Posts Tagged Fantasia Barrino

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 — 02.24.10

So, I wasn’t gaga about the ladies last night on American Idol. And looking around today, a lot of people felt the same way. So with that backdrop, how did the dudes fare tonight?

Here’s the play-by-play from my live blog during the show:

Todrick Hall – “Since You’ve Been Gone” by Kelly Clarkson – Radically revamped. Slower and funky. Seasoned-performance coming from a seasoned performer (remember, Todrick has worked with Fantasia Barrino on Broadway in The Color Purple). I won’t be deleting Kelly’s version from my iPod for this one. In fact, re-watching it during the commercial break–and it’s a little harder on the ears the second time around. But clearly, Todrick shows enough potential and creativity to easily move forward. Not in trouble.

Aaron Kelly – “Here Comes Goodbye” by Rascal Flatts – When this kid first auditioned, I thought he might want to explore going down the country music road. His voice has some very nice qualities. But he’s lacking some power on this song. Except for the long, crowd-pleasing note toward the end of the song. Simon’s right…Aaron will benefit from some stage confidence. Aaron will do well. Got the ‘tween votes locked down.

Jermaine Sellers – “Get Here” by Oleta Adams – Great song. But the melody has gone M.I.A. I’m not a fan of this performance. And come to think of it, some of his others. Yup, Randy Jackson‘s right on the money. Jermaine tried to do too much. Sometimes less is more. Now, let’s put out an Amber Alert for the melody of that song!

Tim Urban – “Apologize” by OneRepublic – Umm, there was a reason they cut Tim in the first place. So much for second chances. Tim’s ability to hit those high notes must be hiding out with the melody of Jermaine Seller’s “Get Here.” Tim’s likely heading home again. If not this week, then soon. Sympathy votes could push him through. But if this is all he’s got, voters will lose patience.

Joe Muñoz – “You And I Both” by Jason Mraz – Has some nice moments. But it’s not all cake. So far, no one has been consistent enough to nail down a whole, complete song. Simon with the bulls-eyes. Where’s the star wattage? It’s one thing to sound OK, and do a nice job. But that’s not an Idol.

Tyler Grady – “American Woman” by The Guess Who – This guy studies–literally–all those 70s rocker icons. Well, he needs to throw away his “book learnin’,” and go with his own gut. What he’s doing here doesn’t feel authentic. It’s the difference between “I’m trying to impress you with my rock skills” and the much more genuine and direct approach of getting out there and just rockin’!

Lee Dewyze – “Chasing Cars” by Snow Patrol – I think he’s doing pretty well. Changes the song in a way that works alright. Yes, the song’s unrecognizable. But it suits his voice the way he’s decided to sing it. I’m not sure the advice from Kara DioGuardi (who looks like she raided Ace Frehley‘s closet tonight) is that great. I guarantee if Lee does a Bad Company song, he’ll get reamed by the judges for being “predictable” and sounding like a bar band-singer. Simon straight up disagrees with Kara. The voice of reason, as usual.

John Park – “God Bless The Child” by Billie Holiday – Not sure what to make of this one. Other than to say I wouldn’t hire this guy to sing at my wedding. And wedding singer and lounge singer is kinda the vibe he was sending out. Bad song choice for this competition. Fantasia Barrino could’ve pulled that off with this audience. John is no Fantasia. He’s got some voice in there, though. Will be interesting where this guy will go musically on the show if he sticks around. IF!

Michael Lynche – “This Love” by Maroon 5 – I just thought I heard a few little vocal similarities to Terence Trent D’Arby. A momentary thing. “Big Mike” definitely has a niche on this show. Kara makes a good point. On a different night, the judges (and the rest of us) would be more critical of this performance. Against the others tonight, his upbeat personality and a not bad performance are looking pretty good.

Alex Lambert – “Wonderful World” by James Morrison – This guy’s kinda off my radar. And he’s actually one of the better ones tonight. Bluesy and soulful. Simon hates how uncomfortable he looks performing–while acknowledging he has a voice. Kara says he sounds too much like James Morrison. To which I say, who’s James Morrison? And I know a lot of music. OK, I’ll need to look into it. Maybe I’m missing something good. Back to Alex, re-watching the performance, it’s clear he does need some seasoning in the performance department.

Casey James – “Heaven” by Bryan Adams – Good stuff. Opens the song with just acoustic guitar, spotlighting a tender vocal that continues through out with just the right amount of rasp. This guy’s a real contender on this show. I’ve said it all along. Called him a “ringer,” in the sense that Simon torpedoed his initial audition, calling him “boring.” Now that’s makes him the Comeback Kid. Good storyline for Idol. The judges comments for Casey turn into the comedic highlight of the night, with all the jokes about Casey’s model looks and Kara’s apparent crush on him. The first time this season the whole panel of judges, with Ellen DeGeneres, really gelled. For this stretch, it felt loose and comfortable like the old days with Paula Abdul. As for Casey, best performance of the night.

Andrew Garcia – “Sugar, We’re Goin’ Down” by Fall Out Boy – I like what this guy does–the re-arranging of songs on his acoustic guitar. I agree with Simon. Tonight, I was a little disappointed. For starters, I think he may have started the song in too high a key. And had to stick it out. But basically, the quibbles here are because much is expected from Andrew.

So there it is. Another so-so night. Dudes…you did it! You matched the ladies’ mediocrity. Those are my thoughts. What did you think?

Greg Valentine
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Idol Thoughts — 01.27.10

What’s the hardest thing about trying to blog on these early-season, audition episodes of American Idol?Attenetion span. Or I should stay, the wandering of that attention. It’s not easy staying focused on every audition with open mind and open ears, and giving each contestant equal consideration as the possible next American Idol.

Especially once you realize that what you’re seeing is only a fraction of the whole picture. The Dallas auditions produced 31 Golden Tickets–contestants who are advancing to the next round, Hollywood Week. The only reason we know that 31 is the number is because Ryan Seacrest says so, summing up at the end of the episode. For the rest of us, the people who just watched the whole hour, we only saw nine tickets handed out.

Obviously, because of time-limitations, Idol chooses to focus on a mixture of contestants with compelling backstories, a handful of colorful wackos, and a couple that simply have talent. So who are the 22 singers that advanced that we didn’t hear from? What do they sound like? Some of them must be contenders, right?

There’s actually a partial answer. The American Idol website has video interviews with every contestant heading to Hollywood. But no footage of their auditions. So we still don’t know what they sound like. And who has the time to hang out on the Idol website watching dozens and dozens of interviews? (Okay, I watched a couple.) So, as in the past, we’ll meet some of our eventual favorites for the first time during Hollywood Week. Or maybe even later.

So, as I write this morning about chicks with whips and dudes with Tourette’s, I have to wonder if singers with better chances of going far in the competition went unseen.

Now, about that chick with a whip, Erica Rhodes. In her child acting days, she appeared on Barney and Friends. So to get away from that squeaky-clean image, she came to the auditions squeezed into black latex and brandishing a whip. The judges dug her moxie. (Really? Moxie is the best word I came come up with today??) I felt it was a bit contrived. And I actually preferred her voice when she sang the Barney “I Love You” song to her version of En Vogue’s, “Free Your Mind.” Her voice sounds a little thin and limited. But, maybe because of the “moxie,” worth a second listen.

Full of all kinds of joy last night was dock worker, Lloyd Thomas, who turned in some nice phrasing on Stevie Wonder‘s, “Overjoyed.” A big guy and family man, Lloyd’s got the Ruben Studdard “teddy bear vote” locked down if he advances past Hollywood.

Stage actor Todrick Hall, who appeared in The Color Purple with Fantasia Barrino, effortlessly impressed the judges with an original ditty about, well, trying to impress the judges. Todrick was slick, natural, personable and talented–all the qualities that undoubtedly got him work on Broadway. Okay, he’s not exactly “the talented unknown with no other place to get discovered” that is the implicit American Idol premise. But he shined.

There were several last night that I’d like to hear more from before I get on their bandwagon. Kimberly Carver is going to Hollywood for a second shot. She sang a jazzy original. Nice jazziness–but what else can you do, Kimberly? Also advancing is Dave Pittman, the guy with Tourette’s Syndrome. He seems to gain control over the ticks and twitches that he can’t at other times when he sings. Great phrasing on his version of Sam Cooke‘s, “Bring It Home To Me.” If I were a cynic, I’d say Dave is this season’s Scott MacIntyre (blind guy, Season 8). But cynicism sucks.

Stephanie Daulong is another I wanna hear more from. Partly because she got scant seconds of airtime last night. She sounded a little Shakira-esque. Maegan Wright (“To Make You Feel My Love”) has a commercial look and a nice, controlled, powerful voice. And who doesn’t want to root for 16-year old Leukemia survivor Christian Spear? She showed promise, singing Etta James‘, “All I Can Is Cry.”

So those are the prospects from last night. Yes, prospects. Like in baseball, “spring training” is coming for these hopefuls. Hollywood Week being spring training, where we’ll get a better look at everybody’s strengths and weaknesses.

A final word about last night’s guest judges, Neil Patrick Harris and Joe Jonas: More Doogie! Neil (or are we supposed to call him Neil Patrick?) had ‘tude, involved himself and really seemed to get under Simon Cowell‘s skin. They tried to make a storyline out of it on the show. I wish they would have gone deeper into it. I wanted to know what was going on between those two. I suspect that Neil championed the more Broadway-esque performers, while Simon’s looking for a pop star. Joe, on the other hand, should have stayed home. What was the point? Knowing that his group is beloved by young fans was there any chance that Joe would say anything remotely mean or even constructively critical about anyone? He didn’t. And it seemed to me he had nothing to contribute.

Anyway, those are my thoughts. Yours? Let me know.

Greg Valentine
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