Thursday, February 25, 2010

First four eliminated from ‘American Idol 9

The journey ends tonight for four of the Top 24 from American Idol 9. As always, lots of drama is promised and dreams will be shattered. Who will it be? Read on for all the gory details.

The show starts out with comments from the judges. Randy says that it’s make it or break it time. Well, yuh.

The first group song of the season is Estelle’s “American Boy.” It’s not awful, but obviously pre-recorded. Casey does not look thrilled to be involved in this cheesefest, but hey, that’s what you signed up for dude.

Ryan calls for the lights to be dimmed as we prepare for our first elimination. The girls on the back row stand up. Siobahn is first and she’s safe, as is Haeley. Michelle is next and looks as though she’s totally prepared to go home. But she’s getting another chance. Katelyn is safe, leaving Katie and Janell standing alone. Now you’ve got to know Katie will be safe, and after Janell’s rather raggedy performance of “What About Love,” I think she even knows she’s a goner. And I’m correct. Janell sings her swan song and we go to break.

We return with a performance from last season’s rocker chick, Allison Iraheta, wearing a black dress with some kind of strange appendage growing from the back. She’s singing her new single, “Scars.” It’s a good song, though, and she’s really matured as a performer. She tells Ryan she feels like she’s going to be eliminated. No comments from the judges.

We get ready for the next girl to go home. Ryan starts with Paige. She’s safe. Lacey is next, and due to placement, would appear to have made the cut. She does (so much for my pool picks). Lilly and Crystal are safe, leaving Ashley and Didi standing. Another rather duh moment. Ashley is gone. She sings “Happy” again and it was no better. Sorry Ashley.

We have a moment of humor as Ryan shows tape of Tyler in rehearsal. He arrived at the studio in a bathrobe, thinking he’d be going to wardrobe. But no, he has to do his “dress” rehearsal in a white robe with boots and tennis socks. What a douche.

Ryan then turns to the boys. Back row stands. Michael Lynche is safe as are John Park and Aaron. What’s strange is someone, probably Mike, is miked and you hear a voice going “Go John” and “Yeah Aaron” in the background. Weird. Todrick is also safe (“Go T,” the unidentified voice says). Joe Munoz and Tim Urban are left, and Joe is eliminated. Tim is in shock. The camera keeps cutting back to Tim during Joe’s swan song and he’s clearly stunned, as am I! Meanwhile, Joe is trying in vain to generate some enthusiasm. I feel kinda bad for him.

I’m 3 for 3 in my pool picks.

We have a nice interlude with Kris Allen and a plug for “Idol Gives Back,” which is set for April 21. Kris does a lovely rendition of “Let it Be” while a video of his trip to Haiti is shown in the background. When he finishes, Kris is visually moved. I like Kris Allen.

FYI, if you want to help, Kris’ performance is on iTunes and the proceeds will go to the UN Foundation. You can also text IDOL to 20222 to make a $10 donation.

The last round of eliminations follow. Casey is first and he is safe. Jermaine is also safe (what?) as are Lee and Andrew. We are left with Alex and Tyler, both of whom should be gone in my opinion. Ryan asks Simon what he thinks and he picks Tyler.

Simon is right. Poser Tyler is done, but not before we have a little bit of a “moment.” When Ryan announces Tyler’s name, Alex looks as though he was about to faint. Suddenly, the sound cuts out. Someone was actually bleeped! Not sure what that was about, but Tyler has a mini-rant about how he didn’t get any constructive criticism during Hollywood week. Awesome!

The four bootees are called out to see an abbreviated version of their farewell video. I mean, after all, they haven’t been around all that long, now, have they? We hear this season’s elimination song, “Leave Right Now” by ‘Pop Idol’s’ Will Young and then Tyler gets another chance to thrill and amaze us with “American Woman.” I have a mini-celebration that I got at least one of the four correct.

Next week, we’ll have two more two-hour performance shows with results Thursday. It’s gotta get better, right?

Update: Apparently, it wasn’t Tyler Grady whose language resulted in a four-second audio blackout on Thursday’s results show. According to EW, it was Alex Lambert who was so shocked at being safe he went “off script!” I’m trying to find a live blogger who attended the taping to find out exactly what went down.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Top 12 ‘Idol’ guys sing ‘Billboard Hits’

Because this is a two-hour show, we’ll skip the fluff and filler and get right to the performances, okay!

Todrick Hall – “Since U Been Gone” (Kelly Clarkson)

Maybe Todrick thought this would be an opportunity to do something original, but it may well have been the lamest song choice by a contestant in Idol history. He tries to funkify the song and to say it doesn’t work is an understatement. It really doesn’t sound anything like the original.

Ellen likes that Todrick did something different and took a chance. Randy warns that one should not obliterate the song when trying to make it your own. Kara agrees. Simon puts the hammer down. “I thought it was a crazy arrangement of the song,” he said. “It was verging on stupid what you just did.”

Aaron Kelly – “Here Comes Goodbye” (Rascal Flatts)

This is the song Chris Sligh wrote that became a mega-hit for Rascal Flatts, so we essentially have two Idol songs in a row here. Aaron has a nice country vibe to his voice and has some good moments, but he needs to season a bit. He should have waited to audition, I think. He’s no Archuleta, that’s for sure.

Simon thinks it was “quite a good performance” and thinks Aaron will “absolutely be here next week.” He urges Aaron to have more self-confidence. Kara doesn’t think Aaron knows how good he is and think he will do incredible things. Randy is a big fan. “You’ve got a huge voice, dude, believe in yourself.” Ellen loves Aaron’s humility and says he did a good job. She thinks he’s going to get better and better.

Jermaine Sellers – “Get Here” (Oleta Adams)

Jermaine has good vocal control and a wide range. He sounds like three different people singing this song, though, and has some pitchy, horrific moments. Jermaine really didn’t need to show us all his different voices. I was hoping he would do better.

Ellen thinks he was pushing too much and that he didn’t seem to be feeling the song. “Just relax into the song,” she says. Randy says he sees Jermaine more like a Maxwell. “Sing the melody – that’s why it works.” Randy advises him to pull it back. Kara says she thinks he was trying to show everyone what he could do. It felt old to her. Simon says this is the kind of song someone in their 50s in a cocktail bar might request. He says it was over the top and that Jermaine has totally blown the opportunity.

Tim Urban – “Apologize” (One Republic)**

Tim has a rather generic voice, nothing special. His falsetto is shaky and he hits a couple of notes that are painful. Didn’t Kris Allen do this last year? Nope, they certainly made the right decision in not putting him through. They could have given us all that Thaddeous love.

Simon congratulates Tim for coming back and says they made the right decision in not putting him through the first time. He says the vocals were weak and his voice isn’t good enough. Kara says the music overpowered him and swallowed him up. “Here you were just buried under the beat,” she says. She advises him to listen to the notes. Randy says this was the wrong song and none of it worked. Randy thinks he’s better than that. Ellen says if the sound was down, Tim may get votes because he’s adorable. She hasn’t got much else to say besides he’s adorable.

Joe Munoz – “You and I Both” (Jason Mraz)

This is also rather generic, but not as bad as Tim. At least Joe has a good voice and the song doesn’t take him way out of his comfort zone. He starts out sitting down, too, which is smart. He’s sort of strange looking, in a rather primal way. I like the bit of accent we hear, though.

Ellen asks if Joe is comfortable on the stage. She likes it. Randy doesn’t think it was the perfect song choice, but that he did a good job. “You worked it out.” Kara likes that Joe picked a song she didn’t expect. She things he’s the best so far. Simon kind of agrees. “With this show, you have to get out of the bubble. This competition can find stars,” he says, noting that Joe didn’t give that kind of a performance. He says it was “limp and forgettable.”

Tyler Grady – “American Woman” (The Guess Who)

No. Tim didn’t start out too badly, but once he launched into the verse, it was over for me. I’m gonna say it before Simon does. You can go into any club or bar in the U.S. and hear a guy sing this well or better. Tim has decided he’s already a rock star! I want him gone.

Simon thinks people are going to remember this song. He thinks Tim is a bit cliche and it didn’t feel natural. He says Tim has to change it up. Kara says Tim has a front man aura but that he needs to get out of the 1970s. Randy says it was style over substance. Ellen says while Tim is copying the poses, he lacks the charisma. She urges him to work on the singing and get into the performance. “Be an original,” Randy adds.

Lee Dewyze – “Chasing Cars” (Snow Patrol)

Good song choice and I like that he’s playing his guitar. He has a very current sound. Unfortunately, he slips off key more than once. When he’s on, though, he’s pretty good. I like that Lee is ordinary – kind of that guy plucked from obscurity who has a good voice and will get a fantastic opportunity from this experience.

Ellen likes the song choice but didn’t like when he screamed it. She loves the tone of his voice. She thinks he should stay. Randy clucks. He doesn’t like the song choice and thinks it was too “rangy.” He advises Lee to choose something he can sing his teeth in. Kara recognizes that Lee changed it up to get to his “sweet spot” and made it unrecognizable. Simon disagrees with Randy and Kara. He thinks it was the best performance so far. He says, “This guy is a naturally good singer.” He advises Lee to follow David Cook’s example and try to make songs his own.

John Park – “God Bless the Child” (Chicago)

This is beyond horrible. Bad song choice, terrible phrasing, weird riffs… yikes. He goes into this flat bass tone that makes me shake my head in wonderment. Very amateur and cocktail lounge-like.

Simon says, “You have got to have an incredible voice to take on that song… and you don’t.” He said it was a pointless performance and didn’t point out what kind of an artist he will be. Kara agrees. She says there was no connection and calls it “loungey, sleepy, and indulgent.” She recognizes he can sing, though. Randy says he saw a little bit of the John he likes on the runs. Ellen doesn’t understand why he chose that song. But, she though he sounded great anyway.

John says the song is very important to him and sang it for his parents who are in the audience.

Michael Lynche – “This Love” (Maroon 5)

Now this is more like it. Mike takes a song, changes it up for his own style, and sells it. He doesn’t overdo the riffs, seems very comfortable on the stage, and tears it up. Yup, best of the night, by a mile!

Ellen says Mike’s personality is bursting out of him. She thinks it was a great choice and she loves him. Randy starts going on about how Mike hurt him when he picked them up. Kara says if they had a lot of great peformances they would be more critical. Simon says Michael was like the support act before the main act and delivered very little. He thinks Michael is better than that performance. Ellen thinks people are going to love Mike, though, and everybody is already on his side. She warns him not to get too cocky.

Alex Lambert – “Wonderful World” (James Morrison)

It’s like he’s talking the song or something. He’s got an interesting voice, but it’s a bit lacking in tone and richness. He looks like he has a mullet, which distracts me a bit. I didn’t care for the performance.

Simon says that was the most uncomfortable performance of the night. “I don’t know who was happier for that to end, you or me!” He says Alex has a good voice, but he needs to get his nerves together. “If it’s uncomfortable for you, it’s uncomfortable for people watching.” Kara says she wants to give Alex a hug. She thinks he sounds a lot like James Morrison. She thinks he has great potential. “Believe in yourself,” she says. Randy loves his tone, but he needs to pull it together. Ellen likes that he’s holding on to the mullet. She thinks he’s adorable and “not quite ripe enough.”

Alex says he’s only performed three or four times in a small coffee house in front of 20 or so people.

Casey James – “Heaven” (Bryan Adams)

Wow! Casey is singing while Kara and company are carrying on like junior high school kids. But it doesn’t phase him at all. Casey smiles all the way through the song, but his vocals are spot on and he does everything right. I have the same feeling watching him I had the first time I saw Bo Bice at this stage of the game. He’s a contender for sure. Now they just need to stop with all the harassment. It’s getting old. Let the dude sing.

Kara starts out. She says she doesn’t recognize him with his shirt on. Heh! She says it was hard to to listen to. Kara is all aflutter. Ellen says she could feel Kara undressing Casey with her eyes. Randy says he really liked him, loved the swagger. Kara pipes up again. She says “You are eye candy, but you are also ear candy.” Simon says they were both cursed with good looks. He thinks he chose the right song. “You came over as very likeable.” He thinks this was the best performance from Casey since he’s been in the competition.

Andrew Garcia – “Sugar We’re Going Down” (Fallout Boy)

Andrew seems to be rushing this a bit too much and the lyrics are too complicated. I’m not loving the song choice, but I do like his voice and conviction. I think he was in a tough spot following Casey, who is somewhat similar.

Simon says he was looking forward to hearing Andrew more than anyone else. He says he was disappointed. He says it was very intense and forgettable. Kara says it was a risk, but it was a strange risk. The song wasn’t meant to be acoustic. Randy says the arrangement was strange for him. “I’m a fan of you,” he says. Ellen is a fan, but says he was inside of himself until the point where he looked at his wife. They all pointed out how memorable his performance of “Straight Up” was.

OK, time for me to pick who’s going home. I’m going with Tyler Grady and Tim Urban. Neither deserves to be on the Idol stage.

Results Thursday!

**VFTW pick!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Top 12 ‘Idol’ girls take the stage

Oh, where to begin. The ‘American Idol 9′ Top 12 girls were first out of the box Tuesday night, and after all the hype about how great the talent is this season, I must admit, I felt rather let down. Oh, there were some decent performances, but nothing really bordering on greatness, at least in a positive fashion.

Here’s how it all shook out:

Paige Miles – “All Right Now” (Free)

I can’t figure out why Paige would choose this old turkey, and while her performance isn’t bad, the song doesn’t have enough of a soul vibe to really showcase her big, powerful voice. I didn’t hate it, but I think it was the wrong song. Simon basically says the same thing, while Kara, Randy and Ellen all like it. Ellen is especially complimentary, telling her “You were so there, so present.” Going first is never a good thing, especially for someone we really haven’t seen much of. I would say she’s probably toast.

Ashley Rodriquez – “Happy” (Leona Lewis)

Personally, I don’t like this song and am not a real Leona Lewis fan, so this didn’t really do it for me. She is all over the place vocally and the performance isn’t a standout. Kara says, “There were moments that weren’t great,” and I agree. Randy says the song wasn’t her and Ellen agrees with him. Simon calls the performance “clumsy” and tells her he thinks she’s going backwards. Not a good sign.

Janell Wheeler – “What About Love” (Heart)

Ugh. Janell, who has told the press she isn’t Tim Tebow’s girlfriend, tries to sing beyond her abilities. The song isn’t at all suitable for her voice and it really doesn’t work. She is also very, very nervous. You could see her hand shaking at the end. Randy says this isn’t his favorite song choice for her and doesn’t think it worked. Ellen likes the song choice and the way she moved on stage. Simon offers a gem. “You gave it 100 percent effort and delivered 65%. Kara tells her the song was too big for her. I agree. She’ll survive this round, though, based on her looks!

Lilly Scott – “Fixin’ a Hole” (Beatles)

Now this is more like it. Lilly starts off a little pitchy, but once she settles in, she really digs into it and makes it her own. She has an interesting voice, but her phrasing is choppy. She does need some work, but I find her fascinating. I hope Lilly makes it through this round. Simon calls this the best they’ve heard so far (not really a stretch, considering) and Kara says, “You are believable,” and thinks everyone will remember Lilly. Ellen and Randy also love it.

Katelyn Epperly – “Oh Darling” (Beatles)

What? Is this Beatles night or something? Katelyn looks like a streetwalker and appears to be wearing a rubber dress. Her lipstick is too red and she just looks cheap (as my mother used to say). The performance was adequate, but nothing special. Simon calls it messy, but says he likes her a lot. Kara doesn’t like the makeover, but says Katelyn does know her own voice. Randy tells her not to box herself in. Ellen calls Katelyn’s voice amazing.

Haeley Vaughn – “I Want to Hold Your Hand” (Beatles)

This is a very strange performance, but I enjoyed it. Maybe it’s Haeley’s smile or her positive vibe. She’s so happy. Her vocals were a little off, but it was an interesting arrangement and uplifting performance in a strange kind of way. Kara calls her “pure” and Randy comments on the high notes not being “quite as pleasing” as they could be. Ellen thinks she has a great voice and loves her stage presence. Leave it to Simon to rain on Haeley’s parade. He says it was “verging on terrible” and says Haeley was “like a windup doll that never stopped shining.” It was, according to Simon “a complete and utter mess.”

Lacey Brown – “Landslide” (Fleetwood Mac)

I love this song, but find very few people can really do it justice. Lacey was no exception. She was pitchy and obviously very nervous. She never seemed to find her groove in the song and it was a mess. Randy calls it “terrible,” a rarity for him and Ellen says, “I think you’re better than that.” Simon calls it depressing and indulgent, and Kara points out that Lacey normally hits those notes. She hopes America gives Lacey another chance. I don’t think that’s gonna happen!

Michelle Delamor – Fallin’ (Alicia Keys)

Michelle admits to being a “corporate singer,” whatever that is, and it shows. She’s very confident, but just kind phones this one in. I remember the year this song came out – everyone ‘Idol’ tried to sing it. I thought at the time it should be banned and haven’t changed my mind on that score. No, Michelle does a good job, but it’s not a starmaking performance. Ellen calls it safe and Simon tells Michelle she should try to do something to make herself different. Kara tells her that when she comes out like a diva, the performance had better be immaculate. Randy says it was a tough song, but that Michelle needs to take some risks. She could be in trouble, actually.

Didi Benami – “The Way I Am” (Ingrid Michaelson)

Didi sounds amazing. She has a beautiful tone to her voice and immaculate delivery. She doesn’t miss a note and the performance is compelling. I am completely drawn in by Didi’s performance. Simon says, “I’m missing a spark here, something that excites me.” Kara likes the performance, but Simon says no one will remember her. I will, Simon. Randy wonders where the star factor is and calls it too sleepy. Ellen says it was a little low key for that first impression, but liked it.

Siobhan Magnus – “Wicked Game” (Chris Isaak)

I really like this song and think it’s a great choice for Siobhan. She starts out in her lower register, but soars on the chorus. Beautiful range and expression. I really love it. Kara says, “I kinda liked you on that song” and thinks it sets her apart. Randy advises her to reach for bigger things and Ellen just loves it. Simon calls Siobhan a “funny little thing,” but doesn’t think it was as good as her Stevie Wonder Song during Hollywood week. Siobhan defends her choice, saying that she wanted to show her softer side.

Crystal Bowersox – “Hand In My Pocket” (Alainis Morrisette)

I was really looking forward to this and Crystal did not disappoint. She plays her guitar, blows a little harp, and tears the crap out of the song. She’s got an interesting voice and real throwback, kinda hippie vibe. Randy says Crystal is one of his favorites and loves her honesty. Ellen says she’d vote for Crystal and wants to see more of her. Simon puts a damper on this love fest, telling Crystal, “There are thousands of you doing that outside of subway stations.” He thinks she should do Bowie. Kara thinks Crystal has “greatness” in her, but that she needs to “fill the stage.” Kara wants her to be more than just a coffeehouse performer.

Katie Stevens – “Feeling Good” (Michael Buble)

The producers must have thought this was going to be a show-stopper, putting Katie in the pimp spot and all, but I’m thinking they might have been a little sorry after the fact. It was the wrong song, much too old for her, and the performance was, as Simon later says, very “pageanty.” She seems quite confident, though, and sings it well enough. Just not really suitable for a 17-year old. The judges agree. Ellen wants Katie to be 17 and Simon says, “It was like your mom and dad had dressed you for this audition, you started to become annoying…very pageanty.” Kara calls her pitchy and Randy says all the notes went a little sharp. He also compares her to Jordin Sparks, which is ridiculous in that Jordin had a much bigger, richer voice.

Of the 12, I think Didi Benami was the best, followed by Siobhan, Lilly, and Crystal. Katie wasn’t bad, just inappropriate! There seemed to be a lot of rather “meh” performances, with one that stands out as particularly bad – Lacey Brown. I predict she will be one of the two eliminated. As for the other, well, I’m going with Paige because she was first and an unknown. Also, because I picked her in my elimination pool!

Boys Wednesday. Looks like Jermaine Sellers has the pimp spot and Todrick is going first. Hmmm…