It’s week two of eliminations for the guys, which means Ryan is trying to look all butch this week. Instead of the Ladies Man ensemble, he’s wearing pinstriped black pants and a tight black t-shirt that says, “King Scene” across the front. (All Google searches on that term lead to LORD OF THE RINGS sites. I’ll trust someone reading this knows what kind of indie band it is that Seacrest is pimping here. Please drop a hint in the comments below.)
I expect to see softer colors and a sports jacket tomorrow night.
Onto the ten contestants for this evening:
Mario Vazquez will make the Top Twelve if there’s any justice in this world. Tonight’s performance of “I Love Music” fit his style, had a lot of bounce to it, and showed us that this week’s group wasn’t going to be about playing it safe with dreary ballads.
Just like old times on AMERICAN IDOL, though, the music mix is badly off. The background singers and band are up too loud, or the contestant’s microphone isn’t loud enough. It persists through the first half of the show. It’s all cleaned up, though, for the recap of the performances at the end of the show.
Anwar Robinson repeated last week’s performance of “Moon River” with this week’s “What’s Going On.” He starts off slow and perhaps a touch shaky. And with a minute to go, he turns it on, stretching every note out and screaming like there’s no tomorrow. It’s an engaging performance, but the early shakes are not forgotten. And, quite honestly, it’s the same performance as last week, except without the stool.
While I think he deserves to go through to next week, I want to see something different from him before I continue my support.
Joseph Murena is smooth and clean. I liked his voice just as much this week as I did last. He’s mature. He’s clean cut. He doesn’t stand a chance on this show, but I like him. He’s the brown-haired Clay, in a way, although he has to be careful not to come off too Boy Bandish. Singing “Let’s Stay Together,” he keeps from going karaoke and injects himself into the song. I liked it, but it’s not the strongest performance of the night. It’s good and solid, but not spectacular.
Simon compares the performance to a “Portuguese nightclub” act, which furthers the giddiness between him and Ryan. Those two were like high school sweethearts for the entire show. Ryan had a tough time composing himself on a couple of occasions. The giggles almost got him. I love live television.
David Brown is possibly the first crash and burn of the season.
That’s the same exact sentence I wrote last week. Oddly enough, he’s the weakest performance again this week. Paula is right when she says he left the sparkle behind. He sounded pitchy, the low notes were a lost cause, and those riffs and warbles and runs were annoying attempts to cover up for his faults. This is two bad weeks in a row, and my easy pick for Most Deserving to be Voted Off this week.
Constantine Maroulis does better this week than last, with “Hard to Handle.” However, I was left speechless at the end of it. I didn’t know what to think. Honestly, my notepad is blank on this spot. I’m not sure what I saw. It seemed too laid back in spots, like he was careful to enunciate the words carefully and that took the energy out of the song. But, then, he’d spice it up with his own little guttural screams and flailing movements, and I’d see life returning to the song.
He seems to be the nice guy rocker, but Bo Bice is proving to be the better rocker. More on his later. I think Constantine is safe, but I think he’s in trouble in the long run.
Scott Savol is not someone I can support anymore. I’m done with him. Bad song choice again this week. (“Never Too Much?”) The judges loved him. I didn’t. Horrible song that he mostly talked through. His choreography was too on the nose, with every lyric acted out literally by his arm. His eyes never opened up. He picks horrible songs. And the dancing is underwhelming.
I’m ready to vote him off now. He’s used up all his chances for me. There’s a great voice there somewhere, but he doesn’t want to use it.
Travis Tucker crashes and burns with a Jamaican accented “All Night Long.” It’s not a terribly challenging song, as the judges point out, but he spent too much time and effort on the extreme choreography. He ran out of breath to sing. There’s one every year to fall for that. This was a classic example of why you shouldn’t sing and dance on this show. Not too many people can handle it.
Travis is a nice guy with a winning smile and a good voice. But I don’t think he’s good enough.
Aside: Whenever the camera cuts to the girls cheering the guys on, it’s almost always Amanda Avila and Lindsey Cardinale. They sat in the right spots, I guess.
Back to the singers:
Nikko Smith does a great job with Barry White’s “Let’s Get It On.” (Sorry – it’s Marvin Gaye. Thanks, Wes.) Very impressive. He hits one bad note on the word “bush,” but it’s easily forgiven. So is his pre-taped interview bit where he talked about wanting to spread the joy of music around the world. UGH
Simon Cowell says he looks like Bobby Brown, which is true. The lack of a hat helped that along. I thought he looked like ESPN SportsCenter’s Stuart Scott in certain shots, too. Must be the suit jacket. He definitely looked older and more mature with that hat and more formal clothing on.
Anthony Federov did a great job with Foreigner’s “I Want To Know What Love Is.” This is where he starts to really pour on the Clay Aiken. Ryan asked him about this tonight, and he said it was nice to be compared to someone that successful, but that he wants to be his own man. He is. Clay could have held those notes much longer. Still, he’s very good, but he does have one minor problem that Jennifer Hudson had last year: When holding a note, he starts quivering his jaw.
Also, his voice tends to recede a bit whenever the background singers join in. He needs to overpower them with his own instrument, and not hold back to join in the harmony.
Bo Bice wraps things up with a sterling performance of the Allman Brothers’ “Tied to the Whipping Post,” a delightful piece of S&M imagery for the family show that is AMERICAN IDOL. ;-)
He rocks out where Constantine went more poppy. Simon compares it to LaToya London’s “All By Myself,” but I’m not quite sure it goes that far. It is impressive, though. Does it belong on the short list of best single song performances of all time on the series? That list is getting longer now that we’re into the fourth season. Those career-defining songs don’t happen all that often, and need to shed new light on a singer. I’m not entirely sure this is it for Bo, but right now I think he’s clearly winning the Battle of the Rockers on AI.
To wrap it all up: I’d kick off David and Scott this week. I think it’s more likely that David and Travis will be the two to go this week, but I know better than to predict these things anymore.
My overall ranking for the night, from best to worst:
Bo, Anthony, Nikko, Mario, Joe, Constantine, Anwar, Scott, Travis, David.
Remember that this is all relatively speaking, and that the spacing isn’t all even. I think the top three, for example, were exceptional and it’s probably only my familiarity and enjoyment of Foreigner’s song that put Anthony just a hair above Nikko. David is deep in the cellar for me, but I still hold out hope for Travis. I put Scott above Travis, because I’ll give him mercy points for my not liking the song to begin with.
Tomorrow night: Ladies!