Wednesday, April 29, 2009

A Pack Of Rats

American Idol continues its trend of choosing ancient themes to ferret out the most relevant and current undiscovered artist. Tonight we get the oldest theme we’ve had in several years, but why not go back even further next time with a Bach or Mozart night.

Last season each person in the Top 5 performed two songs, but tonight they only get one thanks to Kara’s presence. So not only do we have to put up with her pathetic math skills and missed pop culture references, now we lose 5 performances. There are several big questions facing the remaining five contestants. Following his now predictable pattern, Adam is due another full speed adrenaline filled performance tonight, but will he be able to ‘spice’ up something from Sinatra and the boys? Which ‘I miss my dead wife but still love her dearly’ or ‘God is my savior and I can do all things through him’ song will Danny select tonight? How will Kris add an acoustic guitar part to a song from the 1940s? Will Matt sit behind the piano or run around the stage? If he can play the piano well enough to justify him sitting behind the instrument he could give a really ‘cool’ performance. Has Allison ever heard of the Rat Pack or any songs from its era? Heck has she ever even heard of the Brat Pack? Her ability to sing a song from the past could establish her as a legitimate contender for the finals. Kelly Clarkson, Allison’s near doppelganger, found success with a song from a similar time period. But, does Allison possess that much versatility? Will all the guys wear a suit and tie? Will Allison wear a proper dress with a tame hairstyle?

Ryan says the intensity of the competition is a constant evolution. Tonight they take on some of America’s most classic song, but who will set the standard? Get it everyone? They are singing standards so Ryan just made a wonderful Paula like play on words. The finale is only three weeks away and tonight we have the benefit of two phone lines for our voting ease. The band goes into a full musical number during and after the introduction of the judges. Is that a first? The remaining Idol hopefuls enter the stage all dressed era appropriately. This is the most lady-like Allison has looked all season. This week they got a mystery mentor. Could it be the ghost of Joey Bishop? Matt guesses Tony Bennett, Michael Bubble, or Rod Stewart. Little do they know, it’s actually In Living Color star Jamie Foxx! Idol then runs a video that tries to justify having Jamie Foxx on during the Rat Pack week, which fails miserably in its attempt. Sure he is a good singer and an even better actor, but come on folks, couldn’t you have picked someone that sings in this genre? How about someone old enough to have seen the Rat Pack in their prime on the Vegas Strip? Really, Jamie’s only qualification for his mentoring assignment comes from the fact he stared in a movie about a guy who was as old as the guys in the Rat Pack.

Kris Allen – The Way You Look Tonight

Kris Allen, wearing his first suit this season, is up first. Ryan, in a rare stand up interview asks him what he needs to do to stay in the competition. Kris says since there are only 5 of them left and they are all amazing all they can do is what they know how to do and hope it works. Ryan thanks us for making Idol a part of our evening and then sells itunes, but this week when you purchase the song you also get an autographed photograph of a Top 5 contestant. Ryan says Kris continues to win over America and wonders if he can do the same with Jamie. Gee, I’m going to guess yes Ryan. Jamie says Kris isn’t trying to win the throat Olympics; instead he is performing the song. Jamie says he would make a record with Kris, which shocks the southerner. Kris admits he cannot sing as well as the other Top 5, and he is shocked Jamie showered him with so many compliments. Kris is singing the song without his guitar, but he still has his creepy little facial hair. Right now he looks like a 15 year old that is desperately trying to grow a manstache. I’m a little surprised Kris didn’t rework the song to fit his style. He has been thriving in this competition more for his arrangements than his vocals. His voice is pleasant, but on this slowed down standard he sounds a little like a teenager trying to sound all grown up at his high school talent show. The pathetic attempt to become Magnum PI is not helping his cause. He is hitting the right notes, yet I expect more from Kris to mitigate his vocals deficiencies. He transition into his falsetto and then back down to his normal voice, and has a few issues. He finishes up the song going back into his falsetto, at first it sounds like he missed the right now and is flat, then he holds out the note for an extended period, which means he actually intended to hit that pitch and not scoop it up to another note. The unexpected note gives the song an interesting ending. Despite Kris singing the song rather well, there is just something missing from his performance (as Randy would say) for me tonight. I’m sure the teenager girls are all giddy over their ‘hottie’ all dressed up like it’s prom night. Randy says he is looking to see who is in it to win it and who has the steam to take it all the way right. He loves the song, and personally, thinks this is his best performance to date. He says Kris told a story and gave the song some R&B styling. Kara says songs from this era give people a chance to show off their technical ability and he set the technical standard very high. His impeccable phrasing, diction, rhythm and timing make him a true dark horse in the competition. Paula says he has made an amazing transition from the boy next door to a sophisticated gentleman. He is a contemporary crooner and she says he was near impeccable. Now I’m not suggested the judges are intentionally pimping Kris tonight, but it’s interesting Kara and Paula used the same word (a big word for each one) to describe Kris. Simon says it was good, but he is not quite as enthusiastic as the other judges. He says something about the performance or Kris being wet. Huh? Maybe that’s a British saying or something. Kris’s family has no idea what it means and you can see they are all confused and asking each other to translate. He says the performance was like a well-trained spaniel for a walk. It’s going to be safe and quite nice but he didn’t think it was incredible. He doesn’t believe Kris can win this competition based on tonight. Ryan asks Simon what he meant by wet, and Simon casually says he meant not dry. Kris could be Ryan’s little brother as they stand sit by sit on the stage.

Allison – Someone To Watch Over Me

She is in the mosh pit raising the roof as they go to a commercial. Little do all these people realize that the free photo you get when you buy itunes is actually an autographed picture of Sarver. Allison gets a sit down with Ryan. I guess since they don’t have two songs to sing they will all get the chance to show off some personality. Allison says its awesome being the only girl left, but she does miss the other girls. She celebrated her birthday by rehearsing and then her family gave her a surprise party on the third floor. Jamie says her singing is absolutely innocent. He says she is too young to have a love life, so instead she should focus on her family while she sings. If she does that she can shock the world. She is singing an original version of the song. I wonder if they were told not to mess with the standards by creating their own arrangements. Unlike Kris, this song does not feel too big for her vocals. Her rock stylings are an interesting take on this classic song and gives it a new feel. She is hitting all the right notes and showing more subtlety than she has on any other song this season. It’s nice seeing her show so much technical control of her voice. This might not be as monumental as Kelly’s performance in season one, but it’s a lot closer than I would have guessed. She is doing a fantastic job that far outpaces how well Kris sang only minutes prior. The judges better give her the credit she deserves, and by that I mean even more than they gave Kris. She finishes the song with a nice jump into her quiet falsetto. This is perhaps her best performance. If the judges say anything other than ‘best of the season for you dawg’ then we know the fix is in for Kris. Randy says he thought this genre might be tough for Allison. He says she looks like Brittany Murphy and sings like Pink with extra octaves. He doesn’t care what nobody tells her, she was the bomb and did the song in her own rock style and he loved it. Kara was starting to think Allison needed someone to watch over her when she fell into the bottom three, but she isn’t worried anymore. She thinks she picked up some new fans tonight by showing she isn’t just a rock chick. She gave a gut wrenching deep emotion way behind her years rendition. Kara says if that doesn’t land her in the finals she doesn’t know what will. Paula has been waiting for an Allison ballad and loved the fact she was both alluring and tender; she is really proud of the new 17-year-old. Simon asks her if she thinks she can win the competition at this stage. She says yes she thinks she can. Simon says he still doesn’t think she believes she can win, and he has a horrible feeling she could be in trouble tonight. Ryan asks for some clarification from Simon. Unlike the wet question, he actually answers this query. He says he didn’t feel, in terms of commitment and belief, the performance was a 10, instead it was a 7. Kara says she loves Simon, but he is crazy. Randy also defends Allison and says she was the bomb. The judges seem to be enjoying the freedom of talking as much as they want tonight.

Matt – My Funny Valentine

Matt gets another sit down with Matt while Ryan advertises the Idol tour. He is wearing his ‘I’m cool’ hat and is stoked about this week. He loves jazz and studied it in college; it’s a part of his life. Jamie says it’s a big song and had no suggestions for Matt. But, he ended up calling him back into the room. All of a sudden Jamie wants him to change the song’s key. Jamie says if Matt sings it in the new key in his full voice he could land at number one. Matt is sitting on the stool of emotion. He is delivering the song in a slowed down deliberate pace. Matt isn’t trying to be cool, like he does most weeks, which makes him actually cool. He even hits the right pitch when he enters the danger zone that is his falsetto. His voice starts to really soar when he gets into the middle of the song, but when he goes back down to his lower voice he loses the right pitch for a moment. I don’t think he made the key change Jamie requested, but he still sounds good. He finishes the song showing off some vocal prowess by hitting a big power note, probably his biggest one this season. Still, much like Kris earlier tonight, I feel there is something missing from this performance. Fun. Maybe that’s it, none of these contestants look like they are having fun tonight, and the Rat Pack was all about having fun with life. Randy says for him this is one of the hardest songs to sing ever, and for him it was just a little bit pitchy. He compliments him for adding some runs, but says only some of them worked while the others didn’t land right; he only gives it a 6 out of a 10. Kara says the competition is so tough tonight she needs Matt to be the leader of the pack. She didn’t think Matt made an emotional connection with the song. Matt assures her he was connected. Paula loves what he did with the song and loves the advice from Jamie. She says by lowering the key they got to hear a different side of Matt and she says he did an excellent job. Simon has to disagree with Randy (Paula is thrilled). He says it was the only believable authentic song tonight and he could tell Matt loved the music. He could hear Nat King Cole phrasing in the song and calls Matt brilliant.

Danny – Come Rain Or Come Shine

Danny steers clear of any ‘making fun of blind people’ moments as they go to commercial. Ryan gives us another itunes commercial and then introduces Danny and Jamie. Danny says he isn’t changing up the song much, just adding a bluesy feel. Jamie says Danny is really close, to what, he never says. Jamie uses a creative technique to get Danny to sing the song well. He gets up in ‘his grill’ and makes him sing while he is close enough to still French kiss him. Danny is at first befuddled, but finally relents and starts singing. Jamie says if he channels the song he will be fantastic. This really should be called the slow and sad Idol night. This is almost a first; he is hitting the right notes in the verses. Normally it takes Danny awhile to get going. He sounds better than he has in recent weeks. Thankfully he is using a microphone stand and avoiding the hand of emotion. Near the end the song picks up pace and power and Danny enters his ‘I’m screaming but all of my fans say I’m not screaming and only Adam screams voice’ and gets gospel with the standard. He tries to finish with a bang, but runs into some pitch issues on his final riff and then goes completely off pitch during his final note. However, Danny surpasses Kris and Matt for best of the night and is probably tied with Allison. At least someone finally brought some energy to the stage. Randy has to corral the crowd before he can start pimping Danny. Randy says it sounded like a ballad again and too safe, but Danny is the only one that could actually have an album of songs like that and win. He reminds everyone to forget about the connection because this is a singing competition and Danny can sing. Kara says she has been missing the Rat Pack swagger from Danny all season. She says his ending was the most creative he has been with a melody all season; it was unbelievable. She is starting to think he should do standards. Paula says it was a stellar stellar performance. She says Danny can see the finish line in front of him and finishes with a ‘way to go.’ Simon agrees with Kara and says he had swagger and confidence tonight. He felt tonight Danny came out to prove a point with his vocals and he showed what he was capable of – an outstanding performance.

Adam – Feeling Good

Adam, like Danny doesn’t get a sit down with Ryan. I bet after all of Kara’s talking they were running long on time and need to finish the show quickly. Nice job managing the time judges and Ryan. Adam is singing a version of the song that gives it a bit of a rock edge. Jamie says he is going to knock everybody’s head off with his version. Jamie is so impressed with Adam’s run through he doesn’t think Adam is nervous and he says ‘you don’t care about who I am at all.” And Adam laughs because inside he was freaking out because Jamie was standing three feet away from his face. See, if he had the Danny ‘Jamie is only 3 inches away from my face,’ then he would have been nervous. Adam starts the song at the top of the staircase, which is lit all in red. He starts the song in his upper register when he stops on the middle of the staircase. He struts down to the stage while the band plays the classic descending melodic line. Confidence and swagger have never been a problem for Adam, at least not on the stage, this is the one place in his life where he knows he belongs. He is changing around the melody to sound new and current. Having Danny and Adam go back to back really demonstrates the disparity in talent between the prayer and the screamer. Adam has more vocal ability than anyone in the history of American Idol. Yeah, I said it, because it’s true. This is the first ‘fun’ performance tonight. It’s like a ray of sunshine breaking through the clouds on a stormy day. Adam is even adding a little rasp to his voice. His ending is amazing. He suddenly goes into a massive power note and then holds it and holds it and holds it some more, and while continuing to hold the note he reads the paper, finishes up his late taxes, and does some yard work. The duration of the notes isn’t what’s most impressive, no, that can be found with how he ends the marathon note. Instead of stopping short and then starting a new note after a breath, he somehow dials back the volume and slides into several more notes, a mini riff, and then pauses before hitting the final note. Wow, if the judges do not give his boy mad props as the best of the night Congress needs to investigate the judges. Randy asks Adam to check it out and then says the song was a little too drama filled, theatrical, and Broadway for him, but he says Adam is in the zone and gave another good performance. Kara says he is shocking in a confusing and good way. She says he is way over the top but still likes him. Are you kidding me judges? That’s two judges that are confirmed idiots. They slurped up the Kris and Danny Kool Aid and now they are not sure about Adam? Let me remind you Randy, A FEW MOMENTS AGO YOU SAID IT WAS A SINGING COMPETITON AND ALL THE OTHER STUFF DIDN’T MATTER AND NOW YOU ARE SAYING HE WAS TOO BROADWAY – ARE YOU KIDDING ME? What was too Broadway about it Randy? The fact that he hit a lot of notes and was pitch perfect? Is that what you meant? Furthermore, this was a lot more Vegas then Broadway. You know Vegas Randy, the new home to over produced shows where Adam would be at home. If any of the other Idol contestants got on stage at one of the casinos no one would bother watching their performance, but Adam, everyone would stop and take notice. Paula says he makes he feel better than good. She says watching him is like watching the Olympics and he is their Michael Phelps. Wait a minute, did she just accuse Adam of taking a hit from a bong? Someone in the audience has a creative sign that says, “Adam is Wicked Cool.” Will Simon give this his ‘Ring of Fire’ treatment? Simon says Randy complaining about Adam being theatrical is like complaining that a cow moos. Simon loves season 8’s competition because unlike some years, he thinks most of the people actually want to win this time. He says Adam wants to win and prove a point every time he sings. He says Adam had quite an entrance and says Ryan is no longer allowed to use the stairs. And then he is done talking. So, let’s see, HE DIDN’T SAY ANYTHING ABOUT THE PERFORMANCE, ARE YOU SERIOUS? So we gave up 5 performance so Randy could say it was too Broadway, Kara could act confused, Paula could compare him to a swimmer, and Simon could ramble on about past seasons. Ladies and Gentlemen, your Idol judges! I think they have run out of nice things to say about his voice and if they say he didn’t sing it well they will be obviously lying, so instead they just act confused and avoid the topic.

Final Thoughts

Kris is still the little kid acting all grown up wearing his father’s suit. Allison is still more versatile than anyone thought. Matt is still in a lot of trouble if the voters get things right. Danny is still over singing his song and not emotionally connected. Adam is still feeling good. Taylor Hicks is on tomorrow night, which means Simon might actually skip the results show. Making him sit through a Soul Patrol performance is a bit like making a snake cross a recently waxed tile floor. Mean, but yet a lot of fun to watch. Not giving Adam the coveted ‘best of the night praise’ is a little like giving the MVP award to anyone other than Michael Jordan when he was in his prime. Sure you understand why it happens, but it still doesn’t make it the right or fair. Adam had the pimp spot and delivered a show stopping performance, so he should be safe. He was also the only person to take a chance and alter the original song to any significant degree. And for all the Danny lovers out there, your boy screams even more than Adam does, except it’s about 4 octaves lower. Danny is, well Danny is Danny, and his wife is dead, so he should also be safe. After the two frontrunners, things get really interesting tomorrow night. Kris seems to have much more fan support than Allison or Matt, but I wouldn’t be surprised if somehow he went home tomorrow night. Granted there were only 5 performances, but Kris did go first, for whatever that’s worth. In the end, I think he will be safe leaving Matt and Allison as the two most likely to go home and begin their careers in retail sales. Since I want Allison to remain the competition and I think we’ve seen all that Matt has to offer, I’m going to predict he will be the lowest vote getter. Somewhere Anoop is devastate the judges used their save on Matt. The Noop dawg would have loved all the slow and contemplative songs we heard tonight.


Post a Comment

<< Home