Tuesday, April 01, 2008

American Idol- Top 9

The show was only on for an hour tonight and they had to scramble to fit in nine performances and all the rest into a 60 minute show so I am going to try to live up to that standard by trying to get all this info in as quick as possible....

Looking back briefly to last week, I continue to be absolutely horrible in predicting who will be voted off and I imagine that will probably continue for a few more weeks. I had a feeling that either Syesha Mercado or Chikezie would unfairly finish in the bottom three, but I was a little surprised when they were the final two. Chikezie, whom I had thought was pretty talented was the latest contestant to be booted by the Idol Nation.

Like in politics, the voting for this show can sometimes take on a racial component and while I certainly am not attributing racism to any of this, as we look back and realize that African-Americans have won Idol before and as recent as last season comprised three out of the final four, there just may not be as many black people into the show this year.

A couple of years ago, I treated my parents to an anniversary gift by taking them to see the big Idols on Tour thing (the one with Taylor Hicks and Chris Daughtry and Kellie Pickler and all them) and I was a little surprised at just how lilly white all the people there were, despite the fact that there were I believe three African-American female performers. It was whiter than a Mike Gravel rally perhaps.

A lot of Idol fans just seem to have their favorites this year and there definitely has been a lot of notice for performers who come from an Hispanic background (which also includes Syesha) as well as Asian-Americans who might have a favorite contestant as well. So, for someone like Chikezie was probably hurt by not appealing to a wider cross-section of people when he just performed a traditional sounding R&B ballad.

Anyways, this week featured songs from the voluminous Dolly Parton songbook (initially I expected it would be the entire country genre) and I wasn't overly excited about this week because I cannot claim to be a huge fan of Miss Parton and really do not know a ton of her songs. Of the nine performed this evening, I really was only familiar with two of them and had sort of heard a third a time or two as well. Still, it was probably better than I thought, as most of the contestants did pretty well. However, someone always has to be voted off and for one unlucky person, Dolly Parton week will turn into being a huge bust.

Here is how I ranked them this week vocally from best to worst:

1. David Archuleta- I have the frontrunner and likely winner ranked at the top for the first time. I did not know the song "Smokey Mountain Memories" and I will not say his performance was flawless, but it was really very good from my view and probably the best he has done. It was simply the perfect song choice for him and fit his talents quite well. It was a ballad, but it was not boring and it was not corny or awkard. Plus, it had a "Jesus" or two reference thrown in which probably good for some votes. The lip-licking and the gasping between verses is either getting better or becoming less noticeable for David A. So, it's back to being an every other week sort of thing where he is quite good. If the pattern holds, he probably won't be as good next week, although it is supposedly the "Idol Gives Back" round of the competition, which probably means it will be something in his wheelhouse and nobody will be voted off anyway.

As mentioned, Dolly Parton was the mentor for these performers and they showed clips of them meeting her and rehearsing the songs. Usually, I can tell who is going to be good and who is going to be bad by just watching about 5 seconds of them rehearsing and that was definitely the case with Archuleta. He nearly made Dolly cry and she nearly scared him to death when he had to hug her. A lot of guys his age would be quite jealous of getting to do such a thing but he looked really apprehensive. Perhaps, he was imagining the headlines on TMZ.com; "Diminiuative American Idol Front-Runner Suffocated to Death by Dolly Parton's Infamous "McTatas."

(Ok, so what review of Dolly Parton week on American Idol is not going to go the obvious route with these kind of references. Sorry Mom, be prepared for some more, but all my other subscribers are expecting it. Plus, I know exactly what sort of sense of humor you and Dad and it's all your fault!)

2. Syesha Mercado- she took a big risk by taking on "I Will Always Love You." She was sitting on top of a piano for reason the entire song and started off in sort of a low-key way as the originally Dolly song went and then bursted into more of a Whitney Houston impersonation. I think she pulled it off, but a lot of others probably disagree with me and think that anyone foolish enough to try to be like Whitney on her signature song is just asking to be given the boot. The fact that she did not try to sing it that way the whole song made it better and less predictable. So, I thought it was good, but she may be in danger, especially if a lot of African-American viewers decided to skip "Backwoods Barbie" as mentor week. So, with that in mind, Syesha was probably smart to at least attempt a very well known song and something that at least had the possibility of a huge payoff.

3. Carly Smithson- Ok, so if Dolly Parton sang a duet with the heavily inked Carly, would people say they sang it tit for tat? (Couldn't resit that one). Carly sounded good as she always does, but already I am completely forgetting the song. Still though, after her shock placement in the bottom three a couple of weeks ago, she should be ok.

Since I have found her to be so consistent and talented each week, I was curious a few days ago to hear what she sounded like back when she had the big record deal with turned into an enormous flop. I found the younger and ridiculously curly-haired Carly Hennessey to be nowhere near as good back then. So, as we all know, she is on American Idol, despite already failing in the music industry. Few can really attack her for her voice, but others may continue to have a problem with her background in the business or her demeanor when she is not singing. Simon did not like what she was wearing this week, but the bigger problem in the long run may be that she should stop showing off that huge tattoo on her arm. Some people are getting sick of it already.

4. David Cook- he has been very good throughout and was good again on "Little Sparrow", though I doubt it will be as popular or sell as much on ITunes as some of his other performances. It seems like every week he may have to sit down with Ryan Seacrest and give props to all the artists and bands he pissed off the previous week for borrowing arrangements from and letting the judges think he did it on his own. I hope that one week he does Pat Boone's version of Ozzy Osbourne's "Crazy Train." Anyways, not much more to say about David Cook. He is very consistent, has a huge fan base, and will be around for a long time. I just think his singing can be a little too emo at times.

5. Jason Castro- after "freaking out" in the bottom three last week, he was much, much better than he has been in the past few weeks with his version of "Travelin' Thru" (or whatever it is called) and definitely put on a more comfortable and interesting performance. He doesn't have the best voice by far in the competition but is able to be successful by playing to his strengths on songs like the type he did tonight and he likely will avoid the bottom three.

6. Kristy Lee Cook- first of all, put your damn shoes on. I don't care if Dolly Parton did not own a pair of shoes until she was 23 or something like that, it just annoys me whenever anybody does that on Idol. I almost want them to be voted out on principle, but that is probably unfair. And what is up with Ryan Seacrest knowing what a French Pedicure is and being so impressed by it? KLC may have lost some of her Lee Greenwood patriotic buzz by not immediately correcting Seacrest and saying it was a "Freedom Pedicure", but the Sarkozy factor maybe does not make that as much of a problem.

Anyway, she sang "Coat of Many Colors" which I only sort of knew a little, and she sounded decent, but it got a little boring as it went on. A week of country songs was supposed to be when she would absolutely shine. It is almost like the Idol producers kept her this long just to try to get her to this week. While she did pretty well, and all the extra country fans watching probably will buy her another week in the competition, she did not deliver like she probably should have according to some. In a way, it just seems like she is going through the motions. She knows she continues to be on borrowed time.

7. Brooke White- started off the song by playing guitar and singing the somewhat well-known "Jolene" and I thought it was fairly good, but it did sort of sound a lot like the Dolly Parton original and thus may not have had as much of an impact on Idol viewers as some other numbers Brooke has done. Not that I am an expert on this, but it sounded to me like she flubbed a couple notes too.

8. Michael Johns- I am probably way, way in the minority here, but I just did not get his performance. His voice sounded decent enough I suppose and I liked it as it was starting off but then it just seemed like he was overdoing it and then it got tedious and whiny to me. I have no idea what the song was, but I just think Michael is a lot better with the rock genre than trying to sing blues or whatever it was he was trying to do tonight.

9. Ramiele Mulabay- she is the only contestant I think was really below average tonight. She has a good voice and there were brief moments when that came through tonight, but otherwise, I thought it was very awkward and sounded way amatuerish and I was glad when it was over. Performance wise, she is just not on par with perhaps any of the other contestants at this point and really does deserve to go home, but apparently a Phillipine consultate in the U.S. is actively sending out emails to Phillipino-Americans asking them to vote for Ramiele. Like Sanjaya last year, having an ethnic group squarely behind you can really be beneficial on a competition like this.

I am leery to even attempt to try to predict a bottom three and who will be knocked off the show and forced to maybe console themselves with some wings at Hooters, but I think Ramiele is probably finally going to make the bottom three and I will just guess she is the one to be eliminated (the whole boy-girl thing always seems to work out a certain way on Idol in the Finals). Otherwise, if people don't agree with me on Michael Johns and Syesha, she may be the one in the bottom three, even though I hope not. It also could be Kristy Lee again or perhaps Brooke, since she started off the show, wasn't spectacular and may not get those Mormon votes she needs because of what is likely to be an overwhelming phone and text turnout for David Archuleta.

On the topic of American Idol, let me briefly say how sorry I was to hear of the passing of the mother of Season Five third-place finisher Elliot Yamin. When he was on Idol, he was never really my favorite, but he is talented and I admire what he has accomplished in his life while faced with adversity. I also really respect the pride he has in his Jewish faith and hope he is able to get through these tough times.

So, that was Idol this week. Now, stay tuned for the season premiere of "Hell's Kitchen.

I really like that show! I just find it odd that like "Moment of Truth", which I do not ever watch, Fox places them in time slots when people who are watching or planning to watch the family-friendly singing show are likely to catch those other not so family friendly shows. I mean someone like Brooke White could never watch Hell's Kitchen.

And why is that that every single season, every aspiring chef that is ever on the show, is both a smoker and has a mouth like Amanda Overmyer?


At 12:08 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


My Bottom 3 for tonight:

Ramiele-who will be saved AGAIN by the massive Filipino-American community.

Syesha-could cause backlash among Black viewers if she goes.


Going Home: TOSS-UP between the 2 Florida girls, someone has to represent the Sunshine State.


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