Tuesday, March 11, 2008

American Idol- Top 12

We have arrived at the "Finals" of American Idol, complete with a new set and increased expectations and likely elevated nerves for those who hope to become famous and not wind up singing on some cruise ship or the set of Entertainment Tonight this week.

This round featured the music of Lennon and McCartney, which of course left Harrison, Starr, and Pete Best out in the cold. The performances tonight showed that some contestants, particularly those who have been performing before crowds on a regular basis for years were ready to step up their game and are ready to be where they are, while other contestants simply are out of their league. An additional aspect to this week's show was that some of the perceived "front-runners" particularly the younger ones, seemed to be pretty nervous and turned in performances that are far below their talent levels. American Idol is more of a popularity contest than anything else though, for good or bad, and the goodwill that various contestants have built up through their camera time, going back to the auditions, might save them if they have a bad week.

Briefly looking back to last week, I correctly predicted just two out of the four eliminated contestants (which ironically enough is exactly what I did in the other two semifinal rounds.) I was pretty happy all around though since both of the guys I had ranked at the bottom were kicked off as well as one of the females. I feel bad that Asia'h Epperson was eliminated but it is always dangerous to be the first performer of the night when it comes to voting and her vote just did not come through. Very few people were surprised to see Kady Malloy or Luke Menard eliminated but the surprise of the night was the elimination of Danny Noriega who must have proved TMTH for mainstream America. I was surprised too, that it would be he that was eliminated when it came down to him and Chikezie but I did agree with the outcome. I think Chikezie had been underrated throughout.

As for this week, there were five really good performances, 4 so-so ones, and three that were just plain bad. Here is how I ranked the contestants on vocal performance alone from best to worst:

1. Brooke White- she played piano sang perhaps the most iconic of all Beatles songs, "Let It Be" and I thought it was a really great performance. Brooke does not have the most powerful voice of the female contestants but I really liked the simplistic and heartfelt way she took on the song, while remaining true to the original version. There is just something very appealing about her both music-wise and personality-wise. She may wind up having a problem later on with a split Mormon vote, but for now, I think she is going to hang around a while and no matter how far she goes, she may wind up with a successful career in the music business.

2. Chikezie- So many people have just not been feeling him the past few weeks and I have been a little sheepish to have had him ranked as high as I have, but I thought he brought it home tonight. He started off with a bluegrass vibe which then segued into a rock thing. It was risky, which is probably why it was as good as it was and he demonstrated amazing confidence. I went into this evening thinking he could be the first finalist eliminated and miss out on the tour and all that, but I think he may have won a lot of people over tonight. Honestly, I cannot even recall the song he did though at the moment.

3. Carly Smithson- very good rendition of "Come Together." I do not think it was perfect, as some of the judges did, but she obviously has been doing this for years and is comfortable on stage and knows her vocal range. Hopefully, Simon will remember her name, as it was funny to hear him refer to her as the "Irish Girl." Hope she has a great St. Patrick's Day!

4. Michael Johns- another seasoned performer. I liked the way he showed a different side of his vocal skills by taking on the ballad, "Across the Universe." What is up with how all the video pieces for Carly and Michael always seem to mention how long they have been living in the U.S. etc. Sounds like some people on A.I. are concerned about the xenophobes.

5. David Cook- he did "Eleanor Rigby", a song I do not really care for and I thought it was not quite as good as last week, but I still think he did a very good job and after a lousy first performance week has really been strong and consistent since.

6. Syesha Mercado- drew the unfortunate position of having to perform first on a two hour show and that may make her extremely vulnerable this week and I still maintain that there just may be something about how she comes across in interviews and whatnot that a lot of people will not like. I think it would be unfortunate if she were eliminated this early though as she is a strong singer and I thought did decent, if not extraordinary tonight.

7. David Archuleta- I spectulated last week that he might have taken a deliberate dive. Could he have done it again? I have my doubts on that, but he stumbled in a big way tonight and the producers of American Idol are probably relieved that they can spin a narrative of this being a real competition after all. The singers mentioned above all clearly outsung him and I would have had him ranked even lower if not for the fact that when he managed to actually remember the lyrics, I thought he sounded fairly decent. Not a good song or style for him though. He obviously has talent, but nerves or youth definitely hurt him tonight for his first performance on the big stage. He is either going to have to find a way to overcome this and mount "the comeback" which would be heavily pimped by the judges or he could develop a mental block in regards to his performances. I sort of wondered if all the fawning comments he got over "Imagine" were maybe just a little bit too much and they could have really raised expectations to an unhealthy level for him. He really seems like a good kid and I hope he is able to get these problems worked out. Otherwise, it could be the biggest fall from grace this side of Eliot Spitzer. While the disgraced jackass Governor of New York is not going to survive many days more, is Archuleta in danger of being voted off after his dissapointing performance this week? Not a chance.

Incidentally, I would like to dedicate the song, "We Can Work it Out" to John McCain and Mitt Romney.

8. Jason Castro- he is an interesting performer and is talented but it is getting to sort of be the same kind of thing from him every week and it was probably too much to live up to after a very good performance last week.

9. Amanda Overmyer- she is always fun to watch but I still do not believe that she is up to par vocally with most of the others. She is a one trick pony who does that one trick very well, but that should not be what American Idols are made of. I would have liked to see her do "Helter Skelter" instead though. She seemed happier this week which was good. Otherwise, she might wind up being the first contestant to ever make the Top 10 and decide to not go on the cheesy tour. She also has a knack for working the word "child" several times into any song she sings. If she ever sings the Star Spangled Banner, it would be complete with "and the rockets red glare... CHILD!"

10. David Hernandez- does he remind anyone else of Pee-Wee Herman, especially when he sings? I just continue to not get it. I really did not like his performance of "I Saw Her Standing There." He always just tries to do too much. Was she standing in Dick's Cabaret when he saw her? But it's good that he is getting all this exposure and will not have to return to his old job at the "pizza/bistro." Yeah, that's right, the "pizza/bistro."

11. Ramiele Mulubay- I have been very impressed with her in the past, but her song this week was just very low-key and pretty boring. I know that is sort of how the song goes but while Hernandez tries to do too much, she tries to do too little and seems nervous. Is she that affected by not having Danny Noriega around to flash obnoxious gestues to? Also, her whole little shy girl persona when listening to the judges is not at all who she is. She should be herself and start talking about pots and pans or whatever it was she was saying back on her Myspace page.

12. Kristy Lee Cook- I am sorry, but but the frantic country version of "Eight Days a Week" was horrible. If the horse she gave up heard that, the horse is not going to want to come back. If Brooke White was crying after her excellent performance it might have been out of pity for KLC. I couldn't wait for it to be over. It might have been better if I had the tv on mute. I might have almost preferred to listen to Yoko Ono scream a song. Hef's people will be making Kristi an offer soon. I think she will take it.

So, who is in danger in this week? (And it's no fun to rely on Dial Idol predictions... I have come to these conclusions before I even bothere to look at that website). I think Syesha, David H. and Kristy are going to probably be the bottom three. Maybe Ramiele will too. If not, it will be thanks to a strong showing among Philipino voters (sort of like Huckabee with the Evangelicals). There should be no surprises if any of the three get voted off, but I will predict that poor Kristy is justafiably the Stuart Sutcliffe casuality of Beatles week.


At 8:21 PM, Blogger Harland Crom said...

Obviously you're into it, so who do you think will make the season finale?

You should join us here:


At 5:22 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


David Hernandez got the boot this week due to the controversial photos.

Next week: I see Kristy Lee Cook FINALLY going home.

My Final 2 prediction: Archuleta of Utah vs. Rameile of Florida, with the South getting the Idol crown back of course.


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