Wow, what a difference from the guys to the gals. There’s a lot to talk about here. Sit back. I’ve got 2500 words in me today.
First of all, this show could be done in an hour and a half if they cut the video packages recapping the last month’s worth of episodes in half. It’s bad enough that we get the blatant filler just before the first commercial break of seeing a montage of clips of the finalists’ auditions, but then we get to see them again with voice overs before each contestant sings. It doesn’t take that long to walk from the Coca Cola Red Room to the stage. . .
On the other hand, I like the breathing room the two hours gives them. We get more comments from the judges. There are times in the IDOL season when the judges are forced to push out one sentence commentaries due to a shortness of time. And that’s always bad when the Big Number is pushed as the last contestant of the night and then the judges don’t have time to lavish appropriate praise because there’s an episode of HOUSE that has to start airing in 60 seconds.
In any case, the guys were brutally bad Tuesday night, but the girls were being very political about it. They all talked about how Tuesday night’s performance showed them that the judges want a lot out of them, not that any of the guys couldn’t hold a note or anything. No, that would be mean. And we don’t like being mean, do we? ::sigh::
Stephanie Edwards, 19, started the night off. She’s the 30s jazz singer that Simon liked in the original auditions. She’s very smart, too, because she stuck with that sound (“How Come You Don’t Call Me Anymore”) on her first song. She sounded effortless and her voice was strong. There was no stage fright or hesitation. She just got up on stage and belted it out. She was better than at least 10 of the 12 guys the night before, if not all of them. It’s hard to believe she’s 19, too. She’s very mature for that age.
Amy Krebs, 22, lapsed back into the same problem areas that the guys had the previous night. She picked a slow and boring song, “I Can’t Make You Love Me.” It was too safe. She had no personality. She missed a couple of notes. She didn’t add enough R&B sounds to the song, though it was clear she wanted to. It was a waste. Simon called her “this thing that sings.” Ouch.
If she makes it through to next week and repeats this dreary performance, it’ll be the start of an all new Krebs Cycle. (Yes, I’m now doing bio humor.)
Leslie Hunt, 24, is a professional dog walker. She’s also the prerequisite Top 24 red head in the mold of Amy Adams and Vanessa Olivarez of seasons past. She’s quirky, which I think is my nice way of describing her stage presence. Her dancing is just spastic. Simon called her “ungainly,” which might not be far from the truth. I liked her rendition of “You Make Me Feel (Like A Natural Woman),” even if it was too big a song for her. You could hear her straining for the power note.
In the end, most people will only remember her for those boots. You can picture them right now, can’t you? Don’t lie to me. Sabrina Sloan, 27, is a professional singer. It showed. Her voice was big enough to handle her chosen song. She absolutely nailed it, and became the first contestant of the season so far to really wow the audience and the judges completely. Plus, she did her homework. She knew that in seasons past, ballads often got people bad marks. I’m glad someone on that show has learned lessons from previous seasons. She didn’t play it safe and it paid off.
I also need to point out that she has curly hair. I’ll explain why that’s important in a little bit.
Antonella Barba, 20, had the misfortune of following Sabrina directly, without so much as a commercial break to buffer her. And the, she crashed and burned. She might make it through this week because people loved her pictures yesterday, but she’s completely out of her league in this competition and needs to go home. If it’s not this week, then next week. There are more than six other women singers better than her.
Her attempt at “I Don’t Want To Miss A Thing” was shaky, at best. Maybe it was just nerves, but she was also ahead of the music a couple of times and pitchy. She completely lost the melody in an attempt to make the song her own, but it backfired. It was a complete mess.
As Simon said, “The good news is that you’re attractive.” I have even better news for her. She did so poorly that whatever fan base she has will be energized to vote. The Save Antonella Vote will be out in full force. On the other hand, as large a media market as this NYC area is, we’ve never been one to be active voters in things. Whether it’s All Star Games or Idol, I’m not sure we can sustain a contestant the way the closer-knit Southern states can.
Jordan Sparks, 17, is amazing at her age. She went with Tracy Chapman’s “Give Me One Reason,” and did well with it. It started off a bit breathy and soft, but she pulled it through in the second half. What was about to become stale and repetitive because a strong performance. She has a big voice and needs to find better songs to showcase those power notes a little more. But, then, as we found out later in the night, there are a lot of big voices in this competition. We might be marching towards another Battle of the Divas this year.
Ryan, standing next to the 17 year old, then pointed out the obvious: “Again this year, I’m short.”
Oh, and she has curly hair. Stay tuned — it’s relevant. I swear.
After the break – The WTF performance of the night. The roof is thoroughly blown off the joint twice. Jim Steinman’s music returns to Idol. And a whole lot more. Click through, won’tcha?
Nicole Tranquillo, 20, is a student and — what the eff was that? Seriously, that’s what I said during the performance. Much like Clay surprised us all with that voice coming from that body, Nicole’s urban song choice (“Stay”) coming out of the mouth of a straight-haired skinny blonde chick was discordant. It took a long time to get over that strange combination before I could listen to her sing. I laughed out loud. It was great.
She can sing. She’s clearly a victim of song choice this week. I thought she did a good job with the material, but it was so far outside of where she should be that it was kind of funny. I hope she makes it through next week to sing something different.
Randy thought it wasn’t urban enough, which is the current politically correct way of saying, “Girlfriend, you ain’t a sistah. Don’t be playin’ like that.”
Simon called it “aggressive,” “indulgent,” and “fake.” I can see what he means. “Indulgent” is the word he uses on contestants when they choose a song they like over one that’s better suited for their voice or style. I think that fits.
But the weird thing is that she wasn’t bad. She wasn’t pitchy. She didn’t try to do too much with the song. It was a good performance, just really weird. And completely WTF-ish.
One little trivia note: She had a great group in Hollywood Week. It included fellow finalist Melinda Doolittle and that pedi-cab driving lip-ring toting girl who didn’t make it to the top 24, but was pretty strong.
Haley Scarnato, 24, sings in a band. I found that odd. People in bands usually wait until they’re 27, 28, or 29 and REALLY desperate before they try out for Idol. In any case, she went with “It’s All Coming Back To Me Now,” which gets her credit from me. Why? While Ryan Seacrest pawns it off as a Celine Dion song, it’s written by the master, Jim Steinman, and originally recorded by his girl group, Pandora’s Box, in the late 80s. Plus, it was a single for Meat Loaf just at the end of last year.
And anyone who does a Steinman song on this show gets a vote from me. Remember Nikki McKibbin singing “Total Eclipse of the Heart” in the first season? Ditto Jessica Sierra two seasons ago? Sierra really got hosed when she got voted out, but I digress. . .
I know this song fairly well. I listened to all three versions of it in a row just a couple of months ago. It was interesting to hear the variations between the recordings. Sadly, this one is not going to live up to any of them. The song is just way too big for Haley. They brought it down about ten levels to be in her range. It was a very soft production of the number, practically a capella at the start. Even her power note at the end wasn’t all that powerful. It’s a tough song to sing, also. There’s a lot of words competing for time in there.
She has a good voice, but it’s not right for that song. I hope she makes it through to next week, because there were worse.
Melinda Doolittle, 29, is everyone’s favorite spark plug and ex-background singer. She’s a natural. All that time on stage helped her out. She seemed confident and secure with a big Aretha song (“Since You’ve Been Gone” – not the Kelly Clarkson “Since U Been Gone”), and blew the roof off the studio with her number. I have no idea where a voice that large comes from a body that tiny — she makes Ryan look tall — but it’s impressive.
She’s a little weird to look at, though. Where’s her neck? I don’t think she’s going to win it all this year, but she can always come back next year as an IDOL background singer, a job she said she almost auditioned for.
In any case, it was another amazing performance.
Wow, there were a lot of commercials for 300 last night, weren’t there? I love it!
Alaina Alexander, 24, works at a pizza joint and is very sensitive. She could cry at the drop of a hat. But, hey, if Antonella held her tears back while the judges savaged her performance tonight, then so can she! She sang The Pretender’s “Brass In My Pocket,” and turned in a very karaoke performance. She was constantly out of breath by the sound of it. She has a softer voice, though. She’s the one who probably should have stuck to a ballad this week, maybe “Somewhere Over The Rainbow” or something.
It’s always interesting to watch IDOL just to see what the fashion trends are this year. Alaina was the third on the night to go with the skinny jeans look.
And then things got uncomfortable when Ryan lept to her defense and Simon asked, “Are you trying to date this girl?” Ryan tried to move on, but Alaina looked a shade of red brighter. How cute.
Gina Glocksen, 22, is the one I would have pegged to sing a Pretenders song. No, instead, she went with Eric Carmen’s “All By Myself,” which Ryan also called a Celine Dion song. UGH
This took guts. LaToya London nailed the song at this point in the competition a few years back and really made a name for herself with it. That’s when we all came to realize how amazing she was, in the infamous season of the vote-splitting divas. Can anyone live up to that performance? Probably not.
Gina didn’t. In fact, it started off too soft and a little weak. She saved it in the last half, though, when she powered through the bigger notes and left a good memory in the voters’ minds. I don’t think she was quite as strong with the song as Randy and Paula did, but she did better than many of the others. Next week, she should go for a song that’s a little less big.
And she also has to be careful about showing her confidence. For whatever insane reason, the voting public associates confidence with arrogance. And when Gina said how happy she was with her performance because she nailed the note she couldn’t hit in practice, I cringed for her. She should know better by now, but I guess she got caught up in the moment.
That leaves us only with –
LaKisha Jones, 27, a bank employee and single mother. I didn’t take any notes during the performance. I couldn’t take my eyes and ears off the TV. She did “And I’m Telling You, I’m Not Going” from DreamGirls. Many think of that now as that song Jennifer Hudson did in DREAMGIRLS. (At the screening I saw the movie at, it caused at least one audience member to shout at the screen, “You tell ‘em, Effie!”) Those of us watching AMERICAN IDOL REWIND now remember it as the song that Tamyra Gray sang at this point in the competition to power her way through to the Top Ten. Tamyra was excellent. LaKisha was an out of body experience. Ladies and gentlemen, we’ve had out first Idol Moment of the season already.
Lemme hear it from the Dawg Pound!
Sorry, got a little carried away there. But LaKisha blew the roof off the place again with this one. Simon told the other 23 contestants to book their plane rides home now, but I think it’s too early for that. For starters, we’re lined up for another Battle of the Divas this years, complete with its own vote-splitting problems. And I don’t know if she’d be a wunderkind for the record company. Her first album would sell very well, but I’m not sure it would get out there too far. She’d probably get stuck in the same corner with Fantasia and LaToya, and not crossover to the pop success that a show like IDOL is built to trade in on.
I know — it’s way too early to be figuring out album sales, but I think there are more marketable contestants than LaKisha right now. She’s the best singer at this point, but there’s a long way to go in the competition. And she needs to wear dresses with sleeves, which was another problem we’ve seen on IDOL in the past.
To sum it all up: We saw three distinct levels of singers in the competition last night, and they’re easily categorized, from least to best: skinny white chicks, curly-haired chicks, and the black chicks. The skinny white chicks don’t stand a prayer against the powerful black women in this competition. The curly-haired chicks are somewhere in the middle. (Gina is split between the skinny white girls and the curly-haired girls.) Good song selection and personality might get them through it all. But there’s plenty of cannon fodder in there right now: Antonella, Alaina, Leslie, Amy, and Haley. Pick any two from there and send them home tonight. I’m guessing Amy and Alaina.
Randy said something interesting at the end: If they didn’t have to split the finalists evenly along sex, he’d put 8 women and 4 men in the final 12. I thought he was being too kind to the guys, but that’s not far off from the truth.
He also said “blew it out the box” an awful lot. It’s not listed as an official entry at the UrbanDictionary.com, but I got his meaning.
Tonight is results night. Four must go. I’ll be back tomorrow with the results, and they won’t take up 2500 more words of your reading time.
De Blieck Out! (Hey, if Ryan won’t say it anymore, then I will!)