Tuesday, April 28, 2009

American Idol- Top 5

So, I was able to watch a recording of American Idol pretty late this evening after all. My thoughts may be shorter than usual, primarily because I was not really all that entertained by the episode. That is not to say the singing was bad. In fact, I think this was the first show this season when I would say that everyone sang above average. However, they mostly all just were that- above average. Tonight we heard jazz standards which for some reason they associated with "The Rat Pack." I would have liked to have heard some Frank Sinatra or Sammy Davis Jr. Both of those gentlemen were longtime Democrats who later saw the error of their ways and became Republicans. So good for them representin' the Rat Pack, whereas Arlen Specter is simply a Rat.

I just found the songs pretty boring tonight and not very entertaining, but I expected that. Apparently though next week is Rock week, with special mentor Slash. That has great potential! I was Slash for Halloween back in 6th grade. I just hope Allison Iraheta is around to have a chance to do the rock thing.

As many predicted, the Idols did not wind up doing two songs, in what has to be a first for the Top 5 in many seasons. It just seems the four judges would not be able to be succinct enough to give the singers any more time. In a sense then, the kids this year definitely had it easier than past seasons at this stage in the competition. We can also consider the fact that they usually do not have to sing live on the group performances. Maybe though that is just a benefit for them for having to endure this stupid "let's all live in the Idol Mansion" crap.

As mentioned, I think everyone tonight sounded good, but it would take a heck of a lot for me to even want to listen to any one of these performances again. They were all pretty much bunched up together in my mind which made doing the rankings a little difficult. It just felt more like a bunch of very good jazz club performances than something indicative of an American Idol.

In order of performance:

1. Kris Allen- "The Way You Look Tonight"

This was really good vocally and Kris also continued to do a very good job "selling" his songs. While he certainly has a good voice, he is smart enough to recognize his limits and never tries to push it too far. So, while it was perhaps a little "safe" at parts, it was very good in a technical perspective. I just have nothing else to say about it though.

2. Allison Iraheta- "Someone To Watch Over Me"

The last female standing in the biggest ever Idol gender imbalance might have had the toughest time with tonight's theme, considering both her age and her musical identity. All things considered though, I think Allison did very well tonight. It's not the type of music that is right up her ally, but she did manage to sound good on a ballad, while also not failing to infuse some of her own style at parts. Her voice did sound just a little strained at parts though, as I have sensed the past two weeks. Most of the song she was right on though, and when she was on, it really sounded good. So, while she took more vocal chances than Kris, she just might have had a couple minor hiccups at the beginning.

3. Matt Giraud- "My Funny Valentine"

Watching this, I really needed to remind myself to be fair in my rankings, despite my strong conviction as an Idol traditionalist that the save should never have been used, and that Matt should have finished in seventh place, and Anoop Desai should have been around this week, to sing on a theme he would have done well with. Furthermore, I learned that Matt went to Western Michigan, one of my alma mater's MAC rivals.

Before the performance, it was noted that this week could be a strong one for Matt because of his jazz background. So, expectations were likely heightened. This song has been done on Idol before by people as different as Melinda Doolittle and Constantine Maroulis. I obviously am not a huge fan of the song, but I think Matt sounded decent. However, I was far more aligned with Randy Jackson who was more lukewarm than Simon Cowell, who oddly thought it was "brilliant." This is a good genre for Matt, but once again, he manages to miss some notes, and gets a little bit too ambitious with runs. It was just a little boring for me all around.

4. Danny Gokey- "Come Rain or Come Shine"

It seems like every week, there is just one song that I am not familiar with, and this was the one this week. As Danny began singing, I became distracted and my mind wandered during the opening verse. I caught myself, but out of fairness since I was watching a recording, I refused to watch it back. I guess that just goes to show that Danny is just always more memorable with what he does on choruses than on verses.

During the chorus on this song, Danny really "roughed it up" and went with a much more bluesy-jazz kind of thing. On a night like this, that could have been interesting, but it annoyed me more than anything else for some reason. It's like he went too far, and his voice, when attempting those riffs felt a little unpleasant to the ears. The judges really loved it though and I thought were too complimentary. In particular, Simon looked like he wanted to give a standing ovation, but the more I watch Simon, the more I think he only means half of what he said. He seemed to be in full mind-trick mode tonight, by trying to talk about Kris and Allison as if they cannot win and do not believe in themselves, while going overboard for Danny (and later for Adam Lambert.) Perhaps he wants to rile up the fanbases of the others while having some potential overconfidence set in with the Gokey folks. Could it be that the show really wants Danny as the "shock elimination" sometime in the next two weeks?

5. Adam Lambert- "Feeling Good"

How is this song connected to the Rat Pack era? I do happen to remember that back in the Top 24 round two years ago, two contestants, a male and a female, both chose to sing this song, and both got voted off that same week.

I have to give Adam credit for consistently being able to create a buzz about his performances and proving to be an interesting performer. Every other week, he alternates between being toned down and being over the top. This was the week for him to go a little crazy, but that might have been hard considered the theme. While he did not really re-arrange the song too much, he did add a bit of his own style to it, especially on a scream note that he held for several seconds. I found that impressive from a vocal standpoint, but on others, when he was singing the voices, he might have sounded a little pitchy to me in spots.

Overall, I once again feel that Adam, while obviously talented, is more of a stage performer, than a pure singer. If his voice could hold up from all the screaming, maybe he can get a gig in one of the big Las Vegas casinos. He would be able to play to his adoring audience and still be true to himself in some sort of glam rocked out cabaret deal. I always thought that former Idol winner Taylor Hicks should try to get a Vegas show, singing covers and appealing to families, rather than try to make original music.

As predicted, the judges once again went nuts over Adam, their Chosen One. Paula said that if this were the Olympics, he would be Michael Phelps. I hope that does not mean that there is a bong backstage. I happen to think the more apt U.S. Olympian comparison for Michael would be to figure skater Johnny Weir.

If I were giving grades, they would all get somewhere between an A minus and a B minus, but to rank them:

1. Kris Allen
2. Allison Iraheta
3. Adam Lambert
4. Matt Giraud
5. Danny Gokey

At this stage, I think they will only offer a Bottom Two, maybe because Danny Gokey could potentially get in the Bottom Three this week for the first time. His performance tonight was my least favorite, but I do not think he will get voted off. I also want to add that I want to see him voted off on principle for doing that stupid heart hand sign to his fans.

Adam is probably safe for sure and likely has an automatic bye to the Finale, when there could be a surprise result. Despite the fact that Kris went first again (and it is worth pointing out that Kris and Allison tend to go earliest in the show more often than most, while Adam has now had the pimp spot twice in the Finals, while Gokey has not had it once), he is probably going to be safe.

So, the bottom two will probably be Allison and Matt. I think that while it was close, she outsang him in what was supposed to be his wheelhouse, and while this is unrelated, I far more want to hear her sing two rock songs (please tell me they will do two songs next week), than Matt, who has been criticized for going the rock route during previous performances.

Based on this week vocally alone, I would send Danny home, (and wouldn't that surprise him), but if its between Matt and Allison, especially considering the dumb way he was saved before, I hope it is Matt that would go. That is what I am going to predict will happen, because the casual voter will realize he has already been saved enough, and because Matt sure ain't going to be getting many of Anoop's pissed off voters.