says there were some good and bad moments, but it was pitchy all the way throughout. He says she tried to make too much out of as simple melody. Kara says the song was all over the place and started too low. It was not best performance. Paula agrees with Paula and Kara. She thinks Jasmine went off pitch when she tried to sing around the melody. Simon is disappointed because he really likes her, but thinks she is a couple of years too early. He doesn’t think she is ready yet. Jasmine says she had a great time. She is a little surprised on the judges’ feedback. Randy isn’t sure she deserves a spot in the Top 12. Jasmine gives her best fake smile while Ryan gives her numbers. Why didn’t she go up to the red room? Her mother and friend are sitting in the audience, so she isn’t family less like some people last week. Maybe the red room is no more after Ann Marie’s near FCC fine worthy moment.

Matt Giraud – Viva La Vida

He was thrilled to finally play the piano in front of the judges during Hollywood Week. Unfortunately he has to make the Top 12 if he wants to repeat this surreal moment. Like Jasmine he is singing a currently popular song, but he wants to give the white boy rock song a soulful twist. Yeah, nothing bad could happen here right? If by soulful twist he means missing notes, not sustaining the notes he actually hits, and adding unnecessary riffs, then he is succeeding. This makes Jasmine look like Josh Groban. The very basic musical arrangement is not helping Matt. Halfway through the song he completely misses the falsetto note. Even if he could hit all the right notes, which is highly unlikely, this song would not work without Coldplay’s wall of sound. This is most likely the worst performance tonight; suddenly Jasmine looks pretty good. Matt what were you thinking? Every run seems unnecessary and indulgent. Maybe white boy rock sounds are supposed to be riff free. When he finishes his performance he looks equal parts disappointed and mad. When someone fails this miserably, you wonder if they were doing it well all week and then choked when the show went live. Kara starts off the comments saying he blew her away in Hollywood, but tonight she is not blown away. She wonders why he picked a song that doesn’t lend itself to soulful interpretation. Paula says Matt was one of her favorites and thinks his performance here was far better than his rehearsal. Good lord, that thing must have been really bad. Paula says she heard him bring what he brought to it – what? Simon goes a step further and says it was borderline horrible. He thinks the song choice was bad, and he performed it like a wannabe pop star. He likes his voice, but thinks he did the wrong thing. Randy, suddenly going last, says he is still pulling for Matt. He wants Matt to sing more difficult songs in the future. Matt says singing without the piano is a little different for him, but this is the type of song he wants to sing as an artist. Again, there is no red room appearance. Why don’t these contestants get the chance to show off their families in the red room? A conspiracy theorist might wonder if the red room interviews were there only to highlight the fact Danny’s wife was not in the red room.

Jeanine Vailes – This Love

Ryan reminds us Itunes has all of these songs available for download. For the first time we get to see a little of her personality. She also tripped out on the table when she earned her Top 36 acceptance. Oh geez, just like the first two she is singing a very recent song. While not as current as those, this is still a very recent, and stylized song. How will a girl sound singing a guy’s falsetto part? This could be another dangerous outing. She wastes no time going off pitch. She also quickly gets behind the melody. Is she really wearing jean shorts on stage? At least Meghan is enjoying it; she is dancing all out on the balcony. She still has not found the proper pitch. Adam looks pained as he listens. Wow, she totally misses a note leading into the bridge. This is possibly even worse than Matt. He was an early favorite, so the judges cut him some slack during their comments. Jeanine, a relative unknown, might be excoriated. Near the finish, she sings a very quiet riff instead of the lyrics; she is barely audible. Maybe she forgot the words and is trying to cover. One of her friends in the audience looks a little like Ugly Betty. Paula compliments Jeanine’s legs. Uh oh, anytime Paula leads off with your looks, you know she thinks you sang horribly. Paula then hands things off to Simon. He thinks it was terrible. He is dumbfounded with their song choices tonight. Simon says it was painful, a struggle, and completely the wrong song. He does however like her legs. Randy also likes the ‘hot’ legs. He loves the song, but thinks it was the wrong song for her; his favorite part was the end. Kara thinks the song was so overdone and struggles to find other body parts she likes on Jeanine. Everything about it was wrong she says. Kara slips in tonight’s first possible sexual comment about lips to Simon. Jeanine wanted to do more to prove that she belonged since she was under the radar. Randy says she needed to be in tune and Simon says she was better under the radar. Ryan also likes her legs. Right now Casey is wondering why she didn’t wear shorts when she sang. Not even Paula thinks Jeanine deserves a shot in the Top 12, neither does Kara. This is a first. Jeanine is playing the age card. Give me a chance because I’m old.

Nick ‘Norman’ Mitchell – And I’m Telling you

As they go to commercial for Jeanine, there is still no Norman. Nick could feel Simon’s hatred during his audition. For Nick, tonight is the opening ceremony of the Olympics – maybe the Special Olympics. Oh boy, during the introduction he changed into Norman. I guess there was a phone booth off stage. He starts off lying on the stairs and knocks on the wood set for luck. The camera shows two people I’m guessing are his parents. His mother looks amused, but his father is furious. No doubt he wanted a boy that likes football more than Liza Manelli. They show Norman’s father again and he is finally smiling and clapping. Norman is changing up the lyrics and missing more than a few notes. He can definitely sing better. He caresses the Idol sign while again lying on the floor. Randy and Kara are laughing. He hits a huge note while kneeling on the stage and then surprises everyone by ending the song with a spoken word instead of a power note. This is easily the strangest performance in Idol history. Some place Sanjaya is watching thinking ‘hey even I’m better than this guy.’ Can you imagine him working with a mentor in the character of Norman? Sir Paul this is Norman he is singing Hey Jude. Yeah that would go over real well. He gets the biggest ovation so far. Even Simon is laughing. He hopes he is speaking for America when he says he is praying Norman does not advance to the next round. He thinks it was one of the most atrocious performances ever on an Idol stage. He calls it horrific comedy. Norman says it takes one to know one and then does the Karate Kid crane kick. Randy calls the performance entertaining and funny. Kara says at least we will remember him and enjoyed him. She correctly notices Norman and Simon both always wear the same shirt. Paula says America comes in all different shapes and sizes and thinks Norman is a true performer. However, she is not sure if Idol is the right stage for Norman’s antics. Ryan says he liked the performance in a different way than Simon, and Simon says he could believe that. Ladies and gentleman our second sexually laced comment tonight. Ryan is spending more time talking about Norman than Norman sang. Norman says his 5 rehearsals went better than tonight; he knows he missed some notes. Ryan actually says Norman probably doesn’t deserve a spot in the Top 12. I think this is the first time Ryan ever gave his own opinion regarding a contestant’s fate.

Allison Irahita – Alone

Ryan is sitting in the red room next to Allison, who is only 16. She says Idol school is a little different because she is in only one room instead of a school. However, she doesn’t really say that, instead she rambles on for about 40 seconds trying to say it; she needs some more work on her verbal skills in the one room Idol school. She is singing a song Carrie Underwood made her own. Good luck with that one. Nerves plagued her during her audition, but all four judges liked her. The judges think she might be a dark horse.
She sounds good on the lower notes that begin the song. But no one really cares about this part; we are all waiting to see how she does on the big notes. She looks much older than her age while she sings. Somewhat surprisingly, she sounds really good on the big part. Adam is rocking out in the balcony while she rocks out on stage. This is the first performance tonight where the performer has real energy and isn’t trying to force the song onto the audience. Sure she isn’t singing it as well as Carrie did, but she is giving the song her own vibe. This girl has a little rock star buried somewhere under the red hair; easily best of the night so far. She looks pretty happy with her performance. Randy says the show is funny tonight. He says she just blew it out the box with one of the hottest tonight. Kara says Allison is serious and doesn’t even realize how good she is; with the right song she could have a hit on the radio. Paula says each year a contestant can sing the telephone book and calls Allison the best of the night. She liked the way Allison worked the microphone. Simon disagrees with Randy’s comment saying Allison might be the best because he thinks she is clearly the best by a Simon mile. He thinks she was boring in her interview with Ryan, and then turned into a different person when she started singing. He says she was great. Allison’s mother is thrilled with her little girl. Allison’s interviewing skills are reminiscent of Jason Castro, but she has the better voice. Barring another girl singing really well, she just made the Top 12.

Kris Allen – Man in the Mirror

Simon worried about Kris’s confidence when he auditioned. The Idol producers are selling him as the shy and humble guy. He wants to show the judges he has confidence. He has to be pretty sure of himself to attempt a classic Michael Jackson song. I wonder if he’ll do the spin and drop to his knees during the chorus. This is a very risky song choice. I hope he has a decent arrangement. He starts off the song in his lower voice. He alters a few notes from the original. Unfortunately, he has the stage presence of a tranquilized elk. He sounds good on the chorus, but this is all a little boring. By the halfway mark he finally gets into the song and tries to make it his own. He hits a big note and then alters the melody in the next verse; he is almost, but not quite pulling this off. Kris is a good singer, but like almost everyone else tonight, this is just not the right song. Maybe he should have worn a white glove. This isn’t bad, but it’s not great either. Kara thinks the back half was way better than the first half, but neither was as good as Hollywood Week. She says he picked the wrong song that didn’t show her the things she loved about him. Paula disagrees, saying Kris nailed the song. She thinks he was confident and charming. Simon agrees with Paula. He says there are much better male singers, like Danny (sigh), but he appreciates Kris’s effort. He thinks maybe he put himself back in the running. Randy wasn’t sure if Kris could perform without a guitar, until tonight. Kris seems relieved his singing duties are over when he talks with Ryan.

Megan Corkrey – Put Your Records On

Ryan sells Itunes for the second time. Megan is struggling being away from her son, but she knows this is a great opportunity. She is also singing a recent song. Does anyone in this group besides Kris listen to music from before last year? She is doing an odd hip twist thing while she sings. She is wearing a summery white dress that completely clashes with her massive right arm tattoo. It’s half southern belle, half rock star. She has a unique sound. She is giving the song her own interpretation, adding accents to certain words. She is almost getting too far away from the microphone. Near the end of the song she really breaks out and hits some really nice notes. This is anything but a carbon copy of the original. She finishes the song with a very pretty in tune note. This is so stylized I don’t know if the judges, or the voters will like it, but I’m pretty sure I did. Geez, Megan’s mom looks younger than she does. Paula thinks she picked the right song. She calls her beautiful interesting, hip, relevant, and did everything right. She loved her. Simon says she is a funny little thing. He thinks it started off really well, but then over sang the second half. Megan thought she rocked that part. Simon hopes America votes for her because she stands out, but he wishes the vocals were a little better. If this plea has the same effect it did on Michael Starver, then Megan just made the Top 12. Randy thinks she has the Duffy and Amy Whinehouse vibe. He says she did a nice job. Kara thinks Megan could be a break out artist with the right song and video. Meghan teaches Ryan her twisting back and forth dance move.

Matt Breitzke – If You Could Only See

We get to see Matt welding – take that roughneck boy! He is doing this for his family because they mean more to him than anything. He picked his song because it encapsulates true love. Matt’s voice simply does not match his body. He sounds pretty good, and is not missing any notes. However, he is not adding anything original to the song. Compared to Meghan’s originality, this feels very karaoke. Matt is this week’s Michael Sarver. Nice guy with a good, but not great voice, that has almost no stage presence. This is more boring than brilliant; a classic ‘so what’ performance. Matt’s kid is in the audience with his wife. Simon really likes Matt, but he absolutely hated the song. He is frustrated with the boring song and thinks Matt did himself no favors. Randy likes the song but thinks it was too boring. He wanted more edge and energy. Kara says the song didn’t show off his abilities. Even though he sang it well, the song didn’t show off any side of him. Paula, speaking last this time, says he sang every note in tune, but the song did not celebrate Matt. Ryan asks him if he would still sing this song, and he says yes because he loves this song. Well, the good news is you can listen to this song all you want after tomorrow night, because you are going home.

Jessie Langseth – Bette Davis Eyes

She is another single mom. These Idol contestants aren’t too big on birth control. Her struggles in Hollywood Week add fuel to her competitive fire. She is singing a song from the early 80s, which is so far the oldest song tonight. She starts the song using the microphone stand and singing in her lower register. She sounds good, finishing off the phrases with strong notes. She is picking up energy as she goes deeper into the song. Halfway through she takes the mic off the stand and moves around the stage. She isn’t really adding anything to the original, but she sounds pretty good. She has a sultry sound. Randy thinks it was an ok performance of a cool song, but he wasn’t blown out the box. He wanted something more exciting. Jessie asked him what he was looking for, and he says he wanted to see more range in her vocals. Kara likes her look and performance. She thinks she had some issues with a few notes, but had some really nice moments. Paula is captivated by Jessie; she likes her phrasing and coolness. Simon disagrees with Paula. He thinks Jessie if forgettable. Simon thinks she was too cool for school and isn’t sure if anyone will vote for her. Jessie is thrilled Randy answered her question.

Kai Kalama – What Becomes of the Brokenhearted

Like Kris, Kai needed to work on his confidence after his initial audition. He is going old school with a 60s song. If he can draw on those emotions he might give a great performance. He sounds pretty good, but his facial expressions look like a guy trying too hard to be entertaining. He has a few pitch problems, particularly at the end of phrases. Thankfully, he is adding a little of himself to the original, but not very much. He hits a nice note near the end and finishes strong. Kara asks Kai how it went and he says he felt like he did his best and had a lot of fun. She thinks he had some pitch issues, but gave it his all. She felt the song was a little too old fashioned. Paula thinks he sounded really good, except when he fell off pitch. If he works hard, she thinks he can do well. Simon says the performance was corny and viewable at any wedding across America. He thinks there was nothing memorable about the performance and suggests he becomes a back up singer. Randy says the performance was just too safe and not what he is looking for. Kai tells Ryan he is a contemporary guy even though he sings older songs.

Mishavonna Henson – Drops of Jupiter

Cut from Hollywood Week last season, she has spent the last year perfecting her art. She is singing a song from a male singer, just like Jeanine; hopefully her outing goes a little better. She promises not to let America down. From the very beginning, she changes up the original version; this is a more laid back arrangement. She sounds ok on the early part but this is flirting with boring. The song picks up a little steam halfway through, but its still in the ‘so what’ territory. She is trying her best to add some enthusiasm to an almost lost cause. Like Matt, she is singing well, but still manages to put people to sleep. This is becoming one of the most sub par Idol nights ever. Ok this is pretty boring and ‘so what,’ but maybe she can salvage things with a big power note to finish the song. Or maybe not; the last note was off pitch. You have the entire list of songs ever on Billboard at you disposal, and you choose Drops of Jupiter…sigh. Paula is a fan of her voice, but doesn’t understand the song choice. She thinks she sang it well. Simon says she is too serious, but something left him really cold about the performance. He thinks she acts like a 50 year old. He wanted her to act younger. Randy agrees with Simon that she acts too old. Kara likes the song, but wants her to loosen up a little. All the judges agree she sings well, but is really boring. Mishavonna promises if she gets through we’ll see the crazy. Sorry Mish, I don’t believe you, since you already broke your earlier promise that you wouldn’t let us down.

Adam Lambert - Satisfaction

He has been doing musical theater since he was 10 years old. During Hollywood Week Kara enlightened him that he wasn’t really connecting with the songs. He knows he has to make the songs more internal. He is going old school singing a Stones song. This song is going to feel odd with the canned music the contestants are using in this round. The first verse is extremely slow and nearly music free, and then it goes into its normal tempo. He has the most stage presence and he is adding a lot of himself to the original, adding a lot of higher notes and runs. He has a bluesy syncopated patch in the middle. Put a guitar next to Adam and a live band behind him and he could bring the house down. Unlike the other contestants tonight, his riffs feel organic and unforced. He goes all out on the final note. I’m sure Simon will find him indulgent, but I love it. Finally someone is willing to take a huge chance and not play things safe. All due respect to Danny, but this is the best of the season. Paula gives him a standing ovation. She doesn’t even have words to express how much she thinks she is watching an Adam Lambert concert. She says he is in a league of his own leaving the others in the rear view mirror. Simon thinks parts were excruciating bad, but loved other parts. Excruciatingly bad? Really? Simon saved some of his harshest comments for the night’s best performance. He predicts people will either love it or hate it, but thinks he’ll get through. Randy loved it. He thinks Adam is one of the most current artists they’ve ever had on the show. He cautions Adam to not over do things, but calls it the bomb. Kara calls his vocal technique and ability outrageous. She says he has crazy range. Adam tells Ryan he loves the Twilight books and movies. Congrats Adam, that just earned you the texts of millions of teenage girls. Adam is the first contestant this season to leave me with a ‘what will he do next’ feeling. I know some people might be scared by his over the top vocals, but this is a rock song – screaming is not only appreciated, it’s required! More than any other contestant Adam has the ‘wow’ factor. If they have an 80s hair bands theme night this season Adam is going to kill.

Final Thoughts

Jasmine still sounds like she picked a too safe song. Matt G. still sounds like a guy that should be playing piano and not singing. Jeanine still has great legs. Nick is still Norman. Allison is still Carrie-light. Kris is still full of unrealized potential. Megan is still fascinating. Matt B. is still a bar singer not worthy of the Top 12. Jessie is still sultry, but capable of much more. Kai is still boring but pleasant. Mishavonna is still forgettable. Adam is still the best tonight. Tonight was a reverse of last week; a few good performances wrapped in bad ones. Adam is guaranteed a spot in the Top 12. On the female side things get a little more complicated. Allison had the night’s best female vocals, the judges liked her, and she has really bright red hair. Therefore I think she makes the Top 12. The final spot, reserved for the next highest vote getter, is far more complicated. Jasmine and Matt G. were both early season favorites that under whelmed. Megan was quirky and interesting. Mishavonna and Kai were technically sound, yet boring. Norman was, well Norman was very special. Several people could win the coveted third sport, but I’m guessing it will be Megan. We know her back-story, she is a single mom, and she is very likeable. As much as I enjoy Norman’s antics, I hope he does not reach the Top 12. If he does, it might mark the beginning of the end for American Idol.


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