I’m so surprised that we had the guys singing Diana Ross songs. I mean, we know the guys are lacking overall compared to the women this season, so then they pick a theme night that will certainly highlight the performances of the women, making them outshine the guys even more.
Interestingly enough, as Ryan Seacrest begins the show, he shows clips of the stars the show has churned out, and it has to be mentioned that Chris Daughtry is the the only one shown for last season, and Jennifer Hudson has magically been added to the mix, but would have been forgotten a year ago. Ryan also makes note of the new and improved band with strings and horns now added.
Randy Jackson is asked how he thinks the guys are going to respond tonight after playing catchup all through semi-finals, and he says he hopes they bring their game. his scorecard has the girls ahead, but they have to be in it to win it at this point. Paula Abdul thinks they have a great variety here. While the girls have been shining, the guys are ready to come into their own now. Simon Cowell adds that at this stage everybody changes. It’s a whole different ballgame that can either make you or break you.
We get to see a quick montage of Diana Ross’ career, and honestly you just can’t sum this one up in a few minutes. Addressing everyone together, she mentions their smiling faces, and says in her own career she was able to have great mentors, including her mother, as she believed in her. Marvin Gaye was another great mentor that believed in her. She wants them to know she is not a critic, but their trusting voice, and she hopes their supporting voice. Diana would like to see them all successful past the show, and to have longevity similar to the four decades she’s been in the business. She sees mentoring similar to parenting, and she would like them all to be able to leave this experience and have a life that is fulfilling.
In a not very enviable position of starting out the first show is Brandon Rogers. He says it helps to have a mentor like Diana. He’s exposed to lots of celebrities doing what he does, yet she’s a different breed of star to which a lot of other stars are compared to. She’s the original. Diana likes Brandon very much, and as he tells her he grew up listening to You Can’t Hurry Love. She says she recorded it in her early days with the Supremes, and this is her Motown sound. To have her tell him he is good is huge, as he says, “This is Diana Ross we’re talking about.” She thinks it’s amazing the amount of work all the contestants have to do here, and advises Brandon that when his nerves strike up, he needs to go back to his center, his heart place.
Brandon has a hard time getting to his center and is very pitchy at the beginning. We all can tell he has great talent, yet he can do so much better. He sounded better, actually, in his clip with Diana. After putting in a little dance in his performance, he commits the American Idol sin of forgetting his words, then kicks it all in finally at the very end of the song. He he been the biggest letdown for me, coming into this with such high hopes for him from everyone.
Randy says again that you have to be in it to win it, and says this is the start of the future for everyone. He feels Brandon sounded like he reverted back to backup singing. He also forgot the words, but in the last two notes, he sounded like he wanted to be in front. It needs to be a lot better than that. Paula says it’s not easy to do what he’s doing on the first night of finals, and she knows nerves play a big part, going from the small round stage to this big concert hall. She doesn’t need to tell him what he did wrong, and she feels he’ll warm up to it.
Simon calls this a complete letdown, saying it was a very predictable version and a very predictable arrangement. He notes the dancing was terrible, and with the loss of words, Brandon came over as a background singer for a background singer with no star quality, no originality. It was absolutely not good enough. Brandon tells Ryan he felt it was going his way until he forgot the words. He tried to pick it up the best he could. It was amazing to be out there with the whole crowd cheering, but he got a little caught up in enjoying it too much and his nerves came into play. Brandon knew he had to bring it, and hopes he’ll get another opportunity to do so next week. I’m just not so sure he will.
As a new feature this year, fans can ask questions on americanidol.com that will be asked of the contestants on the show. Melinda is asked what the hardest part of the contest is, and she said it’s wearing the high heels and dresses. She likes her tennis shoes and sweat pants. I’m right with ya there, Girlfriend! Except exchange the sweats for a good pair of jeans. Ryan asks Simon if he has any advice about wearing high heels, and the two proceed to act like 7 year olds on a playground, as Simon says, “You should know.” Ryan tells Simon to get out of his closet, and Simon tells him to just come out. As Melinda hides her face laughing, Ryan says this is about the top 12, not Simon’s wishes. I think it’s a safe bet we’ll have to put up with this all season.