AI4 – Round of 10

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.


16 Responses to “AI4 – Round of 10”

  1. Sean
    30. March 2005 at 08:50

    For the first time, I was truly bored with nearly all the performances except four: Carrie, Nadia, Constatine and Vonzell.

    Bo picked a song that a BAND should do, not a solo performer. I thought Jessica was Carrie for half a second because of how well she sang her song. However, Simon is absolutely correct in that she has little stage presence and disappears in the crowd. Anwar is consistently boring and I thought he did a terrible job on really an impossible song to do well. Nadia took a chance and I think it payed off. I really liked her version of the Ethridge song. Augie, did you mean “Black Velvet” for her next song? Constatine hit one out of the park. He was fabulous. Nikko scared me with his “dance” moves at the beginning. It was the first time, he was shaky at the start and turned it up in the end A la Anwar. A-Fed bored me to tears. Hated the arrangement and the no glasses. Carrie sounded EXACTLY like McBride and I thought she would be called on it, but she wasn’t. I guess doing Karoke doesn’t matter if you do an awesome job. Scott hurt my ears for the first time all season. He has to be gone. Vonzell was killer.

  2. EzekielRawlins
    30. March 2005 at 09:21

    Last night was simply boring. Man, did Bo take a nose dive or what?! Nadia and Anwar are quickly wearing on me. Simon was right about Jessica, if she had the personality of my favorite trainwreck, she’d be doing a lot better now… Constantine really surprised me last night. I believe Anthony has indeed become this year’s, John Stevens.

  3. Mark
    30. March 2005 at 09:32

    Did anyone else think that Vonzell was totally doing karaoke? I closed my eyes during her performance, and I was seeing Whitney.

    And then they didn’t call her on it.

    The judges (or more appropriately, Simon) were WAY overselling the girls last night. And Constantine.

    Sure he looks into the camera, but he’s CREEPY. And he had way too much vibrato. Also, and this may just be me, but I don’t get any sincerity from him when he’s singing.

    And either Jessica or Carrie needs to go soon. They’re too much alike, and of the last four performances between them, all I can remember is “Total Eclipse of the Heart.” But I couldn’t tell you which one sang it.

  4. Augie De Blieck Jr.
    30. March 2005 at 09:32

    Sean – You’re right on the “Black Velvet” reference. I’ve fixed it in my writeup. Thanks.

    Ezekiel – There’s no comparison between Federov and Stevens. None. Stevens looked like a frightened kid on the stage, shook like crazy, and missed several keys of several songs. Federov sings on key and looks more confident, but is just being outsong by a stronger competition.

  5. Mark
    30. March 2005 at 09:33

    “Carrie sounded EXACTLY like McBride and I thought she would be called on it, but she wasn’t.”

    Because Simon’s usually the only one who calls people on karaoke, and I’d bet he’s never heard Martina McBride sing.

  6. Tracie
    30. March 2005 at 10:08

    All I can say is….Poor Scott. At first, I admired him for his confidence and humility. But now he must’ve been feeling the pressure. Poor guy, that was horrendous.

    And did Nikko almost fall at the end of his performance? OMG! I can’t tell what he’s doing up there.

    all of the contestants were dressed weird tonight except Nadia. They put Scott in that HUGE striped shirt. It didn’t fit him and he looked like Bruce Bruce….

    I’ve never read the comments about Paula before, but last night I knew something was wrong. My boyfriend asked me if she was drunk, but I was thinking Xanax…It was horrible! She couldn’t keep her eyes open.

    I was so scared when Vonzell opened with that first Whitney line….but Wow it was great. Still just an imitation of the original, but who can improve on a Whitney song? Not possible.

    We’re definitely losing a guy tonight. Anwar or A-Fed or Scott…..

  7. EzekielRawlins
    30. March 2005 at 10:09

    Mark-creepy is right, but for some reason, the girls seem to dig this guy with unwashed hair and non-brushed teeth, and who seems to have no clue what a razor is.

    Augie-it’s still sad to see Anthony get verbally-whipped every week by the judges.

  8. Noel
    30. March 2005 at 10:41

    When Scott performed, I turned to my wife and said, “Well, Anwar’s safe now.” Anwar’s performance was awful, but Scott’s was a disaster, and the fact that Paula loved both only goes to show that she needs to be fired from the show before next season. “Supportive” is one thing. “Tone deaf” is another.

    Anthony’s saved from the bottom three this week because I think he still has a fan base of teen girls. I expect Jessica might slip into the bottom because her performance was bland and Carrie has the “blond and twangy” vote sewn up. (Isn’t it interesting how many contestants are paired this year? Nadia and Vonzell. Bo and Constantine. Jessica and Carrie. Anwar and Nikko. I think they all may steal votes from each other.)

    I like Carrie okay, but I have to admit that she doesn’t excite me. She strikes me as a very insecure and vulnerable person, and I’d like to see her express that more in her performances, which all seem a little slick and overdone for my taste. But she sings well enough that any given week she could win me over, I expect.

    Still, I think Carrie gets a break because she’s a country singer and the judges don’t know much about country. She wouldn’t last long on NASHVILLE STAR.

  9. Michelle
    30. March 2005 at 11:17

    Here is one chick that is not drooling over Constantine. He’s creepy. He’s slimey looking. He reminds me of a frog or something. I just don’t get his appeal. I just about fell over laughing when he began singing a Bonnie Raitt song, right after talking about the grundge influence of the 90′s. That was too funny!

    While Carrie sang great last night, she lacks personality. It was weird watching her – almost like she wasn’t moving from the arms up. Really weird.

  10. Jeff
    30. March 2005 at 12:40

    Time to get rid of Anthony. It was terribly painful to sit through “The Way You Look Tonight”…I think he’s the only one I’m rooting against….so far.

    Carrie, Nikko, and Vonzell. All 3 blew me away. Nikko had somewhat hard song but he hit all the spots. Getting better by the week. And like I say every week…”Carrie is soooooooooo gonna win”

  11. Josh Herndon
    30. March 2005 at 13:29

    I honestly have to say that overall I wasn’t super impressed with anyone, even my personal favorites. Kind of a blah night for me. Be interesting to see what happens tonight.

  12. Michelle
    30. March 2005 at 14:57

    Was it me, or did Simon seem to be in a pissy mood last night?

  13. AI obsessed/ Bubbles
    30. March 2005 at 16:41

    I think Scott did an amazing job. He hit the right notes…even if he did falsetto. That was what it was like in the original, anyways. Just close your eyes and listen to his voice and you’ll realize that it’s beautiful. VONZELL was the star of the night!!! She was breathtaking!! I would’ve never guessed she had that much range…She’s my favorite girl performer now. I think Carrie did good but for some reason I just don’t like her. She just seems to be doing the same thing week after week(sans Alone by Heart) doing a country song. Enough country already!!! GEez…And has anyone noticed that she is Simon’s favorite? I think he’s a bit biased sometimes… I’m still gonna vote for you. I love you as a performer. Although I am starting to really miss the type of songs you used to sing in the semifinals.. I totally loved them before. I still like you do and keep voting for you. Jessica was okay but her song choice screwed her even though she sang every note right. BTW PEOPLE SHE, NOT CARRIE, SANG TOTAL ECLIPSE OF THE HEART!! She has a really great voice I’ll miss if she gets voted out. Constantine,surprisingly, was good… I loved his rendition but what I didn’t love was his stares and hair grabbing antics. We all know that the girls are the ones voting for him ang that’s why he does that but, man, don’t lay it on so thick…He was good though, I have to say that and for the first time, better than BO. For Anthony, I don’t know why but I like him even though he keeps doing the same type of songs. Also, it seems I’m the only one who liked seeing him w/o his glasses on. If anyone liked seeing him w/o glasses..speak up! Bottom 2:Anwar(he has done totally horrible these past few weeks. he also seems to be always nervous and doesn’t smile as often as before) Nadia(she gave an okay performance but I don’t like her voice..probably because it doesn’t have that much she demonstrated in Time after Time)

  14. Tracie
    30. March 2005 at 17:10

    I thought Anthony looked alot better without the glasses, but then they put him in that awful green-colored shirt!

  15. Anwar!
    31. March 2005 at 01:17

    Yeah, my boy Anwar is a bit of a disappointment. He has an awesome voice (the best tone and timbre in this competition), but like everyone says, can be pitchy when he’s singing quiet or in his lower register and seems to have limited range. He can only do the Moon River crooner ballads. A bit like John Stevens in that regard — way better of course, but still limited.

    Vonzell was absolutely brilliant. This was a landmark Idol performance possibly on par with Tamyra Gray’s A House is not a Home, Fantasia’s Summertime, etc. The best vocal performance this season, I would say.

  16. Anwar!
    1. April 2005 at 00:49

    Watched the video again carefully listening specifically for the flaws… Anwar actually did not have a pitch problem at all. He was a little bit lackluster at the beginning, yes, but he was awesome at the end and finished strong. I can honestly say that, objectively speaking, he was definitely better than Randy and Simon gave him credit for. Paula was right for once.

    Anthony Fedorov was also nowhere near as bad as Simon said. I thought he did a pretty good job. A thousand times better than he did earlier in Hollywood.

    Scott, however, was just awful. Randy was right this time — very very pitchy. Can’t believe Paula didn’t notice it.

    I also noticed a few pitch problems with Vonzell. Don’t get me wrong: it was an outstanding vocal performance, but certainly not flawless as I originally thought.