Wednesday, April 13, 2005

And this bird you cannot change...

The downside of having eight talented people remaining in the field of eight is that the dismissal of one of them is certain to be bittersweet. Especially after a night like last night, when none of them fell on their face. At least not entirely.

Whoever thought we would see on American Idol, in one night, Pat Benatar, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Freddie Mercury and Hall and Oates? Certainly not me. But it was good. Perhaps it signalled a change in the direction of this show which was, admittedly, getting a bit predictable. Apparently the show's creator has announced that the "themes" remaining this season will not be as disastrous as "Musicals" was, but will give the kids time frames, like a decade or the year in which they were born, which will free the kids from having to hunt through a tiny box for a song title to perform half-heartedly. Good idea producer people.

But back to tonight. Of course the question of every Wednesday: who will be on that Midnight Train to Georgia, or wherever.

Who's safe? Two of them. Carrie and Constantine. Who knew that Paula, of all people, would have (or even could have) been the most lucid of the judges last night, announcing to Freddie, er, I mean Constantine, that he may have just become the frontrunner. He has, with consistently solid performances. He has been the one to take the risks that the judges so desperately crave. And they've paid off for him.

Carrie isn't going anywhere either, partially due to her enormous and rabid fan base, but because, despite the stage presence of a deer caught in the headlights, she is the most solid vocally, even though her take on Pat Benatar, in an attempt to shed the "boring" label she's been stuck with, left me yearning for that dish powder commercial girl from last week. Poor thing. She seems like such a sweet girl, and she's trying hard, but she really needs to crawl back into that country box they want her in so badly. When she strays from the box, the judges verbally cram her back inside.

The others are at risk tonight, some more than the rest.

Bo, who many believed would find his way into the finale by acclimation, has the misfortune of going three weeks with less than glowing Simon comments. I enjoyed his Freebird rendition, even though I do concede that he might have been better off choosing another, more vocal-friendly number. It might have been (and was) viewed by some as too safe, especially up next to Constantine's performance, but I think that might be because the song fit Bo like a glove. I think he's probably performed it before. One or two times. I don't expect Bo to be standing center stage tonight, but it wouldn't surprise me to see him there.

At this stage, I would consider putting money on those three at the end. So that leaves the others.

The only truly weak performance of the remaining group was Nadia, who had to find a 1977 Mac Davis LP and unearth a number that Crystal Gayle would later turn into a country single, all about dreams and dreaming and stuff. I think, after four seasons, it's become clear that voters do not cotton to unfamiliar songs. Now, if the song had been a stage burner, like Power of Love, which she sang in the semis, that would be one thing. But this song had less catchiness than your typical fast food commercial. Nadia will make yet another trip from the sofa tonight. And it may be her last.

Anthony could also find himself standing on the seal tonight, even though he is getting critical praise of his performance, and rightfully so. He remained seated last week after possibly the worst performance of the finals, thus far, because his fans broke land speed records running to the phones to save him from certain extinction. Those fans, basking in the glory that was Anthony's voice last night, might not have been so extremely motivated, which is why so many of the Idol contestants find themselves safe after horrible performances and in jeopardy after good ones. Anthony could be on the one who will play the spoiler, yet again, in so many of these predictions.

Vonzell had no business standing between Scott and Nikko last week, but she landed there anyway. I cannot understand why Simon finds the need to pit Nadia against this girl. They are miles apart stylistically, so, unless they're trying to manufacture a return to the "battle of the divas" from last season, many voters might see this competition as an either/or proposition, much like the Bo or Constantine discussions that were so common in the early part of the competition. Vonzell really should be safe.

Anwar, as sweet and talented as he is, has yet to return to the magnetic performances that caught our eyes during the semi-finals, and, while last night's outing was the best from him in a while, he really needed to try to embrace those Nikko fans out there, just looking for a new phone number. I don't think it's Anwar's time to leave just yet, but his clock is certainly ticking.

Which, of course, leaves us with Scott. The man must be given credit for taking on both the Hall and the Oates part of the Hall and Oates song, in front of both Hall and Oates on live television. Listening to Scott's performance on the audio file is much more revealing than watching it. Scott gave a comfortable, relaxed performance. So watching it, one can easily ignore or forgive some of the weaker vocal moments. Without the video, however, the chorus is magnificent, but the verses, sung in the lower range, were, in a word, painful.

But more painful than the vocals was the attitude. There is nothing which will alienate voters any faster than appearing to be ungrateful or arrogant. Just ask Justin Guarini. Just ask Fantasia, who suffered a huge backlash for an obviously playful remark she made to Simon last year. Scott's remark was not playful. It was defensive. Now I think he has learned over the years to compensate for a self-esteem problem with aggression, but, when people are still talking about a domestic violence arrest, the last thing he needs to do is appear to be defiant.

A trip to the stage is inevitable for Scott, unless his Underdawgs burned a few million phone lines last night.

How does one choose a bottom three? One closes her eyes and points.

Should be bottom three: Nadia, Anthony, Scott.
Will be bottom three: Anthony, Scott, Nadia, with Anthony getting paroled.

Nadia will sing us out tonight, and, with an hour show planned, they better have the group hug.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

What did Fantasia say playfully to Simon last season that was ungrateful or defiant?

12:32 AM, April 14, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There is obviously a big bias here. Seriously, many have been saying that Carrie has the best vocals. Vonzell obviously has the biggest voice in this competition, even Randy says she has one hell of an instrument. Carrie has so much difficulty hitting the high notes just standing still, and people like vonzell and constantine are bouncing ard the stage without any pitch problems. Don't tell me its because she was sick, its just this bias.

3:11 AM, April 15, 2005  
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