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Freelance entertainment writer, martial arts instructor, and mother of two.

American Idol 5, 04-25-06 – Love Is In The Air


by LauraBelle

Tonight’s theme is somewhat odd to me. Love songs. Didn’t we just do that last week? Oh, sorry, that was “Standards.” I really am not looking forward to this. For one, Ace is gone, although I still have Taylor. For another, I think we need an upbeat weak after doing the standards last week. Aside from that, with only six performers left, that means we only get treated to six songs. Six love songs. That’s it.

The theme is so vague, we could have done this one with final eleven or final twelve. Along for the ride is Classical singer Andrea Bocelli and music producer David Foster, last seen on his own failed reality tv show, Princes of Malibu. Hopefully he’s more successful helping the Idols sing than he was showing his two sons how to behave. During film clips of Bocelli and Foster, we see Celine Dion say that if God could have a singing voice, he must sound a lot like Andrea Bocelli. Bocelli himself says of Foster, who has produced for him, that he’s the greatest producer in the world. I guess the love fest here is only fitting.

When Bocelli and Foster meet with the remaining six Idols, they get right down to it, as Foster wants them to do some vocal exercises. Andrea does one as an example, and when the Idols try the same, it sounds frightening. Foster wants to make sure these are the right six finalists. He says, “If you can’t cut it in my studio, you’re gone.” He tells Elliott Yamin, known as a great vocalist, he’s flat, and tells Chris Daughtry he’s singing from his neck. To Taylor Hicks he says the second half of the bridge was funky, like he missed a note or something. Forget about tough crowds … tough producer. Bocelli offers up that you can become great only if it’s your destiny.

Lead Off Woman Katharine McPhee chooses boldly. She singing I Have Nothing, written by Foster, and sung originally by Whitney Houston. Katharine feels the pressure as David gives her suggestions for the songs. She says she feels like she feels like she’s in an actual recording studio. He doesn’t say what he thinks of her on his song, but Foster says Katharine’s voice is very beautiful, powerful and clean. He thinks she will have a great future. Asked if he thinks she could do opera, Bocelli says probably, and suddenly Katharine and Bocelli are doing an opera piece together. Puzzling many, Bocelli warns Foster he needs to tell the film crew that Katharine is nice, beautiful and young. Foster asks the blind Bocelli how he knows this. Must be something he can feel or hear.

Singing tonight, Katharine is gorgeous as usual, and if I’m not mistaken, she has some hair extensions going on. I love Katharine, but she’s not Whitney Houston, and she’s not even Jennifer Hudson, who did this song masterfully in season three of Idol. Katharine’s still good, just not as much as those greats. As her father is shown in the audience, he’s not crying for a change.

Randy opens it up for the judges, saying he was worried about this week, and feels this song was probably a good choice, but honestly he thinks it’s too big for her. He says Whitney in her prime was probably one of the best singers in the known world, and Katharine “just didn’t come close, Baby.” I’m not sure how he managed, but Randy didn’t talk about working with Whitney. Paula tells Katharine she’s stunning, but alludes to the fact that she’s about to give some constructive criticism, and says she noticed some pitched problems. Going back to last week, Paula figures Katharine was then in her zone, when she doesn’t push her vocals. Tonight, she oversang, and fell a little flat. Yet, she feels Katharine is still a star, and born to sing. She needs to know that her money in her back pocket is with the intimate vocals.

I guess I’ll start another paragraph, because Paula just ended up doing nearly a whole recap on her own. Simon tells Katharine the problem with her choosing that song, is like her coming out and saying she is as good as Whitney Houston. “You’re not.” Ouch. Simon also felt it was quite old-fashioned and cabaret. Sounding like Paula, he repeats all that again, and ends saying, “Bad advice.” Ryan calls it an uncomfortable start to the party, and at first I thought he was joining in the Katharine ripfest, but he was leading into something else. He says for the people without the volume on, Katharine will still get plenty of votes. He explains further, though, and talks about the way Katharine’s dress, open in the front all the way up the legs, was blowing open as she moved around the stage.

Sitting down with Ryan, Elliott Yamin gives a shout out to his fans, the Yaminions. He says he’s going to sing a song originally done by Donny Hathaway. He’s been waiting his whole life to sing a song like this on a stage like this. He did this for the executive producer during the audition process, and feels enough time has lapsed that he can now bring it to the big stage. He’d like to honor Hathaway by bringing his music back to the forefront, and also using his daughter, Kenya, as one of his backup singers.

Bocelli figures Elliott knows this song, A Song For You, pretty well, and has probably performed it often, just because of his familiarity with it at this point. Remembering others that have sung Hathaway songs that were so stylized, Foster says you have to deliver it. Elliott tries out one part of the song, and Foster hates it, and says it’s not going to work. Changing it up, Elliott tries out “remember, remember, remember …” and Foster says no no no. That’s not going to get anyone excited. Once he tries something on his own, Foster gets excited, and says, “Yes!” He feels once Elliott ditched Donnie’s licks and did his own, it improved. He says Elliott sings really well. Well, that’s why he’s here.

All I can think throughout Elliott’s performance is wow. I think this is his first performance to top Moody’s Mood For Love. The interesting thing is how he appears to be pulling it all together. He seems to be using the advice he’s heard from the guest artists, and is finally feeling and putting the motion into the song. For once he seems larger than life, instead of just a few inches taller than Paris Bennett. Kevin Nealon in the audience seem to be feeling it as well, giving him a thumbs up.

Randy starts by saying he hated the arrangement of the song, feeling it was way too confusing. But he stresses, “I love you. You are dope!” Everyone knows that’s high praise from Randy. In reference to Foster telling Elliott to change it up and not sing like the record, Randy says he can sing it like the record any time, because he is “da bomb tonight.” Paula, as she is prone to do once every season, is teary eyed. She tells Elliott he moved her, and that he celebrates what this competition is all about. Paula spent the day yesterday watching the tapes of the the whole season, and she says Elliott has moved her from the beginning. She calls him a handsome evolved performer, and an American Idol. Looking like a kid, Simon appears to be laughing at Paula’s raw emotions, then claims to not be laughing. He tells Elliott that seven weeks ago, he told him that in his opinion, he was one of the best male vocalists they have ever had on the show. Tonight, in parts, Simon felt it was like a vocal master class, and calls it superb. Elliott says he waited a long time to hear that. Ryan compares Paula’s emotional state to that of Mr. McPhee.

It’s now time for the down home Pickler chat. Ryan asks Kellie Pickler if she is dedicating her song to anyone special. She thanks him for reminding her she doesn’t have a boyfriend. She is singing Unchained Melody, from the pottery scene in Ghost, and says she has nobody to play pottery with. Ryan remains confident that by the end of the season, Kellie will find herself a pottery playmate. She knows the song is originally sung by the Righteous Brothers, but wants to sing it with the same twist that Leann Rimes used when singing it. All I know is this has to be Idol suicide. In the first place, Clay Aiken did it to near perfection. Even Justin Guarini’s version couldn’t come close. And this is Simon’s favorite song in the whole world. Why would someone that knows they are only getting by on their personality, sing a song that has been done to near perfection and is the favorite of someone that will have no reservations in telling her it sucked?

Bocelli says he thinks it’s a beautiful song, and it’s sweet just like Kellie’s voice. Foster just wishes she wouldn’t be so robotic during the song, and tells her to put the big note at the end, just like the Righteous Brothers. He asks if she has a falsetto, and she agrees to try. She ends up doing half the note in falsetto, and he encourages her to keep it. But, in the first place, I don’t think it sounded good. And in the second, I don’t think you can bring the falsetto in this season, unless you’re Ace Young. It’s just not going to compare to the guy who made it his signature. Andrea feels she’s very happy, and says he likes her. He thinks that will be important on the stage. When Foster asks what her hair color is, the blind Bocelli somehow knows she’s blonde. I don’t think that’s a good thing … and I mean for the blondes out there, not Pickler.

I have to ask again why Kellie would choose to sing this song. She makes some unwelcome changes to this melody, and it’s also much too low for her in parts. Her blush is the wrong color and too heavy again which really irritates me. The falsetto note doesn’t sound any better. I know Simon is not going to like what Kellie did to his favorite song. Sela Ward is shown in the audience, as Randy says it’s the second week in a row that Kellie looks like she knows what he’s gong to say. When Kellie asks if she butchered this song too, Randy says she didn’t, but he was really scared. There were pitch problems, and the only good thing, he felt, was that falsetto note. If that’s the only good thing …

Paula says it gets hard at this time, because the six Idols are all fantasic. But at this point, it’s about greatness, and she doesn’t feel that for Kellie. Wow, Paula is being extremely honest tonight. Simon, never failing to be honest, says this is the song that deserved tears, but for a different reason. It seemed like the neverending song to him, being so monotonous and bland with no heart and warmth. He agrees with Foster than she seem like a robot. Despite that whole diatribe, Simon isn’t done. The music cuts him off, and he tries to get them to wait for him, but they don’t. Ryan says unfortunately, if they don’t speed up, they’ll go off the air very soon, quicker than they want to. Who would take the number one show off air no mater the reason?

At 17 years old, Paris Bennett chooses to sing The Way We Were by Barbra Streisand. She feels because of her age, she needs to choose wisely. Thank God she finally understands that. She has memories, but not really “love thoughts”, so she thinks this song would be better because of that. Bocelli is impressed, and says Paris has volume like him, and in that room, it was incredible. Foster suggests Paris sing the first eight bars softer. He doesn’t see the need for it to be so big for the whole song, as she can get everyone’s attention more if she has to sing almost too softly. Bocelli is still impressed, and says she has an extraordinary voice, and an instrument that is absolutely incredible and spectacular.

As Paris starts out tonight, I think the song is still too old for her. For her to think the song is about having memories, and not necessarily being about love, shows her immaturity, and means she’s not ever going to be able to sing this song the right way. Somehow she’s channeling Gladys Knight here. She has the same hair as when she sang Midnight Train To Georgia. And it’s funny, as she does the same head-nodding that Gladys does when she performs. No one can deny, though, that this girl has some awesome glory notes. She technically sounds great, but misses in hitting the meaning of the song. As Joely Fisher watches from the audience with her young daughter, Randy says Paris was pretty good, but he wasn’t blown away. He doesn’t feel it was over the top, though, as she can sing anything. Paula thinks Paris did oversing the song a little bit, but overall she’s still the best female vocal tonight. Simon says in one quick breath that it was a very good vocal, but a bit old-fashioned for his taste, and he felt like she was trying to impersonate an older artist. He finishes with, “Now I’m finished. Off you go, Ryan.” They were obviously told they were short on time, and he doesn’t look happy that he always gets the short end of the stick as far as delivering his comments.

Simon seems to be letting bygones be bygones, though, as Ryan introduces Taylor, and Simon leans down on Ryan’s arm, just to annoy him. Taylor says he enjoyed meeting Bocelli and Foster, as they are both very talented people in the music business. He has decided to sing Just Once by James Ingram. Bocelli says Taylor has a very beautiful instrument, and he finds him very interesting. David says he watched Taylor for a little bit, and really got drawn into the way he was performing the song. He thinks he has the potential to really score big with the song, because the song is a star. Taylor says he can tell they were really listening to him, and trying to give some good opinions and advice. David thinks Taylor chose the most perfect song for him and his voice. He thinks potentially Taylor has the most charisma, a very important part of being a star. It’s interesting that the producer sees Taylor this way.

In the very beginning of his performance, Taylor is off a little. It seems hard for him to sing something softly. I’m not really digging it at first, which is so hard for me with a Taylor song. But in the middle he picks it up, applies the power, and blows me away. The celebrities seem to be all out tonight for this, as Tori Spelling is shown in the audience. Randy says he doesn’t know what’s going on if, if it’s him or what. He feels the song was completely wrong for him. He didn’t get it, and felt it wasn’t half as good as the original, and like it was weird karaoke. Paula says she loves James Ingram, and thinks that’s the perfect love song. That’s not very constructive for Taylor, is it? Bringing it back to Taylor, she says there are sensitive side to him and playful sides to him. Every cell in his body is born to be on the stage performing. It wasn’t her favorite performance, but he hooks handsome as heck. I’ll agree to that. Simon thinks Taylor looked uptight, and says he’s going to be honest with him. When isn’t Simon honest? He feels that if you took that performance outside of American Idol, you would hear it every night every day of the week in hotel lounges, because of the phrasing and performance as a whole. Paula stands up to shout, and Simon tries to stop her, but she ends up shouting out, “And we love you!” to Taylor.

Chris Daughtry decides to sing Have You Ever Really Loved A Woman by Bryan Adams. Bocelli says it’s a difficult title. Chris thinks it is an amazing song lyrically and musically, and has all the elements of a really great love song. Foster says he felt Chris was singing from the neck and not from inside, and adds Bocelli is always singing from inside, as he knows how to do it just right. He notes Chris probably hasn’t sung much classical music in his life, to which Chris laughs a little, and says, “No sir. I have not.” Foster says when he recorded the record with Bocelli, he did one of the songs laying down. Chris thought they were joking, until Bocelli actually does a song for him right there from the floor. Chris feels awkward, but tries it anyway. He’s suprised that it actually came out better, and forced him to use more of his diaphragm. Foster says if he delivers the performance of his life, Chris will do amazing.

As Chris sings tonight … standing … I don’t know if it’s the performance of his life, but he is definitely amazing. He looks great in a suit, and I wonder if he borrowed it off his buddy, Ace Young. As a classical guitar is playing in the background, Chris still feel this so deeply inside. He always does, and picks songs accordingly. That’s what is amazing to me about him. As everyone is sped up, as they are truly out of time, Randy says it was indeed amazing and he loved the jacket. Paula stands up and shouts, “love you, love you, love you, loooove you!” She seems animatedly weird. Simon calls it a very good choice of song and a great performance. Chris gives a loud, “Wooh!” I’m guessing he won’t be in the bottom three again this week.

That leaves the question of who will be in the bottom three tonight. They’ll probably do two groups of Idols, and we’ll think one is safe, when it is really the other. I do know one thing for sure, I started out really liking Elliott, then wanted him voted out, as he wasn’t connecting or showing what he needed to at that point. But with his performance tonight, he was truly connecting like nobody’s business, and he sounded unbelievable. If he’s kicked off or in the bottom three this week, there is no justice. I’m also pretty sure that there are some Ace Young fans sitting around wondering what love song he would have sung to them.

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