It’s a big week here on American Idol, with perhaps the best final five the in the history of the show. Not that you would know from the celebrities in the audience, as we only have Anthony Federov from last season and Ace Young eliminated a few weeks ago to show for it. It may have been Nikki McKibbin with dark hair in the audience as well, but no big movie stars like Whoopi Goldberg, or Idols in their own hayday stars like Mickey Dolenz either.
For this big night, each Idol gets to sing two songs – one from the year they were born, and one from this week’s Billboard charts, any of this week’s Billboard charts, which leaves a lot of leeway and slack. Looking over the possibilities of song choices yesterday, I got more and more pumped up for tonight. I have to say I wasn’t disappointed. There wasn’t really anyone tonight that I thought, “What the …?”
Elliott Yamin starts us off, saying when he was younger he picked up his habit of chewing his fingernails. He believes the habit has gotten much worse lately, especially on Wednesday night, and he doesn’t feel he’d make a good hand model. That’s okay. Leave that to George Costanza. Tonight he sings On Broadway by George Benson, although done last year on Idol by Scott Savol. I have to say I prefer Elliott’s, although I wasn’t too fond of the overused vibrato. One thing is for sure, this guy’s confidence is definitely growing.
Randy Jackson think Elliott started off a little rough, but in the middle of the song, he got it together, and showed the beautiful tenor he has. Paula Abdul agrees with Randy, saying you could hear the vibrato in Elliott’s rich voice at the end. Simon Cowell doesn’t think it was Elliott’s best performance, and thought overall it was a bit disjointed. He believes that Elliott is lucky to be singing two songs. When Ryan Seacrest enters the picture, he makes mention of Simon pouting at the end of the table.
I think that stool sitting next to Ryan has Paris Bennett’s name on it permanently. They pull her out every week to have her little fireside chat with Ryan. It’s like they know she’s not connecting with us, and want to try and cram her down our throats. She says that she’s singing Kiss by Prince tonight, and acknowledges it’s different for her, and babbles on about it not being a song people can make a song, or something like that. She adds that Prince is from Minnesota, where he is like a God, and that she used to live there. Oh yeah, we learned a couple weeks back she lived there until she moved to Atlanta to pursue being a gynecologist.
Paris was born in 1988, and says her mother loved to dress her in big ruffly dresses, despite the fact she was a tomboy. But hey, it was the 80s. I think it was expected at that point to wear big clothes and hair. She wanted to take the clothes off and get them all dirty. Tonight as she sings, she’s wearing tight black capris and heels. Nothing tomboyish about this. She sounds great, but I still just can’t connect to it, as I don’t believe this is who she really is. I guess the politically correct term would be to call Paris versatile.
Randy thinks it’s nice to see Paris having a little fun, and says at least with this song, Simon can’t call it old. He thinks it was nice, and says he liked it. Paula tells Paris yet again that the whole country knows she can sing her butt off, but she still loves when she does songs from past eras. Simon calls it screechy and annoying. Wow. Annoying I can see, but screechy? Ryan has to ask what gives, and Randy says it’s Simon. Paris decides it’s best to “kiss” a little butt at this point, and says she thanks Simon, as she loves all the opinions. Yeah, right. At home tonight she’ll be saying how great it was for Simon to call her screechy and annoying. My guess is she isn’t going to like it any better than Courtney did on Survivor a few weeks back.
Chris Daughtry was born in 1979, a great year for rock songs, I’ll add, and says even from a young age he was destined to be a musician. If you ask his parents, they will say he was performing all his life, dressing like a super hero and always wanting to be in the spotlight. Here he is on American Idol, and he feels like he’s living his dream. He sings Styx’ Renegade, one of my favorite Styx songs of all time. Chris, like usual, doesn’t disappoint. He works in a little falsetto, but it isn’t the greatest. What I was missing was the yell at the beginning, something for sure I felt he would have worked in.
“Yo Dawg. All I can say is, America, we got a real hot one tonight right here!” I guess I don’t have to tell you who that quote was from. Paula believes this was outstanding, and tells Chris he is already setting himself far apart from anyone else. Simon says that for him, Chris’s song was a million times better than the first two performances of the night, and says it was a great choice of song. Ryan asks Chris if he feels like he hit his groove, and he gives out a “Wooh!” and admits yeah, he’s there.
Straight-haired Katharine takes a sit in Paris’ chair next to Ryan, and he brings up her wardrobe malfunction last week. Apparently the reason her dress was blowing open was that she lost a button and didn’t know it. She is sure people were TIVOing it all over the place. Well, I wasn’t, but if the 13-year-old son had control of the remote, I’m sure he would have. Ryan mentions tonight Katharine looks a little strapped into her dress, and she says she feels like the little black dress is like a trash bag. That juvenile side of me is singing, “Hefty! Hefty! Hefty! Wimpy! Wimpy! Wimpy!”
Katharine says when she was born in 1984, she came out in the delivery room and didn’t make a sound. As a young child she was very serious, and thinks now how ironic it is that she has chosen a profession where she gets to be loud. Tonight she sings Against All Odds by Phil Collins. It’s interesting, as already with just song four of the night, it’s the second song that was sung by Scott Savol last season. I have to admit, though, I think Scott did better with this. She has a very rough beginning and is pitchy throughout. Aside from that, it’s a very weird arrangement.
Randy thinks Katharine looks amazing, yet he doesn’t know if the key was right for her in the song. He acknowledges the problems in the beginning, but says it got okay at the end. Paula agrees that Katharine looks stunning, and perhaps this is why Paula seems to be copying Katharine’s hairstyle tonight. This wasn’t her favorite performance from her, and she knows Katharine knows that. Simon remembers last week how he had gotten it completely wrong and apologized, but tonight he thinks it is a mess, and that the song really did get way from her. Katharine tells Ryan she isn’t so sure she could hear herself in the beginning of the song. Simon wants to make sure everyone knows that he said tonight wasn’t one of Katharine’s best performances. He’s not sure he said it right. My TIVO says he did screw up before, as he said, “by far one of your best performances.” After joking that he thinks someone went to the bar before the show, Ryan asks Simon if this is his final answer, and Simon acknowledges that it is.
Taylor Hicks, the elder in the bunch and born in 1976 talks about his hair once again. He says he started out as a blonde, and as he got older he became a darker brunette, until he went gray. He jokes that he’s had more hair changes than Ryan. He comes out singing Play That funky Music by Wild Cherry, and I have to say nothing could be more perfect for him. He completely captures the time wearing a wild print shirt. He has a Taylor Hicks Dance party, and at the end, he lays on the floor to finish the song. This is what he needed to set him back on track after last week.
Randy tells Taylor he knows he had a good time, and that it was another wild choice. He also jokes he felt like he was in a bar and that he had “had a couple.” Paula notices, of course, how Taylor dressed the part, and notes he had fun, and was the authentic Taylor we love. Predictably, Simon hated it, and says for him, it was like a horrible, horrible wedding performance. Taylor seems unfazed and tells Ryan he’s having a great time. Ryan asks to see how Taylor did the fall on the floor move, and they both do it together. Ryan reads the voting numbers from the floor, as Taylor is yelling, “Soul Patrol.” It was true entertainment.
Ryan explains for us the next group of song choices, saying the Idols had their pick of the top ten songs from any of the Billboard charts this week. It’s only fitting, he believes, as the Idol finalists have had nine (I had in my notes ninety, but it has to be just nine) number one hits. Kelly Clarkson broke a forty year old record for A Moment Like This when the song jumped fifty-one places in one week to reach number one. Previously, the Beatles had held the record.
Elliott sings Home by Michael Buble. I have to first state this isn’t something I’ve heard of, as I don’t listen to music like this. But, I liked it by the time it was done. It had a shaky beginning, but Elliott seemed to find it in the middle. That statement makes me feeling a bit like Randy. The funniest thing happens after, as Elliott runs over to sit next to Ryan, forgetting to do his bit with the judges. Ryan runs him back … literally … to his correct spot.
What Randy loved about the performance was seeing the tender side of Elliott, with the whole Donnie Hathaway, Sam Cooke thing. He claims, “Nice choice, Baby.” Paula likes that we got to hear the richness of Elliott’s voice, and says it can melt you. Simon isn’t sure he would have chosen lyrics saying, “I want to go home tonight,” and I have to agree with him there. He’s worried about the song for Elliott, not sure if it has enough of a hook or wow factor. Paula and Randy seem to take much offense to this comment. When he’s done … finally … Ryan comes back to run and escort him back to the stools, and cracks a joke saying he thought it was an American Idol first that Elliott didn’t want to hear what any of the judges wanted to say.
Paris Bennett picks a Mary J Blige song, Be Without You. Our favorite little shapeshifter couldn’t do much tonight in between songs. She had to kind of be the same here, as she couldn’t change her appearance so drastically between songs. I think right here, hearing this song, this is the closest we will get to the real Paris. I also have to add here that as much as we have heard comparisons of her and Fantasia, I don’t think she’s had a Fantasia-like performance that sets it all up, like Fantasia did with Summertime.
Randy thinks Paris is taking a big risk singing Mary J Blige, with Mary’s joint and vibe. He noticed a few pitchy things in Paris’ performance, but thinks she did her thing, and he liked that. Paula says it is very difficult to catch that vibe of Mary’s, but she thinks Paris got it. However, she wishes that Paris would have done her own little flip with it. Simon tells Paula he thinks she has that wrong, as he thinks Paris did quite well with it. After she tells Simon the comments felt good, Paris does a weird head posing thing as he reads off the numbers. It’s like she’s a programmed kid, and that’s what bugs me.
With background fire flames that are usually reserved for Idols singing Heatwave. Chris sings I Dare You by Shinedown. I can’t even explain to you why, but something in this song other than the heating element reminds me of the theme song to St. Elmo’s Fire. Listening to Chris, I have to say I would buy this guy’s CD in a heartbeat. Not that it’s the only CD I would buy of those singing tonight :cough: :cough Taylor :cough: :cough: but this is what keeps running through my head during this song.
Randy tells Chris he can tell his voice is starting to give out a little, and thinks it’s because the song is a little too high for him. He calls it just aw’ight. Paula says maybe the song isn’t her favorite, but she still loves Chris. At this moment, he winks at her, and I have to say it’s nice to see him happy and winking and smiling. He’s usually so ultra serious. Simon says it wasn’t a great song, and he agrees Chris’ voice is going, and says it really felt like it was gonna give way halfway through. Simon doesn’t know if it was the wrong key or what. He thinks since Chris had such a great first song, that he’ll be okay. Chris explains to Ryan that his voice is strained because he’s already sung it about five times today with rehearsal and all, and he’s been singing more than he ever has before on the show.
I was introduced to this next song by my friend Barbara, and I liked it on Katharine, just as much as I did on KT Tunstall. Singing Black Horse And Cherry Tree, Katharine does the whole thing sitting, kneeling, and crawling across the floor. It’s weird, but it oddly works. Next to her on the floor are two guys playing the box drum. This is a absolutely perfect for Katharine, and as she sings this power vocal, I wonder if she’s trying to prove Paula wrong that she can do power vocals.
Ryan calls it a wild shot tonight, and says that’s the Katharine he really loves. Paula loves the little choreography with the little intimacy of it. She thinks Katharine picked the right two guys to do it with, meaning the two guys on the box drums. Randy makes a joke about Simon loving the toes, as Katharine is barefoot during the performance with blue painted toenails that match my nine-year-old daughter’s. Simon, though, just notes the oddity of the night with Taylor laying down and Katharine being on her knees. He much prefers her on this second song, though, as it shows a different, younger Katharine with more personality.
Somehow Taylor pulls a fast one on us and picks a song from a classic Beatles album that is oddly on the top pop catalog chart, as he does Something. Hey, it’s from the charts! This is the Taylor we’ve been waiting for when he’s slowed it down a little, that we hadn’t heard. Just a nice slow soul. We knew underneath it all he had a great, unique voice, and he shows it tonight, finally, with this song. I’m calling this the song that will get Taylor to final two.
Randy starts with a “wow,” and says the cool part is that Taylor chose a great song with a nice tender moment, and he liked the whole Beatles vibe, wishing there was a Beatles theme night. I think that all depends on what happens to the song catalog of theirs after Michael Jackson has to get rid of it to pay off his enormous legal fees. Paula calls this song very daring for Taylor, and says he moved it tenderly and didn’t oversing it. Simon says he doesn’t know how Taylor got a thirty-year-old song into a hits of today theme. But hey, I say American Idol owes Taylor after forcing him to change his song last Monday the day before the performance from Try A Little Tenderness to Just Once. Simon says it’s easy to forget that beneath it all Taylor really is a very good singer. Taylor gives out a “wooh wooh!” and thanks him.
Oddly, last week the show ran out of time with six performances, and with ten this week, they seem to have extra time. Asked to sum up the evening, Randy says it was another wildly unpredictable night with weird choices and great performances. Paula says it was very different and interesting. Simon calls it a bit erratic with some good and some not so good performances. He advises the Idols that if they’re still here next week, they should choose great songs. (Duh!)
I agree that it was an unpredictable evening with only a few songs being ones I would have thought to pick for them. However, I think tomorrow’s ending will be predictable. I think Paris will definitely be leaving. I’m not sure who will be standing next to her in bottom two, whether it will be Katharine, Elliott, or Chris, but it seems at this point like it definitely won’t be Taylor.
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