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Raising The Game – American Idol, 03-01-05

by LauraBelle

The game has been raised so much on American Idol this year, it’s not enough to just be a good singer. You have to be totally comfortable on stage and have a definite “it” factor.

Aloha Mischeaux opens the show with her rendition of Alicia Keys’ “You Don’t Know My Name.” Aloha, please ditch the flower. You’re making us think of Jasmine Trias, and, well, we don’t want to. None of the three judges liked it. Randy says he liked the style switch, but it wasn’t her best. Paula agrees and says it’s hard to do a song by an artist on top of her game with her own style like Alicia. Simon also agrees, saying it didn’t allow her to show originality.

Lindsay Cardinale wants to make her hometown, Ponchatoula, Louisiana famous instead of its Strawberry Festival. She sounds great in the uniquely low tone of hers and appears to be having a lot of fun on “You’re All I Think About.” Randy, calling her his home girl, says she was better than last week, but would still like to see her stretch more. Paula concurs, while Simon says the problem with Lindsay is her performances aren’t memorable enough.

Country girl, Jessica Sierra, is next up, and my role-playing eight-year-old daughter pronounces this is her. Jessica sings “A Broken Wing,” and seems to be holding back a little. Randy tells her after, he is laughing because she returned to her big ole voice. Paula likes how Jessica changed part of the song and infused part of herself into it. Simon calls this the best female performance so far, leaving me to wonder whether he means tonight or this year.

She can’t cook, clean or walk the dog, she says, but we know Mikalah Gordon can sing, and does quite well with “God Bless The Child.” Randy says he loves her and her fearless ambition. Paula, calling the performance subdued, says she nailed it. Simon says Mikalah is a joy to listen to, and says she is not annoying tonight, and it’s probably because she is not talking. Earlier today, I had said she was in danger of becoming a caricature of herself. Mikalah is out of the danger zone right now.

Celena Rae doesn’t need fame, but is looking forward to having someone design clothes for her. She sings “When The Lights Go Down” and the only thing I can say is “Eh.” Randy, Paula and Simon all agree with me, with Paula saying the performance didn’t click with her. That’s just all there is – eh.

Nadia Turner hit a home run last week with “There’s A Power,” but falls just short this week, singing “My Love.” Randy tells her the great thing is she knows how to use what she has. Paula tells her the more risks she takes, the more comfortable she’ll become doing it. Simon believes the song made her sound too old. Personally, I liked it, and so did Randy’s Dog Pound, the top ten male performers who are in the audience.

Everything is going right for Amanda Avila, so she figures this must be the Year of the Rooster or something. She sings “Turn The Beat Around” and does better than Carmen and Diana did in the previous years with it. Older than them at twenty-three, Amanda pulls this off better. Randy feels she did better than last week, Paula calls it the perfect song for her, and Simon thinks it wasn’t all in tune.

Janay Castine insists she will go on after her bad performance last week. She gets the award for worst outfit of the night. Without a good six-pack belly, you really shouldn’t be wearing bare midriffs. I don’t know this song, but my daughter sings along. The performance isn’t much better than the outfit with Randy saying flat out, it wasn’t good. Paula says it was disconnected, and Simon says she’s like a little doll programmed to be a pop singer, but she’s just not experienced enough. Janay says she’ll prove him wrong. Well, so far you’re only 0 for 2, Janay.

Carrie Underwood says she doesn’t mind being called “farm girl” and takes a huge risk singing Janis Joplin’s “Piece of My Heart,” another song my daughter knows the words to. Eclectic taste, apparently. Randy likes Country on Carrie better, and Paula says the song isn’t believable on her. Simon thinks you can hear that in any local cover band. Harsh words for one of the judge’s previous favorites, making her cling to Ryan Seacrest as he pimps her voting number.

Last, and never least, is Vonzell Solomon, whose life consists of working, singing and karate classes. She sings a song all too often done before, “If I Ain’t Got You.” Randy thinks it was ambitious, but fell short some of the time. Paula also thinks it was ambitious with some of the arrangement making it pitchy. Simon says sometimes less is more, and calls this performance overcooked. No one sounds good with it anymore, Simon. The song is overcooked, not Vonzell.

I predict Janay will finally leave with 0 for 2 performances, and probably Cerena as well, being “just okay.” She will need to find a different way to get those designer outfits.

I welcome all questions and comments at LauraBelle@realityshack.com.

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