Posts Tagged Daughtry

Idol Thoughts – 05.12.10

So, last night Michael Lynche was eliminated (again) on American Idol. Here’s a few thoughts this morning, to use Ryan Seacrest‘s careful wording from last night, “in no particular order.”

First off, those Seacrest words were kinda an important detail last night. If you missed them, you might’ve assumed Crystal Bowersox was in the Bottom Two. We really don’t know. The finalists were sent to safety (and the Top 3) one at a time, starting with Casey James, then Lee DeWyze, then Crystal Bowersox.

We don’t know who got the most votes. We don’t know who got the second least. All we know is Big Mike got the lowest amount. Some Idol fans might be frustrated by that. I’m not. In fact, I kinda like knowing that I don’t know. It adds an element of surprise to the two upcoming weeks.

This brings up another thought. Is a Lee-Crystal finale a done deal? They seem to have been the front-runners for a while now. Is there anything Casey can do next week to change that? I don’t know the answer to that. I’d be curious what others think.

I see two sides. On the one hand, yes, they’re the front-runners and it makes sense. Casey’s been in the Bottom Two a couple times. Lee and Crystal have never been. On the other hand, the last two seasons have had guy vs. guy finales, making it seem the block of females who simply vote for their favorite “cute guy” have taken over once and for all. (And c’mon, you know that block of voters exists. Don’t hate on me for pointing it out.)

And let’s not eliminate one other scenario. Casey delivers an amazing performance next week, and America responds with well-deserved votes, sending him into the finale. I honestly like all three. So whatever happens, I’ll be sad to see one leave, but happy for the other two.

Nevertheless (here comes another thought), I think I’m on board with the growing number of voices out there saying this is one of Idol‘s most boring seasons. No Paula Adbul. Simon Cowell seems like he’s already moved on mentally to his next show, the U.S. version of X Factor. And after a season featuring contestants with pipes and big-to-solid personalities (Adam Lambert, Kris Allen, Danny Gokey, Allison Iraheta), this season’s Top 12 are a bit dry.

But I think it’s too easy (and too “fashionable”) to say this is the most boring season. The fact is Crystal Bowersox is unlike any Idol contestant before, not unlike how Adam Lambert was in his way last year. In some previous seasons, the likes of Bo Bice and Diana DeGarmo made it into the finale. Heck, Taylor Hicks won the thing! I’d hope even the biggest Crystal hater would agree she’s more talented than the likes of them.

Another thought, what’s the real point of the “Judge’s Save?” Is it to give a performer another chance to win the show? I say no. I don’t think anyone who gets saved will ever win Idol. There’s some fundamental reason why people weren’t voting for that person that won’t go away just because the judge’s override America’s decision.

Clearly, the save is a ratings gimmick for the show, thought of in some brainstorming meeting as producers looked for ways to freshen the show as ratings began to dip. Whether it’s helping ratings remains to be seen. The one thing The Save does do is help a performers recording career. No doubt Michael Lynche will sell more music now then he would have if he’d gone home six weeks ago.

A couple other things we learned last night: winning American Idol doesn’t guarantee you’ll sound great my to ears six years later (Fantasia Barrino, who wowed me back-in-the-day, but not-so-much last night); Finishing fourth on Idol doesn’t mean you won’t go on to be the show’s third biggest-selling artist (Daughtry, my fave then…and now); And that Bon Jovi rocks. I guess that last one was never really in question.

Greg Valentine
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Idol Thoughts — 04.13.10

Tim Urban had the best performance of the night? Yes. And also in today’s blog, up is down, right is the new wrong, and we’re now encouraged to mix stripes and plaids.

It was Elvis Night on American Idol, and the contestants went last night where, well, Idol has gone several times before. Last season’s runner-up, Adam Lambert, was on hand, the first former AI contestant to mentor the finalists. Acknowledging to the contestants that he’s at the beginning of his own recording career, Lambert mainly focused on encouraging the contestants to make their performances more interesting both vocally and visually.

The case can made that Elvis Presley was America’s first idol. He was part rocker and part crooner, part rebel and part choir boy. Musically, there were a lot of flavors in the Elvis catalog to choose from–a little something for everyone. As usual, the finalists’ choices ranged from inspired to hackneyed.

Last  night’s performances ranked:

1) Tim Urban – “Can’t Help Falling In Love” – Yep. Tim’s breathy and tender acoustic take on this classic wasn’t perfect. But it was the performance most people will remember from last night. Tim’s tweaks were spot-on and he made the song feel “new.” Anyone who reads my stuff knows I haven’t been drinking the Tim Urban Kool-Aid. I’ve been pretty critical. That’s because I call it as I see it. Last night, what I saw was a guy with the most memorable and satisfying performance.

2) Lee DeWyze – “A Little Less Conversation” – I can’t help but say that I’ve always blamed this song for sending Chris Daughtry home prematurely because he performed this song that ill-fated week. Of course, Daughtry tried to play it straight up Elvis-style. Lee made it his own, giving one of his strongest, most confident performances.

3) Crystal Bowersox – “Saved” – Leave it to Crystal to stump me with her song choice. I thought I had a pretty good overview on Elvis tunes. But Crystal strayed from the hits most people have heard, and dove into his Gospel catalog for this one. It was something different and authentic from the woman who’s known for that. (Known for being different? That sorta makes anything “different” not different, yes?)

4) Michael Lynche – “In The Ghetto” – You had to think that this would work even before you watched him do it. And, it did. Nice, acoustic-driven interpretation of this classic, validating the judges decision to “save” Big Mike last week. Hey, maybe Crystal should’ve let Michael sing “Saved”!

5) Casey James – “Lawdy Miss Clawdy” – Another good vocal. But a missed opportunity. Felt similar to the blues rock he’s churned out in the past. This is one of those times I wish I could pick a song for a finalist. I would’ve suggested Casey do “True Love Travels On A Gravel Road,” a lesser-known Elvis nugget that Casey could’ve owned. But “Lawdy” was not interesting enough to make my iPod this week. I make a point to say that only because Casey performances the last two weeks have been showing up in shuffle.

6) Siobhan Magnus – “Suspicious Minds” – Loved her look again. Never a good thing when I mention looks before vocals. This was really two performances. The first half of the song stayed true to the original. It was okay, but she looked uncomfortable playing it straight. On a second listen, I realized I originally liked that part mainly because I love Elvis version. The second half of Siobhan’s split-personality performance had her slowing it down and pushing herself to some of those vocal histrionics we’ve heard in past weeks. This half actually worked better. But here’s the deal on Siobhan lately. She’s like a boxer who swings wildly and repeatedly, whose punches aren’t connecting.

7) Aaron Kelly – “Blue Suede Shoes” – Difficult week to be Aaron. He’s done so many ballads lately, he kinda had to go upbeat this week. But an Elvis ballad would’ve been the better choice (just ask Tim Urban). Aaron looked to me like he was in his high school’s production of “Grease.” And Aaron was shooting for Danny Zuko. But came up Kenickie.

8 ) Katie Stevens – “Baby, What You Want Me To Do” – After last week’s top-notch “Let It Be,” this uptempo, lesser-known Elvis song was the fall of the week. As a performer, Katie generally feels a little contrived–like every move had been carefully thought of in advance. I actually prefer her on the ballads, in part because she stays put. Overall, she hit some bad notes last night, and sounded to my ears a little weak-voiced.

9) Andrew Garcia – “Hound Dog” – Awful vocal. Horrible performance. I tried to listen a second time to verify my original reaction, and couldn’t even re-watch the whole thing. “You ain’t nothin’ but a…goin’ home tonight!”

So, thanks to “The Save” last week, tonight two will be packing their bags. As far as I’m concerned, that’s a complication–a “wildcard”–when it comes to predicting what’s going to happen. Predicting the one who’s the most likely to go is pretty easy (did it…see above). But that other is the harder one to nail.

Here what I’m feeling. The Bottom Three will be: Aaron Kelly, Katie Stevens, and Andrew Garcia. And heading off to Heartbreak Hotel: Katie Stevens, and Andrew Garcia.

Whatcha think about that?

Greg Valentine
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Idol Thoughts — 02.16.10

Who’s in the Top 24? That’s the question that was 29 percent answered on American Idol tonight. We learned 7 of them. The other 17 will be revealed tomorrow night. And you thought it was a cheesy tease when Ryan Seacrest says, “We’ll find out after the break.” This break is 22 hours long.

Right about 9:15, I realized they weren’t wrapping this up tonight. And in honor of this episode, which was very non-chronological, I’ll be tossing out my observations in whatever order they reach my typing fingers.

BIG MIKE – He made it. Top 24. Simon Cowell wondered if Michael Lynche, the laid-back 26-year old personal trainer and new dad, has the confidence to win…before giving him the good news. As genial as this guy is, he’ll need to really step up his game to make the Top 12. He sings with more conviction than most. And he should emphasize that. But opening up a little more to viewers and letting them get to know him will earn him as many votes.

Vitamin Water cups on the judges table. Orange and white. This is not right. Red and white! Coke! It just doesn’t look right any other way. But go figure. Coke owns Vitamin Water. So for Hollywood Week, they’re using their sponsorship clout to throw some spotlight on this product. Worry not. Coke cups return for the live Top 24 shows. The affects of uncaffeinated judges on who makes the Top 24 remain unclear at this time.

SHELBY DRESSEL – No. Does not make the Top 24. Shelby’s the first to hear bad news of the contestants that remain. Her countrified version of Boston’s “More Than A Feeling” was potentially inspired, started out great, but hit a real bad note going into what was a cheese-ball chorus. The last 45 minutes of tonight’s show were devoted to those scenes where the judges deliver the news, good or bad, to the contestants. They walked down a long aisle at the Kodak Theater to the stage where the judges wait with their fate.

Also not making the Top 24: everybody in Room #2. That was earlier in the show. And not surprising for anybody paying attention. That meant no shot at performing before a live audience and being voted on by viewers for rocker Mary Powers (another Idol cautionary tale about overconfidence, a frequent source of downfall on the show). Also eliminated in this fell swoop: Hope Johnson, who sang a very pitchy version of Daughtry‘s “Home”; Charity Vance, “Gravity” by Sara Bareilles being a nice song choice, but some of her phrasing didn’t work: Lloyd Thomas, who the further he made it in this competition revealed more his limitations, was the umpteenth person to sing Michael Jackson‘s “Man In The Mirror”; Christian Spear, who hasn’t been shown much since her audition; And Bryan Walker, the singing cop.

“Performances” tonight were generally small clips–maybe a verse and chorus. Not much. Ryan Seacrest got much more “vocal time” tonight, his dramatic narration attempting to hold together this swerving-all-over-the-place episode.

TODRICK HALL – He made it. But you knew he would. That’s why all episode, Idol producers tried to fake you out by showing the clip several times of Todrick’s reaction: “That’s it?” It was a reaction to a non-drawn out, “Hey, you made it.” Not, “It’s the end of the road.”

KATELYN EPPERLY – Yes. Top 24. Ellen DeGeneres does a bit about how cruel it is to string along a contestant before telling them yes or no…while stringing along the Katelyn. Amusing. But obvious comedic terrain for a long while now.

Oh, Room #1 and #3 advanced. That was earlier in the show. And if you sensed that #2 were the goners, then you know the news was good for the others. Forty six singers survived that cut and they make up the contestants vying for the 24 slots in the judges’ final cut.

CASEY JAMES – Kara’s crush from Cool, Texas (a real place) lands in the Top 24. I never doubted this. Said so here. Simon’s the one that created this guy’s “underdog” storyline by calling his audition boring and voting no while the other judges gave Casey yeses. Seems a lock to make Top 12.

DIDI BENAMI – Top 24. She cries. A lot. Tonight. And just about every other time we’ve seen her. I don’t know if it’s entertaining, like in a hot mess kinda way. Or annoying. But I’m sure the answer will be apparent soon enough.

AARON KELLY – The 16-year old the ‘tweens are gonna love and vote for. Personally, I’m not sure he’s ready. He’s faltered since hitting Hollywood. But I get it. He’s likable, marketable, has potential to grow, and definitely good for ratings with younger viewers. He kind of needs to be in there. So he is.

What do you think about tonight’s show?

Greg Valentine
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