Posts Tagged Keith Urban

Idol Thoughts — 05.26.10

Was the American Idol finale last night a sign of the diminishing returns to come?

Everything about Season 9 had a feel of “lesser-ness” about it. So I guess it’s not surprising the finale would go the same way.

Instead of last season’s kick ass finale teaming of Adam Lambert and KISS, last night we got one of those 60s variety show group-sings of “School’s Out” featuring the Top 12 in school uniforms and a crusty Alice Cooper. Not as cool.

Instead of the brilliant pairing of Idol winner Kris Allen and country superstar Keith Urban, last night’s eventual winner Lee DeWyze got stuck singing with the band Chicago. Lee’s from the Chicago area. Get it? Lame.

Instead of putting some thought into booking the show, it seems like they backed a truck up to the rock ‘n’ roll old-folks home and said, “Get on! We’re taking you to bingo!”

Hall and Oates. Joe Cocker. Bee Gees. Michael McDonald. I guess you can’t spell I-D-O-L without O-L-D.

Alright, so if it were up to me, I’d get a better generational mix of guests. Adam Lambert was scheduled to appear. But producers nixed his appearance after he missed his rehearsal time. For some strange reason, producers (and censors) would like to see what he’s got planned before putting him on-the-air. The “for some strange reason” is knowing sarcasm, in case that wasn’t clear.

My favorite moments last night? Crystal Bowersox performing “Ironic” with Alanis Morissette, which felt legit and relevant. Also Casey James doing “Every Rose Has A Thorn” in an emotional performance with Bret Michaels, who despite his recent health scares seems determined to not go quietly. Good for him. It was also cool seeing Janet Jackson (who’s gone natural with her new short haircut), who, despite having two microphones at one point, didn’t appear to be doing much live singing.

The tributes to Simon Cowell were entertaining, too. I’m sure some will say they were a bit overdone. But the fact is, Simon is, and has been, the show. His departure is a game-changer.

There’s a big question that needs to be asked today: Is Idol on a irreversible slide, destined to never regain the luster and pop culture focus it once had? Or will the culmination of a lackluster season be the inspiration for a rebirth and return to glory?

Right now, it’s hard to see how the later choice above would occur. The problems seem tied to the dismantling of the dysfunction family that was the judging panel: first adding the unnecessary Kara DioGuardi; then letting Paula Abdul get away; and now with Simon Cowell‘s departure.

Only time will tell. The same can be said of Season 9, the real test of which will come in the months and years ahead. Can Lee and Crystal sell music in comparable amounts to other Idol winners and high-profile runners-up? What about third-placer Casey? And will any others from this season’s Top 12 emerge from the pack to become successful recording artists?

Now, for the thing I wanted to put in the first paragraph–but wisely decided to stick with analysis of the entertainment last night instead of the following statistics.

There are a lot of people this morning under the false impression that Lee beat Crystal by two percent of the vote. Here’s what Ryan Seacrest actually said: “Coming into the vote last night, less than 2 percent separated the finalists.” Read those words carefully. What they actually say is that number (two percent) are the votes from every week BUT the finale. The two percent has nothing to do with the finale votes.

My gut tells me Lee beat Crystal by a margin much larger than two percent.

Once again, things seem to work out in the Idol-verse. Lee has a very recordable voice and will benefit more than Crystal from being “The Idol.” As for Crystal, she’ll have an easier time staying true her artistic vision as the runner-up. Both are in good spots. As always, it’s about what they do next with the opportunity they have.

Greg Valentine
check me out on Twitter: http://twitter.com/gregvalentine

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Idol Thoughts — 03.10.10

Tonight, it’s the guys, fighting for a place in the Top 12 on American Idol. Here we go…

Lee Dewyze – “Fireflies” by Owl City – Great song. Lee sounds good singing it, doing an acoustic guitar-driven version with the raspy, rock vocal Lee’s clearly suited for. I’d say the song loses a little of its quirky charm in this version. But this guy is strong.

Alex Lambert – “Trouble” by Ray Lamontagne – Funny how certain songs keep popping up this season. This is one of those. I’m not sure it felt that authentic coming from Alex. Nice vocal. But that song calls for some deep soul. And maybe some life experience to back it up. Alex does have a unique vocal sound that he’s developing. Props for improvement. But he needs to start enjoying the moment–relishing his time on stage.

Tim Urban – “Hallelujah” (Jeff Buckley version) – Tim’s strummin’ the acoustic guitar tonight. Adequate vocal, considering he’s tackling some difficult material. We keep wanting more from this guy. And it does seem clear that Tim’s working hard. Another guy showing improvement. Hard work + general “adorableness” (for the ladies) = Tim Urban in the Top 12.

Andrew Garcia – “Genie In A Bottle” by Christina Aguilera – Well, my fave cover of this song is still by the band Speedway. But the song’s definitely one that lends itself nicely to some re-imagining. Nothing about Andrew’s version tonight was effortless. He did kinda battle with rhythm of the song without finding the groove. But I’d say Andrew makes the Top 12 without having to use any of his three wishes.

Casey James – “You’ll Think Of Me” by Keith Urban – After last week’s loud “I Don’t Want To Be,” Casey returns to the quiet. Just him,  his guitar and a stool, and this song. Well, and a couple of subtle background singers. Seems to me he could’ve done even more with this. But it was solid–if maybe a little too simple and plain.

Aaron Kelly – “I’m Already There” by Lonestar – I thought Aaron started the song with too much “warble” in his voice. Too much vibrato. He got control of that pretty quickly and turned in a nice vocal. This guy can go as far as his continued improvement will take him. Nice touch by Simon Cowell telling Kara DioGuardi that her comment was “complete rubbish.” Although I thought Kara made a point worth bringing up: this song is about a dad calling home to his family, and really doesn’t relate to 16-year old Aaron’s life-experience in any way.

Todrick Hall – “Somebody To Love” by Queen – I always want to like this song–whoever’s singing it. It’s just a fantastic song. I’m finding the background singers distracting for some reason. Todrick is barely there for me. I didn’t hear a vocal that lived up to the song. For me. Judges seem to have enjoyed it more than I did. Todrick clearly has the vocal chops–for Broadway, at least. That’s not a bad thing, as Broadway is where his paychecks have been coming from. But is he the next American Idol?

Michael Lynche – “This Woman’s Work” by Kate Bush – Despite Big Mike’s attempts earlier in the competition to be the big teddy bear version of Jason Mraz, he’s doing much better as a soul crooner. I liked this. A lot! Not familiar with the song. At all. But wow. You had to take notice. Kudos from judges are much deserved. Best of the night, fo’ sho’!

Greg Valentine
check me out on Twitter: http://twitter.com/gregvalentine

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