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American Idol, February 20th – Only One Stevie

You can take that above title any way you want to. We seem to always be besieged by Stevie Wonder songs by the guys on night one of the first performance round, but this time, we only sat through one Stevie song. Also, as Randy points out every year, there’s only one Stevie Wonder. And, for that matter, there’s only one Stevie Nicks. Although if I hear one of the gals coming out tomorrow singing Landslide, I’ll be pleasantly surprised.

Ryan Seacrest opens the show tonight, and he’s looking quite spiffy in a vest. He’s gone from t-shirts to suits to vests now, I guess. As we’re introduced to the judges, Randy Jackson is asked about taking al little heat this season for his comments, yet he says sometimes the truth really hurts. He doesn’t feel he’s been tougher, and just just trying to be really honest. Ryan asks the obvious, does this mean Randy’s been lying the past five seasons. Not necessarily. He thinks they’re just finally listening to “The Dawg.”

Paula Abdul is asked if Randy being tougher means she has to be even more supportive. She laughs and Ryan cracks, “Let the circus begin.” She says she’s supportive, and the contestants know that as well, that she just wants them to do well, as she’s on their side, rooting for them. Simon Cowell is asked with Carrie Underwood earning three Grammys (I thought it was two …), Chris Daughtry with the number one on the charts and Katharine McPhee number two, and Jennifer Hudson nominated for an Oscar, does this put more pressure on the contestants because it suddenly makes the show more valid. Simon believes it does, and when asked what they should do, he says, “Sing well.” Well, that’s to the point.

Rudy Cardenas has the unenviable spot of being the first out on the block. He talks about being from Venezuala, yet growing up in Denver, and now living in Los Angeles. Being a musician, he’s gotten used to eating a lot of Ramen noodles and macaroni and cheese. Maybe the guy is headed for greatness, as many of the people that make it big talk about eating like that before they make it. Simon didn’t like him before and told him he wasn’t good enough, but Rudy notes Simon’s been wrong before, and everyone has opinions. Nothing could prepare Rudy for Hollywood week, and it really didn’t matter if he had Simon on his side or not. He doesn’t think Simon likes him at all, but could have warmed up in Hollywood.

Starting off very unsafe, and surprisingly so, Rudy Cardenas starts with Free Ride by Edgar Winter Group. I know this will do nothing to help his standing with Simon, as I can tell he will hate it. But I kind of like it. He has some charisma to him singing it, although my 13 year old son notes he didn’t think Rudy has the right range for it. Randy starts it off giving him a few pluses, that it’s hard to start the whole home-voting stuff out, that’s really only one plus, and he then says for him, it was really corny, and he could have heard it in any bar in America. He’s just keeping it real. Paula thinks he started out fantastic, and she notes, too, that it’s hard to start it off. She can’t remember anyone starting off as lively as he did. Simon tries to interrupt they have had people start off that lively, but Paula notes it was Simon that wasn’t that lively and uptempo when then started.

Simon tells Rudy that picking up what he said on the clip, from what Simon saw tonight, it was proven right. He’s never seen him do anything that is unique, and he doesn’t think he has a distinctive voice. As Paula gasps, Simon continues, saying he thought the song choice was dated, and there was nothing memorable of it, other than a few people had a rather good time. As Paula starts in, he says they don’t want to hear from her, but she gets in a quick reponse anyway that Rudy’s voice is fantastic. Rudy tells Ryan he had a food time and thinks everyone else did too. Everyone has an opinion, and he hopes it changes soon. It motivates him to change. Ryan says she just wants them all to be friends. My gut tells me he will stay, but he is on the bubble.

Ryan asks Chris Sligh what the buzz with the other guys is, and Chris says the buzz is all of the guys looking pretty, as this is supposed to be a singing competition. He notes that Sanjaya Malakar is looking pretty, and Brandon Rogers is always looking pretty. Ryan is just happy after all that that Chris is sitting on the other couch. He asks “the other Chris,” Chris Robinson, what he thinks of the group of guys this year. He thinks they are all awesome and “rock out.” Brandon, up next, is asked if he is nervous, and says no, causing Ryan to call him a liar.

Brandon has an impressive resume, as he has sung background vocals for Christina Aguilera, Justin Timberlake, and Usher. He is now ready for the spotlight, though, and says he’s been lucky enough to work with the best. He’s hoping it prepared him to be out there on the Idol stage. Yet, he still felt weird when he walked up to the line at the Rose Bowl to audition. It didn’t matter what he had done in the past, and on the last day of Hollywood, he thought he was one of the people on the bubble. He collected himself and let the song go, doing the best he had all week. When Randy told him he made the top 24, he told him he’d never have to sing background again, and Brandon says he just likes being at a place to know people finally think he has what it takes to be a lead singer.

Starting off slowly, Brandon sings Rock With You,by Michael Jackson, and I love the beginning, as it’s unique, doing it sultry and slow, but when it picks up speed, he loses something with it. The cameras are filming everything very darkly, and it makes me think of preseason football, when the announcers remind us it’s preseason for the camera workers as well. I guess this holds up for semi-finals of American Idol. It’s semi-finals for the camera workers as well.


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