Old farts like me remember Jim Nabors, most famous for his role as Gomer Pyle on the Andy Griffith Show (later spun off into his own show), for sounding like a backwoods hillbilly when he talked but like Robert Goulet when he sang.
Trent is like that – he talks like Deliverance but he sings like … well, he’s unique. Sometimes he sounds like Elton John, sometimes like one of those coffee house falsetto guys, but he has an extra gear that only a select few people can count on consistently.
Trent’s showcase round performance:
He lost himself and slid into an Elton John imitation, which could be an issue if he keeps doing it, but there is no denying his credentials. He has a 500 horse voice, terrific stage sense, and he has already overcome a serious illness so he shouldn’t have any trouble getting the voters on his side (or dealing with any adversity, for that matter). If he spots an opening, a crack in the Dalton/Olivia talent wall, he might just squirt right through and run to the confetti.
I could have chosen a better production, maybe, for his other video but this is one of my favorite songs and Trent has the chops to handle it. After listening to it I might caution Trent to leave the guitar in the green room. I also noticed that he had the Elton John tone again, so maybe that’s just his natural way of singing.
Trent Harmon “What are you Listening To” – Chris Stapelton: B+
It was pretty obvious, after following several comparatively weak-voiced singers, how strong Trent’s voice is. Two things kept him from delivering the first A performance of the semifinals: first, he should put the guitar away and never even look at it again. He sings better without it and he doesn’t play with a pick. Some people can get away with playing with their fingers but Trent ain’t one of ’em. Second, he makes a lot of bad faces. It doesn’t matter as much when he’s moving around, but he stood still in the center of the stage where it was impossible to look away.
Trent with Jordin Sparks “To Love Somebody” – Bee Gees
Trent needs to move freely to be natural. He was restrained by his guitar last night, and by a duet tonight. They need to unchain him next week, unleash him on the big stage, and let us all stand back and catch the spectacle.
Quick-passed into the top 10
Trent Harmon “Like I Can” Sam Smith
Trent made it three in a row, sort of a momen-tage … effortlessly andexactly hitting notes that most people can’t get close to without waking up the dogs. Trent always makes strange faces when he sings – I think the faces are part of his intonation, sort of a facial fine-tuning mechanism – so I don’t really know what the voters are going to think … but he validated the judges’ decision to fast-pass him, didn’t he?
Judges: They ran out of adjectives, exhausted and dehydrated from all that gushing.
And then there were 8
Trent Harmon “When A Man Loves A Woman” Percy Sledge
He relaxed a lot of the facial contortions, and it didn’t hurt his intonation at all. This was another moment, perhaps a bigger moment than Chia girls. Trent might be staking his claim in what might turn out to be one hell of a fight for second place.
Judges: Jen just endorsed Trent and La’Porsha for the finals. Is she hacking my computer, or am I hacking hers?
And then there were 6
1: Trent – sang higher than La’Porsha and nailed the harmony notes
Trent Harmon “Stand by Me” Ben E. King
He left most of the song on the table. That was one of the worst arrangements he could have come up with. All he had to do, with his voice, was sing the melody, but instead he sang everything BUT the melody. Who signed off on that garbage arrangement?
This was Siobhan’s “Superstition” or Casey Abrams’ “Smells Like Teen Spirit” all over again – an audience on the edge of their seat at the start, but sitting back, frustrated by the end. Trent missed a golden opportunity to make himself into a contender. Now he’s going to be singing for his life next week, up against a pair of very popular opponents.
Judges: said it was great, but sing better and dress better.
Audience – muted, polite
And then there were 5
Trent Harmon “Counting Stars” – One Republic
I never really thought about it before, but it makes sense that Mississippi boy Trent has a little Elvis the Pelvis in him.
I always like how Trent’s voice sounds, but I am not the biggest fan of his phrasing style. I grew up on Elton John, so I always want Trent to just sing the melodies like Elton John used to do… but if I listen to “Philadelphia Freedom” or “Island Girl” I have to remind myself that Elton John was sort of all over the place too, especially early in his career.
Judges: bla bla bla sing better. Trent missed a lot of notes so the criticism was more than fair, maybe even a little bit on the nice side.
Trent Harmon “Simple Man” – Lynyrd Skynyrd
What is with all the tragedy tonight? Trent plays guitar, but I noticed – and mentioned somewhere in there, on the blog – that he doesn’t sing very well when he’s playing. He’s smart to leave the guitar in the case.
I thought he made a dangerous choice – choosing a song so famously and so beautifully covered recently by Shinedown – but he not only pulled it off, he might have built himself a bit of a legend in the process. He made notes that usually sound painful and difficult seem effortless, and he didn’t leave out the intensity. He sure as hell knew the Shinedown version – his final run was almost note-for-note with theirs – so his choice to nail a different verse, and in an almost off-hand “ok, I guess we need to go here” way, was effective – and impressive – as hell. This was Trent’s moment – back to back moments – something Idol has been doing a lot this season.
Judges: Jen was moved to tears, and she dammed near moved me to tears. I’m going to miss Idol, too.
Trent Harmon “Sharp Dressed Man” – ZZ Top
The first verse gave the song its flavor and it was a really cool rearrangement of a pretty straightforward song. The only problem is that it left too much song in front of it. It might have been better to put the breakdown verse in the middle, or even at the end. It still worked, though. I’m nitpicking. I’ve sung this song dozens of times so I know he had the words out of order; I wonder if anyone will call him on it? I’m sure Keith has sung it a few times. He’ll know.
He hit every single note of a pretty dammed tough song. Nobody else in the competition could have pulled it off, including Chia Girl. To raise it to the level of a moment, though, he should have hit the middle of the three high notes in full voice, blowing everyone up against the back wall of the theater. I know he has that note in his bag; I wish he had used it. He was technically strong, emotionally…. meh.
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