Top Nine/Beatles Nigh
I love the Beatles, man…… I wasn’t going to do any of these full blown articles this year, partly because I’m busier than last year, partly because I’m older than last year, but mostly because I really don’t want to listen to Randy Jackson talk anymore. I still don’t want to listen to Randy talk, so don’t expect much commentary from me about the judges. Judges are like snowflakes – they are all different, but eventually you still have to wipe them off the bottom of your shoes.
On to the show! ….. um, why is Debbie Gibson here, dressed like it’s 1988 and she’s still 17 years old? She’s gotta be like 40 by now, right? Righ…. oh wait, that’s someone else. Oh I got it, it’s that Carly girl, the girl with the legs and the bright eyes and the cute hat and the stupid song that every girl wants to sing at karaoke… Um… yeah… right…. um… seriously, what’s Debbie Gibson doing here?
Charlie and Aubrey for the final Tour spot; viewer vote: Aubrey won, so the Idol Tour will be short one geeky little sociopath. In a way, I’ll miss him. He’s nuts, but he’s never boring. Aubrey seems like a nice young lady, hard working and talented – and about as interesting as a soap commercial. Still, I’m happy for her. She dedicated the last three years to making the stupid tour, so she earned it.
Rather than listen to the judges, I’ll be the judge myself – with a grade at the end. My criteria this year:
- A: worthy of a live album
- B: competent, mistake free or good enough to overcome a couple of small mistakes
- C: ok, maybe boring or a bad song arrangement, but not a train wreck
- D: train wreck
- F: there has never been an F performance on Idol. In Hillyard, karaoke at the Comet? Yes. Late night at the Star? Hell yes. Idol? No, though Sanjaya came close a time or two.
Pluses and minuses will be added to tighten the definitions, since those definitions are broad enough to use as a drive-in screen. Remember drive-ins, people? Debbie Gibson, grumble grumble… vcrs…. mumble… kids these days…
The Singers, the Songs:
Kree Harrison, “A Little Help From My Friends”
Cocker version…. How many Beatles songs are known more by their covers than by their original versions? Cocker has more than one of them by himself; “She Came in Through the Bathroom Window” comes to mind immediately….. Bob? You are my best “Beatles expert” friend, do you have a list? I’ll publish it later on the site if you have time to work one up.
Kree usually shows up looking messy, and sings a tight arrangement. Tonight she showed up looking tight – and sang a messy arrangement. I listened close enough to know that she hit the notes and sounded beautiful, as usual. With nine left she shouldn’t be in any trouble, though if this were top five or so she would be. Eyes closed, to me it sounded like Carrie Underwood singing kamakaze karaoke. Kree is better than that, but it’s fair to blame her for the bad arrangement.
TJ (Terry the judge): “Dude (ette)…. on a night with a melody heavy theme, you picked maybe the least melodic song on the list. You missed a chance to really stamp yourself as a contender.” C+
Burnell Taylor, “Let it be” (Another ballad?)
Ballad overkill noted; I still find him more exciting, standing there and singing, than I find most contestants, even the ones running all over the place with fire bombs exploding behind them. He just gets “it”, or maybe a better analogy is that “it” gets him. He was predictable tonight; singing an unfamiliar melody beautifully – but with a few gratuitous, ineffective trills mixed in. Give this kid a mic, a band, a stage and an audience. He doesn’t need to compete. He just needs to emote. B+
TJ: “Seriously, you didn’t know this song? Common, man, you don’t have to like Spam to know what it tastes like…. You sang it well, no worries….. some advice? Leave all the gratuitous crap to singers like Nicki. She needs the diversions; you don’t.”
Amber Holcomb, “She’s Leaving Home”
Amber is the new Siobhan, with a couple of tiny differences. Siobhan had (still has) the dog whistle range, while Amber has the perfectly rich, thick, layered, textured tone. Siobhan has a terrific tone in her own right, to go with the range; Amber has a terrific range, to go with the tone. Both have so much power behind their voices that they have to tape down the fine china or it’s going to shatter. Both come from huge families in small towns, headed by a father who isn’t exactly a rocket scientist. Both are/were 95% talent, 5% experience when they showed up for Idol. Siobhan’s run ended earlier than her talent deserved, and she is still working outside the industry machine despite some impressive post-Idol production. Let’s hope Amber’s road is a bit smoother. A-
TJ: “You improved more than anyone could have imagined from last week, mostly by getting rid of the fancy moves you used to rely on and trusting your voice and your musical sense. You don’t need frills, or trills. Your voice thrills. It’ll pay the bills. No more puns he spills….”
I loved her performance. I wanted to call it a moment, it was a moment for me – but the judges basically roasted her because Randy the producer went first and hammered her for being sharp on her first note. Gimme a sec, I have to wipe something off the bottom of my shoe.
Lazaro Arbos, “In My Life”
TJ: “Good job.”
What am I supposed to say? Sing better? Laz is out of his league; the only reason he’s still here is that speed voting tweeners want to have his babies and their mothers want to watch. Kris Allen, Lee Dewyze, Scotty McCreery, Phil Phillips; none of them were remotely close to the best of their season. If it’s Lazaro Arbos this year, don’t be shocked. American Idol is now “The Trailer Park Dating Game”. Don’t tell the contestants that nobody gives a crap if they can sing, it’s fun to pretend. Just take your shirt off, and we’ll take care of the voting
Candice Glover, “Come Together”
I enjoyed it, mostly in self defense because it was at tempo (please, stop it with the ballads) but everything I said about Kree could be said about Candice tonight. She was messy, and honestly Kree hit the notes better. Candice is better than this, obviously, and I wouldn’t mind hearing her take another shot at a song in this style. It just wasn’t her night. B-
TJ: “Thanks for taking one for the team; you should get to sing a ballad next week while everyone else has to sing a polka, to balance it out.”
Paul Jolley, ” Eleanor Rigby”
I keep getting on Laz, who I like, for not having enough vocal talent. Paul has the vocal talent Laz doesn’t have, but he has no idea what to do with it. Paul gave us the glory note as usual; the one A quality note he always gives us, but the rest of the song was so mediocre that I can’t give him more than a C+
TJ: “Good job.”
What should I say? Sing better? This is who he is. He shouldn’t be here in the first place, he isn’t good enough. Season twelve should have been seven girls, three guys; even if they had been that smart, it wouldn’t have been smart enough. They would have ended up with the wrong three.
Angela Miller, “Yesterday”
If they came out and said “we’re screwing with ya; that wasn’t Angie singing, she was lip syncing to a recording of a slightly stoned Merrilee Rush at Allen Funt’s birthday party”… Angela is the frontrunner, so it would be dumb to talk about what she needs to do if she wants the voters to get on her side; but… with Amber coming on, Lazaro being male and cute, and Candice being amazing, her road to the Nokia isn’t automatic. She was nervous, and she jumped the gun on her first note; once she got past that she was fine, good, amazing even. She doesn’t look like she feels, if that makes any sense. She looks like a horror movie prom queen (right before she goes backstage to kill and devour the flag squad), but she feels like Haley Reinhart singing Kelly Clarkson. No, it’s more like she’s Kelly Clarkson singing Haley Reinhart.
TJ: “If you want to be taken seriously, you have to stop being so serious. Every moment can’t be the blow-off scene from a 1980s movie. Get them on their feet, and you’ll have them on your side.”
Devin Velez, “The Long and Winding Road”
Amber’s problem last week, every week, is Devin’s this week. He has a great tone, but he overdoes the trills. I like him even with the bullshit runs, especially since he stopped singing in Spanish every week, but will the voters? He was bottom two last week after singing great. He was great again tonight, way better than Laz or Paul, but I’m not sure it’s going to matter. Paul is white, and Laz is cute. Devin is merely better than they are.
Janelle Arthur, “I Will”
From how it all went down, I’m pretty sure that Janelle destroyed this song in rehearsal, in dress rehearsal, and if she got one more shot at it she would destroy it again live. When the lights went up and the pressure was on, she almost (but not quite) destroyed it. I’ve been in situations like that, on a lower level obviously, but any of us who have performed a song we believed in, our perfect song… I can tell what she was thinking. She was thinking “… (vile expletive) I know I’m supposed to be this sweet southern belle, but (graphic recounting of a sex act with an unsuspecting barnyard animal who shouldn’t have to look over its shoulder like that) I eat this song for lunch, and I missed that stupid note!?!?!?? I got the pimp slot, sang it perfectly, and I missed that one stupid note? A-
TJ “You are killing yourself over one bad note; get over it. It wasn’t that bad, and the rest was brilliant.”
Safe to in Danger:
Everyone but Paul and maybe Devin
Pack it up, and for chrissakes don’t steal all the muffins off the breakfast bar on your way out:
Paul, or maybe Devin
For a Beatles night it wasn’t amazing (they usually are), but it was enjoyable. Somebody needs to taze the musical director and drop him out in the wilderness, and replace him with somebody who won’t allow so many ballads. Please. Stop it with the ballads. Please. Seriously, I’m begging here. Please. Enough with the ballads. Ok?