(Photo from Idolstalker.com)
In-progress notes after the jump ...
Ryan Seacrest talks. Final 11 introduced. Considerable makeovers in evidence. Ryan talks some more. Judges introduced. Randy is tired. This week is not merely Lennon-McCartney but Beatles in toto. Maybe Kristy Lee can cover the Beatles' cover of "Act Naturally!" Or something. Ryan is still talking with the judges. I am indifferent. My concern about tonight keeps making me think of an old Allan Sherman song. (Bonus points for guessing which one.) Video of how very, very, very important the Beatles are. Ryan says the whole world fell in love with them. Uh, no. See Allan Sherman, above. He also says they were very, very, very good. Well, yeah. "Their music and the magic live forever. ... Tonight, 'American Idol' is honored to pay tribute to the Beatles." We'll see how much of a tribute that is.
Amanda Overmyer first. "Back in the USSR." Good choice for her. Muffs some lyrics. And she seems to be fighting for breath rather quickly. But the band is doing everything it can to help her drive into another week. Good confidence, and her limited range isn't a problem with this. Decent start to the night. C plus/B minus. Randy praised the choice, thought it pitchy in the beginning, good at the end; gave her "a 7 out of 10." Paula felt the timing was off, but she is "quintessential, authentic, who you are" -- although Paula is waiting for a "vulnerable ballad" from her. Simon calls it predictable and "a bit of a mess in parts," and the same old thing. Says she should try to be like David Archuleta and switch things up. Simon says she's getting boring. In chat with Ryan, Amanda says "ballads are boring" and this is the kind of show she would do. The obviously trained spectators in the front give her a big ovation; Simon warns that her concert tickets aren't on sale yet. She says she's ready "even if it's a local bar in Lafayette." Ryan praises her honesty. A lot of talking, but they have to fill two hours.
"Hell's Kitchen" commercial with a semi-funny Britney parody song. "Moment of Truth" promo; for previously stated reasons, I am done with that show.
Kristy Lee Cook. Shows off family and animal photos. Big personality boost going on here. "You've Got to Hide Your Love Away." Big orchestration. Wobbly start for her. But she's really working a Lorrie Morgan sound. More automaton arm-waving in the front. Last week, I argued that she wasn't a bad singer, she just had a bad arrangement. She's a competent singer again this week, with a big note, but no more than competent. C. Randy thought the whole song should have had more of the high note thing; found it a little boring. Paula tells her "this is the best you've ever looked." We know what that means. She calls it safe but "good." Simon says she is not a good performer, and is making no impact except when she is terrible, as she was last week. She tells Simon (or maybe all the judges) "I can blow you out of your socks, and you know it."
David Archuleta. "The Long and Winding Road." Well, that should be in his wheelhouse. But he gropes a bit for some early notes. Then falls into place. Should we all prepare for some "you're back" from the judges? Not that he kills it the way Paul McC would have. Still, a B/B plus. Randy: "David Archuleta has brought the hotness back." But he wants more liberties taken. Paula praises his purity and "you can rise above adversity, come back strong." Simon calls him "amazing. ... That was a (performing) master class." Hey, it was good, but I'm not sure it was even Archuleta's best performance of the competition. And, considering Simon's comments on KLC and DA, is he backing away from the "vocal competition" line of a week ago in favor of a more rounded performance? In any case, I suspect he is back to being, as Dan Fienberg repeatedly says, "Presumptive American Idol Winner David Archuleta."
Kellie Pickler performs tomorrow night. Yow.
Michael Johns. (I suppose I should mention that the tapes tonight involve people's memorable "Idol" moments, but it's all too dull to bear.) "A Day in the Life." Or, to be precise, selectjons from "A Day in the Life." That "Bohemian Rhapsody" performance gave him a little hubris. And this is borrrrrrrrrring. Gigantic lyric screw-up. C minus. Randy says it wasn't one of his best performances, didn't choose the right song and that MJ is not using his big voice. Paula says he was phenomenal in dress rehearsal and offers ear monitors as an excuse for failure tonight. Simon calls it a mess. He says MJ has to nail the song the way DA did. Ouch. In a stunning embarrassment for Paula, Ryan points out that MJ is not wearing ear monitors. She says then he really has to raise his game. MJ says he chose the song in honor of a dead friend.
Brooke White. "Here Comes the Sun." Good song for her bright personality, but she's fighting the band in the early going. Loses the melody as she walks from the steps to center stage. Can't seem to get it back. Kind of a mess. C minus. Randy says it "was really awkward for me." He didn't like her "whooo" and she agrees that it was a mistake. He says she was never really connected to the song. Paula says "you can't help but smile" when you watch Brooke, and "you have really good low tone." But it could have been a little more challenging. Simon thought the performance was terrible, the dancing was horrible; audience boos, but Brooke says "it's OK" and tries to tamp down the audience reaction. She admits that she asked to do "Let It Be" again and they wouldn't let her. So she's building up major humble-real-person points. Promises to go back to what she does well if she gets to come back.
(I am going to warn here that I have been having some minor tech problems, so this post may end up looking incomplete. If that happens, I will try to correct it tomorrow.)
David Cook. "Day Tripper." Drawing on the Whitesnake version. I'm not a Whitesnake fan. Performing with guitar. Pic/video glitch during the song. Goes to second mike for a Frampton-ish sound. (Vocoder of some sort? I know, Frampton didn't use a vocoder per se, but I like writing "vocoder.") Maybe all those hair-band kids will love this. I am unmoved. C. Randy says something. Paula says he's ready to make record. Simon wasn't impressed, thought the vocoder was stupid. Thinks DC has lost his ability to surprise. Randy and Paula argue with him. Ryan gives DC a chance to dog Simon, but DC avoids doing so.
We have entered the second hour, and I am feeling the wear. Just went to YouTube for a break and found this:
Amazing how much you can do during a commercial break. Especially when it is followed by time-filling banter with the judges, as well as Randy telling us that the Beatles were very, very, very good.
Carly Smithson. "Blackbird" (which was a subject of some Paula-Simon banter). She's keeping it kind of low key -- maybe a little too much, too easy-listening. But then she builds it up. I would have liked it more if she had kept it low-key, remind everyone she's a singer, not just a belter. Capable singing, though, and a good change of pace after DC. B. Randy liked its "cooliosis." Paula likes her "amazing tone" and gives her a "capital F for fantastic." Simon doesn't think it was a smart song choice, calls it "indulgent." Carly claims that the whole "broken wing" thing fits with the singers trying to break through in the music industry after being beaten down. Paula says "you're a gift." Simon says he's now uncomfortable because "you're all broken birds." Carly has new ink, too.
Jason Castro. "Michelle." Should we just get ready now for a "Mellow Sounds of Jason Castro" CD? Big goofy grin while singing. Tick-tock rhythm. Trouble with some high parts. Shot of judges does not show them enraptured. C-ish. Randy calls it "very subdued" and that he wasn't very connected. Jason attempts to form a coherent sentence with mixed results. Paula likes his "very distinct charm" but that he gets disconnected away from his guitar; thought it was almost like a polka. Simon calls the show tonight "very weird" and wonders if it was a good idea to reprise Beatles songs, but that JC's face sold the song. (I thought the expression worked against it.) But Simon would have turned it off on the radio. Randy says it could be Beatles night every night, the singers just have to sing.
Syesha Mercado. "Yesterday." Accompanied only by guitar. Crowd shrieks at a really odd and unnecessary point, goes silent, then shrieks again at a bad point. The show doesn't merely have trained seals, it has barking ones. This is pretty good, though. Kept it simple and clean, no melodrama. B plus. Randy calls it "very, very, very good." Paula liked the way she let herself be very vulnerable and that vulnerability "is where you need to be." Wants more connection with audience. Simon says it was probably Syesha's best performance so far. Not incredible but the best song choice -- says Brooke should have sung it -- and that she sold it very well.
Chikezie. "I've Just Seen a Face." Slowing it down, then going into a harmonica break and a faster pace. How very weird, and sort of a reversal of last week. Not to mention that he seems to be wooing the country audience. And in a very weird, twisted way, I love it. A big fat A. Chikezie's got brass ones. Randy liked the fast part but not the slow part and thought the arrangement weird. Paula thinks Chikezie is showing the depth of his vocals, and "I get a whole scope of who you are." Simon thought it was OK until he played the harmonica and it turned into "Achy Breaky Heart." Paula and Simon argue over what Paula said, before Simon sums it up as gimmicky.
Ramiele Malubay to close. I will be skipping the end-of-show recaps to go "Dancing." And to see if Adam Carolla is going to apologize for that "bitch" call to Carrie Ann last night.
But first, Ramiele. "I Should Have Known Better." Pleasant and all, but not what I would have picked for the closing song on the show. Not exactly major MacLen. She's showing off her vocal range to a reasonable extent but not a thriller. C plus. Randy wasn't jumping up and down but thought it was all right. Paula says "definitely better than last week" but she wants Ramiele to go back to singing ballads. Simon said "it sounded like Chikezie was on harmonica." Thought the track was terrible and the whole thing was amateurish, and that she -- like a lot of people -- chose a song badly.
And I am out of here.
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