AI5 – Round of 6 – Love Songs

David Foster is a bastiche. And I love him for it. They should bring him back every season to play the “cranky contestant coach.” He reminded me a bit of Barry Manilow, in that he has a deep musical knowledge. Barry was nice about it, though. Foster growled and grimaced and shot the kids down. It was fun to watch.

It also helps answer the question, “How do you make a full hour out of six songs?” Easily: You extend the video introductions to each song, and you let the judges ramble on until time runs out and you can’t say boo about Chris. As a bonus, give more air time to [tag]Coca-Cola[/tag].

Oh, yeah, Andrea [tag]Bocelli[/tag] was there, too, but more as a figurehead promoting an album than an actual musical coach. He seems like a nice enough guy, but all they needed was David Foster. The problem would have been that Foster wouldn’t pull in the middle-aged woman audience as much as Bocelli does with his legion of [tag]PBS[/tag] fans.

[tag]Katharine McPhee[/tag] began the night with a really strong rendition of [tag]Whitney Houston[/tag]‘s “I Have Nothing.” It was a little breathy in spots and perhaps she smiled a bit too much, but it was a strong vocal with some personal flair added to it. That’s why I think the judges are absolutely off-their-rocker nuts with the comments they gave her. It’s the trap of being the first contestant — everyone else is left, so the judges don’t want to peak too soon. What if the next contestant is better and you just told the first one she’d be hard to beat tonight? So the first contestant almost always gets the worst of it, in an attempt to set a baseline. The judges were all over the place trying to put her down for no good reason. The comments that they think she’s trying to say she’s better than Whitney in her pre-crack prime by singing that song are ridiculous. Randy thought the song was too big for her, which it clearly wasn’t.

Katharine wore a yellow dress that didn’t exactly make her look pregnant. Her breasts were on full display, held as tightly down to her chest as they could be.

If McPhee goes home, it’ll be a damn damn shame. I find it funny how just a couple of weeks ago, people commented about how obvious it was that the judges wanted McPhee to win and so they shaded all their comments in that direction. I’m wondering what those people think after her unwarranted brutal slamming this week?

On the other hand, the judges’ comments worried me enough that I spent a lot of time on the phone dialing in votes for McPhee. I must have gotten through a couple dozen times. Chris’ lines were jammed during the same time frame. It’s never a good sign on Idol when your favorite’s phone lines are so easy to get through on.

I’d like to think I exemplified an IDOL voting pattern — if the judges blast you, your fans will get their revenge by dialing even harder. Maybe that’s exactly what the judges had in mind with their nasty comments?

Oh, and Sasha Cohen is in the audience! I actually don’t know how you get into a taping of AI, anymore, unless you’re a star. That place was packed more than the ED SULLIVAN SHOW in its grand old days. Not all the stars had FOX sit-coms this time, either.

[tag]Elliott Yamin[/tag] went with Donnie Hathaway’s “A Song For You,” after explaining why he chose it at great length in the first of several Coca-Cola moments in the show. (That’s another good way to pad out the hour.) The prepackaged video showed him working with Foster on the singing of the word “remember.” Foster went over it a dozen times before Elliott did it right. Then, Elliott did it differently in the performance. Go fig.

It was an impressive vocal, although the song bored me. Randy didn’t like the arrangement, so maybe that’s what threw me. Elliott was more understated than usual. He stood mostly behind the mic stand, dressed in a suit and tie (that matched Ryan’s), and didn’t go bendy at the knees with his hands shaking out like a hip hop superstar. That was nice.

Paula then went into the first of several displays of her insanity, as she wept openly during her comments. If you don’t believe she’s on drugs, then you’re only fooling yourself. Why AI renewed her contract is beyond me. She’s an embarrassment. They might as well have Whitney Houston up there on the judging platform. Your odds of seeing a sober judge are the same.

[tag]Kellie Pickler[/tag] crashed and burned again this week. She’s by far the weakest singer on the show and she knows it. There’s one every season, and she’s it this year. Her pain and agony in singing songs she knows she’s not capable of singing will, I fear, linger on for another couple of weeks. That’s the pattern we’ve seen on Idol before. She’ll go out either fifth or fourth, and everyone will breathe a sigh of relief. Some will just be angry that their favorite got ousted first.

Her first mistake was in picking a song we’ve known for years is Simon’s favorite, “Unchained Melody.” She might have saved herself by doing a country version of it, but she couldn’t even pull that off. The performance was flat, off-key, boring, routine, karaoke, monotonous, dull, disconnected, and garish. Other than that, her country twang was strong.

The makeup was too much again, and for the life of me I’ll never understand why people think they look good with their hair up like that over their foreheads. I’m convinced nobody wears it that way because they like it, but because they’ve seen other people do it and feel like they must conform to current fashion trends. It doesn’t work for anyone. Ick.

Paula remained sober enough long enough to point out that Kellie failed to raise the bar. That’s a good way of putting it. Kellie has a voice, but it’s untrained and unsure. There’s a lack of confidence behind it right now. The only thing keeping her in this competition is that whole “America’s Sweetheart,” and people are even turning on her for that now, too. We’ll see how long it is before enough people turn to push her out.

Oh, look, there’s Sela Ward!

[tag]Paris Bennett[/tag] did Babs’ “The Way We Were.” Did the Fran Drescher-wannabe last season ever sing this one? I think she missed it.

In any case, Paris had a strong vocal throughout, and impressed me with her emotion in the song. You could see in her facial contortions and in her voice that she can feel the song.

Unfortunately, it’s a boring song and I thought it had a weird arrangement. Foster taught her to play “the first eight bars” very soft to bring the audience in before going for the power. Once she got on stage, though, she forgot the whole “soft” thing and went straight for the power, anyway. Sure, it might have been soft for her usual voice, but it wasn’t soft enough.

I think she sounded fine, but she might get lost in the middle of the pack here this week.

[tag]Taylor Hicks[/tag] was a great big disappointment. He chose “Just Once,” which is the absolute perfect song for him. In the video before the performance, he sounded great. Once he got on stage, though, he was boring and repetitive. He “brought out the Taylor” too late in the performance and not strongly enough. I think he even had a few missed or flat notes in there. Simon called him “uptight,” which I think is about right. I’d like to see him do the song again, but with a little more wildness earlier on.

It’s a wasted opportunity. The song was made for his voice. The lighting was that perfect dramatic single spotlight bit with the black background. He could have really nailed this one and been the star of the night. Instead, he winds up only a step ahead of Pickler.

Oh, look, there’s Tori Spelling!

[tag]Chris Daughtry[/tag] ended the show with Bryan Adams’ “Have You Ever Really Loved A Woman.” It’s the perfect song choice for him, and he was spectacular. He sang softly when he needed to. He controlled his voice when it came down to go to the power. You could tell he understood the song and the lyrics and emotions in it. He sold the song.

I’m on the fence as to whether he just had an “Idol Moment.” Will this be the performance of the season? It’s a contender, but I’m not sure I’d rank it past “just really really really great.”

The judges ran out of time to give a proper critique, but they all quickly fawned over Chris with praise. I wonder if the lack of a full thirty seconds of strong judge comments will affect the voting at all? Probably not. Most people will likely remember Paula’s bizarre antics, though, standing up and shouting, “We all love you” or something over and over again. She should go on OPRAH and try that on her couch sometime. . .

Oh, look, there’s Chris’ band! That’s a first — a rock singer on Idol whose band actually traveled out to Hollywood to see him perform. That’s so not rock.

Then we cut to the recap of the night, and they forget to shut Ryan’s microphone off. If you listen carefully to the background in the first two song highlights, you can hear a few random voices muttering random things. Nothing bad. But Paris’ voice is easy to pick out. It sounded like Ryan is telling them to be quiet and huddle up or something. I couldn’t make out enough of it. Crap.

From best to least: I’d rank Chris and Katharine at the top. I could make arguments for either getting the #1 slot this week. Most people will likely give it to Chris. I won’t make a big argument over that, but I’d have to put Katharine a close second. Elliott is a close third in either case, followed by Paris. Not surprisingly, I’d put Taylor in fifth and Kellie in a distant sixth.

Who will be in the bottom three? While I don’t think she’ll be voted off yet, I think the support is starting to weaken enough that Kellie will be in the bottom three, with Taylor and Paris. In an IDOL shocked, Paris goes home tonight. She wasn’t great enough to bring out the vote, nor was she bad enough to rally her fans to “save” her. She was caught in the middle this week between two bad performances. I’m afraid she might be lumped in with them, unfairly.


18 Responses to “AI5 – Round of 6 – Love Songs”

  1. bfashion58
    26. April 2006 at 09:51

    Okay, eating crow after last night!

    Yes, Katherine and Paris are still my favorites, but I must concieve that last night goes to Elliot and Chris with Chris taking home the prize. Katherine was good, but I couldn’t get Whitney Houston out of my head when it came time for the power parts which Kat lacked.

    Yes, I’ve said in the past that Chris is boring because he sounds the same every week and I hate the vibrato, but I swear he was HOT, HOT, HOT last night!! Oh, and I’ll throw in a very SEXY!! Actually, I’ll throw in a HOT and SEXY for both Elliot and Chris!!

  2. Noel
    26. April 2006 at 09:57

    Elliot won the night, hands down, with Katharine a close second. The judges were way off on Katharine, who was better than she was in her overpraised performance last week. (At least the producers still packaged her well, with that video intro which showed her singing arias with Boccelli.) The song Elliot sung didn’t strike me as boring at all. I was following Elliot’s voice and expression as he worked his way through it. Stunning, I thought.

    Chris sang very well, but that song is not one of my favorites. Frankly, I thought he looked a little silly singing it, though again, I have no complaints about the vocal, which was stronger than last week’s whisper-fest.

    Paris was up and down to me, and I didn’t like her look this week either. I predict she’ll be in the bottom three with Taylor and Kellie, though Taylor might catch a break because of his fan base, leaving either Katharine or (who knows?) Chris to fill out the ranks.

    Either Paris or Kellie goes home. Given Kellie’s apparently broad support, I wouldn’t be shocked to see Paris get the gate.

  3. Mark
    26. April 2006 at 10:43

    I (and my wife) have no idea at all what people see in Elliott. He doesn’t really have much of a personality (why do you think Ryan’s interviewed him pre-song so much lately). And he doesn’t have the looks to make up for the lack of personality.

    And for the life of me, I can never remember his performances.

    Frankly, as long as Taylor, Chris, and Katherine are the final 3, I don’t care about who goes home the next 3 weeks.

  4. Noel
    26. April 2006 at 11:25

    It’s not what we see in Elliot, it’s what we hear. His stage presence ranges from merely competent to borderline embarassing, but he has a voice that can sing the quiet parts and loud parts of a song with an equal amount of grace and warmth. He doesn’t always modulate as well as he should — he tends to get over-excited and want to sing everything at top volume — but when he’s on top of a song the way he was last night, he doesn’t throw any notes away.

    Katharine has that skill as well. Both of them are a refreshing change from Idol contestants that mumble their way through the first minute of a song so that they can hit their loud, sustained notes at the end.

  5. Josh Herndon
    26. April 2006 at 11:59

    I thought the judges had an off night last night in general. I totally agree that they were very unfair to Katherine. I thought she did a good performance, but contestants should know by now that Whitney Houston songs should be off limits, because the judges will rarely say anything good.

    To go along with the off judges, I really thought Taylor’s performance was good last night. I was throughly impressed myself, and almost got goose bumps from the performance.

    I thought Chris chose the perfect song and did a wonderful job.

    As for my bottom three, I will go with Kellie, Paris and sniff Taylor. I think tonight is the night that Kellie’s luck finally runs out though.

  6. bluuzman
    26. April 2006 at 12:38

    I have to agree with bfashion58 and Noel — Elliott was easily the best last night. Katharine was second, and the judges’ unwarranted attacks reminded me of how they trashed excellent performances by Anthony Federov a season or two ago. (Augie, I know you’re nodding in agreement right now.) Chris was third, and I can at least say he was much better than last week.

    Paris oversang “Memories,” Taylor gave easily his worst performance to date (on a song that seemed Taylor-made for him — sorry), and Kellie was absolutely horrible. That’s two weeks in a row for her. If Taylor and Kellie don’t make the Bottom 3, I’ll really be shocked. But once again I agree with you, Augie: Paris will go.

    Getting back to Katharine one minute: First, I want to say that, in a little more than one hour, I managed to vote 125 times for each breast (that’s 250 votes, just to clarify). Second, on a local radio station, they were commenting that the, er, McPhur was flying on the A.I. stage last night during her performance. To put it another way, she was employing the so-called “Sharon Stone Factor.’” Can anyone verify this and, if so, can you send me a copy of the verification tape? Thank you.

  7. Mark
    26. April 2006 at 12:51

    As far as Katherine is concerned, the, um, McBeaver was covered, from what I could tell during the show.

    Unfortunately for Elliott, part of this competition (a big part) is the non-singing side of things. Last night wasn’t a problem, but he’s often been drowned out by the band. I’ve even noticed this on the group sings, so I don’t want to hear any conspiracy theories. Yes, he’s got a nice voice, but he doesn’t stick around in my head afterwards. He’s the Chinese food of singing.

  8. bluuzman
    26. April 2006 at 13:11

    Mark, sorry to hear about Katharine’s, um — oh, never mind.

    As for Elliott, I don’t think anyone here is suggesting that he will — or should — win the competition. He had a great start early in the season, yet he hasn’t been all that great of late. But, for some of us, he was the best last night. Last week, Paris was the best for some of us, this week not so much.

    Katharine is a whole different story: She is the only contestant who, week after week, ranks in the Top 2 or 3 — and she’s often been the best. That’s why she deserves to win. (Some would argue the same about Chris, but he’s not my cup of tea. Have I mentioned that before?;-)

  9. Josh Herndon
    26. April 2006 at 13:35

    In reference to Katherine and her dress, I did notice how the slit on her dress seemed to open more and more during the performance. Towards the end it seemed like it popped open even more and she tried to grab it a little bit. I guess all those little buttons just couldn’t hold in the McPheever. I thought for sure we were on the verge of an AI “wardrobe malfunction”.

  10. Jeff
    26. April 2006 at 13:38

    For the first time ever I had to vote to try and save one of my favorites..Yup..Katharine. It took me a few minutes but I got my 10 votes in. Her performance I thought was really really good, so I was kinda surprised at the all 3 judges said. But that yellow dress…I’m REAL sure that got her some votes…mmmmmmmm.

    As for Bottom 3, the deserving should be Kellie hands down, Taylor, and Paris.

    The Bottom 3 that I think will happen is Katharine, Kellie, and Paris. I don’t think Kellie can avoid the Bottom 3 with another crash like last night and I think she’ll end up going home if Paris doesn’t.

    In the end, I don’t care who gets eliminated. Just as long as I get to see a Chris and my eye candy, Katharine in the Final.

  11. Augie De Blieck Jr.
    26. April 2006 at 13:58

    OK, I admit it — I went back and freeze framed at that moment in McPhee’s performance to see if the gates did open too wide. I couldn’t see anything other than yellow, so I assumed it was safe.

    Whoops, I need an HDTV:

    If you look on YouTube, there’s a photo montage of McPhee set to John Mayer’s “Her Body is a Wonderland,” or whatever that song title is. . .

  12. Zeb
    26. April 2006 at 14:11

    Ok…I have to go with Chris as the best performance of the night (I DO like his music…) with Katherine a very close second (I voted twice for the dress…) and Elliot right up there.

    I wish Taylor had done better, but his performance was pretty boring and I really didn’t care much for it…so in my opinion he deserves to be in the bottom 3.

    As far as Kellie is concerned…let’s just say if I were more religious, I would pray every single night against her…EVERY SINGLE NIGHT!

    Paris I’ve never particularly liked…she’s just ok, and while I don’t think she should be voted off…I’m pretty sure she’s going this week. Still, overall this week wasn’t as big a snoozefest as I expected it to be. Atleast I was mildly entertained :)

  13. Jeffrey
    26. April 2006 at 14:42

    I think all the performances were weak …. Katherine won the night though… Chris would come in a close second

    I dont think kelly did that bad… I tried to vote for her but never got through on either number… She will be back next week, because she has too many fans to go…. She may not even be in the bottom three but it is possible.

    I think the bottom three will be Paris, Elliot, and Taylor…. Kelly might be but i doubt it… Paris will go home for sure.

  14. Patricia
    26. April 2006 at 14:53

    Have to echo the comments re Katherine…I thought the judges slammed her totally unfairly. Was she Whitney Houston calibre?? Probably not, but very very very very few contemporary singers can make that claim (in her pre-crack days, of course). I thought she looked stunning, sounded fantastic, and was just generally fab. We called in a dozen votes or so for her…we got some busy signals, but were able to make it through. It’s like the judges have been waiting for weeks to be able to say something negative, and just took an opportunity, deserved or not.

    I wanted Paris to do better than she did…I actually was a bit annoyed by the exaggerated facial expressions…there’s a difference between emotional connection and hyperbole, and to me she crossed it last night. Her vocals were solid, but she didn’t do anything to distance herself from the pack. ::sigh::

    Elliott – yes, was great. But he’s always great…his voice and delivery are almost always solid. But I definitely didn’t hear what the judges heard, and certainly didn’t burst into tears at any point during his song. There isn’t a level of charisma or connectivity there that takes the song and turns it into something more.

    Kellie was also bad – her version wasn’t…anything. Not country, not pop, not even there, other than in its inherent awfulness.

    Taylor was a disappointment – I think he’s headed for his first trip to the Circle of Shame.

    Best of the night goes to Chris, though. GREAT song choice, fabulous delivery. I loved when they made him lie down on the floor and sing…you really heard his voice. :) We had a VERY hard time getting any votes in – over the course of two hours, we MAYBE got half a dozen votes in.

    Dare we hope that things will be fair this week, and Kellie show up in the bottom three??

    Oh, and you don’t have to be a middle-aged woman to love Bocelli. :) His voice is amazing, and the fact that he learns entire operas without ever being able to see the music or libretto is truly impressive.

  15. bluuzman
    26. April 2006 at 14:55

    I mentioned that I voted 250 times for Katharine — and it wasn’t in just over an hour, as I said earlier, but more like 90 minutes. Anyway, until last night, I had not voted for ANY Idol contestant since Kelly Clarkson. And I think I only cast about 5 or 10 votes for her, since I figured Guarini wouldn’t beat her anyway. So that gives you some idea how much I like Katharine.

    I also want to mention that I tried voting once for each of the other contestants — all within the first half hour. I had some trouble with Katharine, but no trouble whatsoever with the next four. My first attempt got through in each case. But when I got to Chris — oh boy, did I have trouble voting! I think he’s going to be safe from now until the finale.

  16. bluuzman
    26. April 2006 at 16:11

    Btw Augie, you have to be kidding about why Idol renewed Paula Abdul’s contract, right? It’s BECAUSE she’s (1) insane, (2) on drugs, (3) an embarrassment and (4) clearly not sober — i.e., all the things you complained about!

    And I’m not sure Whitney Houston would be a good substitute, because with her it really would be sad to watch. Unlike Paula, she had real talent.

  17. Jeff
    26. April 2006 at 16:20

    Bluuz just reminded me of one thing I forgot to mention. Paula was off the hook last night. I didn’t know if she was drunk, happy, depressed. She was everywhere with the emotions last night. Like she took an upper and a downer with a few drinks.

    As a side note…Still cannot stop thinking about Katharine in that dress….

  18. bluuzman
    26. April 2006 at 16:40

    Jeff: I realize now why Katharine was wearing those maternity outfits earlier, keeping everything under wraps. She wanted to unleash her prodigious feminine pulchritude on us in these last, all-important weeks.