Wednesday, March 22, 2006

American Idol: To Barry Manilow (and all your cheesy ass stylin').

Last night's theme was music from the 50's - a much more singer friendly theme than last week's Stevie Wonder debacle. Barry Manilow was the artist in residence who was there to supposedly coach/inspire the singers. Turns out that all he did was shill his new Greatest Hits album and add in unnecessary key changes to almost every song. Thanks for that Barry. Because of you I had to endure 2 hours of over the top song endings and key modulations that would make a Band Arranging 101 professor cry.

Okay, on with it:

Mandisa: I Don't Hurt Anymore
This woman can sing, there is no denying it and this was a fantastic song choice for her. She was in her comfort zone and knocked it out of the park. She is one of those singers that really has no vocal limitations and her only challenge is reigning in all that power. To top it off she has incredible stage presence and oozes personality. One of my favourites to go the duration for sure.

Bucky Covington: Oh Boy
Dude. I don't think he hit the right notes on the words "all my love" (think "trumpet/taps") once. His pitch was all over the place and his gravely voice is really working my last nerve. Thanks to Barry we were treated to a gratuitous key change that added nothing to the song. I completely agree with Simon on this one on the karaoke/"so what" comments. Bucky's days are numbered (if America has any kind of sense...).

Paris Bennett: Fever
Right off the bat I was wondering if she could keep this song reigned in before she blew the doors off (I call this Celine Dion syndrome - starting at 95% and quickly escalating to 200%). She did a pretty good job, though I thought there were some weird rhythmic things going on that made her sound not quite in the pocket. In the second half of the song she completely lost the melody and made some poor note choices (speaking strictly from a jazz perspective). But she's too young to know that and I doubt most people have the training/ears to even understand what I am talking about. Just trust me. Still a favourite though - the girl has a great voice and spunk.

Chris Daughtry: Walk the Line
He started out really well but completely missed the low note on "Because your MINE". Gotta hit that note dude - it's what makes the song. Anyway, I do like Chris as a singer/performer, I think he'll likely go quite far in the competition - but - I do take issue with his cover/interpretation of this classic. The thing about covering a song, is you are supposed to do two things: the first is make it your own, the second is pay tribute while respecting the key elements of the song. He altered this song so much that I wouldn't have even recognized it if they hadn't told me what he was singing. There is a reason the song was written the way it was and he pretty much just rewrote the melody using the same chord structure. But the judges loved it and they think he is being "true" to himself and that he is an "artist". I just can't wait to see what he does when he has to sing a show tune (I'm picturing a thrash metal version of "Pennies From Heaven"!).

Katharine McPhee: Come Rain or Come Shine
I think Katharine is a great performer and has a nice big voice, but she has some weird vocal quirks that she needs to work on. At the beginning of her song she was doing something weird with her jaw that made her voice sound a bit strange and messed up her vowels - I think she likes the overly stylized/Liza Minnelli sound this produces, but it doesn't work on her. I thought her performance was very Vegas/Miss America Pageantish. The band was awesome and it was a real big band arrangement which I don't think she capitalized on at all. Her last note was horribly out of tune. Wow - am I being hard on these singers or what? Bottom line is that America will love this girl for all of her cheesy-Kathy-Lee-Gifford qualities and she'll be in the final 5 for sure.

Taylor Hicks: Not Fade Away
I just don't get this guy's appeal. He truly is a cross between Kenny Loggins and Michael McDonald - with all the cheesy moves and ├╝ber white guy appeal to go along with it. By the way - why aren't there any black men in the top 12 this year? How can that be? In fact, aren't they all about as vanilla as you can get? No Latin flava either? What the funk? I have nothing to say about Taylor except that his song didn't go anywhere and I wish he would stand up straight for once. He'll probably do decently in the competition because all the old people will vote for him because they feel like he is their peer. Silver fox my ass.

Lisa Tucker: Why Do Fools Fall In Love
What the hell was she wearing? She looked like something Banarama threw up. She started out a little behind the beat and out of sync. I think she never really recovered from the weak start. The band arrangement really distracted from the vocals, and it didn't help that she forgot the words. Clearly her nerves got the best of her as she delivered what was easily the weakest performance of the evening. Bottom three for sure, if not a ticket home.

Kevin Covais: When I Fall In Love
Singing softly and intimately does not mean singing with no support. Chicken Little also sang with way too much vibrato and was really pitchy throughout. The song never went anywhere and at times I thought he sounded like a little lamb bahing at the moon. I know that he has the Clay Aitken fan club supporting him, so unfortunately we're going to be listening to this little runt for quite a while, which truly saddens me. Also? Who's Hugh? "When I Fall in Love with Hugh?". Maybe he's more like Clay Aitken than I thought...

Elliot Yamin: Teach Me Tonight
I almost snorted my Perrier through my nose when Barry Manilow told him to try back phrasing a little. This guy is so white he couldn't back phrase his pickup truck into a parking spot let alone phrase something behind the beat. I find Elliot incredibly unmusical - his word stresses are completely wrong and of course we got treated to yet another unnecessary key change. Argh! His closing vocal riff was brutal - I don't understand why the judges love this guy so much. While he may be able to belt out a few high notes, he is as musical as a tree frog.

Kellie Pickler: Walkin' After Midnight
Has Barry Manilow never seen "Coal Miner's Daughter"? How can he not know this song? Regardless, this was a great choice for Kelly to sing. I'm not sure she captured the melancholy nature of the song, but she certainly delivered a strong vocal performance. Another key change out of nowhere - and it threw her off a little, so it really didn't help things. Also, she's a little dim in the brains department...they probably shouldn't let her talk so much. I think she'll make it to about the half way mark in this competition. We don't need another Carrie Underwood just yet.

Ace Young: In the Still of the Night
While Ace is definitely the cutie of the competition I think his talent is limited. This was a pretty wishy washy vocal delivery, with a bit of Vegas stylin' thrown in for good measure. Also, he was doing something weird with his mouth (singing out the side of it?) that really impacted his vowels and pitch. I'm not sure why they decided to close the show with him, maybe because they made him go first last time? I'd put him in the bottom three again.

Worst Performances: Lisa, Bucky, Ace
Best Performances: Mandisa, Paris, Chris


  1. I came home early from class and caught the ending re-cap of the performances, so it was extra fun to read your blog today. And I must say, the Bananarama line is one of my favourite things you've ever written. I nearly spit my tea out on my desk.

    Aunt Jenny

  2. Anonymous11:14 a.m.

    This is the best review I've ever read, of any entertainment enterprise, ever. :)

    I actually caught the wrapup before collapsing from exhaustion last night (ridiculous work hours again). Can I just ask: why Barry frikkin' Manilow?! Does anyone think for one second that anyone watching at home was going "OMG at LAST! BARRY MANILOW!" Guy looked like an animatronic robot. Crazy!

    Anyway yeah. Not a fan of the whole Idol phenom but this review should be a regular feature on the American Idol site. :)


  3. Looks like I wasn't too far off in my assessment, but I did think that Kevin had a bigger fan base. I guess even they couldn't swallow his subpar performance. Not a loss at all. The next month will see the thinning of the herd as it should be.

  4. Hey girl!
    I saw the first 1/2 hour or whatever of the first night (where they sang their whatnots).

    I finally witnessed the phenom that is Mandisa...stunning.

    Saw the lil' girl in the yellow dress... her speaking voice is SO CUTE! She sounds like a sweet 5 year old white girl! "Hooray for Santa Claus!"

    I fell in love with Chris whats-his-face. Believe it or not, I haven't heard the original "Walk The Line" (and NO, I haven't watched the movie...was I supposed to?) so I thought he sounded great. Except for that low note, as you pointed out. BLECH. But he's HOT! Wow! I guess it was the lighting but he has that what-race-is-he-like-Vin-Diesel look to him.

    I didn't watch any of the other ones. I really don't care.

    You're right! No bruhs! What's up with that??

    Take care!

  5. I missed it this week, but was so glad Chicken Little went bye bye.

  6. For some reason, I can't comment on your last post. But that hammered in front of the cops photo is awesome! Did you get in trouble by them or did they just laugh and trot away???

  7. I think they thought it was funny...I certainly didn't get in trouble ;-)