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Just….bite me.  Yes, I know American Idol is a cheesy, craven appeal to the most shallow appetites of the American public.  I don’t care.  I like it.  

 

Strike that.  I hate the audition portion with the heat of a thousand nuns.*  It’s like somebody crossed Fame with an episode of Jerry Springer. 

 

And the Top 12, on the giant pulsing stage, gets so many things wrong (the themes, the musical arrangements, the clothes, most of the guest “mentors”) that I sort of like it in spite of itself. 

 

But, to me, the middle part is magic.  Formerly The Top 24, it’s now The Sudden Death Top 36 or something.  I mean, it’s bad, but with sudden bursts of brilliance.  

 

I want you to understand this going in…I know how bad it is.  I hear it all. I’m pretty judgy about these performances and, in general, I’m a bit of a pitch Nazi.  So don’t be all “that wasn’t very good.”  I hear it.

 

Whatever, it’s fantastic.  Because everybody’s so raw.  That’s very bad news for most contestants, but watching some of them – the really special ones – it’s thrilling.  I think that’s because we don’t know them yet, so it feels like a discovery when we pick our favorites. 

 

But mostly I think it’s because these kids are all absolutely whacked on adrenaline.  They can hardly breathe, they can feel their heartbeats pounding in their ears.  And then they have to act like NBD, singing for millions of viewers around the world.  These were complete and utter nobodies (in the twisted sense of the word), like, five minutes ago.  Now everyone is listening.  If I ran the show, they’d replace that giant glowy screensaver backdrop with a readout of real-time pulse and respiration rates of the performer.  Now that would be cool.  And honest, somehow.

 

Even really good singers are very rough during this round.  Rough.  It’s just too much pressure, too early.  Their pitch is shaky, their voices are breathy, they get the big notes right, but the small ones often just disappear.  But it’s also the chance for those really unique people to shine.  I don’t mean unique like odd; I mean the ones who really have some kind of integrity and sing like who they are.  And I love it when someone like that takes a chance and sings something that is out of the ordinary, or really goes with their  vocal strengths and screw everything else, or really blows the roof of to everyone’s shock.

 

It’s hard to really feel what I’m talking about, out of context.  I think it takes sitting on your sofa through one painful or mediocre performance after another to feel the high you get from a great one.  This year?  Adam Lambert, Lil Rounds (!) and that little blonde girl. 

It remains to be seen whether they'll stay with me.  These are
 my top five of the middle round from past seasons.

 

5.     Ace Young, Butterflies.

 

Why I love it.  Yes, he’s kind of adorable, but that’s truly not it.  He totally went for broke with this song, staying up in a falsetto for as long as he did.  This was an insane choice of song.  Not only was it Michael Jackson, but the endless falsetto had such a HUGE potential for disaster.  I was on the edge of my seat, and he pulled it off.  Really fun.

 

Yeah, I hear it.  He really misses two notes, in particular, one in the middle and one near the end.  And his tone gets a little iffy after he’s up there for awhile.

 

I don’t care.  It takes balls of steel to do that.  You couldn’t even do it in the shower, so shut it. And the judges agreed with me.

 

I stopped chewing at:  “…I would give you anything…”

 

Goosebumps:  “…Oh baby, you give me butterflies…”



 

 

4.      Jason Castro, Daydream.

 

Why I love it.  You have to understand the joy of hearing this song, sung this way, after one overwrought Whitney Houston “joint” after another.  Most of the other contestants are out there trying to be somebody, they just can’t figure out who.  But it sure is someone much older than they are and with a lot more experience in the sack, you know what I’m sayin’?  And here comes Jason, with his guitar.  A breath of fresh air.  Singing a nothing song, really.  He had to know this was a big risk, but he was going to be himself or go home.  I love that.

 

This was where he went from “I think I like that kid with the dreads” to “Jason Castro!”  Most people would say that his performance of “Hallelujah” was his best moment, and I agree, but this one was where I really got the JC bug.  Plus, you know, the goofy angel face.  (Hey, it’s you guys.  I’m not gonna pretend it didn’t matter. *g*)

 

Yeah, I hear it.  The note at the end on “…boy…” is so sharp it makes me cringe every time.

 

I don’t care.  The whole thing is delightful and absolutely effortless. And the judges agreed with me.

 

I stopped chewing at:  “…and fall on my face in someone’s new-mowed lawn…”

 

Victory Arms:  “…She’s the one who makes me feel this way.”  The word “way” is the moment.  I can still feel that.



 

 

3.     David Archuleta, Shop Around.

 

Why I love it.  Little David went on to sing all kinds of big, ballady stuff on his way to number 2, and sing it well.  But this is my favorite performance of his because I really think he’s old-school.  I think he’s a boy pop singer from the early sixties and I’m not sure how he got here. 

 

Plus, this is a very deceptive song.  It sounds easy, because it’s so light, but it’s brutally hard.  And, though he’s so nervous his head is about to explode, he does an amazing job of landing on every note.  My favorite part is at the very end.  During the last word -- between “…a...” and “….round” -- he senses that he’s in trouble and he takes a nanosecond to get his feet under him before he goes up for the last big note.  That makes me smile.  Smart boy. J

 

Yeah, I hear it.  He doesn’t quite nail the first “you better…”  He’s too nervous and it’s too low and he can’t relax into it.

 

I don’t care.  It’s hard, it’s incredibly well sung, and he’s absolutely in the zone.  You guys, he’s seventeen here. And the judges agreed with me.

 

I stopped chewing at:  “…just as sure as the wind’s gonna blow now…”

 

YESSS!  Last verse: “…make sure she’s in love with you now…”

 


 

 

2.     Melinda Doolittle, I’m A Woman.

 

Why I love it.  It’s a great performance.  During this round, I actually liked her “Since You’ve Been Gone” better, and she really blew the roof off the place once she got to the big stage.  But in this round, this was the performance showed how stunning she was going to be.  

 

Melinda was really the complete package, right from the start of the competition.  The way she worked the stage and the camera were amazing and then Melinda just has an impeccable voice.  Every single time she sang, she was solid.  She’s one of those where you’re not crossing your fingers and rooting for a good performance, you can just relax and enjoy it.  She should have won that season.   

 

No, I don’t hear it.  There’s nothing wrong with this performance. And the judges agreed with me.

 

I stopped chewing at:  “..lay down at five, jump up at six, and start all over again…”

 

No she did not…:  “…I don’t think they heard me that time…”  She’s a middle-round contestant and she adds a line to work the backup singers into the performance.  That just doesn’t happen. 

 



 

1.      Elliott Yamin, Moody’s Mood for Love.

 

Why I love it.  We just didn’t know much about him yet.  Little Elliott with the funny smile and the baggy pants and the cute mom in the audience.  And then he gets out there and does THIS.  It’s a little jazz ditty, which is just NOT what they sing on AI, so it was a huge risk.  But it’s beyond brilliant because it’s perfect for him and it was probably something no one else in the competition was even capable of.  His mom wipes a tear, halfway through.  And at the end, he knows he’s nailed it.  I still get sniffly watching this.

 

No, I don’t hear it.  Even if you could find me a bad note, I’d hand you degree of difficulty and send you packing.

 

I don’t care. Guys, the ballsy song choice, the mastery.  I was high on this one.  And the judges agreed with me.

 

I stopped chewing at:  “…Pretty baby you are the soul who snaps my control…”

 

Clapping and stomping of feet:  “…You give me that smile and then I’m wrapped up in your magic.."



*TM

amycurl

Comments

( 11 comments — Leave a comment )
misreall
Mar. 4th, 2009 02:54 pm (UTC)
Ok, I'll jump in.

As you know I am extremely ambivelent about AI (most of the songs I find truly painful, and I am not really interested in big singing), but, that said, I loved Melinda. She was exactly what the show should be about, but generally isn't, and Elliot (sweet, adorable Elliot) coming out and swinging a song that was at once breezy and heartfelt should have forever deflated all of those diva song balloons out there.

Besides, to paraphrase Nick from Metropolitan, American Idol is no more absurd than life itself.
aunt_deen
Mar. 4th, 2009 03:03 pm (UTC)
I was just talking about Idol this morning. Specifically that there hasn't been anything that's blown me away the way some of the past middle performances have done. There have been a few decent performances, but nothing I can't wait to get on my iPod.

And sure, strike me dead, but does anyone think the blind guy would have gotten this far if he weren't blind?

My Top 24 Top 5:

1. Elliot Yamin - Moody's Mood for Love

That is a wicked hard song to sing and he sang it with such a light, effortless air. I've gotten his full-length version of the song as well, but this one is still my favorite.

2. Melinda Doolittle - My Funny Valentine
This is my favorite Melinda performance and those of you who know what a fangirl I am for her realize how big a compliment that is. When her voice dropped to that low, husky note on "a little bit weak," I got goosebumps. I've always wanted to hear Melinda and Elliot sing a duet. They both have that jazzy, bluesy manner, powerhouse voices, and perfect pitch.

3. David Cook - Hello
This is the song that made me sit up and take notice of David. A cheesy old 80's tune and he turned into something edgy and awesome. I'm still frustrated that he never did a full-length studio version of this one.

4. Jason Castro - Hallelujah
I loved "Daydream" too, but Hallelujah just grabbed me. It's such gorgeous song and it so perfectly suited to his voice.

5. Brooke White - Love is a Battlefield
Yeah, I know. But seriously, I don't think she did anything all season that was better than this. Again, it's a silly 80's pop song, but she sang it sitting on the edge of the stage, with just her own acoustic guitar to accompany her and it's one of those 'hey, this song doesn't suck!' moments.

marymary
Mar. 4th, 2009 03:24 pm (UTC)
and Elliott (sweet, adorable Elliott) coming out and swinging a song that was at once breezy and heartfelt should have forever deflated all of those diva song balloons out there.

I agree! Too much to hope for. *g*

Yes, aunt_deen, "Hello" was a great and truly interesting performance. And I agree with you on Brooke! You're right --- it was one of those where you hear the song choice and go, "Oh no..." but then get a pleasant surprise. I didn't love her as the season went on, but I did for that performance.

Every one of Melinda's performances was great; I decided to pick one and it was hard. I went with "Woman" because of the command of it and because she surprised me so much with that line to the backup singers. But I remember "Valentine" too; that was great.

I agree that "Hallelujah" was Jason's better song. "Daydream" was the one that made me go, "Whaa..?" so I chose that. Plus, the vid of "Hallelujah" has that bad last note (which they fixed for the iTunes version).

1) Blind Guy is so getting a pass. I was actually hoping that Simon would say, "I'm not going to patronize you; that just wasn't very good." It wasn't!

2) I really like the three I mentioned, especially Lil Rounds. I really think she could be this season's Melinda --- just in the pocket every single week.

3) Adam is going to be a mf BLAST, I'm telling you. Incredible voice, sweet boy, ego for days. Fun fun fun.
misreall
Mar. 4th, 2009 03:33 pm (UTC)
I must also put in a shout out for Elliot Yamin's improbable version of Trouble. Everyone knows Elliot isn't Trouble, and the idea of him singing any Elvis song was the kind of thing that should give one an anuerysm, and yet he made it work in a big way.

And, in the same episode, Taylor Hicks killed with In The Ghetto, which is a song that takes a lot of balls just to sing on national television, let alone sing well.

Or are those too late for what you are talking about? My Idol history is rusty.
marymary
Mar. 4th, 2009 03:44 pm (UTC)
Or are those too late for what you are talking about? My Idol history is rusty.

I think so, but who cares? Talk about whatever. I was just making a cut-off for my list up there.

I agree on both counts.

Wait a minute --- who was it that sang "Little More Conversation"?
aunt_deen
Mar. 4th, 2009 03:49 pm (UTC)
Wait a minute --- who was it that sang "Little More Conversation"?

That was Chris Daughtry in the Top 12. The week he got eliminated, if I remember correctly.

Sigh. I used to have all his Idol stuff on a cd but I lost it before I had iTunes.
aunt_deen
Mar. 4th, 2009 03:57 pm (UTC)
Every one of Melinda's performances was great; I decided to pick one and it was hard. I went with "Woman" because of the command of it and because she surprised me so much with that line to the backup singers.

What really impressed me about "Woman" was that I really don't like that song at all, but I loved her performance of it. If Melinda had one flaw, it was that aside from a few notable exceptions (Valentine, Trouble is a Woman, Sway, etc.) she tended to pick rather dull songs. But every time she took a boring song (or even a bad one) and made it into something I want to listen to over and over again.

I really like the three I mentioned, especially Lil Rounds. I really think she could be this season's Melinda --- just in the pocket every single week.

She was really good. I find it annoying when people put themselves into songs so I sort of hated it when she sang about "call this show if you want to see me again," but she really is an excellent singer.

Adam is going to be a mf BLAST, I'm telling you.

I agree. He did "Satisfaction" for God's sake. That should have been the kiss of death but it wasn't bad at all.

misreall
Mar. 4th, 2009 07:43 pm (UTC)
Lil Rounds? Seriously? I don't know if that is the best name or the worst.
aunt_deen
Mar. 5th, 2009 03:14 pm (UTC)
Yep, Lil Rounds is her name, and it's one of the two things I don't love about her. The other name that annoys me this season is Ju'Not Joyner. Random apostrophes are always stupid, but the fact that he added the apostrophe a couple of years ago is just ridiculous.

And as for last night, I am unsurprised but disappointed that Blind Scott made it through. I listened to him sing again and he's nowhere near as good as a lot of the people who didn't even make the wild card round.

And speaking of the wild cards, most of the people I like made it in, which is great. For instance, Megan Corkrey, who is the only performance I downloaded from her entire group.

But damn it, they've inflicted Tatiana upon us again. So, so tired of listening to that girl wail and sob.
edgeriffic
Mar. 5th, 2009 05:39 pm (UTC)
Will be back to comment more fully later, but in the meantime, just read this from Jacob at TWoP:

"So as Jorge sings "Don't Let The Sun Go Down On Me," or as I like to call it, "Hand Me That Remote,"...."

hee.. I'm enjoying the Jacob recaps, he's pretty funny and somewhat bizarre which works well for this show I think.
marymary
Mar. 6th, 2009 04:50 pm (UTC)
Sorry it took me so long to respond. Am in HELL at work. Hell. I hope today is a better circle than yesterday.

I agree about Jorge and I suspect we agree about Blind Guy too. And Tatiana. Though...was there a show last night? (See "Hell", above.) The wild card sing-off? If so, then shush, I haven't seen it yet.

hee.. I'm enjoying the Jacob recaps, he's pretty funny and somewhat bizarre which works well for this show I think.

He's also our BSG recapper and I agree completely -- extremely funny. I haven't had a chance to read any this season yet...but I need to get over there.
( 11 comments — Leave a comment )