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American Idol 5, 02-28-06 – Unofficially Country Night


by LauraBelle

The girls singing tonight were just a tad bit ho hum. There were only two performances that truly impressed me. Of the other eight, some were good, some boring, and some left me saying, “Geez, they still don’t get it.” All in all, we had to wait until the end to hear the defining moment of the night. The girls are all asked to name their defining Idol moment so far, and for some, tonight is, and should be, their last.

Ryan Seacrest informs us straight off that although Thursday night TV viewers had Survivor, the Dancing With The Stars finale, and the medal determining night of ladies figure skating in the Olympics, viewers chose to watch the American Idol results show over those two to one. I have to admit I was one of those. I TIVOed American Idol and Survivor, and figured I would just have to catch up to Dancing With The Stars during it’s finale results show.

Simon Cowell is asked about his comment last week saying that he was on a different page than Randy Jackson and Paula Abdul. He adds it wasn’t just a different page, but the correct page. He gives himself a 10, and the other two judges a 6-1/4. Ryan asks if he needs a slice of Brenna’s humble pie from last week, and Paula refers to Simon as the brother she never had and didn’t want, with Simon amending it to her younger brother. Paula suggests Simon is just allowing herself, Ryan and Randy to play small parts in this whole thing.

Katharine McPhee is starting the night off, and says her defining Idol moment is her relationship with roommate Kellie Pickler. Together they like to act silly and dumb. Katharine admits it sounds superficial, but says they like to do makeup and apply tanning solution together.

Singing Stevie Wonder’s All Is Fair In Love, Katharine sounds great, as always, but it’s so dang slow. Her outfit is odd, too, in tight capris, a loose top and heels. Randy calls the song choice safe, and says it wasn’t the best he has heard Katharine. Paula agrees, but says Katharine still moves her, and thinks America will still love her. Paula calls her a gifted artist, and says she just didn’t connect with the song. Simon says this competition is more than just energy, as things like personality go into it as well. Katharine can’t be in her own world and expect America to connect with her. Katharine admits she kind of felt the same way during rehearsals, but regardless, it won’t destroy her.

When Kinnik Sky first saw the stage she would be performing on for American Idol, it blew her mind, and she cried. Tonight, she does a complete 180 from last week’s Get Here, and wearing a cowboy hat, Kinnik tells Ryan she is originally from Columbia, South Carolina, and moved to Georgia. To go with the hat, tonight Kinnik will be singing Gretchen Wilson’s Here For The Party. She does a good job with it, but I’m not sure if that’s where you want to go at this point in the competition.

Randy enjoyed Kinnik’s energy and liked her groove, but he doesn’t feel the song has enough melody to show her range. Paula calls the performance fun, but tells Kinnik at this point, she should be picking songs that show her range. (See? I was right!) On the plus side, Simon notes Kinnik tried something to make herself stand out, after what he feels was a forgettable performance last week. Yet, he feels it’s something you would see coming off Magic Mountain. You would never listen to one of those performers and say, “Wow.” Paula notes she would like to see Simon on a roller coaster, and he replies only if she fell off. Boy, he’s a little persnickety tonight.

Before Lisa Tucker goes on, Ryan fixes her out of place hair a little. She says she did Lion King on stage when she was just ten, and you would think she was terrified, but she wasn’t. Yet, during Hollywood week, her stage experience was not of any help. She is singing Who’s Loving You by Jackson Five tonight, and she sings it really well, but it’s odd to hear that song from a 16-year-old, reminding me of Simon’s words to Diana DeGarmo two years ago. Lisa’s mom is seen singing along in the audience.

Randy notes it was a different song choice, and says he was wishing the band would stop, and she would do something a capella with it. Paula disagrees, calling it an amazing performance. Simon says if you’re going to be showcased in front of millions every week, you need to be smart about it. He tells her she doesn’t want to come off as a young girl singing adults songs. (Ah-ha! I’m right again!) Regardless, he feels she’ll sail through tonight.

It was hard for Melissa McGhee to pack for being away for four months. She also says she’s a Florida girl and wears flip flops all over. She was embarrassed to be caught wearing old junky white ones in her interviews. Tonight she sings Reba McIntyre’s Why Haven’t I Heard From You, and there aren’t any flip flops in sight. She sings much better than last week, mostly because she has so much more passion and conviction singing this song.

Randy calls this a tough night, but says the song did fit Melissa, even to the point of her being able to make it into a possible hit. He loves that her smoky voice returned. Paula says she loves seeing Melissa come out of her shell every week. She also likes Melissa’s unique voice. Simon doesn’t know what the problem is with him. He loves her voice, but doesn’t feel she connects with the audience. Randy interrupts, and Paula begins talking to him. Simon tells her to shut up, and says she’s really annoying him, like a precocious child. Returning to Melissa, Simon says she needs to do something to create that “wow” factor.

As Melissa tells Ryan se did this song because last week Simon said her personality was being overshadowed, Paula and Simon continue to fight, and she and Randy switch seats. She blames the fact that Simon always has to be right, and he says he was just trying to help.

Heather Cox’s defining Idol moment was walking down the Hollywood Strip. She never expected to see a lady with a huge boa constrictor. That’s your defining moment of being on American Idol? Tonight she is singing Hero, by Mariah Carey. She knows it was never before done on the show, as she considers herself the “Stalker of American Idol,” taping every episode, and rewatching them in the offseason. This song is way above her. She was called out last week for putting herself on par withVonzell Solomon, and this week does the same with Mariah? After what should be the glory note in the song, she nods approvingly to the crowd, even though it seemed as if only one person in the audience clapped.

It was an improvement from last week, Paula thinks (she’s still sitting in Randy’s seat, so goes first), and says Heather looks beautiful. She says when you sing a song by one of the greats like Mariah, you run a huge risk of being compared to someone that is an icon. paula calls it good, but not great. Randy acknowledges everyone hates it when he brings it up, but he did work with Mariah, and says Paula is correct that when you sing a song stylized by these types of singers, you pale in comparison. Simon says Paula and Randy spoke some sense, and says it reminds him of those ghastly pageants when someone gets up and sings before the finalists comes up. He calls it pointless.

Sitting with Brenna Gethers, Ryan notes she is wearing Gedeon McKinney’s smile, which she says she considers a compliment. She believes her craziest Idol experience was walking the red carpet, saying we all practice it in mirrors, but it doesn’t compare to really being out there. Brenna sings Donna Summer’s Last Dance, and I would say this is her craziest moment. She is quite pitchy and flat, and gives an evil stare into the camera.

Pauladoesn’t see the magic from Brenna, but Brenna thinks she did wonderful, and that America will love it. Yeah, good luck with that. Randy says Brenna and Simon are quite a bit alike – she never thinks she does badly, and he always thinks he is right. Vocally, Randy calls it pitchy and says he wasn’t really inspired. Simon believes he would change “dance” to “chance.” His analogy for this one is being at a bar “on holiday” (I love that British expression), and you hear someone murder a Donna Summer song. At this point, Simon says he normally leaves the bar. Brenna says thank goodness America is voting, just sure they loved her. Simon rebuts this, saying American has good hearing. Thanks for sticking up for us, Simon.

Ryan tells Paris Bennett we need a hot one, and she says she will do him a favor, then, as she’s got it. Her best Idol moments have been being on the Hollywood stage in her different outfits, such as her gloomy one, and her Fever outfit with hat, cammies and boots. She believes fashion brings out personality, and says people call her “Show” because of it. Tonight she sings Bette Midler’s Wind Beneath My Wings. It has a shaky beginning, but she nails it. Her grandma nods approvingly in the audience.

Paula likes Paris’s fashion style, with her red shoes, and calls this an amazing performance, saying she’s another young one that makes this competition incredible. She advises her, though, to celebrate her youth and have fun with these songs. Randy says she reminds him of a young Lauren Hill, and say she doesn’t ever have to play it safe, and she shouldn’t sing that old of a song when she is that young. Simon, too, says she should avoid being 17 and sounding 50, like a little old lady. He notes all are in agreement with this one. Paris adds she sang it because it was her great grandma’s favorite. Simon laughs, and says that pretty much backs up what they were saying, as it is the favorite of her “great” grandma.

This experience is completely different from anything Ayla Brown has experienced back home. There she is sweaty and comfortable all the time. Here she has had a complete makeover, learning about makeup and getting a whole new wardrobe of tank tops. Her hairdresser had to tell her what foundation was. As she sings I Want You To Need Me by Celine Dion, I get worried thinking, like Heather, she is singing above her. She surprises me for the second week in a row.

Paula says she thinks Ayla wants this really bad, and says she too was surprised. She believes Ayla is growing, and that she picked the right song for her vocal range. Paula suggests if Ayla’s legs from the knees down were surgically implanted on Paula’s legs, she could do all the same things. Is it just me? Or is that out of left field? Randy liked hearing Ayla admit to going from tomboy to the whole glam thing. He says Paula is right that it was a very good song choice, and says he actually liked it. Simon says Ayla strikes him as the type of girl that has always gotten As in everything. She corrects him, and says she started out getting all Cs, but worked her way up to As. That’s what Simon means. She’s working harder than anyone else, and is the type that when she puts her mind to it, always reaches that A level. He thinks if he said he’d like to see her juggle, she’d come back the next week juggling. He thinks people will remember she was good, but won’t remember the song, and says she is still a bit mechanical.

Kellie Pickler calls herself a fish out of water out here, and says she has had her first spinach salad, comparing it to being like pickin’ a lily off the bush. She also ate her first squid, and says they call it calamari out here, and believes she can live without eating that again. She has never seen so many dogs with booties, hats and jackets. In a perfect song choice, Kellie sings a little Bonnie Raitt, with Something To Talk About. She does very well with it, and her hair gets messy while she’s dancing and she just leaves it that way. She seems to be losing her nerves, but oddly claps for herself in the end.

Paula has to ask if Kellie can get any cuter. She wants to squish her, too, just like Kevin Covais. Calling her unpretentious, she believes Kellie picked the right song for her vocal abilities. Randy asks the Dawg Pound, “Guess what?” then says we got a hot one tonight! He tells Kellie she did her thing, as it was the right song, and a cool outfit. Simon laughs and says you just cannot help but like Kellie. Had he not heard the calamari bit and just heard the vocal, he wouldn’t like her as much. There were a few rough spots, but the calamari is what made him like it. Each time he says calamari, he uses Kellie’s accent, and not his own. Simon predicts America will fall in love with Kellie. She mentions not being able to dance, and Paula tells her not to do the knee thing. Kellie agrees to retire it.

Ryan asks Mandisa, “What up?” She says the judges are a little harsh out there tonight. He asks her to bring the house down, and she says she’ll try. Her defining Idol moment is hysterical. Before she went in and auditioned, Mandisa went up to Ryan and said she thought she had “dog jaw”, and asked him to touch it. When he reached over to do so, she did a big puppy snap at him. This Nashville girl does Cry by Faith Hill, and it’s my chills vocal of the night.

Mandisa is one of a kind, Paula says. They needed her in this competition. She has unbelievable range, and takes songs she wouldn’t otherwise sing, and puts her own flavor in it. Paula adds Mandisa has the most beautiful face. Randy appreciates the dog thing for his Dawg Pound, and calls the verse a little rough, but says the center of her tone is cool. He believe she has a tendency to overdo it a bit. He isn’t thrilled with the song for her, and wants to see her throw down every night until there is nothing left on the floor or in the cupboard. She asks America to keep her around, saying she’s just getting started. And you know what? I believe her! Simon thinks they will. He agrees with Randy that she hasn’t fond the best performance song yet, but says when she’s on it, there won’t be a better singer out there. Amen. Mandisa even does the dog jaw thing again for Ryan.

Last week Mandisa did Heart, and this week Faith Hill. What could be next? Just like Taylor Hicks, she’s one you can’t wait to see next time to see what she brought to the table this week. We’ll see Taylor next week. And awesome thought just popped into my mind. Imagine those two in a duet … with his harp.

Read more about American Idol here LauraBelle’s Blog

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