Wednesday, March 05, 2008

American Idol- Top 16

So, I just watched the second night of this week's American Idol performances and as I do every week, I want to offer my rankings and give some off the top of my head observations which may appear quite disjointed, although probably nowhere on the level of Paula Abdul. I absolutely cannot wait for her VH1 Celebreality Rehab Show!


This was '80s week, featuring the music of a great decade and there are so many amazing '80s songs that could have been used and I was a little dissapointed by the song choices, especially among the guys. I had seen a few different lists of apparent "spoilers" as to what the contestants were supposedly going to sing, and they were almost entirely inaccurate, but I kind of wish some of them would have gone in that other direction. I guess these kids just don't get the '80s! All in all though, I think 15 out of 16 were good, just maybe not as spectacular enough to have given proper homage to the Gipper through their music.

Anyways, the guys went on Tuesday night and here is how I ranked them vocally from best to worst:

1. David Cook- I was extremely impressed by his rendition of "Hello." Was very unexpected and I think he totally pulled it off and gave American Idol fans a different David to talk about at their water coolers this week (the third David is getting mentioned too of course). If people would have heard before hand that was going to do that schmaltzy Lionel Richie ballad, it would have raised many eyebrows, but put quite an original and successful take on it. However... I just read that apparently the band Incubus has been doing the song the same way for years. Perhaps not as original as many, such as myself originally thought....

2. Chikezie- I don't know. I almost feel embarassed having him this high. Nobody else seems to think he was among the best. I just think he makes a good first impression usually but I very much doubt his versatility. His rendition of "You're All The (Wo)Man That I'll Ever Need" or whatever it is called, is probably one of the few songs he can really shine on. He sounds different than the other male contestants though and perhaps as the only African-American male in the competition he brings a different style and perspective that is welcomed. I sound like a bleeding heart liberal now. I thought he did a decent job on the song but I have the hunch that if I watched it many times, I would find more to criticize about his singing, whereas someone like David Archuleta's performances come across as better to me when I see them a second or third time.

3. Michael Johns- So, Randy Jackson thinks that INXS performed "Don't You Forget About Me", which was way off base, but I sort of "forget" about Simple Minds too because I thought it was by Yes at first. Johns is a talented and seasoned performer and vocalist. I think he was much, much better than last week.

4. Jason Castro- I don't know too much about the song "Hallelujah", but I was very impressed by what he was able to do. He is an interesting and unique performer that helps American Idol be less predictable than it usually is. It seemed though like he ran out of gas at the end of the song and messed up the last few notes. Otherwise, I might have had him higher.

5. David Archuleta- Obviously, a very good singer, who sang Phil Collins' "Another Day in Paradise" well, but it was a bit of a let-down to me for several reasons. Anybody who has seen clips of him singing on YouTube from his pre-Idol (and post Star Search) days knows that he is incredibly talented, perhaps in a way that may never even fully come across on American Idol. This was just absolutely the wrong song for him or.... it was a smart (or choreographed) decision to sort of coast for a week and not run the risk of blowing up so much that expectations genuinely become too difficult to reach.

I seriously think the producers at American Idol might have told him to perhaps take a dive for a week since he is about as safe at this stage in the competition as Mitt Romney was in the Utah primary, and to sort of just be very low-key and let some of the other guys have some more buzz about them in order to help the show in the long run. This also could have been Archuleta's strategy on his own, just to hold back and not have this whole season of American Idol be a foregone conclusion. In that way, it was probably good for him to have received some mild criticism from the judges.

But still to me, it was a lost opportunity. The song was very boring for him and it looked awkward in stages, especially at the beginning. He certainly did ok but not spectacular. (They say he has strep throat.. who knows). The spoilers had predicted he would do Journey's "Open Arms" and while that would have been very predictable it probably would have done a much better job in showing off his vocal "prowness" as Randy said. Before they went to commerical on Tuesday, they said he would be singing Phil Collins, so I was like totally expecting a powerful rendition of "Against All Odds." That would have been a good choice and he could have still incorporated the piano.

That was not to be though and the contestant who used to seem so happy and enthusiastic about the whole experience did indeed come across as pretty gloomy. If he wanted to "coast", he should have at least picked a happy, upbeat type of song. He should have honored the '80s by singing about capitalism or defeating the Soviets instead of homelessness (and then unecessarily trying to defend why he picked it in a politcally correct pageant like answer). David A. is going to be around for a long time but I just wish he would have chosen to be more Reaganesque Morning in America and not have come across as Little Mario Cuomo.

6. David Hernandez- "It's All Coming Back to Me", I only know that as a horrid Celine Dion song and while David H. has obvious vocal talents to me he really goes overboard and is just grating. It's just very caberet to me, appropriately enough for the contestant who really honed his skills at Dick's Cabaret. One of the funniest parts of the evening was Simon Cowell getting caught making a joke about the whole "scandal" on mic after Hernandez was done singing. It wasn't a horrible performance but I think he might have been better off as the one doing Wham! Oh well, he can always return to the poles. Also, Frenchie Davis really got robbed several years back!

7. Danny Noriega- The chosen one of "Vote for the Worst" is an entertaining performer. I see him having his 15 minutes of fame after he gets voted off of American Idol, perhaps with a very special XMAS album. But he is a better entertainer than vocalist, as seen in his take of "Tainted Love." That's not to say that he cannot sing, but his best bet is clearly to try to milk the whole persona thing for as long as he can. I have the hunch he is going to be around for a while, as the Sanjaya candidate of 2008, and will make it to the tour etc. People are going to want to see him battle it out with Simon every week. I just wish he would have done a Paula Abdul song.

8. Luke Menard- nice guy I am sure, but what the heck is he doing on this show? His performance of Wham!'s "Wake Me Up Before You Go Go" was weak vocally and painful to watch at times. I think he knows it is his time to leave. He should have at least borrowed a page from the video and wore a "Choose Life" shirt. Maybe he could have gotten the Evangelical vote.

Last week I correctly predicted that the already forgotten Jason Yeager would be eliminated but I was wrong in predicting Luke Menard and instead alleged faux rocker Robbie Carrico was sent home. America just was not willing to overlook his boy band past or the fact that he might have taught Britney Spears everything she knows about wigs.

This week, (and let me note that I came to this predictions long before I had any idea what "Dial Idol" was claiming), I am going to go with the obvious and say Luke is a go-go. As for the other guy to not make the Finals, I say Chikezie is at some risk, but I am going to actually say that David Hernandez says goodbye as well because the stripper thing (and some increased consciousness regarding another aspect) will turn off the people in the red states and his friends the blue states are already committed to the fierceness of Danny Noriega.

The girls performed tonight and were all pretty good and had some better song choices than many of the guys, but I still say it did not feel "80s enough. Someone should have rocked a Punky Brewster look or something.

1. Carly Smithson- she sang Roy Orbison's "I Drove All Night" and was really, really good, even though Simon did not care for it. Like Michael Johns, she obviously is a talented and experienced singer and performer, as evidence by the fact that both have already flopped in their careers, but one would have assumed learned from the setback.

2. Ramiele Mulabay- still comes across as a bit nervous while performing but very gifted vocally and I like what she did with "Against All Odds." Perhaps she beat up Archuleta for the right to sing that particular Phil Collins song. The Filipino vote is going to be a strong factor in her favor and she also clearly has a bond with Danny Noriega, so all of his fans are going to probably help her out, at least at this final week of them not being in direct competition. I also do not think she is nearly as wholesome as some may think. I think we can all hope for more Facebook pics to surface. (You too, Mom!)

3. Syesha Mercado- just how many Whitney songs were there this week? She is of course a good singer and was much better than last week with "Saving All My Love For You." She certainly deserves to stick around, but I have to say, I think her personality the last couple weeks may rub people the wrong way and the show was clearly running long by the time of her show closing performence (since the judges completely wasted America's time with their ridiculously weird banter) and they really had to rush through her post song moment. If there is a "shocking" elimination this week, it could be her.

4. Brooke White- like David Cook on the Lionel number, I would have had very low expectations for her doing "Love is a Battlefield", but as they say, I really liked the arrangement and she once again surprised in a good way. She is not the most talented vocalist among the girls by far, but she is an endearing performer and comes across as very likeable, maybe even too much so for the long run.

5. Asia'h Epperson- was one of the few contestants to really do a "happy" '80s song, when she took on "I Wanna Dance With Somebody" from Ms. Houston's pre-crack days. It was good enough I guess, but obviously nowhere on par with the original or anything like that.

6. Kristy Lee Cook- she did Journey's "Faithfully" and I thought did a good job until faltering at the end. The country vibe was good for her and it was a smart thing for her to try. Randy said it could be a hit today, and it probably could be.. for Carrie Underwood, not KLC. Simon is right in saying that she is just sort of forgetable both vocally and personality wise compared to the other girls. In fact the only thing that really stands out about her the last two weeks is she has this red tongue thing going on. What is she drinking backstage? She probably just has a favorite type of cough drop I suppose. But maybe she is trying to make a name for herself as the female Gene Simmons!

7. Kady Malloy- performed "Who Wants to Live Forever" by Queen, and based on her reaction to surviving last week, she clearly does not expect to be on American Idol forever. She looked bummed to not go home last week. America will probably keep that in mind. She sang better than last week but it probably will not be enough.

8. Amanda Overmyer- I keep wanting to like her more than I do and while I think it was probably her best performance on the show, I was pretty surprised to hear all the judges say how great they thought it was and how it was Simon's favorite of the night, etc. She is very entertaining to watch and listen to though. She should hook up with a band and hit the club scene etc and she could probably have a successful career doing that. Her performances seem to be more about screaming, instrumental breaks and some frantic stage antics than the other contestants. I enjoy it but she is just not a good enough vocalist to be the American Idol. The whole time she was singing Joan Jett's "I Hate Myself for Loving You", I kept subconsciously trying to compare it to the version that has introduced NBC's Sunday Night Football the last two years. I do not think hers measured up, but like me, Amanda is a Chicago Bears fan, and is probably pumped that Brett Favre is gone! (Note to American Idol producers: if she survives into next week, show more of her mother and less of her fiancee.)

Anyways, last week, I was one of the few to correctly predicted that Alexandrea Lushington was going to be eliminated (but if all those teenage girls would have known about her bond with David Archuleta a night earlier, she would have sailed through on that alone). The semi-surprise was when Alaina Whitaker was eliminated instead of Kady Malloy. I think people just had a hard time telling them apart.

I think this week is harder to predict. I am going to once again say that Kady finishes last in the blonde primary and is eliminated and has to sing the foreboding song tomorrow night. Who else is going to go? Well, Amanda is never going to be safe, but she does have VFTW and people are really going to want to see what she does with a Beatles song. (I am guessing she will do the Joe Cocker version of "With A Little Help From My Friends.) As I said, I think Syesha could surprisingly be in trouble, but the only other suspect is Kristy Lee Cook. So, I am going to say that Kristy Lee Cook and her red tongue will be featured as part of the wistful video montage right before the end of the show. She may or may not bark like a dog if she is sent home, but hopefully she can find a way to get her horse back.

2 Comments:

At 8:09 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

To Corey: BREAKING NEWS

Chikezie has sneaked into the Top 12 as expected.

1. Ramiele-my pick to bring the Idol crown back to the South where it belongs and she would be the first Idol winner from Florida (Gov. Crist & Co. will see to it.)

2. David Archuleta

3. Syesha Mercado

4. Carly Smithson

5. Brooke White: she would be the second Idol winner from Arizona if she somehow wins, but it's unlikely.

6. Jason Castro

7. Chikezie Eze-he has a fan base that will grow as the weeks go on.

8. Michael Johns

9. David Cook

10. Amanda Overmyer

11. Kristy Lee Cook

12. David Hernandez

Sincerely, Conservative Democrat.

 
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