Wednesday, March 18, 2009

top 11: starring carrie underwood...

It always cracks me up when American Idol, in its search for the next superstar, forces kids into genre corners, giving them a limited number of song titles only to have the judges tell them they chose the wrong song from the millions and billions of choices from which they could have selected.

Some things about this show never change.

And one of those things is the annual foray into country music territory, where the kids got to celebrate Grand Ole Opry night with guest mentor Randy Travis, whom I personally adore.

Country night is often simply referred to as trainwreck night, with good reason, but Tuesday there were few really awful performances and actually a handful of pretty good ones. The worst part of the show? The self-indulgent, one-too-many, stammering judging panel that extended what could have been a well-paced 60-minute show into a far-too-long two hour marathon.

But here they are, my impressions for what they're worth and completely full of bias but as always from worst to first:

Michael Sarver (Ain't Goin' Down till the Sun Comes Up). I actually like this song, but (and I never thought I would ever say this) Josh Gracin did it better. So did LaToya London. Despite the mile-a-minute lyrics, I should be able to understand at least half of them. I couldn't. But I did like the harmonica.

Adam Lambert (Ring of Fire). Oh. My. God. Look, I like Adam. I like his theatrics. I like his attitude. I did not like this. At. All.

Scott MacIntyre (Wild Angels). Why Paula suggested Scott divorce himself from his piano is totally beyond me, and Simon was right to argue otherwise. But Simon was also right that Scott is starting to become predictable in his song selection and delivery.

Alexis Grace (Jolene). This performance might have been better had it had less blues infusion and more tempo. Kara chastised Alexis' song choice, offering up more Carrie Underwood tunes, and as much as I would have groaned at even more Underwood songs, and as much as I hate to admit it, Kara had a point.

Megan Joy (Walkin' After Midnight). I'm giving Megan major points for (A) not singing a Carrie Underwood song (B) acknowledging the legendary Patsy Cline and (C) singing despite a severe case of the flu. I know that she wanted to put her own spin on this classic, and I appreciate that effort, but it wasn't exactly my favorite version of this song.

Lil Rounds (Independence Day). I always think, even though many people disagree, that when one particular song is so closely identified with a previous Idol, it's dangerous to try it, because the comparisons (while possibly unfair) are inevitable. I know she was trying to do something different, and when she hit the hard notes she was great, but she's no Carrie Underwood.

Danny Gokey (Jesus Take the Wheel). Who didn't see this song choice coming a mile away? First a disclaimer: I detest this song, no matter who sings it. The opening verse is plodding even by Carrie Underwood. But I have to remind Kara the music expert: it's usually unwise for the kids to just throw away boring and cloying verses and just show up to sing the chorus because it's "better."

Anoop Desai (Always on my Mind). I really liked how Anoop didn't try to muddy this song up with a bunch of unnecessary riffs and ruffles. It's the best I've heard from him and this performance should land him a summer job on the tour.

Kris Allen (To Make You Feel My Love). I was not a big fan of Kris until this stripped down, heartfelt performance. The boy really can sing. This was just really really nice.

Matt Giraud (So Small). I'm glad that Simon finally acknowledged that this has turned into the Adam and Danny show and recognized the terrific performance turned in in the anchor spot. Matt has now been compared to Justin Timberlake and Michael Buble. Next week they will compare him to Carrie Underwood. Then we'll know he's legit.

Allison Iraheta (Blame it on Your Heart). I love Allison. (She's 16.) And I think she can take on pretty much any genre and shine. So maybe she was a little mush-mouthed in parts, but overall it was an energetic, fun and sparkling performance.

So those are my thoughts. Now the big question. Who comes thisclose but fails to make the tour. According to Dial Idol the girls are in the most danger, which I don't understand. So it's anyone's guess.

But here's my prediction:

Who should: Michael, Adam, Scott
Who I want: Michael, Scott, Megan
Who will: Michael, Megan, Alexis

All signs point to a female ouster, but I'm sticking with Michael, who should be the one listening to Carrie Underwood.

Tonight we'll know. And we'll be entertained by Carrie Underwood.

See you then.


Blogger Dave said...

I think Michael should get eliminated tonight, but all of his face time might keep him around for another week or two. If any of the girls go, Megan is the obvious choice.

12:43 PM, March 18, 2009  
Blogger angelof_mercy81 said...

If it were between Michael & Megan, I'm not sure who would go home. Michael's had the face time, but Megan has the VFTW backing and the sympathy vote (from her admission that she'd battled the flu this week.) I think it would be pretty close.

Opry Night wasn't the trainwreck that I expected it to be, although it was clear who was comfortable with the genre and who was plodding along and hoping for a better theme next week. I didn't especially like Adam's Middle Eastern tinged "Ring of Fire." I think it was a polarizing performance: either you liked it or you didn't. Even so, I don't think he has to worry about elimination this week.

1:50 PM, March 18, 2009  
Blogger Dave said...

Adam definitely doesn't have to worry about being eliminated until about week 8. I this as his problem:

Once the dead weight is jettisoned, the trick for each surviving singer is the ability to pick up the bloc of powervoters of the person who just got kicked off. In this, Adam will struggle.

He's got a strong core of voters who will powervote in droves. But what happens when Kris, Matt, Megan and Scott get whacked? Will their voters migrate to Adam? I think not.

That will be his downfall.

The first time this happened was when Chris Daughtry was eliminated. He simply wasn't picking up enough new voters. As you say, Adam is a polarizing singer and I think this will be his undoing.

4:33 PM, March 18, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Adam's "Ring of Fire" was scary! Didn't like it at all. I do like him, but thought it was over the top and strange.

I'd rather see Megan go then Michael. I don't think she's that good. I know she was sick this week, but she wasn't very good last week either.

I do think it will be between Michael and Megan tonight. Although Adams song was pretty bad.


5:59 PM, March 18, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with everything Jennifer said - EXCEPT I LOVED ADAM'S PERFORMANCE. It was sexy, edgy, cool and brought something completely new and exciting to the American Idol stage. Randy was absolutely right with his comments. Adam's singing is pitch perfect, you can't deny. I think he's truly an artist and not just, as is usually the case with American Idol, a good karaoke singer. I highly recommend that those of you who didn't "get it" the first go around, watch it again a few times...


7:19 PM, March 18, 2009  
Anonymous Julie said...

Great idea about song weeks. I especially like the South Park.

7:37 PM, March 18, 2009  
Blogger Dave said...

Screw Your Buddy™ night is the best Idol theme idea. Evah.

Just sayin'.

8:29 PM, March 18, 2009  

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