Wednesday, March 15, 2006

American Idol: To Stevie with Love (and apologies).

This is the first American Idol episode I have watched this season. I don't dig on watching a bunch of bad singers get dissed and I don't have enough time to watch Simon et al vet out all the hopefuls to get down to the final 12. So, I am coming at this with no background as to how these singers have performed in previous weeks, I have no connections, I have no idea how much progress anyone has made or if they just had a bad night last night. Nothing.Stevie has a new album out so that is the only reason he is letting American Idol use and abuse his songs.
My first thought in watching the show was "Holy shit, they are making these guys cover Stevie Wonder songs their first night out of the gate?" This seems like a bad idea to me for a few reasons.

1) Stevie Wonder writes some of the hardest material to cover on the face of the earth (he sings it brilliantly and nobody else should ever really try).

2) For the most part, these songs are written for him to sing, and he is a tenor. This means that they don't translate well in other keys so women will have a hard time sounding good covering his material. More on this later.

Okay, my review of last night's performances:

Ace Young: Do I Do
Talk about a porno name, eh? Ace Young? Nice. I thought he started out with high energy and overall he has a good voice. He just never owned the song, he couldn't seem to wrap his voice around it. Also, he's a bit earnest for my liking. Keeners to the back of the bus!

Kellie Pickler: Blame It On the Sun
Carrie Underwood called and she said "you suck!". This was really hard to listen to. She sang with low energy overall and just sounded like she hated the song. I understand that she typically sings country, but man, thank gawd for the short song arrangements. This is a good example of point #2.

Elliot Yamin: Knocks Me Off My Feet
Nice bangs dude. Did you mom cut them for you? This guy is hard to watch. He's the white guy that they let sing in the black gospel choir because he really loves Jesus. I bet Stevie was thinking "damn, how you gonna let some fool mess up my song like that?".

Mandisa: Don't You Worry 'Bout a Thing
One name, eh? That's pretty confident, no? She was pitchy at the start but seemed to sing more in the pocket when she got into her higher register. Again, point #2 - it is hard for women to sing songs meant for tenors without completely reworking the melody.

Bucky Covington: Superstition
This is the point in the show where I really started to question my decision to commit two hours of my life to review these singers. Is this really the best that America has to offer us? That said, of all the singers so far, Bucky did the best of making the song his own, gravely voice and all.

Melissa McGhee: Lately
Yet another woman sounding pitchy and low energy, gee, what a surprise. She shouldn't be sitting down at all given this song is already challenging for her. All that does it restrict her breathing and she needs all the help she can get. I thought this performance was brutal, but the judges seemed to like it. A clear case of them hearing something different than what is coming across to the viewers at home.

Lisa Tucker: Signed, Sealed, Delivered
If I were at Healey's, I'd think, "she's a pretty good karaoke singer". But this is American Idol, so I'm thinking "she's pretty weak in her upper register" and she's trying to rock out but it just isn't happening. Again, the judges are hearing something different in the studio than we are hearing at home. This performance didn't translate for me.

Kevin Covais: Part-time Lover
Lol. The fact that this little guy even picked this song is funny. He is the white Erkle. At least he seems to have a sense of humour about it. I can't really hate this guy, it's like watching your little brother at a talent show. You cringe, but hope he does okay.

Katharine McPhee: Until You Come Back to Me
What the hell was she wearing? Regardless, this is the first singer tonight who has actually sang in the pocket. She made a smart choice to sing a song written for a woman to sing, it was actually in a good key for her. I didn't even mind the little bit of twang she added in, I was so happy to hear someone sing decently.

Taylor Hicks: Livin For the City
How old is this dude? I feel like they let Michael McDonald into a high school talent show or something? Isn't there an age limit on this show? He dances like the old people at weddings. Just. Stop.I think that Taylor is Michael McDonald's evil, untalented twin brother.
Paris Bennett: All I Do
She owned this song right off the bat and her voice has an edge to it that works for her. I loved her energy throughout the song and this was by far my favourite performance of the night. The singing during her little Seacrest interview was a bit much, but whatevs.

Chris Daughtry: Higher Ground
This guy has a great rock voice and made a wise choice in terms of song selection. He sang in tune, and didn't try to do all the crazy vocal runs that other singers fell victim to in tonight's show. I didn't love the whole dragging the mic stand around the stage bit, but I always think that looks odd. I'll be interested to see what he does next week.

Worst Performances: Kellie, Elliot, Bucky
Best Performances: Katharine, Paris, Chris


  1. Hey sis!
    You are so on point about nobody else being able to sing a Stevie song. Welllll, maybe with the exception of Alicia Keys.

    Anyway, the only person who came close ('cause he sounds a bit like him) is Glenn Lewis.

    As for American Idol...not following it. Season 2 is still king, IMO. Nothing can top it.

    Thanks for the links, 'cause I wouldn't have known who you were talking about. That Elliot Yamin guy is trying to do the whole Jon B. thing. LMAO @ white guy in Black choir. Jesus is with a capital "J". He's still a 'historical figure'. ;) And a big HA HA @ Stevie's 'thoughts'. LMAO. I remember they did a tribute to him on some awards show and messed it up (of course). I was reading a message board or a blog and someone said "I bet Stevie was thinking 'I wish I could see so I could put my foot up their asses'"


    Oh yeah: Michael McDonald IS KING. KING KING KING of Blue Eyed Soul, says I. I have him on constant play on the Poddy. Must. Buy. His. Albums!!!

  2. Oh yeah. And I'm upset that somebody attempted to sing "Living For The City". Who the hell does he think he is? With his old ass. That's MY SONG, dammit!

  3. Looks like they booted Melissa McGhee off. Not a bad choice for someone to go.

  4. This is my first season of watching the show and I have to say that I agreed with you on most, except for Elliot. No, he doesn't look the part, but he can really sing. For a honkey, I think he does an awesome job singing Stevie's songs. I think he's a diamond in the rough, which is what the show's supposed to be about, right?

    Paris? I love her and have from the get go. She is so very talented.

    Mandisa? She's totally growing on me and I've voted for her a few times now.

    Ace? Easy on the eyes, but the last performance wasn't his best.

    Katharine? Really good. I like her.

    Kevin/Chicken Little? Got to go. I HATE watching and listening to him - especially now that he's getting all bithcy with Simon. Not pleasant to watch.

  5. Okay, I'll give Elliot another shot next week. Hopefully they don't have a "soul music" theme or something.

    Ace is totally easy on the eyes. Does he have a twin brother? Holla!

    Lol - Chicken Little. I don't like it when the singers back talk Simon, it just looks like they are being defensive. They look so much better when they take the high road.