Tomorrow night is going to be very difficult. Where there’s a couple of girls I won’t mind saying goodbye to, there isn’t a single guy I want to leave this competition after watching the performances. They may not have had performances that I was wowed by, but they’re all so damn likable!
Patrick Hall, 27, we didn’t see at all this past month, except for a clip of him singing a very impressive version of Bread’s If. That was my favorite song when I was a preteen. He drew many comparisons to Clay Aiken in Hollywood because of his balladeer style. Tonight he wants to show another side of himself, to make that separation from Clay.
Singing Melissa Etheridge’s Come To My Window, he proves he can rock it out, although I think the song doesn’t sound right sung “smooth.” Randy notes his nerves, and Patrick agrees, despite saying he’s played thousands of gigs. Randy doesn’t think it was his best, but kind of dug it when Patrick hit the high note at the end. Paula says when Patrick sang If,, everyone had goosebumps, and was talking about it the next day. That’s his niche, and he needs to stick with it. Simon doesn’t like the song choice, and notes Patrick’s fidgeting. He believes Patrick was missing his piano, resulting in him not showing much emotion. Patrick resolves to go back to his balladeer roots.
David Radford, 17, is my hometown boy. He lives in a town just a few minutes north of here. I have to root for him. He was labeled early on as a crooner, and found some companionship in a mini Rat Pack in Hollywood. Tonight he’s singing Crazy Little Thing Called Love by Queen. He wants to surprise America with another side of him. I’m not so sure that’s a good thing. Wouldn’t you want to go with what got you to the dance? Watching David sing is like watching Elvis the crooner singing Queen. Yet, he sounds good, and retains his likability.
When Randy asks David what’s up, David says he’s “chillin’ like a villain.” Randy feels like he’s back in Baton Rouge and someone is putting on a play and looking for someone that can fill in and sing lead. He tells David he had no originality, and his pitch was terrible. Paula thinks the “Kitty Pound” loved David, although she does admit it wasn’t her favorite time hearing him. Simon says he’s a good crooner, but the song came over like a bit of a joke. He thinks David should take himself more seriously.
Bucky Covington, 28, really struggled with lyrics in Hollywood. He hopes he doesn’t do that tonight, but fears the audience may hear things even he hasn’t heard. He sings Simple Man by Lynyrd Skynyrd, remembering that it was the first song he learned to play on the guitar. When he started, I thought, “Ooh, like Bo!” But he’s no Bo. He was good, though, in a different way, and I always have a soft spot for the rockers.
Randy tells Bucky he was doin’ the South proud, and says he has always been a big Skynyrd fan, too. He thinks Bucky has a good voice, and shouldn’t need to push it that hard. Paula thinks Bucky picked a good song, but notes he was a little off in parts. She calls him “growing.” Simon says Bucky was better with a band than they have seen him. He likes the fact that Bucky is very raw. Yet, he feels you can find someone like Bucky in thousands of bars across America. Paula and Randy think he’s better than you’d find in a bar, and Randy notes he played a lot of bars, probably most of ’em. Umm, I haven’t played in a lot of bars, but I’ve been in a lot of bars, and I won’t say you won’t find it at all, as you can hear it in bars, but only some. When you hear someone like him in a bar, it’s an unexpected surprise. Bucky tells Ryan seeing Carrie and Bo do well last year made him think he could do this.
Will Makar, 16, wasn’t expecting to make it to day four in Hollywood, yet, there he was finding out on Judgement Day he won the last spot of the final twelve guys. Tonight he’s singing I Want You Back by Jackson Five, remembering hearing it the first time when he was 8. His voice is pretty good, and watching him, I think he’ll win over the girl factor, because he’s cute and likable. At the end of the song, he blows kisses to the Kitty Pound.
Randy tells Will he likes him, even though he knows he’s not a “dancer” like Michael Jackson. He thinks Will did his thing vocally and admits to being entertained. Paula calls him adorable like Bobby Brady, and says she loved Bobby Brady. She thinks Will will have every high school girl’s heart pumping. Simon calls for a reality check and says Will is a really nice looking kid, but vocally he’s average. He believes Randy and Paula are patronizing Will, but they disagree. Randy says it was in tune and good, and Paula says Will gave it his all. There is absolutely nothing not likable about this kid.
Sway Penala, 28, says everything went well for him until he forgot his lyrics in the group auditions. He made it through, and is singing Reasons by Earth, Wind and Fire tonight. He remembers his parents singing him to sleep with that song when he was growing up. Sway sings half the song in a falsetto, and I wasn’t feeling it until he hit an incredible high note. He’s very natural.
Randy calls this a hot one tonight. He feels Sway did Philip Bailey proud (I had to look it up. He was the lead vocalist for Earth, Wind and Fire). He likes Sway’s range, but notes it was a little pitchy at times. Paula calls it truly amazing, and liked how Sway moved from the falsetto to the highest high note, then back in a more normal range. Simon thinks he must be on a different page tonight than Paula and Randy. He calls the performance a pimpy third rate copy of Earth, Wind and Fire. Paula says most people can’t even attempt what Sway did. I’ll give the edge in this argument to the people with real performing experience. Ryan wonders if Sway was a really tired child being put to sleep with this song.
Chris Daughtry, 26, says he has his game face on tonight. Simon didn’t think he had charisma at the auditions, so Chris pulled out all the stops in Hollywood, and finally heard Simon say, “You did good.” He sings Bon Jovi’s Wanted: Dead or Alive tonight, and he does amazing. I’m hoping that Simon won’t say you could hear that in any bar, because I never have, and I’ve been in my share of bars, dive bars to good bars. The people working the stage have the flames they usually save for renditions of Heat Wave playing behind Chris.
Randy calls it really, really good, and says he likes Chris singing current like Bon Jovi and Matchbox 20. He tells him he is Da Bomb. Paula doesn’t even know w here to begin, as she’s so wowed by Chris. She thinks he was spot on, and likes his artistry. Simon calls the song a good choice, but still keeps talking about charisma. Ryan thinks Simon is starting to go to his happy place.
Kevin Covais is 16 and the youngest in the competition. He believes age is nothing but a number. And that is nothing but a cliche. Hollywood week he impressed paula, and was quietly confident until he sat in “the chair” during Final Judgement. He is singing one of his personal favorites, One Last Cry by Brian McKnight. He has a shaky start, but kicks it in during the chorus. His nerves are definitely showing.
Randy says he really, really likes Kevin, and thinks he is the most honestly talented, honestly real kid. He says, “Dude, from the Dawg, me to you, You Da Bomb.” Paula says she and Kevin have an understanding. He makes her beam and proud. For 16, he is so poised, with no arrogance, and an awesome kid. She is proud of him. Simon apologizes to America, saying Kevin only appeals to people over 90 that are hard of hearing. He thinks Kevin was vocally verging on excruciating. Ryan calls Simon out on being a little extreme, then notes Kevin’s father’s nerves, saying he’s never seen the color of red before that he sees on his face. Noting how Paula always says she wants to just squish Kevin, the Kitty Pound is sitting making squishing face and pinching cheeks movements. Kevin walks into the pound for some squishing and pinching.
Ryan notes Gedeon McKinney’s “perma smile.” It’s true; we haven’t seen this 17-year-old without one on his face. He talks about his confidence, knowing he had “it.” Tonight he wants to not just sing, but also perform. He’s singing and performingShout, most notably known for the movie, Animal House. Not seeing much of this guy before, I’m impressed. I want to jump in and dance. A little bit softer now, a little bit softer now …
Randy calls Gedeon very unexpectedly good, and says the song choice was good as well. He liked his Jackie Wilson/Sandra Dee choreography, and says he was so entertained tha the, too, was about to jump up and starting dancing. Paula says she did jump up. She was thrown, she had no idea, and calls Gedeon a throwback to past performers. Simon, though, thinks of this as a warmup for the Chippendales. What? He also notes that perma smile bothers him, and Paula says Simon bothers her. I’ll admit, you do want to just slap the kid at times, and tell him to knock the grin off his face. It’s a little disarming. Ryan asks Simon if he was going around the country watching Chippendales shows, and Simon notes Ryan is now smiling like Gedeon.
Ryan thinks of Elliott Yamin, 27, as the rebel of the group. He has no warmup routine, and Elliott admits he’s not into the whole do re mi thing. Elliott notes that in group auditions he was stuck with one of the twins, but he still managed to shine. Interestingly enough, the two guys that Terrell Brittenum was irritated with for sleeping are both here in final twelve guys. Sway and Elliott. Tonight he sings If You Really Love Me by Stevie Wonder, saying he gets lots of requests for it. He is awesome with this, and has a perfect voice.
Randy calls this another hot one, and says to sing Stevie Wonder, one of the greatest, and to put it down brilliantly is proof that when you got it, you got it. Paula says she loves the most that Elliott is so effortless, and that he has fun and is infectious. Simon says out of five seasons, Elliott is potentially the best male vocalist they have seen. Elliott tells Ryan he’s glad he could come out and do his best, and that he’s now left speechless. He wants to pinch himself to make sure he’s not dreaming, and Ryan offers that the girls can pinch him.
When Bobby Bennett, 19 auditioned with a Barry Manilow song, Simon said it was like he was drunk. Tonight, he’s singing Barry Manilow again, Copacabana. He’s doing this for his grandma who passed away a couple years ago and always liked the song. I’m thinking Simon will call this one cabaret. As it’s definitely night club-ish. In high school my friend Stef and I used to have a joke about a guy singing this song wearing a pizza hut tablecloth shirt with a fruit bowl on his head. Coincidentally, the guy’s name was Bob. This reminds me of that performance we were imagining. Yet, he’s funny as all get out and entertaining. Then again, so was our joke.
Before Randy can start, Bobby says this isn’t for big people, and wipes the sweat from his brow. Randy says it was like watching someone from a whole different era, like Barry or Wayne Newton in Las Vegas. Bobby interrupts him to tell him Barry just released another album, and he’s very proud. Randy comes back and says vocally this was “eehh”, and that it was more entertaining than vocally good. Bobby says he did it for Gram. Paula notes the entertainment and showmanship value, and says it was a risky performance that could go either way. She says even if he’s signing Old McDonald, Bobby always commits 100%. Simon believes there is some screaming going on right now from a hotel room in Vegas, and that it’s Barry listening to this. Simon thinks people must be thinking they are off their rockers to put Bobby on. He admits it entertained him, but says horror movies do as well. Ryan tries to help Bobby, and asks Simon what he can do to improve. Simon doesn’t want to answer, and he and Ryan get into a little verbal sparring.
Sitting next to Ace Young, Ryan says he feels a bit plain. Ace, 25 is originally from Colorado, and traveled back there from Los Angeles to audition. He, too, was working to impress Simon in Hollywood, and eventually did. Tonight he’s singing Father Figure by George Michael, as he likes the pop, R&B, soulful thing he can do with it. Listening to this, and admiring his good looks, this guy could have a hit with this song today. Hands down. Thinking of Simon’s comments last year, I’d love to see him and Constantine Maroulis in a Smoldering Idol showdown. Not sure if any women would survive the performances to vote, though.
Randy says Ace is definitely a star, working the camera, working the room, etc. He says others fake working the camera and room, but Ace really was. He also notes the plus here is that Ace can actually sing. Paula believes after this that there are 35 million with their hands on the phone, most notably her girlfriends, and a few guy friends. She wants people to know not to vote yet, as there is one more left. She, too, calls Ace a star, and says, “Eyes … hello!” Simon says Ace isn’t the best vocalist, and says there are two guys that have outsung him tonight, but he believes Ace has the X-factor. He calls the song choice brilliant as well, and believes Ace will sail through to the finals. Ryan asks Ace to repeat for the camera his “look” at the end of the song, and he does.
And now for the moment I’ve been waiting for for the past week, Taylor Hicks, who Ryan calls the guy with Joe Cocker moves and Jay Leno’s hair. Taylor calls this a dream come true, and says he attacked his audition with a lot of soul. Simon had his doubts, but he made it through. He’s singing Levon, and it’s interesting he doesn’t just note the singer, but the writing partner here as well. Elton John AND Bernie Taupin. He likes the family values from the lyrics. He’s amazing. He can do Joe Cocker, Ray Charles … and Elton. I cannot wait to see more.
Randy says it wasn’t the perfect song choice, as it doesn’t show all his talent, but he loves him and this performance. He notes it would have been more hot had he brought his harp. Paula says, “You are … God … exudes from you … powerful passion. I love what you do. You love music, and I love you for it. Amazing … saved the best for last …” Randy interjects that there was no one like Taylor in the competition before. Paula says he broke the mold. Simon says he said before that Taylor shouldn’t make the finals, but that he was wrong. Yes, he proved Simon wrong, and Paula hugs Simon for it. He says Taylor is so interesting. He is just so into his singing, and there has been more positive feedback on Taylor so far than anyone else. Taylor tells Ryan he loves American Idol. Ryan notes the music is in Taylor’s heart. He sings it, plays it, feels it, performs in, just beams doing it. Taylor says it’s what it is all about, and says it’s the “Soul Patrol doin’ it.” While Ryan reads off his number for voting, he and Taylor get into a dancing schtick, and Ryan “sings” the number like Taylor would.
SIGH I seriously don’t want any of these guys to go home. All these guys have too much personality in them. I expect the young girls to be voting in droves for the younger guys and Ace. I’m left wondering if Taylor will start inspiring some Claymate-type fans, meaning people of all ages will be voting for him, as I think his appeal is universal. Last year I was wishing to get rid of four girls and keep all the guys, and I kind of find myself wishing for the same thing again. sigh
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