American Idol Top 7 — 21 Century Week

21 04 2011

The world complained week after week about the judges and finally they WOKE up, well perhaps just JLo and Randy, but the 5-second delay has come in quite handy for Steven Tyler’s comments. When the judges start getting booed, you know you are getting close to providing the appropriate amount of constructive criticism. However, you could see Jennifer Lopez cringe when the audience booed at her for the comments she made to Scotty.

Tonight’s theme was songs of the 21st century. I think it was a smart pick. Overall, last night was the best I’ve heard everyone sing with a few exceptions.

I think Scotty misunderstood the assignment. The song “Swingin” is a 1983 hit from John Anderson originally, not Lee Ann Rimes. For Scotty, upping his game is switching hands to hold the microphone. He needs to step out of his comfort zone and surprise us with being able to sing something else, for example, when David Cook sang “The Music of the Night.” Instead of making it a rock tune, he sang it as if he were singing it on Broadway. It made him stand out as a well-rounded performer. David Cook will be performing tonight on Idol, so be sure to tune in. Scotty looked very uncomfortable getting constructive criticism from the judges. I put that on the judges. He needed constructive criticism the week he sang the Elvis song.

Certain to be within the top 2 or 3 in the finale, James Durbin chose “Uprising” from Muse. I love James. “Uprising” has been sort of a theme song for me of my rebellious streak. I love Muse. The music started off rough. His lower vocal register needs some work. The chorus was great. The marching band was crazy weird.

I have been very vocal about not being a Haley fan. When I heard she was going to tackle an Adele song, I was worried….for the song. She chose “Rolling in the Deep.” I agree with Jimmy Lovine that she can sing the song, but she has to FEEL the song. I think at her tender age, she has not had the life experience to pull this off. There were parts of the song that were great; the growling is getting old. One growl would have been fine, but she just kept on and on. I did like her dress tonight. I would say it was Haley’s personal best.

“Dance With My Father” by Luther Vandross was Jacob’s pick. His story was filled with emotion and I was with him feeling his pain during the rehearsals. There was a pause within the song and we all thought it was because of his emotion. The judges had some constructive criticism for him, especially Jennifer, about needing to find the line between showing his emotions and becoming so emotional you cannot sing the song. At the end, Jacob blamed it on the equipment. It very well could have been the equipment, but it made it look like he was deflecting the criticism by putting blame on an external source.

Casey was up next. I enjoyed the video where the other Idols are imitating things about him. It was the funniest one of the bunch. Casey chose “Harder to Breathe” by Maroon 5. I like Casey’s voice a lot when he is not growling. What IS it about the growling this year? I have a hard time with his facial expressions because I don’t believe in their sincerity. It’s a dichotomy between wanting to be serious in his singing, and wanting to be a clown in his performance. It comes off very strange at times. The kiss given to Jennifer Lopez was creepy, but it might save him from being in the bottom 3 this week.

Also achieving a personal best this week was Stefano singing “Closer” by Ne-Yo. On Twitter, when Joey Guerra, music critic of the Houston Chronicle, suggested that he was like a member of a boy band trying to go solo, I responded, “Yes, yes, like a replacement player for O-Town.”

I think they put Lauren at the end of the show not because she was the best performance but rather because they desperately want to keep one of the last two girls on the show. Lauren looked beautiful and said “Born to Fly” by Sara Evans. I am not familiar with this song because I don’t listen to country music, but it sounded good. My eye, however, was turned more towards the musician on the violin. He was outstanding.

My top 2 for the evening: Casey and James.
My bottom 2 for the evening: Stefano and Scotty

Who do you love? Who do you think will go home?

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.