AI7 – The Guys – Round of 16

American Idol logoThis. . . is American Idol.

Thankfully, THIS. . . is only an hour long. What a relaxing week of blogging this will be.

It’s 80s night! Finally, a decade of music I will have a chance at recognizing.

Luke Menard – “Wake Me Up Before You Go Go” – Wow, he almost sounds like a slightly more masculine George Michael. He is singing this at a slightly higher pitch, slightly softer than the original. Not bad. Can’t imagine Simon will like this, or think it’s anything other than cabaret. But he looks comfortable. He’s not missing his notes. He looks like he’s having fun.

Randy called it corny. Simon hated it. Weak. “A bit girly.” Ouch.

Simon is right, though, that Luke doesn’t have a chance of winning this competition. He might be better off if he’s put out of his misery this week.

David Archuleta is going to take on Phil Collins next. It looks like we’re about to get this year’s interpretation of “Against All Odds.” I love that song. I hope he does it better than Scott Savol. David Archuleta – “Another Day In Paradise” – Well, this is different. It’s Collins’ homeless song. And David is playing piano to it. This kid is going to be in the Top Three. Rough transition to the band there and as he stood up, but a solid start, otherwise. His voice sounds a little raspy tonight. Should have stayed behind the piano, where he had gravitas on his side. I don’t think David knows what this song is about, though, judging by his reaction to Simon calling it a sad song. No, wait, he does. Go figure. And now it’s his time to be a political powerhouse and to care about the homeless. SHAMELESS VOTE PANDORING!

(Update: Rewatching it tonight, I see David was thinking that IMAGINE wasn’t a happy song.  So nevermind. . . ) 

Denise Richards is in the audience. Not too long ago, that would have been hot. Danny Noriega – “Tainted Love” – he really needs to shut up. When he talks, he’s really annoying. Like, ohmigod. He’s not really singing this, is he? Eh, it makes sense: androgeny was huge in the early 80s. I kinda like the punky arrangement to the song, but there’s nothing in this kid’s voice that stands out as special to me. He’s a capable singer, but that’s it. The dancing and mannerisms are a little, er, campy. The look on Simon’s face as Paula called Danny “spicy and sensitive” made me laugh out loud.

And then he does a “whatever” to Simon after being called “useless.” Kick him out now, America. PLEASE. Or else I’ll start to believe that Vote For The Worst has their 2008 role model. David Hernandez – “It’s All Coming Back To Me” – MEAT LOAF! WE HAVE A STEINMAN SONG! HERNANDEZ IS THIS YEAR’S WINNER! There’s a weird sorta country vibe to parts of this. Not bad. It’s still a song that’s bigger than his voice, but he’s holding up to it pretty well. I don’t think any other guy in this competition could do as well.

A little history lesson on this song for you kids at home wondering why it’s an 80s song: It was originally recorded by Pandora’s Box in the 1980s, a girl group project of Jim Steinman’s. It was supposed to be used on Meat Loaf’s Bat Out of Hell II a few years later, but didn’t make the final cut. Celine Dion wound up recording it and making it a big hit. Steinman produced that track. Then, on Bat Out of Hell III last year, Meat Loaf finally got to record it as a duet with a Scandinavian singer. (Marion Raven, I believe is her name.)

David Cook – “Hello” – Whoops, due to guitar technical difficulties, we’re switching first to — Michael Johns – “Don’t You Forget About Me” – Ah, Breakfast Club. . . I’m almost surprised he didn’t go for an INXS song here. It’s Simple Minds, but he makes it sound like an INXS song of the period. He has to try a little too hard to make this a ROCK song, but I think he’s doing a good job, vocally. Nice way to mix it up. The mannerisms are a little predictable, though. I liked the finish. That last “don’t” worked well.

And Randy just compared him to Michael Hutchens. I called that one.

Michael is sweating on stage. Ew.

Simon likes Michael. That’s the nicest thing he’s said all day.

Ryan quizzed him on the movie, and Michael knew it was THE BREAKFAST CLUB. David Cook – “Hello” – We mean it this time. He’s really going on. With THAT song. Boy, that had to freak out all sorts of people to start rearranging the show on the fly like that. Still, it’s Lionel Richie without a pop filter over the microphone, and with a rock guitar. Risky. Interesting. I like it. Heaven help me, but I really really like it. The schmaltz is minimized, and the rock is really cool. I think this one might be controversial, particularly from those who can’t get the original out of their heads.

Wow. I really liked it. It sounded like something we would have heard on ROCK STAR: INXS a couple of years ago.

Is it an Idol Moment? It’s close, but I’m not sure it’s quite there. What do you all think? Like Randy said, it could be a hit today.

Simon loved it. Game over. Cook is creepy, but he’s the most authentic rocker on the show.

Sadly, I can’t get the image of that sculpture of Lionel Richie’s head out of my mind from the video. Jason Castro – “Hallelujah” – During his embarrassing story, he made sure to point out he was on a date with a girl.

Fudge, I LOVE this song. The Jeff Buckley version is an annual favorite, too. (It opens Coverville #405.) It’s a little karaoke, but it’s nice. He needs to hit second gear with this, but he’s too restrained. And he missed that last high note. And he knows he blew it.

I’m going to go play that song on iTunes as I’m editing this for the blog.

Simon called it “brilliant,” which I think is wildly overstating it.

So I went back, rewound, and watched it again. He definitely blew that last note and none of the judges called him on it, but the rest of the song was solid. Obviously, it’s not fair to compare it to the Buckley version that’s so danged amazing. He holds up to it for the most part, but my favorite part of the song is the restrained energy that’s there in Buckley’s version. He’s singing this nice soft song, but you can hear the undertones of aggression and sadness and I don’t know what else just under the surface. To me, Jason had only that surface softness. He didn’t have the counterpoint working underneath it, and he never broke out of that calmness the way Buckley does.

He did a good job with a very difficult song, but I still can’t call it “brilliant.” Good song choice. Good execution. Smart move to get away from the guitar. Strong performance. Not brilliant.

I want this song on Guitar Hero IV, oddly enough.

Chikezie “She Fills Me Up” “All the (Wo)Man That I Need” – Missed the opening notes. Having a tough time finding the key, it sounds like. Once he broke out into the power notes, he let loose and found himself, but is it too late? Is it enough to make for a memorable song? No. Bad week. He’s in trouble.

You know what I like most about 80s night? I knew the titles for ALL the songs in the opening chords.

Luke is in trouble. Not a memorable song, and he doesn’t have a fanbase to carry him through it. Chikezie had problems. Danny picked a great song, but a bad Idol song. And he didn’t do enough with it. There’s your bottom three. I think Chikezie will be safe. Luke and Danny go home.

De Blieck Out!

13 thoughts on “AI7 – The Guys – Round of 16

  1. I also loved that David Hernandez went with the Steinman song. And I could not think about it without thinking about that music video I saw last year or so with Meatloaf finally doing his version. And Hernandez did a pretty good job with the song, I thought.

  2. I don’t want to be “that guy” but since you specifically mentioned knowing all of the song titles I feel compelled to point out that the song you’ve got listed as “She Fills Me Up” is actually called “All the (Wo)Man That I Need”

  3. Thanks, Matt. I’ll amend my statement, then – “Finally, a week where I recognize all the songs.” Now I’ll go back and edit that song title. heh

  4. If you factor in the creativity/rearrangement factor, Cook was the night’s best. And you should be right on the bottom three.

  5. Btw, you didn’t answer my question elsewhere, Augie: Have you been watching season 2 of AI REWIND? Is it the same as you remembered?

  6. Sadly, Juan, I haven’t kept up with AI REWIND. They’re all sitting there on the TiVo, but they’re unwatched. =( I kept up with it through Hollywood week, and then fell off the wagon/got busy with Idol 7, more likely.

  7. I heard that Danny N. has some raunchy myspace videos… where he is flaming out and cursing the world.. and i mean cursing!!! Off to find that!

  8. Jenni – it has something to do with Santa and raping. I haven’t clicked through on them yet, but it’s out there. Please do post a link here if you find it. Or I’ll have to dig it back up again. heh heh Kids today. . .

  9. I still prefer Joh Cale’s “Hallelujah” cover from the “I’m Your Fan” compilation. Castro suffered from comparison to it, too.

    Oh, and Noriega can’t exit this soon enough. He is, for all practical purposes, a girl. And not an appealing one.

  10. As a co-worker told me yesterday, every AI season needs to keep its “flame” alive, and so they should keep Noriega. Unless it turns out David Hernandez also fits the bill. ;-)

  11. If you don’ t watch American Idol , you’ re not interested in this. If you do watch American Idol, you’ re probably only marginally interested in my take on the top 10.

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