As Randy points out, what’s great about tonight’s show is that we get to see what type of music the Idols would choose to record if making a record today, as the theme is “Songs From The 21st Century.” Most of the song choices tonight are the ones the idols sing when listening to the radio or singing in the shower. The problem is that these aren’t always the best songs for their style or voices.
Lisa Tucker starts it off, choosing to sing Because of You by Kelly Clarkson. She says from the very first time she heard it, she bought the CD and played it over and over. Starting out, I have to say Kelly is my personal American Idol. I don’t think anyone since has ever quite matched that magic. I think Lisa has a great voice, but she doesn’t come close to being able to pull this off. She’s even off with her timing. At the risk of sounding like Paula, though, I love Lisa with her hair long and straight.
The judges seemed to agree with me. Randy says for this song that was a huge hit by a past Idol winner, it was just okay. He doesn’t think it was that good. Paula calls it a tough song choice, and says she thinks normally Lisa sings her butt off. But to take a pop song like this, especially one from a past Idol, you have to bring something different. Simon calls the song too big for Lisa’s voice, and he believes parts of it were quite painful. He believes watching it back on TV later, Lisa will agree.
Kellie Pickler makes a truly odd choice with Suds In A Bucket by Sara Evans. Kellie calls it a modern fairy tale, replacing the stallion with a pick-up truck, and the castle with getting hitched in Las Vegas. I think this is what they usually would call a novelty song. Worse yet, she doesn’t even sound her best. Let’s just say I expect the comparison to Carrie Underwood to die here.
Randy likes that Kellie is returning to her country roots, but he thinks she’s better than the song. He is puzzled by the song choice, and says it wasn’t good enough. Paula says Kellie is way better than the song choice, and notes she didn’t get to show her range and personality. Kellie apologizes at this point. At least she didn’t ask what a personality was. Simon is quite incredulous that out of six years of music, Kellie chooses one about soap suds. He refers to this song as gimmicky with rodeo and “lasso-ing,” prompting everyone to make fun of his word pronunciation again.
Wanting to show us his “rock edge,” Ace Young chooses Drops of Jupiter by Train, which happens to be a song I’ve always liked a lot. He’s got a little different style going tonight, but he just looks even more hot. But for me, it’s not just the looks with Ace. The verses here were okay, but I felt Ace really brought it home with the chorus. Plus, he pulls his shirt open a little bit, certainly enticing us even more. Yet, oddly, at the end, his outstretched hand was very shaky, noticeably shaky.
Randy feels it was completely the wrong song for Ace, and doesn’t think he sung it well, as it was missing Ace’s normal soul vibe. Paula says she won’t be as harsh as Randy, as she found it refreshing after the last two performances, but he’s always had such great song choices in the past. Paula then interrupts her own critique, and asks if that was a scar Ace was showing when he pulled open his shirt. He admits it was, and she says he’ll have to explain it to her someday.
Simon admonishes Paula a little with a “Paula!” He then says he agrees with what Randy was saying. With a theme like the 21st century, all the Idols tonight had a chance to prove they could be as good as the original artists. Simon feels Ace wasn’t as good as Train, and even a little karaoke. Ace stands by his song choice, saying he still loves it, and he was feeling the song. He also explains the scar, saying he was playing basketball, and fell on something. I believe he said a “T-Bar.”
Ryan talks to someone that never has a hard time showing his soul vibe, Taylor Hicks. He is asked the meaning behind “Soul Patrol.” Taylor says they are his fans that have followed him since the beginning of his career. There’s a ten-year-old boy in the audience with dyed gray hair, and it’s decided he must be the deputy of the Soul Patrol. Taylor sings Trouble by Ray LaMontagne. He wants to show his vocal range, and does. He needed something like this. As Much as I enjoy his dancing, we sometimes tend to forget that he has great vocals as well.
This is where Randy notices that the Idols are all singing songs they would probably record given the chance. Yet, Randy doesn’t like this song on Taylor, because he can’t show what he normally does. Taylor says he just wanted to sing tonight. Paula agrees with this, saying it was nice to see him just stand behind the mike for a change. She likes that Taylor teaches the younger people about some of the legends. Yeah, but this song was from 2004. Does not compute, Paula.
As everyone holds their breath, Simon says he quite liked this song. He believes it to be an excellent vocal. However, he has a slight problem with Taylor’s style, comparing it to Clay Aiken. Paula says Clay would never be able to pull off the black leather jacket, t-shirt, dark jeans and shoes. Ryan says if Taylor’s style is Clay Aiken, Simon’s is Kelly Clarkson. Touché!
Increasingly more beautiful with every week is Mandisa. She’s singing Wanna Praise You, aka as Shackles, by Mary Mary, that she has sung in church. Before she starts singing, Mandisa says nothing is too hard for God. She dedicates the song to those that “wanna be free,” saying an addictive lifestyle and situation may be big, but God is bigger. She sounds amazing, as always. Amen to all of it. They pop Taylor’s number up for a tiny split second, but quickly correct it. Let’s hope this doesn’t cause another redo night.
Randy says Mandisa can definitely sing, but he’s not sure about the song choice. Paula says all she knows is there’s about forty million people out there ready to join the Church of Mandisa. For a little constructive criticism, she’d like Mandisa to show a little vulnerability next week. Truthfully, it doesn’t seem like this woman has ever been vulnerable for one day in her life. Simon calls the song a big indulgent, and says it wasn’t for him.
After some people have criticized Chris Daughtry for not acknowledging last week’s alternative rendition of Walk The Line was actually done first by LIVE, Ryan pays a little tribute here, and asks Chris if he worships them. Chris admits he’s a big fan, but doesn’t seem to like the word worship too much. Ryan also wants to know what Chris will do with a theme like love songs, and if he’ll do an alliterative version of the Titanic theme.
Instead, Chris is doing What If by Creed. I think some people won’t like it, but I loved it, banging my head the whole time. Randy likes it too, but says it’s not his favorite Chris song so far. Paula says she’s not stuttering, but wants to say, “What If,” twenty times. Huh? Am I missing something? She admits to being one of Chris’s biggest fans.
Simon says he’ll be negative for the first time with Chris, who corrects him and says it’s actually the second time. Simon calls this song also a big indulgent. He believes Chris crossed a line here, as Creed wouldn’t be caught dead on American Idol. But wouldn’t Creed have had to give American Idol permission to do the song in the first place? Simon then tells Chris to start singing other types of songs, where last week he praised him for staying true to himself. No wonder song choices aren’t usually gotten right. Too much mixed information.
Katharine McPhee is singing Christina Aguilera’s The Voice Within. She loves Christina, plus, she feels this is in line with what she’s learned here at American Idol – the only person you can trust is yourself. I’m not real thrilled with this, as I think Christina songs have a sound hard to duplicate, just like with Kelly Clarkson. However, I like this way more than Lisa’s Because Of You.
Randy calls himself definitely one of Katharine’s biggest fans, and thinks this is a good song choice for her. However, she did it just like the record, and didn’t bring anything new to it. Paula stresses again when you sing a song like that, you have to change it up to avoid comparisons. She does think Christina would be honored by this performance, though. Simon calls this the best of the night, and almost as good as the original.
I’m sure Bucky Covington is thrilled with this theme. Stevie Wonder he did surprisingly well, but 50s week didn’t do him much good. He’s back to his country roots tonight with Real Good Man by Tim McGraw. Bucky admits to just flat out liking this song. He is definitely in his comfort zone, but I think I like the Southern Rock on him a litter better.
Randy says this is definitely the right type of song for Bucky, and says he liked it better than the last few weeks. Paula likes it as well, yet gives Bucky some advice to be careful with his diction. Simon agrees with her, saying he couldn’t understand a single word Bucky sang. He also says if the was a paid concert, it would be this point that he would’ve walked out. He calls it unimpressive, and says Bucky appeared to be winging it. Something tells me Simon doesn’t like Bucky too much.
Paris Bennett is singing Work It Out by Beyonce, because, at 17, she wants to have fun and dance. She walks out wearing some major bling and adorable hair. This version is so much better than Aloha Mischieux’s last season. This is my favorite of hers since Midnight Train To Georgia. Randy refers to Paris as fearless, and da bomb. He thinks she worked it out, making her the best of the night. For the first time tonight, he says we got a hot one here. Paula says Paris had said she wanted to be a kid tonight, but those moves of hers onstage weren’t kid moves. She thinks maybe the Pussy Cat Dolls will be calling her to join them soon. Simon calls it precocious, and says Paris looked like a little girl pretending to be Beyonce. He then says, “Whoopee.”
Rounding out the night is … who? Oh, it’s Elliott Yamin. I couldn’t figure out who we hadn’t heard from yet. That isn’t a good sign. Earlier I had been thinking he needed to expand a little and sing something upbeat. He does I Don’t Wanna Be by Gavin McGraw, but wants to make it less rock, like when Bo Bice did it last year, and more soulful. I cringed at the thought of this, but he pulls it off. This is great on Elliott. He so needed to show this versatility. Maybe I won’t forget him next week.
Randy says he’s not sure of the arrangement of the song, but admits Elliott can sing. He again says we have a hot one here. Paula loved the arrangement, though, and loved how he made it his own, calling Elliott a funky little white boy. Simon sums it up quickly. Are we running out of time shortening the show to one hour? He says it was a great song, terrible arrangement, good vocal, and hideous dancing. Alrighty then. Hard to really argue with that.
Randy is right that we now know what type of music the Idols will be doing with a record contract. We also know that even with a theme that should be a gimme, some still just don’t get it. I’m off to find Kelly Clarkson’s Breakaway CD to erase Lisa Tucker’s version of Because of You from my head.
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