Last night, the girls trampled over the boys. It wasn’t even close.
Bo Bice: His band rocked. He, on the other hand, was boring. Bad song. Not terribly inspiring performance. The best thing about him last night was his little interview bit, in which he cleverly dances around all the drugs he did in the 90s to make him forget the whole decade.
Speaking of drugs: I’ve been watching AI for four seasons now. It’s almost sad to look at Paula Abdul. She used to be the den mother, there to provide support and encouragement in the face of Simon’s “meanness.” Now, though, she’s clearly out of her mind. She needs help. I’m not sure which drug it is she’s on, but she’s moved from self-caricature to someone in need of help. I used to joke about her taking “e” during the commercial break, but it’s just not funny anymore. Bring Deborah Gibson back to be the middle judge and let Paula get a room in Billy Joel’s wing of the Betty Ford Clinic.
Jessica Sierra may not have picked a good song, but she sang the hell out of it. Every note was spot-on. Her voice was clear and strong. Simon’s right that she has a problem connecting — you’ll see the comparisons later on with Carrie and Constantine. When those two look into the camera, they’re looking right at you and you feel it. Not so much with Jessica. Still, her voice is powerful and it would be a shame to lose it.
Anwar Robinson did “I Believe I Can Fly.” I’m not sure a grade school music teacher should be singing R. Kelly songs. I’m very happy to see the judges have been reading my critiques of Anwar, though. They finally nailed him for everything I’ve been talking about here in the past three weeks: Glory note at the end to make up for the slow start. Not able to carry the song completely. He’s not a bad singer, but he falls into the same playbook every week.
Randy Jackson needs to stop telling everyone that he’s “keepin’ it real.”
Nadia Turner tried on a Melissa Etheridge tune. I wonder if she’ll do “Black Velvet” next week. Will she follow Nikki McKibbin’s lead for the rest of the series? I thought she did a good job with the song, though. The only problem comes with her voice, in general. She doesn’t have that gravelly sound that’s really necessary to pull it off. She reaches for notes in those sections and, to my ear, comes off a half step short. She’s not off-key, per se, but just not quite powerful enough. It’s tough to describe. I think I just want something more karaoke-ish, perhaps. Good performance of the material, though.
Constantine Maroulis slowed it up this week with his best vocal performance of the season. He had a couple of notes that started a little shaky, but they both finished strongly, so people probably won’t notice them so much.
Remember what I said about Jessica’s lack of a connection? Watch Constantine. He knows how to work the camera. He’s staring into it for the entire song and singing directly at you. The Billy Idol sneer only came out once, and even then half-heartedly. Simon’s right — he did a better job than Bo this week, for sure.
Nikko Smith is one singer I vastly overestimated at the start of this competition. Those first thirty seconds were excruciating. After that, he sounded good. Once he got into the song and it picked up tempo, he was off to the races. He recovered well, but in a competition this strong, you’ll need to be consistently strong from beginning to end. All four girls were just that this week.
Anthony Federov did Elton John’s “Something About the Way You Look Tonight.” He didn’t copy Elton, either. He sang it higher in some spots, and I think that risk worked for him. He isn’t the strongest singer in the group, but I think he’s still good enough to go on. He should be in a Boy Band, though. Everything about his delivery screams that to me.
And what’s with all the ripped jeans tonight?
Carrie Underwood is the one to beat. Holy crap. She was amazing last night. This is that Martina McBride song that I couldn’t get the right title for earlier this year when someone else sang it. “Independence Day,” I believe? She came out strong, didn’t miss a note, pulled off the fast parts as well as the slow parts, and looked comfortable doing it. Yes, she sounded exactly like Martina McBride, but I think this is a good example of where karaoke can work.
Scott Savol committed career suicide tonight. This is the performance I can only title “Scott In Search of a Note.” Horrible. Off key. Pitchy. Terrible. It was an ambitious choice of song, all right, but he’s not capable of it. He was all over the map. Paula said he didn’t sound pitchy at all, at which point I came to the conclusion that she’s on Oxycontin and is losing her hearing.
Also, that little moustache type thing over his top lip really bothered me.
Kick him out now. Mercy killing, please!
Oh, yeah, this is your “crash and burn” performance of the night.
Vonzell Solomon did even better than Carrie Underwood. Again: holy crap. She sang a Whitney song and didn’t miss a single note, despite the vocal range necessary to pull it off. It was amazing. Vonzell is the real dark horse of this competition. Nobody really knew her at the start. But every week she’s getting a little bit better and showing herself off more. This week, she’s the girl in the spotlight. We have to keep an eye on her in the coming weeks, because she’s threatening Carrie right now. Hers was the performance of the night.
So, to rank them in order from best to worst: Vonzell, Carrie, Jessica, Nadia, then Constantine. You might be able to convince me to flip flop those last two. Anthony and Nikko are fairly close — almost interchangeable. Anthony gets a slight nod for not having such a horrific start, and probably as a point of personal preference. Bo was boring, Anwar stuck to a boring playbook, and Scott finally stunk.
Who do I think America won’t vote enough for this week? Three guys, that’s for sure. I’ll start with Anwar. The act is getting old. Scott deserves to be there, and I’ll put my faith in America that he will be. Bo hasn’t seen the bottom three yet, and his fan base may be taking that for granted. Combine that with an early and forgettable performance, and he winds up in the lowest grouping.
Anthony is on the bubble. I think he’s saved this week for being in the bottom three last week. His fan base was energized. I’d also consider Jessica to be on the bubble. Jessica’s there for a not-memorable song. As well sung as it was, it wasn’t enough to stick in people’s memories. Again, being in danger in past weeks might be enough to get her the votes this week. She’ll need a show-closing spectacle next week to save her, though. I really think that as good as she is, she’s not building the fan base that she needs to get too much further.
I’ll predict that this is the end for Scott, but my own fervent wishes might be clouding my worldview at the moment.