It was certainly a better week for the guys this week over last. I’m not sure there were any real show stoppers in the bunch, but it was still a giant leap forward, and showed that a lot of the contestants actually listened to the judges and chose better songs.
Just to pad the show out to a full hour and a half, they also included long video packages before each song in which the contestants dedicated their performance to someone special to them. In other words, lots of grandmothers, parents, etc. Very schmaltzy, and used well by some contestants to gather a few extra votes from the softies in the audience.
Phil Stacey dedicated his performance to the military. He went with “I Ain’t Missing You At All,” which sounded strong, even if it didn’t deviate much from the original. He had nice control and a good tone. And it scared me that after I wrote that down, Paula commented on his tone and Simon called him “a very good karaoke singer.” The judges and I agreed on a lot last night.
Jared Cotter dedicated his song to his parents. He went with Marvin Gaye’s “Let’s Get It On,” which I thought was very strong. He’s a good looking guy, and you could really tell that he “got” the song and put the right emotion into it. Strong performance. I thought Simon was going to give Jared grief over his face-grabbing move at the end of the song, but Randy beat him to it. Paula thought he might have tried too hard with the song.
A.J. Tabaldo went with his parents, too, and sang “Feelin’ Good.” I’m sure lots of people were bored with it, but I really liked the soft almost a capella opening to the song. It’s only when he got moving in the second half of the song that he lost his pitch once or twice. He ended on a very strong power note, but I’m not sure if it’ll be enough. Honestly, most of the guys were good last night. You need to do something to stand out and inspire votes. And that’s where our next performer has it in spades:
Sanjaya Malakar came out dressed up like a bad Michael Jackson impersonator, c. 1988. He went on to sing some old time song, “Stepping Out With My Baby.” It was horrible. His voice was weak throughout the song. He looked like a 10 year old in a talent show. Sanjaya just doesn’t know who he is yet. We don’t know who he is. And that’s going to kill his run in this competition eventually.
For now, he’s likely safe. He was so godawful that his fans will be voting up a storm. He inspired votes in the most devious way. No, he doesn’t deserve to move on, but that’s IDOL for you. . .
Oh, and lest I forget: crash and burn. Thanks.
Chris Sligh dedicated his song to his wife. And it’s clear that he married up. She’s really cute. He sang “Trouble” and sounded strong. I was worried that the song might have been too repetitive and boring at the beginning, but the judges sure enjoyed it. His ending sounded a little like Taylor Hicks, and that only was reinforced when Ryan pointed out that Taylor did the same song last year, though slightly differently. It fits his voice, obviously.
Nick Pedro went back to his more natural sound and did “Fever.” It was right in his wheelhouse and he did, indeed, make it his own. He didn’t get so adventurous that he went for the high notes, but he did good.
Even more fun, though, was his dedication. It was to his girlfriend. Never once did he use the word “love.” He circled all around it, talking about how special she was or how much she meant to him. He never said he loved her. He blew his dedication on a girlfriend that he’s not so sure he’s serious about. He’s toast with the voters.
Blake Lewis broke out the beat box, as I said last week that he would. He picked a good Jamiroquai song, “Virtual Insanity,” and did well with it. I thought it was a bit karaoke in one or two spots — as did Simon — but I think he was memorable and people will want to see him again next week. Randy then gushed over Jamiroquai, wondering if anyone in this country knows who they are. Don’t worry, Randy. We do. He’s the guy with the Dr. Seuss hat who liked to dance on people movers in his video, at the MTV Video Music Awards, etc.
Brandon Rogers went with
“True Colors” “Time After Time” and just did not pull it off. I love the song, but they did so much more with it on ROCKSTAR: SUPERNOVA last year. This was a flat-sounding and pitchy performance that picked up in the second half only after it was too late. Even worse was his weak defense that he tried to put his heart into the song instead of trying to oversing it. That set Simon off. And when Brandon wished his father a happy birthday, Simon wished his mother a happy birthday in November. “And I love puppies,” he added. Simon was having none of Brandon last night. Very entertaining.
The judges were very chatty last night. I guess when you get to run off at the mouth without worrying about running overtime, you wind up with some very fun moments. That’ll change as we get to the live shows and the judges get cut off more often.
Chris Richardson still thinks he’s Justin Timberlake, but sang Jason Mraz’s “Geek In The Pink.” I don’t get the song at all. I couldn’t understand any of it. I didn’t recognize it. But the judges loved it.
Sundance Head wrapped things up on a strong note, dedicating “Mustang Sally” to his newborn sun, which is sure to pick him up a few extra votes. This is another excellent case of a contestant picking the right song. It’s in his range. It’s in the style the judges want to hear him sing. And he knocked it out of the park. Granted, he’s only one cheeseburger away from not finishing the song due to heart attack, but it was definitely his best performance last night. Timing is everything. He’s safe tonight.
Brandon and Sanjaya are the two who deserve to go, but I think Sanjaya will get the votes he needs. I’m left to pick Brandon and A.J. as the two unfortunate souls who won’t see any TV time next week. (Nick is my backup candidate. And Phil might succumb to the curse of going first, but I think the military vote will save him, and deservedly so.)