Wednesday, February 27, 2008

10 guys, 8 spots: just be better...

Sixties night didn't do a whole lot for most of the guys last week, so this week the producers decide to fix that. By giving them songs from the 70s from which to choose. YAY!

This week was worse.

Because THIS is American Idol.

And the pack of dudes is clearly aligning into the pimped and the non-pimped, the good and the really ugly. And guys that had impressed didn't. And those who didn't did.

I think I just confused myself.

Alas. Anyway, here are my impressions, a day late but not a dollar short and, as usual, from worst to first, complete with [gap]s to separate their ratings.

Jason Yeager (Long Train Runnin'). Jason introduces us to all of the instruments he has mastered over the years, despite the fact that he's not drug any of them on stage yet. Somehow, after this performance of the Doobies, I doubt that he'll have any chance to drag any of those instruments anywhere but home, even getting the rare Paula pan. There was nothing I enjoyed about this performance, from first note to post-performance interview.

[big gap]

Jason Castro (I Just Want to be Your Everything). I have no objection to a Bee Gees song, even one recorded by the little bro. Ever. (Unless it's Grease, but that's a whole n'other story.) Jason even hauls out his guitar and takes on most of the instrumentation himself. Randy reminds him it's a singing competition and calls his performance karaoke. Actually, I've heard better in a karaoke bar. I adore Jason, but this vocal was so thin and week. Paula suggests he drop the guitar. For once, I agree with Paula.

Danny Noriega (Superstar). After last week's Jailhouse disaster, Danny decides to dip into the ballad bowl and rescues a bit of his pride. Wisely, Danny goes with the Carpenters version of this 70s hit and avoids the inevitable comparison with season two's Ruben. Randy is exactly right, though, when he tells the VFTW poster child that, while the vocal was miles better than his previous outing, it lacked any soul. And, in his post-performance interview, he shows, at least for now, that he's not the complete little hissy-fit-throwing diva he came off as last week.

Robbie Carrico (Hot Blooded). Robbie explains his drag racing addition in his pre-performance clip (and it dawns on me that I already know more about these kids than I learned of all of last year's, but whatever.) He's determined to "prove" he's a rocker, despite Simon's doubts about his true rocker persona. After this performance, even I am questioning Robbie's true musical style.


Luke Menard (Killer Queen). Luke, who is hawt, decides to do Freddie Mercury during the semi-finals? He gets points for guts. And despite a panning from Simon, who calls the performance theatrical and whiny (because, perhaps, he's not among the anointed group?) I think it's the best we've heard from him. And, as the third performer of the night, his was the first bright spot.


Michael Johns (Go Your Own Way). Michael, who took my performance of the night awards, albeit in a near tie with one of the Davids, said just performing Fleetwood Mac was his dream come true. Perhaps. But that doesn't explain why he decided to phone it in. I did not like any bit of this performance, perhaps because I expect more from him, but it seemed as though he got caught just behind the band and was never able to catch up. He's better than that, and I won't accept mediocrity from someone capable of better.

Chikeze No-longer-Eze (I Believe to my Soul). The orange suit is replaced by a polo and the cheesy lounge-lizard act gives way to a soulful rendition of this Donnie Hathaway classic. He may have just saved himself, at least for one more week. (And yes, Chikeze, we know that's Kenya Hathaway singing backup.)


David Hernandez (Papa was a Rolling Stone). Wow. I was not expecting this. David #3 actually impressed me, from all perspectives, and, provided he survives this week and turns in a comparable performance next week, may just make it to the big stage.

David Cook (All Right Now). We learn that David #2 is a "word nerd," who likes crossword puzzles and, one would assume, a cutthroat game of Scrabble. And then we are convinced that he's really the only true "rocker" in the group of guys, slaying this delicious Free classic. (And I thought that even before Randy said it.) And it's David #2 that brings out a testy retort from Simon, that was both ridiculous and unnecessary.

David Archuleta (Imagine). David #1 gets the "pimp spot" and closes the show with a perfectly on-pitch, unique and lovely rendition of John Lennon's signature tune. He clearly wins the night, and obviously has won the hearts of screaming women who are getting on my last nerve. I don't know that I would go as far as Randy in calling it one of the best vocals in the history of the show, but top 25 perhaps. Simon tells him he's the one to beat and, honestly, based on the total performances so far this season, I can't disagree. But it's very early.

So, who's going to leave? If Jason Yeager hangs in there, it will be a crime. I don't think he will survive, and, since I have to predict, I wouldn't be surprised to see him exit stage right with Robbie Carrico.

Tonight the women throw on the polyester and Hustle to the tunes of the same decade. Cool.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Usually I agree with you Jennifer, but not so much this time. I can't believe you put Robbie as better than Jason Castro and Danny! GAK! And Luke made me put my hands over my ears and start crying. I don't understand why anyone likes him at all.

Dial Idol has Luke and Danny at the bottom....

11:31 AM, February 27, 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I honestly can't believe that you have Luke ranked as high as you do. He was horrid again last night, and I wouldn't be shocked if he went home with Jason Yeager (but then again, I thought it would be one of them last week along with Garrett, so what do I know?)

On a brighter note, I'm digging all three Davids as well.

11:59 AM, February 27, 2008  
Blogger Dave said...

I still don't see the charm of David A. He's okay but I don't think he's a great as everyone is making him out to be.

12:18 PM, February 27, 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Jennifer,

Thanks for this blog, without it I wouldn't know whats going on. We lost power last night and I missed the show. Was really bummed out!

It sounds like David is a lucky name this year.


1:24 PM, February 27, 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Luke, Jason Y, Chikeze and Robbie won't make the top 6 guys...unless Danny goes tomorrow.

Michael needs to stay cuz he's a GOD and I would be crusehd if I couldn't drool over him and his sexy voice every week.

I must have a really mature 13 year old because she prefers JC MJ and DH over David does my 7 year old.

1:49 PM, February 27, 2008  
Blogger Sunshine said...

First things first....Jennifer, I just want to say how much I appreciate what you do on this blog and for all of us that love to post comments on it! I know a lot of people tell you how great it is, but I don't think I've mentioned it since I first started reading a couple years ago. So with that, I thank you. This is a great place to rant, and about none other than our favorite show! (Well, sometimes I question that, although this season is making a comeback.) So anyways, on with my ranting...

Knowing last night was the 70s, I thought there was going to be a good selection of songs coming out of the bucket...boy was I wrong! Imagine was the only song that I liked. I was definitely expecting better song choices (i.e. Elton John, Billy Joel, Rod Stewart, Jackson Browne, Chicago, maybe Bowie or the Cars). Now I know they can't get the okay on some of these, but if I remember correctly, Billy, Elton, and Rod have all been sung in previous seasons. Needless to say, a few more of the performances made the songs good, even thought they weren't songs I was expecting.

Now this is where I'm confused. It was really easy for the judges to say, in the past "Top 24" rounds, that song selection was bad. This year they only have a list of 50 songs to choose from, and it seems like 70% of the contestants are picking the wrong songs. What does that say for the choices of songs that they pull for these kids? I'm sorry but I LOVE Queen and Foreigner, and really like Fleetwood Mac and the Bee Gee's, but jeez they could have put a better choice of these artists' songs, and they still could have fallen into the 70s category. So I'm not buying the "song choice" excuse, because frankly I thought most of the songs sucked and these kids were just doing the best they could with what they were given. Hopefully, the girls will do better tonight, (and maybe sing some Donna Summer, James Taylor, Carly Simon, Elton John, Billy Joel).

Ok, since I made that rant incredibly long, I'll make my predictions on the guys in a separate post.


1:57 PM, February 27, 2008  
Blogger jennifer said...

And to add to the song selection issue, from what some of the booted contestants have said, each kid is handed a list of three songs from the 50 that they can choose, so they REALLY don't have much in the way of choice.

Of course that might be untrue, but even so, only 50 titles out of an entire decade? That's designed to ensure the sinking of some of these kids. And over six full seasons, all of which (I think) have had the same themes, you gotta know that clearance for more titles has already been granted.

It's insane. Really.

2:05 PM, February 27, 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not to be nit-picky, but just for the record, Andy Gibb sang I Just Want to be Your Everything, not the Bee Gees. Although they are related, not the same artist (Andy was way hotter.) And BTW, I liked Jason's version.

Second, am I the only one that feels like part of the reason that the judges think Robbie Carrico is not quite "really rock" is that he came from a boy band background and I'm 99% sure that his long hair is a wig, which adds to the "fakeness" of his look and overall image?

2:22 PM, February 27, 2008  
Blogger jennifer said...

Andy recorded the song, but Barry Gibb wrote it. But I will clarify in the text.

And do you think it's a wig? Or maybe extensions. Either way, up next to David Cook, he's a poor imitation of a rocker.

2:26 PM, February 27, 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Show's over, we found the real winner ;)

2:33 PM, February 27, 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks. I'd like Andy to get his credit, even posthumously. (So tragic.)

I think it's a wig. I guess it could be extensions, but the hairline and texture are just not right. I think it just gives the impression of putting on a disguise or costume and unfortunately, he doesn't have the voice and the attitude to make you overlook it. He's okay, but you're right, David Cook is miles better!

2:34 PM, February 27, 2008  
Blogger Sunshine said...

Ok, I'll be quick (well maybe not); here's what I thought of the guys last night:

Jason Castro and Danny Noriega were tied for the bottom, in my opinion. At this point I don't think either of them should be in the top 12. And its too bad, cos they both have good voices, but their performances the past 2 weeks sucked.

Jason Yeager, poor guy. He's definitely toast after last night. I didn't think his performance was that bad, but definitely not great. And two mediocre performances in a row will get you booted.

Robbie Carrico and Luke Menard- both of these guys fell into the trap of good artist-bad song last night. Both Foreigner and Queen are incredible artists, but the songs sung weren't the best ones. I didn't think they were as bad as most thought, but not great.

Michael Johns is usually incredible, but I think the band was louder than him. He did seem a little behind the music, and I hope it doesn't hurt him (like it did Chris Sligh), because overall he's really good! I also think there should have been a better FM song in the list.

David Cook is definitely a much better rocker than Robbie. I think theres only room for one and my pick is David. He did pretty well on a song I only half-liked until last night. About the retort to Simon, I only think these kids are doing it because Simon is getting on their nerves. He says "it's just an opinion", but personally I think Simon is being cockier than ever this year. I really think he instigates the situations like a little kid. I normally agree with what he says, but this year I just want him to shut up cos his comments are more childish than anything.

Chikeze and David H. - Two songs that I never liked, and two performances that I thought were ABSOLUTELY INCREDIBLE. I never liked r&b music, even from the past, but these 2 guys proved that the style of music doesn't have to make for a bad performance. Both were awesome last night! (On a side note: I may hate r&b, but I still love Elliott, and heard Wait for You the other day and found myself singing along!)

David Archuleta got the pimp spot and soooooo deserved it. Blake Lewis who? He completely changed the arrangement of the song and made it absolutely beautiful. His voice is so mature, and you can definitely tell he sings with heart and passion. I think he's going to be the "Carrie Underwood" of the season; just keep on singing incredibly until he's at the very top. No bottom 3's for this kid, it's in the bag.

P.S. I hope Brooke gets the last spot tonight. This is her era!

2:37 PM, February 27, 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Did anyone notice the look on David #2's face when Ryan announced David #1 would be up next? All the young females in the audience started screaming. David C did NOT look at all pleased. He looked unsmilingly at the audience and then looked up at David A with a rather unfriendly expression. Couldn't help noticing that!! Could the little green monster be raising his ugly head?? I made a point of looking at the interaction of all the guys at the end of the show. I saw Michael Johns put his arm around David A and pat him on the back in what seemed to a "congrats on a good job" gesture. That was nice of MJ because it seemed like (I could be wrong) that the other guys were ignoring him

3:50 PM, February 27, 2008  
Blogger jennifer said...

Jennifer is going immediately to her recording to watch ugly green monster...

4:10 PM, February 27, 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Didja see it? Didja see it? (the green monster)

3:51 AM, February 28, 2008  
Anonymous Chris(Daughtry)ROCKS said...

My husband saw the same green monster. I didn't and refuse to look again because I like David Cook and don't want to have any reason to hate him. This is so much fun!

Two days late, but here is my line-up worst to first:

Luke Menard - Unless you have the goods to slay the song, don't even TRY to do Queen. Period. He was horrid. Sorry, but his looks cannot cover over thin vocals and a weak performance.

Jason Yager - I've always been puzzled by Simon labeling a performance "caberet" or "cruise ship." Now I know what he means. Move over Gopher, Isaac and Doc... Jason Yager has boarded the Love Boat.

Michael Johns - Of all the Fleetwood Mac songs to choose from, he picks the most difficult in terms of rhythm (see *post below for a bit of rock trivia). And I really don't like it when a *group* song is attempted as a solo. It just doesn't work for me. And I really like this guy, so I expected better from him. But he'll get his chance to redeem himself next week. No worries.

Danny Noriega - I kept waiting for something spectacular to come out of his rendition. Nothing doing. I still have yet to see what the fuss is all about in this kid. So far all I know is that he apparently can carry a tune...and he looks like Jessica Alba.

Jason Castro - I was really disappointed with this performance. I don't think it was the wrong song for him, but I think it was the wrong choice to play his guitar. But he has a certain charm and charisma that keeps me glued to the set. I want to see what he can do next week. Hope he gets that chance.

Robbie Carrico - Yeah, I'm not buying the rocker thing either. He may *want* to be a rocker, but his vocal style screams boy-band and pop. Be that as it may, he did passably well on this song. But again, I don't like group songs turned into solos. It's just weird.

David Cook - Then again, when a group/band song is sung by someone who has a great voice and a true rock spirit, combined with proper song choice, AND genuine musicality, you get a solid gold performance. That was a long sentence.

CHEE-kay-zye - (I like the real pronunciation!) WOWZA!! Talk about redemption! He was fabulous. What a great song choice. It completely suited his personal style. And I loved how he threw his own name into the song. hehehe

David Archuleta - I really love this kid. I'm so impressed with him. It's astonishing to me that a voice like that could come out of such a squeaky kid. I loved his rendition of "Imagine." But I didn't give him top honors for the night for two reasons: 1) because I just don't really care much for Lennon's ballad, no matter who's singing it, and 2) I *do* love "Papa Was a Rolling Stone," which was completely slayed by...

David Hernandez - FINALLY!!! I've been saying for weeks, "Wow! this guy has a GREAT voice!" But we've not gotten to see much of anything in terms of his personal story. Because of that, and because he's not the most charismatic *person*, he may go before his time. Which is truly unfortunate because I think he's the best singer of the guys from a purely *vocal* standpoint. He's pure and flawless. And he absolutely slam-dunked this song. There wasn't one note out of tune, and the rhythm of that song is so tricky, he gets huge bonus points for degree of difficulty. He's my favorite of the competition. (At least this week.)

Who I want to go: Luke Menard and Jason Yager
Who should go: Luke Menard and Jason Yager
Who will go: Jason Castro and Robbie Carrico

Peace out, yo!

4:56 PM, February 28, 2008  
Anonymous Chris(Daughtry)rocks said...

*Rock trivia

Okay, here's a bit of rock trivia regarding the song "Go Your Own Way," by Fleetwood Mac.

If you know anything about music and time signatures, most classic rock songs are done in 4/4 or 2/4 time. There's a lot of theory and history that goes into why this is so, and it's way beyond the scope of this comment. But that's just the shape of it.

However, when FM composed the song, "GYOW," they wrote it in 5/4 time, which is an unusual time signature for ANY genre of music, much less rock. The produces of the "Rumours" album didn't want to include the song because, in their opinion, nobody would be able to relate to the rhythm and it would be a flop. But Mick Fleetwood fought tooth and tong to get the song included. He won...and "GYOW" turned out to be one of their biggest hits and commercially successful songs.

Just goes to show you that producers and executives DON'T always know best. *cou-Simon-gh!*

5:04 PM, February 28, 2008  
Blogger BeckEye said...

I didn't think Michael did such a good job either, but I will still have his very gorgeous babies.

5:43 PM, February 28, 2008  
Blogger LEN said...

If my lovely wife's comment piqued your interest in either unusual time signatures or compositions written using them, click here.

5:55 PM, February 28, 2008  

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Thanks Rob for the awesome image!