Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Top 11 Perform

Welcome Back! It's that time again, performance night. 11 Contestants are left, and only 10 go on tour, so this is a very important week for each performer. Karen Rodriguez went home last week and every contestant hopes that they will not follow in her footsteps.They will be singing to the theme of Motown.

If everyone remembers last year(and I know some of you don't), this was the week when Didi Benami went home. You might wonder why I am thinking about Didi now? Well, it was during Motown week last year when one of the most awkward American Idol moments ever happened. The story goes that Didi was dedicating the Motown song to a friend of hers that passed away, so she was already emotional. Then after she sang(kind of poorly), Didi didn't want to say why she sang the song, and Ryan pushed her to say the reasoning behind the song, and when she again refused, he ended up telling everyone, and it made her even more emotional and created (in my opinion) one of, if not the most awkward after-performance interview between Ryan and a contestant. Plus, as a bonus, Didi went home the following day. So...after all that, we can only hope that no contestant experiences anything like that during this year's Motown Week.

As a side note. We have added a new section of I'dol Be The Judge. As always we post our recap of each performance right before the judges speak so as not to be swayed by their opinion. Many times the judges and I differ. A new section following the judges critiques will be added to see if the judges and I agree with how the contestant performed. Very exciting right?

Alright so now that all of that is clear, and as we do each and ever week...Let's Get To It:

How Were The Contestants?:

Casey (I Heard It Through The Grapevine): Zach Galifianakis, -----er, I mean Casey, tries a little bit of a different hairstyle, I kind of like it this way. He puts his Casey spin on the song, but nothing really special or spectacular with it. It's the same kind of shtick he's been doing the past number of weeks. Very safe. Grade=B
Steven: Thinks he is the perfect entertainer, crazy, and finds it beautiful and loves it.
Jennifer: Feels that there's no one like him. Calls him unique and can only be himself.
Randy: Calls him a true original and takes chances. Feels that he can only "do you, can't help but be you and nothing but you". I think that means he thinks he's only himself no matter what song he chooses.
Do The Judges Agree With Me? The judges and I disagree in that I feel we have seen someone like Casey before, unfortunately his name is Taylor Hicks. Casey better start doing something different, and soon.

Thia (Heatwave): After getting some heat last week(no pun intended) for only doing ballads, Thia decides to change it up. Although I think that this was an upgrade from last week, I feel she wasn't finishing her notes, or she was pulling the mic away from her face before she finished the note, either way not so great. Also, she started to tail off a bit at the end, and the band started to dominate a bit more because her energy became a bit depleted. Again, better than last week but still not Top 5 quality, but a good chance she'll be in the Top 10. She reminds me of Katie Stevens from last year, a very mid range singer, non-threatening, but nothing to write home about. Grade=C+
Jennifer: Feels she is finally scratching the surface and letting loose. Feels she needs to bring something more and connect to the song now that she's doing these types of songs.
Randy: Gives her credit for taking a chance and is happy that she moved up a notch doing something different.
Steven: Loves that she took a step out with the song and followed up with "I'm good with it". (Honest, that's all he said).
Do The Judges Agree With Me? I'm not as good with it as Steven was. Sure she changed it up, but she didn't do herself any favors with her vocals tonight.

Jacob (You're All I Need To Get By): Jimmy Iovine thinks that this is Jacob's week, that it's a perfect theme for him. Jacob wants to restrain his wailing a bit more this week. It's odd to say, but Jacob actually got out-sung by the back-up singers at points during the song. On his own, he sounded much more controlled, but when the band picked up and the back-up singers got involved it drowned him out a bit. After the song finished up Steven Tyler gives Jacob a hug, and the 3 judges give him a standing ovation and then Ryan had the front row give Jacob a hug. I thought he was good, but not sure it was standing ovation worthy nor multiple hug worthy. Grade=B+
Randy: He feels that there was absolutely nothing wrong, thought it was perfect.
Steven: He thought he milked it perfectly and made it all good.
Jennifer: He moved her. Feels that Jacob made the judges beg for the big moments of the song.
Do The Judges Agree With Me? Definitely not. I must have missed something. I thought he was good but to say that he was perfect is not right. He isn't an established artist with years of training. He might have been good, but there are still things to work on. They gave him way too much credit.

Lauren (You Keep Me Hanging On): Beautiful opening to the song, very quiet and subdued, and we were able to focus on her voice. When the band started I got nervous it wouldn't be as good as the beginning, but her voice was pretty solid all the way through. Probably one of my favorite performances by Lauren thus far. Grade=A-
Steven: Thought it was beautiful and she rocked it.
Jennifer: Thought she looked and sounded amazing and thought she brought some sass and attitude which the song needed.
Randy: Feels Lauren is ready to win it and carries some major swagger(in a good way).
Do The Judges Agree With Me? Yep. The judges and I agree on this one.

Stefano (Hello): Singing "Hello" which was famously done by Lionel Richie and then incredibly re-done by David Cook a few years ago is quite a task. This song was David Cook's signature song during his run, which helped lead him to his eventual win. Stefano has to sing it a different way, and he does. He stays a lot closer to the original than David did. He tries to put a different spin on the song and I didn't think it was that great. His vocals were also a little all over the place and he just sang it to sing it, there wasn't anything there. He took a major step forward last week as a front runner, but this week was a definite step back. Grade=C
Jennifer: Feels that he can sing, but didn't feel he connected enough.
Randy: He didn't connect to the song even though he can really sing. Felt there was no real emotion tonight.
Steven: Feels his voice is beautiful but he needs to pull back a little.
Do The Judges Agree With Me? Almost. I thought his vocals weren't as strong as they thought. But we do agree that this wasn't his strongest outing.

Haley (You Really Got A Hold On Me): Haley has nothing to lose, she's been in the Bottom 3, two weeks in a row, she's got to put it all out there. Without the backup singers, Haley sounded really nice. Unfortunately, the backup singers were really loud, even when Haley's voice was powerful. Easily one of Haley's better performances, you could really hear the grit in her voice again. I don't know if she did enough to not be in the Bottom 3 again, but she has a good shot of not going home. Grade=B+
Randy: Didn't like the start, but loved that the Haley of old is back. Feels her growl and presence is back.
Steven: Thought that it was beautiful, and "doesn't look a day over fabulous".
Jennifer: Loves the effortless control of her voice. Feels that she has the most soulful voice of all the women.
Do The Judges Agree With Me? Yes. Haley definitely has some grit and soul in her voice tonight.

Scotty (For Once In My Life): Making Motown into Country is a tough move, but if Scotty wants to be true to himself he has to make it sound like it came from him. Unfortunately, it comes out very karaoke and is incredibly boring. If you want to do Motown in your type of style then you have to make it outstanding and Scotty was pretty far from that. His facial gestures were also a bit out of control tonight, and made the performance real awkward. A nice try but not up to par with some of his other performances. Grade=B-
Steven: Thought it was beautiful, and likes that he took a shot.
Jennifer: Feels it was a great version of the song, but didn't think it was his strongest vocal performance.
Randy: Loved that he took chances but wanted the song to peak a bit more then when it did.
Do The Judges Agree With Me? Not even close. His performance was very boring and sounded like something you'd hear him sing in a karaoke bar. Despite that they praised him for taking a chance and staying true to himself. I thought it was a poor version of the song and was probably a wrong song choice altogether.

Pia (All In Love Is Fair): This isn't one of the more popular or well known songs by Stevie Wonder, so that plays in Pia's favorite because you can't compare it to the original. Her vocals were just as strong as they ever were, but the performance (other than the last note) was pretty boring. Solid, but nothing exciting. Grade=B+
Jennifer: Killed the judges with her ballad again. Loved her vocals and image, but needs to own her performance and add another dynamic.
Randy: Feels she is a phenomenal talent, but feels she needs to get out away from the ballad next time.
Steven: Thinks that she is the closest star in the competition. Adding another dynamic will push her further.
Do The Judges Agree With Me? Yep. We all feel she is a front runner in this competition but lacked that dynamic star quality tonight.

Paul (Tracks of My Tears): For the first time in a long time Paul is going to use his guitar during his performance. I liked that he made the song his own, it doesn't sound like the original at all, but it still kept some of quality of Smokey Robinson's version. Paul not dancing is an added bonus for all the viewers. He was definitely better than he has been the past couple weeks, but still nothing terribly exciting. Grade=B
Randy: Liked he didn't dance around, thinks he has distinctive voice and loves the tenderness of his voice.
Steven: Love the guitar and thinks he was great.
Jennifer: Finds him the most comfortable and calls him the complete package.
Do The Judges Agree With Me? Pretty Much. Although he did a nice job I wouldn't call him the complete package. It was decent. That's about it.

Naima (Dancing The Streets): After being in the Bottom 3 last week, and being declared by the judges as "pitchy" time and time again Naima needs to figure it out, or she'll be in danger of going home. Although she stated she was going to add an African spin to the song, it really sounded like the original for 90% of the song. Right at the end they had an African drum, Naima did an African dance and that's about it. I thought this was a singing competition. I would get it if the whole song had an African feel to it, but it was the original song, and then just the last few seconds they threw this aspect in. It was very odd placement. I don't know what the viewing audience will think of that. Grade=C+
Steven: Thinks that Naima is the total package tonight.
Jennifer: Finds her an exciting performer, and felt goosebumps for the first time for her.
Randy: Feels that all of Naima showed up tonight. She sang the song really well, and felt the whole performance was smartly done with the African dancing and drum.
Do The Judges Agree With Me? Not even close. They had goosebumps and I didn't even get a slight chill. Adding the dance to that song was one of the weirder moments of the show this year and they didn't even mention how out of place it was.

James (Living For The City): I give James a lot of credit for his stage presence. Pia, and Stefano got panned by Jennifer Lopez tonight for not owning the stage and connecting to the song, James has all of that. The performance was really well done. One of James' better performance. Grade=A-
Jennifer: Calls him "serious business". Finds it an incredible thing to watch and finds herself speechless.
Randy: Didn't like the beginning and found it a bit rough, but thought once he hit his stride he really liked it and thought the rest was unbelievable.
Steven: Finds him great and thought the song was perfect for his voice and he nailed it.
Do The Judges Agree With Me? Pretty Much. I'm not speechless but I thought it was pretty good.

How Was The Show/Judges?:
*Too Much Filler. From Motown pre-tapes to judge chit chat the beginning of the show had tons of filler. Ryan asking Randy about Motown, asking Jennifer on what the contestants should do with the theme, and asking Steven Tyler on Motown Music is just a waste of time. Then the idols get re-introduced again. Only after all of that did the first contestant sing. I know that these are 2 hour shows but 10 minutes of nothing is ridiculous. There are a lot of complaints that the contestants have to condense longer songs into a very short amount of time, how about instead of 10 minutes of filler in the beginning, the contestants just sing an extra 10-15 seconds? What would be wrong with that?

*Steven Tyler tonight actually said as a constructive criticism/critique "I'm good with it". He actually said that. He is a non entity at this point on the show. I think he is very sweet and I'm sure he is a great guy, but he is not helping these contestants get better. These are (mostly) young performers that have a lot to learn, he is supposed to help or at least tell them what they are doing wrong, and he is doing neither.

*The backup singers and band sounded a little too loud tonight at points. When the contestants are getting out sung by the people supposedly behind you then that's not a good thing.

*There are a lot of middle of the pack singers. I think James, Lauren and Pia have been the most consistently good contestants, the rest have been good or bad. With the judges not giving the best constructive criticism to help these contestants get better, this show can get a bit boring. After tomorrow's elimination we will be in the Top 10, it's time now to break out and prove why you are here.

Bottom 3 Predictions/Who's Going Home:

Bottom 3: Thia, Haley and Stefano
Going Home?: Thia. I think Haley will escape elimination this week, based on a better performance, and also because I think that Thia was worse than her this time around. Thia has been pretty middle of the line, and last week when she called herself an "artist" it kind of threw me off given she's only been doing this for like 3 weeks. She's a performer, but in the weeks I have seen her she hasn't really created enough to be considered an artist. Seriously though, I just don't think she did enough to stay in this competition tonight. She was one of the weak links this week, and only got saved last week because the other 3 ladies were worse. She can't hide this time.

We will see you right back here after tomorrow night's results show where one person will fall just short of making the American Idol tour. See you then.

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