S10E22: Maybe it’s the let-down after all the drama of the one and only save last week, but I was bored out of my mind for most of last night’s American Idol. It was Elton John night and by all rights, that should be awesome because he’s one of my personal favorites, not to mention one of the best songwriters out there. This should have been a piece of cake. Instead, it was more like that awful grocery store cake with that hard frosting that tastes like sugar-coated cardboard. There were a few standouts, but for the most part the contestants let the songs carry them instead of taking hold and really performing the hell out of them. It’s not that these folks aren’t talented, in fact at this point, I’m almost over making specific vocal criticisms because we already know their voices. At this point it’s a matter of figuring out who has what Steven calls the “what is is-ness” and who’s a pretty voice but little else.
No matter what, two folks are going home this week and for once, I could name more than three people who should face that chopping block. The judges may be blowing smoke up everyone’s asses, but I’m done being nice. If Simon’s not here to do it, someone has to and I have more than a few folks I think deserve to be in the bottom three during tonight’s elimination round.
“Bennie and The Jets”
If you’re not down with Haley at this point, I don’t think you ever will be. I also think you might want to have your head checked out. I’ve said it over and over and OVER, but this girl has got some serious pipes and not only did she give us that last night, but she got more comfortable on the stage. That was the missing piece, and now she’s got it all going on. I loved every second of this performance. Every last one.
“Candle In The Wind”
This is another example where the girl finally hit her stride. She’s been giving us Shania Twain/Carrie Underwood style performances, romping around the stage, proving that she’s a natural performer but not really connecting on an emotional level. With this song, she finally, FINALLY took that voice and that stage presence and connected it with an emotional component and the result was a beautiful, fantastic performance. I’ve actually got nothing bad to say. Imagine that.
I was not happy that he chose this song. I was expected some Joe Cocker-style rendition of “Crocodile Rock” or something similar, but he chose a slower, softer song, reserving that bluesy growl for the emotional high-point of the song and you know what? It rocked. I hope America saw what I did, because this guy deserves to stay. He’s genuine and infinitely entertaining. The great thing about Casey is that I’m pretty sure if he gets voted off again, he’ll still have a career. And you know what? He may actually fare better in the actual music industry if he’s voted off sooner.
We all know I love Paul almost unconditionally – even when he danced around that Ryan Adams song and had all of Brooklyn raising their fists in anger before realizing that talking about Idol is so uncool. This performance was great because not only did he bring that crazy jacket out of retirement, but he chose a perfect song for him and just did his thing. I agree with Randy in that Paul should really push his voice because he’s definitely the type of artist who’s got an interesting enough sound that a few pitch issues here and there and won’t really be a problem. I’m just hoping the rest of the country can get on board. I know he doesn’t have crazy range, but with the variety of styles this year, it seems that Idol is more about the whole package and not just who can hit the highest note.
First, OF COURSE he chose the Elton John song with the word “Country” in it. Second, the only reason I’m putting Scotty down this far is because he’s so one-note, but as Jimmy Iovine noted, it’s a damn good note. My only complaint with Scotty these days is that simple fact, but as a performer he’s really got it down. He’s very niche, but in that niche he’s pretty damn flawless.
“Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word”
Like Scotty, Jacob isn’t this far down for lack of talent. He’s a fantastic singer, there’s no doubt about that. It’s a matter of performance here. Once again I agree with Jimmy Iovine; before Jacob performed, he said that if he overdid the drama it would kill the performance and that’s just what Jacob did. He’s got incredible power, but just like staying in one soft place for an entire song is boring, so is staying at full volume for an entire song. We need some dynamics in there, or that vocal talent is going to waste.
It’s not good when your solo rendition of a classic song pales in comparison to a bunch of kids singing it together on a bus like they did in Almost Famous. Not good. Stefano can sing, no one is denying that, but this song carried him. He was not making it his own at all. I just kept thinking about how all I wanted was to hear Elton or Billy Crudup and Kate Hudson take the reins from him. Like I said, at this point it’s not about sheer talent, because these folks all have it. It’s about the whole package and I don’t think Stefano’s got that.
“Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me”
Pia, Pia, Pia. Girl’s got pipes for days. She sings effortlessly. BUT IT’S BORING. Every week she does a ballad. Every week she stand in one place and sings a pretty song. And every week we want more. I think Celine Dion is boring, but at least the woman puts on a show. Pia looks like she’s in a pageant, not trying to become a recording artist. A good voice will only get you so far. Her performances lack personality and that lack was palpable last night. Side note: why would she promise that she would move next week? How about you put it all out there on a week when TWO people are getting sent home. Sounds like a copout to me.
“Saturday Night’s Alright For Fighting”
This was fun, I’ll give him that. But you know what else was fun? That time in high school when the football team dressed up like flappers and performed “All That Jazz” at the Airbands Competition. Not even a flaming piano (yes, there was a flaming PIANO) could mask the fact that James is all show and no substance. The judges keep calling him an artist and I want to throw up. He’s not an artist. If you took away all that show, he’d just be a mediocre singer with a lot of bravado.
It pains me to put Thia down this far, but at this point, she really doesn’t deserve my sympathy anymore. She’s got that lovely, little jazzy voice but even when she came out of her shell last week with heat wave, it looked like a talent show at Lawrence Welk. I want to like her, I really do, but she’s just too sleepy. She needs a lesson in stage presence, but she’s only 15 so she’s got time to improve. Her time just isn’t now.
“I’m Still Standing”
This wasn’t even the same song once Naima got ahold of it. But it’s not just the arrangement that bothered me. It was the whole presentation. Jennifer got all indignant when Randy called it cheesy but you know what? It was pretty damn cheesy. It’s also annoying because while Naima’s got a great voice, she’s someone different every week. How are we supposed to get behind someone who’s all over the place? How can we be fans when she’s can’t figure out who she is as a performer?