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''Idol'': Twofer Tuesday (With Podcast Info)

By RD Heldenfels Published: May 2, 2006

I've been having some difficulty logging on to post tonight, so I'll apologize in advance if things go haywire. (In fact, I did have some trouble later, so I didn't get the podcast link here as soon as hoped. But here it is now:

And the following continues my notes last night.)

And, to get the info out early, here's how I ranked the contestants tonight, in descending order: Chris, Elliott, Paris and Katharine/Taylor.

As you know, each did two songs (which makes for a very fast-moving show and much more concise judges' comments) -- one from the year he/she was born (which was pretty depressing, considering where those years land on my timeline) and one from the latest Billboard charts. Taylor demonstrated how flexible the latter category can be by grabbing a song from the catalog charts -- the Beatles' ''Something.''

But the first half of the show was about the singers' birth years, complete with pictures from their youth.

Elliott (1978) led off with the George Benson version of ''On Broadway.'' Very wobbly, and some terrible scatting, but he can still sing. C plus.

Paris (1988) followed with Prince's ''Kiss,'' a song that's as much about the funk as the vocal, and it didn't entirely work for me, even if Randy liked her getting back to ''the youth thing.'' C.

The King of Rock was back and his name is Chris (1979) . Monster version of Styx's ''Renegade.'' B plus.

I gave Katharine (1984) high marks last week. This week, not so much. She did ''Against All Odds,'' a song that in ''Idol'' lore is closely associated with Scott Savol. Not the best connection to make. Not a great performance either. C minus.

That was one horrible shirt Taylor wore tonight, and his dance moves are as ungainly as ever. Still, I kind of enjoyed his cover of Wild Cherry's ''Play That Funky Music'' -- a song that fit his limited range but allowed for that sort of bluesy shouting that is his specialty. B minus.

Then, somewhere among the plugs for the latest ''Idol'' CD and the tour, were the performances of chart songs. Same order as the first half of the show, Elliott starting with Michael Buble's ''Home.'' Pretty good, too. In fact, I thought everyone was better in the second half than the first when I was thinking about it during the weekly podcast. But my report had Taylor dropping in the second half.

Anyway, Elliott gets a B. Paris got a B, too, for Mary J. Blige's ''Be Without You,'' a performance that got better and better as it went along.

Chris was my favorite during the second half; in fact, I gave his version of Shinedown's ''I Dare You'' an A, and I don't give many A's. (My podcasting buddy Amy Carlson Gustafson disagrees.) If I'm going to listen to Chris on the radio after ''Idol'' is done, this is the kind of thing I want to hear him doing.

I've heard K.T. Tunstall's ''Black Horse and a Cherry Tree'' a lot on WAPS (91.3-FM), and I like her voice. Katharine's version felt too show-bizzy to me, maybe because of the way she kept grinning during a song that calls more for a snarl. And the crawling on the stage thing was just puzzling. Still, the vocal was impressive enough to get a B.

Which brings us to Taylor, and the Beatles' ''Something,'' and a performance that was completely ordinary. Meaning a C.

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