American Idol Top 8 — Songs of the Cinema

14 04 2011

When American Idol first started this season, I chalked up the judges not giving constructive criticism as them trying to get comfortable in their new roles. A few weeks in, Jennifer Lopez began giving really great advice to all the contestants. Randy chimed in with the occasional outright criticism about how he didn’t like it, but no real advice on how to make things better. Steven Tyler is jazzed just to be there. That period of constructive criticism did not last very long; now all we see week after week is a love fest. I know there is a discrepancy between what they hear in the audience versus what we hear on the television (and at times Simon would come back and say how something was horrible or better after he listened back to it later), but it cannot be that much. What exactly is in their drinks and why do they keep dubbing out comments (I experienced this on Directv and a friend on Comcast said the exact same place was dubbed out on theirs). The judges need to do their job–judge. It is not pleasant. It is not easy. But Scotty doing an Elvis song last week was excruciatingly painful for me to listen.

Tonight it was “Songs of the Cinema.”

Paul opens for the show with another loud outfit. It does set him apart in the style department, but this is not Project Runway. He chooses “Old Time Rock N Roll” by Bog Seger. He stated that every time he goes out there, he imagines he is doing his encore. I think he needs to dial it back a bit and think about just performing a good show. Paul seems like a happy, upbeat, pleasant individual–the kind of person I like to hang out with. The question is this: Would I spend my very tight budget in this hard economic times on music he makes after Idol? My answer would be no.

Anyone can sing a Miley Cyrus song better than Miley Cyrus. She has a good recording voice, but every time I have seen her perform live, I cringe. Jimmy Lovine tells Lauren that she sang the song “The Climb” from The Hannah Montana Movie better than Miley Cyrus. Again, not hard to do. Lauren has a good voice, but she was all over the place. I had such high hopes for Lauren when I saw her at the audition. This was better than Paul, but still no goosebumps.

If American Idols of days past have learned, never ever sing a song that talks about “leaving”, “goodbye” etc. Stefano wants to take it to the next level with another ballad, this time from Boyz II Men. Singing “End of the Road” might just seal his fate as the person who goes home this week.

I cannot comment about Scotty. I just do not like country music. Scotty has a good voice and people like him despite him sounding exactly the same on every song. I went to get my dinner at this time.

Presenting “Nature Boy” or “In the Air Tonight” to Jimmy Lovine and why-am-I-here, they tell him to go with Phil Collins. Casey sticks to his guns and does “Nature Boy.” While I am partial to the Celine Dion version, I was not sure, at first, if I liked it or not. I listened to the song later without watching him and I enjoyed it a great deal more.

Haley needed to go home weeks ago. From seeing Nigel Lythgoe’s reaction to her a few weeks ago when they panned the camera over to him, I think he is her biggest fan and might explain some of what is going on with her. I feel insulted as a woman the way she acts–slutty. Singing “Call Me” by Blondie from American Gigolo did not help her cause with me one bit. It was a blonde mess. This must be the year of Idol grunting: Casey does it and Haley does it. In order for Haley to win me over, she needs to: 1) get through this week and 2) dress simply and sing without all the gimmicks. Let me hear your natural voice.

Someone found the guts to say what needed to be said: Jimmy Lovine. He told Jacob not to lecture the American people. Jacob appeared to take this to heart. I was worried about Jacob’s choice: “Bridge Over Troubled Water” by Simon and Garfunkel. After Clay Aiken did an amazing job on this song, it was bound to be compared to it. I tried very hard to judge it just on its own merits. If I closed my eyes and just listened to the song, I enjoyed it a great deal.

Closing the show was James Durbin singing Heavy Metal, a Sammy Hagar song that he was doing for Cole from Make-A-Wish. On the guitar was Zakk Wylde from Ozzy Osbourne’s gang. I love James and have him in the top 2 spots on the show. This performance was not his best, but it was a crowd-pleaser. James just loves being a rock star and brings in the whole audience.

My top 3 (in order): Casey, Jacob, James

My bottom 3 (in order): Paul, Stefano and Haley with Haley going home (my wish) but I think this might be the “End of the Road” for Stefano.

Who are yours?

American Idol Top 12 — Haley Will Go Home

17 03 2011

Since there are only a few hours left, I’d better get my thoughts up about Wednesday night’s show. The theme was “songs from the year you were born.”

This week I was not cranky. Everyone was having an off night. When the earth shifts on its axis, you can bet that many other things in life are out of harmonious sync with each other.

Naima chose “What’s Love Got to Do with It” from 1984. It started the night off rocky. I assumed she took the criticism last week that she was pitchy but because the song was done so well, they were giving her a pass on the song being out of tune. This did not have a lot of dancing in it, but it, too, was out of tune. I was worried for her until…

Paul McDonald. He was feeling under the weather (so I think voters will be less harsh on him). “I Guess That’s Why They Call It the Blues” from 1984 was horrible. Paul’s father sang better in the interview.

Today happens to be my birthday (March 17), so when I heard that Thia was born in 1995, the same year as I son, I suddenly felt old. She sang a boring rendition of “Colors of the Wind” from Pocahontas that had way too much vibrato. I secretly smiled when JLo brought up the same issue.

Having recently undergone a makeup that debuted at the Paley Center, James Durbin chose “I’ll Be There For You” by Bon Jovi from 1989. It was a little off key, but at that point was the best song of the night. I like this new look for James. For what he lacked in his song he made up with his personality when he invited Steven Tyler to sing Aerosmith with him in the finale.

And then we had Haley who I predict is going home tonight. She chose a Whitney Houston song, “I’m Your Baby Tonight.” During the interview, she said, “I don’t know where I get my talent from.” I was shaking my head in agreement. I don’t know where the talent is either baby. The outfit, too, was horrible. She reminded me of that crazy girl from “The Stand.”

Stefano needs to stop looking up in the air and singing for himself. From 1989, he chose, “If You Don’t Know Me By Now” If I looked away and didn’t look at him singing, I enjoyed the vocals. Now he needs to make a connection to the audience. After I made the comment on Twitter, so did JLo. Can I have her job?

This week was not a good week for Pia Toscano. I believe, in fact, it was her worst Idol performance thus far and I’m a big Pia fan. She chose “Where Do Broken Hearts Go” that sounded like a disco in the background, but she remained trying to sing it like a ballad which made for a very awkward sound. She wasn’t getting up with the tempo. The pantsuit was horrible as well. She’ll be safe though.

When I saw the interview about Scotty doing Elvis impersonations and heard them, I shook my head and said, “This is going to be a disaster.” But he sang a country song instead. I can’t critique him. I don’t know country music.

Karen Rodriguez, also born in 1989, did “Love Will Lead You Back.” It needed to be better than Taylor Dayne’s version and it wasn’t, but it was much better than last week’s. Her outfit was funny. People on Twitter were comparing her to a cross between Uhura and Snooki.

Performing the first Nirvana song, Teen Spirit, from 1991, Casey was the only performer this evening who played with a musical instrument. It was for the most part wonderful, but even Casey was off. He needed to be a bit more serious when singing it though; I felt like he was doing something for some Halloween show where he was just goofing off. Wonderful talent though and he will be safe for next week.

Lauren Alaina has the flu and I can already tell you that will keep her safe this week. She decided to switch back to a little bit rock-and-roll and I liked the Melissa Etheridge song, “I’m The Only One.” Even with the flu, she sounded better than some of these contestants tonight.

Jacob Lusk (a.k.a. “Lusky”). He is another contestant that when I close my eyes and do not look, I like his singing a lot better. He did the most overused song in Idol history: Heart’s “Alone.” He, too, did well for the most part, but there were a few sharp notes in there but he did recover well.

My prediction is: Haley will go home.

American Idol Top 13

10 03 2011

American Idol Top 13

After having a medical procedure on Wednesday, I was tired and crabby. I maybe should not have watched American Idol tonight because I was critical of EVERYONE.

Tonight’s our Top 13 had to sing songs that were from their own personal idols’ collections. My personal idol is my son, so he would probably make me sing something like Hymn 43 by Jethro Tull. That is, by far, his favorite song, but his face lights up when I sing Katy Perry’s “Firework” (without any air-microphones or pretend microphones) and dance around him like I was giving him his own personal concert. Since he is nonverbal, I’m going to assume that he likes it versus him thinking his mother is off her rocker.

Lauren Alaina was up first singing Any Man of Mine by Shania Twain. I wished she would have stayed a little bit rock-and-roll versus a little bit country. Every season needs a girl rocker. Since I dislike most country music, she gets demerits for that alone. Not knowing the song, it is hard to judge it, but I thought it was average.

I like Casey Abrams. He reminds me a little bit of David Cook with the goofiness. I wonder what he would look like without the beard. He tries to do “I Get By With A Little Help From My Friends” from Joe Cocker. I was not feeling it (it was only later in the evening that I figured out it might be me and not them).

Ashthon Jones needed to redeem herself for getting a place in the Top 13. It was sharp and out of tune quite a lot. There was no wow factor. I think she will be going home tonight.

Paul McDonald brings a unique voice to the group, but he vocally sounds like a young Rod Stewart and moves like Joe Cocker. I just don’t know what to make of that. He sang a Ryan Adams song, “Come Pick Me Up” that I was not familiar with either. I imagine he is safe though.

One does not pick a Celine Dion song without slaying it. Actually Pia Toscano picked an Eric Carmen song that was reinterpreted by Celine Dion. There was a part in the middle when she had to get that high note that she used all her breath control to get to the high not, but then could not sustain it. I liked it, however. It took moxey.

I ruminated last night about why I’m so hard on James Durbin. He sang a great rendition of “Baby I’m Amazed” by Paul McCartney. There are arguments going on within the autism community itself about whether or not he even HAS autism (not making a judgment here; just letting you know some people think he just suffers from Tourette’s). I want him to be better because I do not want people voting for him “because he’s the guy with autism.” I want them to vote for him because they like him and they like his singing.

Haley Reinhart decided to go a little bit country herself with “Blue” from Leann Rimes. The yodeling part was impressive. I was worried she was going to have a wardrobe malfunction because when they panned the camera to her back side there was a huge gap between the dress and her skin in the bra area.

Jacob Lusk needs new role models. Seriously, dude, R. Kelly? A pedophile as a role model is not going to get you votes. “I Believe I Can Fly” was the song but he was flying all over the place with that song. He was out of key most of the song. But when you are doing runs like that, some people cannot tell the difference between something in-tune and something that is over the top.

Having had an outstanding performance last week with “Out Here on My Own” I was looking for another song to set her apart from the group. “Smile” is a hard song to sing. You need either great acting skills or life experience. At Thia Meglia’s tender age, I’d have to say iffy on both. Backstage, even she knows she might be in trouble. She might be in the bottom, but Ashthon will go home.

I always find it funny when mentors point out the “don’t close your eyes” when you sing. We believe, as singers, when we close our eyes, it is emanating deep emotion. It was the same criticism Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber gave to David Archuleta a few seasons ago. Just like with David, you could see Stefano Langone fighting back closing his eyes to the entire song of “Lately” by Stevie Wonder. He wound up squinting. It looked weird.

Karen Rodriguez did not do herself any favors singing Selena’s I Could Fall In Love. She had a very difficult time in her lower register. But when she was in a good register, her voice sounded pretty. No one was making my night tonight.

Scotty McCreedy looks like he could share some ancestral tree with Clay Aiken. And Just like with Clay I never expect the voice that comes out of him to come out of him. I’m sure country music fans love him and his music. Singing Garth Brooks “The River”, for me he was just floating on an inner tube on that river as I waved to him from shore.

I was excited to hear what Naima Adedapo was going to come up with. As is tradition, the last song of the night is usually reserved for the best performance. Having barely made it into the Top 13, she had to make this night count. She was out of tune quite a lot during “Umbrella” but I liked the rapped part in the middle and it showed a different side of her. Goodbye lounge singer. Hello to someone who is more contemporary.

For me, no one stood out Wednesday night. I have not gotten goosebumps yet. I am looking forward to seeing Adam Lambert on Thursday night’s show. I predict the person going home will be Ashthon.

Who were your stand-out performances? Who missed the mark? Who failed to impress? Discuss.