What was that cackle from Paula, Simon makes a bad fat joke and other notes, after the jump ...
I had a church meeting tonight, so I'm about two hours behind on "American Idol" (and neglected to record "Veronica Mars" but that's another post). Fortunately, the early hype, the recaps and what-not will give me some quick catching up. Glad I didn't speed through Paula's weird cackle, though. There's a loop to be made of that. ...
Audition vignettes. Hollywood vignettes. The Stones' "I'm Free" as background. Commercials. Way to zoom 10 minutes.
First up: Rudy Cardenas. More audition recap. Zooming to his song. "Free Ride." He's energetic, charming but a little tinny -- not a lot of texture to his voice. The women contestants are clapping along but I don't feel a lot of enthusiasm. C plus. Randy thinks he could hear it any bar in America. Paula thinks he was fantastic. (What a surprise.) Simon does not find anything unique. Paula grumps. Randy says Simon is right. Paula insists his voice is fantastic. Ryan is already trying to pick fights between contestants and judges.
Commercial. Guys in the couch room. Ryan wants Chris Sligh to describe the buzz. He obliges. Filler filler filler.
Brandon Rogers, backup singer. Recap. I'm grabbing a soda.
Actually enough time for a soda and a tuna sandwich. Brandon does "Rock With You." I've liked this guy before but he's not sending me tonight. Poor on the high parts. And the beat -- the band's fault -- is sluggish. Disappointing, and nothing save it at the end. C minus. Randy's bringing out the "pitchy. ... a little weird here and there." Paula says he did a great job -- then tries to agree with Randy. Simon says he's a very good singer but "a safe and predictable song." He admits to Ryan that he wanted a song he was comfortable with.
Time for Sundance Head. The song is "Nights in White Satin." Oh, he's bad. What has happened to this guy since the auditions? He has a big voice but not much control of it. D. Randy says he has abandoned his bluesy vibe -- and that's not good. Paula thinks he picked the wrong song. Simon calls him "dad at a wedding."
Paul Kim. "Careless Whisper." Almost spoken at the beginning and it doesn't get much better. Another D. Could we change the rules -- maybe pick four guys and eight women? Randy feels it was weird at the beginning, but sees a lot of promise in him. Paula said he "kind of oversang the song" and he "didn't find your center." She seems disoriented. Simon says Paul should have his shoes on. "Who cares? It's a singing competition." Paula makes a stinky-feet swipe at Simon. Simon calls it "a third-rate version" of the song. Scattered boos. Ryan enters with his shoes off. "Way to be solid," Randy says.
Chris Richardson. Likes the Justin comparisons, and goes with a Justin-ish suit. "I Don't Want To Be Anything Other Than Me." (I had to look it up.) So-so, not great, but on this night at least a C plus. Randy says the show just started. "You made it kind of work." Randy misidentifies who did the song; Simon corrects him. Paula almost forms a sentence in praising "great arrangement, great flavor." Simon thought it a bad vocal but likes Chris. Randy disagrees. Paula snaps, "Oh, whatever."
Nick Pedro. Ryan tries to make him nervous before the performance. "Now and Forever." Pleasant. C-ish. (Hey, I'm tired.) Randy is giving him an "I don't know" and "it wasn't good for me. ... I feel like I lost Nick." Paula thought it "kind of fell flat." Simon "didn't think it was that bad, actually."
Rounded the turn into the second hour. Blake Lewis, the beat box. Going ballad-y ith "Somewhere Only We Know." A little trouble on the high notes, but not unpleasant. C. Randy missed the beat-box but also liked it. Paula thought his vocals were "spot on." She may not be able to hear through ... that hair. Simon calls him the first person who has sounded like someone in 2007. "By far the best performance we've had tonight."
By the way, Ryan is annoying me again. He loses a lot between auditions and the real competition.
Sanjaya Malakar goes Stevie Wonder, "Knocks Me Off My Feet." Very raw through much of it; a little more authority at the end, but still not there. D plus. Randy is not pleased. Paula thinks he's "a sweet soul" but wants more personality. Simon notes that the song says "I don't want to bore you with this" and says half the band was asleep. Paula takes umbrage. Randy says "it was bad but it wasn't that bad."
Chris Sligh. "Typical." Reminds me of Chris Daughtry in the I-know-what-I-am way, good command of voice and the stage. C plus/B minus. The judges-plus-Ryan hit a new level of bickering. Chris mouths off at Simon by saying "just because I don't sing Il Divo or Teletubbies ..." Simon, who has been pretty good this season about staying away from the fat jokes, says Chris could do "the latter." Eek. Simon is very ticked. Ryan won't let the Teletubbies thing go.
Back to the couch. Ryan wonders if Jared Cotter is ready to face the judges "after all the fireworks" (which Ryan kept burning, by the way). He's cute but he is having big problems with the vocal on Brian McKnight's "Back at One." Another D, maybe a D plus for finally hitting a high note. Randy admits "it's a tough song" but it was all right. Paula wants more up-tempo songs. Simon thought he was nasal-y.
A.J. Tabaldo. We're getting near the end of the performances, so there should be some good stuff to send us home with. He's doing "Never Too Much." This is not just a Luther song, this is one of my favorite Luther songs. He's got personality but in the parts where he should kick, he comes up short. C. Randy approves. Paula thought he did a great job -- but "go for it more." Simon thought it was good, "nothing great, nothing terrible. ... kind of a theme park performance." Wants more daring.
Phil Stacey, sailor and new dad. Terrible start on "I Could Not Ask for More." Much better when he picks up the mike and tries to sell the song. C/C plus overall. Randy thinks it was the best performance of the night. (So does my bride.) Paula's in love. Simon calls the beginning "absolutely monstrous" but says it got better. Ryan says Phil has "the Britney Spears haircut" -- but the show was probably taped before her return to rehab, which Ryan was hyping on E! earlier today.
So where am I? Still not going crazy over any of the guys. My ranking works out to, in descending order, Chris S, Rudy/Chris R, Phil, Blake, A.J., Nick, Brandon, Sanjaya, Jared, Sundance/Paul. Definitely time for Sundance to go home, but voters are tricky.
And that's it for tonight.