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American Idol 5, 04-18-06 – What A Wonderful World … And Night


by LauraBelle

This is going to be an interesting theme tonight, and might I say it’s quite a departure from Queen last week. The guest artist is Rod Stewart, but before you start wishing for Ace Young to do Do Ya Think I’m Sexy? it’s not that type of Rod Stewart music. It’s songs of his Great American Songbook, a collection of songs from a bygone era. It’s hard to imagine theme, but I still have Fat Bottomed Girls going through my head.

Ryan Seacrest introduces us to a collection of Rod Stewart videos, showing his rise to fame, and then his move from rocker to crooner. Rod says he believes we wouldn’t have rock ‘n roll if it weren’t for the songs from his Great American Songbook. He sees the move from blues to jazz to swing, etc., moving along and ending up in rock ‘n roll.

As Rod comes to meet with the Idols, he brings along his fiance, Penny, and newborn son, Allistair. As he walks in, the Idols are singing, You’re In My Soul. Oops, wrong Stewart collection. He apologizes for being late, and blames it on getting caught up making his wedding plans. He says he wouldn’t have been able to do this, the whole Idol thing, at their ages. He would have needed a few drinks to come back and sing. He offers a big hug for Ace after he sings, and I think he makes some mention to it making the gossip papers. Quite frankly, the media is too busy trying to make up a relationship between Bucky Covington and Kellie Pickler. Honestly, all they were doing was walking next to each other, and he is married, although we know that doesn’t always mean everything, but I suspect with Bucky, it does.

Chris Daughtry is up first, and everyone is holding their breath to see what the alternative rocker will do with this theme. We’ve been told that the Idols aren’t allowed to change up the songs at all, as Chris is prone to do. They have to sing it in classic mode, just like Rod has done on his collection of four albums. Chris chooses to sing What A Wonderful World, and admits it’s hard for him to sing a song like this, as he’s used to belting songs out at the top of his lungs. Yet, he likes the music, as it has so many values that mean so much to him. Rod calls it brilliant, and says for a guy that was brought up on heavy metal, Chris did a wonderful job, and he doesn’t think Ozzy Osbourne could ever sing this.

As Chris begins, I’m holding my breath and closing my eyes. I don’t know if anyone could ever top George Huff’s and Anwar Robinson’s versions of the song, and I still wouldn’t say he topped those versions, but he definitely did well and brought a whole new side of himself in, just like during country week. He has a good voice when he’s not singing so hard, and puts as much into it as he normally would. Randy Jackson says for everyone that thought there wasn’t another side to Chris, “You slayed ‘em.” He thinks Chris showed his sensitive side, and was “da bomb.” Paula Abdul adds that he has definitely proven to Simon, beyond what she and Randy have said, that he is in it to win. Simon takes credit for the performance, saying he’s been telling Chris for awhile now to change his style. Ryan comments on Chris’ appearance, noting the lack of eye makeup, and Chris notes he got rid of his beard as well.

Ryan has a chat with Paris Bennett, and asks how her weekend was. She talks about Easter, and says she got an Easter basket from her mom. She also went dancing with friends, and rollerskating. Ryan mentions that Simon was dressed in a bunny costume, and left eggs at his house. That I’d like to see.

Paris is comfortable with this collection of Rod’s songs, especially with songs from the likes of Nat King Cole, Billie Holliday, and Ella Fitzgerald. Rod can feel that she has a jazz background somewhere, and says she fit right into These Foolish Things really nicely. He notices that thouch of Billie about her. Paris notes that while she was singing with Rod, her mom was in the back of the room, crying like always. Rod saw you either have raw emotion or not, and he believes Paris has it, even at 17. He admits to thinking he could not have done it at 17, saying he was still digging graves (that would be literally and not figuratively).

As Paris sings tonight, she definitely does not sound 17, which is I think that reason that makes it so hard to identify her, and why they usually have her propped up on stage talking to Ryan, to find a way for us to connect with her. It’s like you can’t figure out where to put her, like those kids that grow up around adults, and then don’t fit back in around other kids. Randy tells her she should stand very proud up there tonight, and he calls it her greatest night ever. He says she was so da bomb, so great, and says she sang the melody and didn’t veer off it. Paula says that what’s brilliant about Paris is that she’s only 17, and this whole performance reminded her of what they all fell in love with during her audition. It’s like she’s from that bygone era. She encourages her to do an album in this genre. Simon calls her sytlish and cool, and says she bewilders him, as she talks like Minnie Mouse (to which Paris oddly thanks him for), and sings in a very grown up way. Ryan wonders if Simon is sipping the happy fuel in his cup, since he is liking everything so far.

Ryan sits with Taylor Hicks as well, and asks if he saw a certain show this weekend that airs on Saturday nights, but that is not taped. He is obviously referring to Saturday Night Live that did a parody of Taylor. He says he fell out on the floor when he saw it. He thinks they did a good job, but that they didn’t do the clap he does. Ryan notes that they kept yelling, “Soul Patrol!” Taylor says flattery is a great form of humor, but I think he means it vice versa.

Taylor was thrilled to meet Rod Stewart, and says he is one of his favorite artists. He decides to sing You Send Me by Sam Cooke, and as Rod sings backup for Rod while practicing, and says he can tell that Rod loves Sam Cooke. Rod likes his version of it, and encourages him to not listen to Simon and keep dancing and performing the way he knows how. He disagrees with Simon saying this is not a dancing competition, but a singing competition, saying you need to do everything possible to sell the song. Especially on TV, Rod thinks you have to grab the audience by the [bleep]. He wonders if that will be allowed on TV. Ummmm, no. But I think we all got his meaning on it.

As Taylor starts singing this song, I have to say you can really tell with this what a great vocalist he is, he embodies the crooner feeling through most of it. He starts to really feel it by the second chorus, and at the end, it’s classic Taylor, dancing and throwing his body around. Randy has to say what a difference different music makes. He calls this a crazy night, and says he was blown away. He believes all the Idols are in their element. Once the song started, he thought it was cool, but when Taylor put some of his own self into the song at the end, he knew Taylor was listening to “the dawg” pointing to himself, and not Simon. Paula tells Taylor Sam would have been proud of him. She says he is finally in that zone to go the distance. She calls the ending superb, and says it was the best take on a song. She thinks the Soul Patrol is on fire. As we see season three finalist LaToya London in the audience, Simon says when the song started, he thought it was lame cabaret, but then “magic,” and Simon snaps his fingers. Magic? From Simon about Taylor? Wow.

Listening to Elliott Yamin practice, Rod says he likes when singers do the standards from their own standpoint. Elliott says he can’t even describe what an honor it is to be in the presence of someone with the performing longevity of Rod, and then to have Rod excited by him. He is going to sing It Had To Be You, and says the standards are what he grew up on. It’s what his mom sang as a professional singer. Rod things Elliott has a great set of pipes, and when he hears Elliott is 27, he says, “Bloody hell,” as Elliott was born the same year Do Ya Think I’m Sexy? was number one. Rod mentions the Idols are making him feel old. I know the feeling.

As Elliott begins singing tonight, he is the most comfortable I have ever seen him, and has more confidence than he’s shown before. He’s almost charming, as he is leaning on the microphone, singing casually at the beginning of the song. Randy calls it a very excellent song choice, and says again what a difference a couple of weeks makes. He thinks everyone is relaxed and controlled, and calls his singing good. Paula says what Elliott has done that is so amazing, is he is contemporizing (spell check doesn’t like that word, but I swear that’s what she said), these songs in the way Michael Buble would do, but with more soul, like Harry Connick, Jr. She has to add that she has never seen a season like this, where there are so many that are capable of winning. Simon calls it a good vocal, but says tonight, more than any other, he thinks personality is going to play a key role. He thinks Elliott’s performance lacked a degree of personality, and is concerned for him. Randy makes mention that it’s Simon that is lacking personality. No, he’s got personality. It’s not always a good one, but he does have one.

As Kellie Pickler walks into her practice with Rod, she says, “Hey there!” He thinks she has a great personality, and calls her a real firecracker. She tells Rod she brought the words with her, just in case, and he tries to make a joke, saying, she’s got the words and lyrics. She, of course, doesn’t get it, and he has to explain that those two things are the same. She finally gets it, and sings, “My bad!” Rod thinks she has a bubbly personality, and thinks singing Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered will benefit her, since it’s more of a girl’s song. Kellie thanks Rod for talking a lot off her chest, and this guy, that is married to someone probably half his age, laughs along.

Kellie comes out on stage wearing a slinky red dress, and more horrendous makeup. I just don’t think ballads suit her, and she looks very uncomfortable. Once the key changes in the song, she never finds the right one again. Randy tells Kellie she looks she she knows what he is going to say to her. She admits, “I butchered it.” He tells her it’s a very difficult song to sing, and she was pitchy in spots. It wasn’t his favorite song for her. Paula says you have to give it up for the fashion, and tells Kellie she looks exquisite. Randy interrupts saying, “Those shoes are hot!” Paula loved the beginning as Kellie was very vulnerable, but then the music got away from her. She can’t wait for Kellie’s acting career to take off. Kellie throws out there, “When all else fails, you have to have great shoes!” Simon stops Kellie’s truck, and says the truth was that it was a boring song, and he felt like she didn’t choose it herself. He advises that she could have just done “Bewildered”, and not bothered with the other two words. Kellie agrees it wasn’t great, and pouts. When Ryan says it’s too bad they can’t redo their bad performances, she says she wouldn’t put us all through that torture. Thanks! Much appreciated.

Ace Young is singing That’s All, calling it a fun type of song. And hey, I know that song. I have it on a Leif Garrett album. So I guess you can say it will be fitting to hear Ace do it. He admits to being worried about doing this song, as it’s been sung by the best. I’m guessing here that he means someone other than Leif Garrettt. Rod says Ace stuck to the melody, then branched off. Ace admits he kept looking to Rod for approval, but Rod wasn’t giving him any. Then at the end, Rod tells him, “You did that better than I did. I have nothing to say; it was brilliant.” Ace calls that the most fulfilling thing he could ask for.

And, woah! Oh my God, as Ace steps out on the stage. He is wearing a suit, and has his hair slicked back into a tight bun. It reminds me of the men in the Disney movie, Mulan. He is also sporting a scruffy beard. Ace sings this very well, and is even able to find a spot for his famous falsetto. Randy says he thought it was cool when Ace came out in the suit, with the whole vibe, and the hair pulled back. He thought Ace had a little problem with the bridge, but he worked it out in the end, especially with the “false”, that Randy calls Ace’s moneymaker. Paula admits that the falsetto is Ace’s backpocket token to whatever he wants. She thinks it’s such an interesting thing to see him dressed like that, and says it puts Ace in a whole different light. She thinks the Idols may think they are putting everyone to sleep, but says it’s a magical night, and they will all go back home, watch it back, and realize how great it was. With actor Michael Rapoport looking on, Simon admits it wasn’t bad. Ace gets extremely excited at Simon just saying it wasn’t bad, and yells, “Yes! Wooh!” Simon thinks it was a little lazy in the middle, but he thought it was a charming performance. Ryan wonders if the hairstyle hurts, and Ace says no. He also admits he really is going home to re-listen to his performance, and play Simon’s comments over and over.

Katharine McPhee comes in with a couple of song choices, her first being I Only Have Eyes For You. As she sings, one of the American Idol vocal coaches, a man, dances around with Rod. That Rod, is what you need to worry about being in the papers, not the hug for Ace. Katharine laughs and refers to herself as “the wedding singer.” As she shows Rod her other choices, he advises her not do do one, saying he’s singing it on Wednesday’s show, and takes it and rips it up. Rod thinks Katharine was born to sing the standards. He is imagining big things for her. He has not much to say about her, other than she’s fantastic.

Katharine begins singing sitting on the stage, with dark lighting, that once again makes her look stunning. All I can think of while she sings is that Rod is right. She is meant for this. Randy agrees, and says this is her element. He can tell she loves these kind of songs, and says she sailed on it, putting the runs on it at the end even. Paula says she feels like she is watching for the first time, and says she is falling in love with the essence of who Katharine is. She says this all reminds her of Mr. Holland’s Opus, and Katharine gets so excited with this, saying it’s her favorite movie. Simon thinks Katharine made all the others look like amateurs, says it was completely and utterly in a different league. Paula adds in here that Rod should get big kudos, as he obviously worked well with the Idols.

I think tomorrow will be telling when the votes are revealed, and I think Simon is right, that it will come down to personality. It should be Kellie going tomorrow night after that awful performance, a performance so bad she even panned herself. But if she isn’t even the bottom three, we’ll know she has a huge fanbase. Ace did pretty well, so if he ends up in the bottom three again, we’ll know he lost whatever fanbase he started out with. Elliott did much better than recent weeks, so if he’s back in the bottom, we’ll know he just isn’t connecting with the audience, the same goes for Paris. Other than that, it’s hard to predict who will leave, as we just can’t tell at this point, whether people are voting for personality or performance, but I suspect it’s personality.

Read more about American Idol here LauraBelle’s Blog

Comments on American Idol? You can email me at LauraBelle@realityshack.com


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