Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Initial impressions...


It may have been the final four, but it was old home week on American Idol. Seated in the audience were Mikalah Gordon, Jasmine Trias, John Stevens and LaToya London. The kids were reprising memorable numbers from seasons past, and two of them decided to pull an anniversary homage to the Clay/Josh identical song trick from two years ago. There were flip flops with suits, tears, well-wishes, love and kisses and grandmoms poised to totally kick ass.

Whew.

Round one ran the kids through the country wringer. Round two sent them to Philly to salute the classic duo of Gamble and Huff, who were also among the spectators.

I haven't had the opportunity to listen without watching, which can always highlight flaws a good performance can mask, or to watch them go through their paces again, so, reserving my right of rearrangement, here are my initial impressions, as always from worst to first.

Vonzell (How Do I Live?) -- This performance was doomed from the second note, and, despite her best efforts, just couldn't recover. Without question, it was Vonzell's worst performance of the finals. The tears following, and Paula's comments, were indicative that the least of Vonzell's problems were what happened, though, on that stage.

Carrie (If You Don't Know Me By Now) -- Simon called it a mess, Randy said it didn't work, and -- the kiss of death -- Paula dissed it too. Ouch Carrie! If Vonzell hadn't melted down fifteen minutes prior, you would have earned worst spot. (But, in all fairness, the arrangement, exactly as Simon said, was what ruined this song.) How does one make this song unrecognizable?

Bo. (Great Day to Be Alive [thanks for the assist!]) There really was nothing technically wrong with this performance, except for the fact that it was so snoozy I slept through it.

Anthony. (I'm Already There) I laughed when Simon, the only person more ignorant of country than I am, described this as both "syrupy" and "gooey." It's a country song. It's supposed to be sticky. Again, nothing technically horrible. And it allowed me to continue my nap.

Anthony. (If You Don't Know Me By Now) No...that's nota typo. Anthony performed a much improved version of the song Carrie sang two contestants earlier, in the same way Josh sang what Clay sang, ending with two very different versions. Where Carrie's was unrecognizable, Anthony stayed pretty much close to the original, even attempting to interject heartache at breaking up a happy home. It was a noble effort.

Carrie (Sin Wagon) -- What a difference a year makes. Last year, when Amy Adams put her brand on this song, the producers prohibited her from singing the original lyrics and forced her to change the term "mattress dancing" to "crazy dancing" or other such nonsense. Carrie got to sing the whole suggestive lyric, and, while not as clearly as was done last year, was energetic and even fun, when she could be heard over the always-too-loud-for-the-opening-singer band.

Vonzell. (Don't Leave Me This Way) With her cheering in the audience, the Vonz reprised LaToya's song from the final four one year ago, but, and I never thought I would say this, put Miss London to shame. She was, evidentially, able to shake off the emotion of the day, put the disaster of her first song behind her, and belted this Thelma Houston song over the fence. I would actually buy that record. Just like I would buy...

Bo. (For the Love of Money) I cannot believe that my ultimate wish -- that Bo would choose this song -- actually happened. And, even though I shouldn't be surprised, he was able to turn this very recognizable song (thanks to the Donald) into a new, fresh version that was a pleasure to watch. But Simon was wrong -- the style is terrific. It's Bo-riffic.

Final two? Don't count out a shocker. It's the final four. Anything can happen.

And usually does.

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Thanks Rob for the awesome image!