Idol’s Top 4 Add Duets to Rock Week

May 6, 2009

This week Guns N Roses’ Slash joined American Idol’s Top 4 for Rock Week.  If the excitement of seeing the final four rock out wasn’t enough, Idol added duets to the mix this week.

Starting the night off was Adam Lambert.  Adam was definitely in his element tonight as he belted out “Whole Lot of Love” by Led Zeppelin.”  For those of you that have been wondering what Adam’s genre really is, I don’t think you need to wonder anymore.  Not sure I’d go as far as Kara and call him a rock god, but this song was one of my favorite Adam performances even if it was a bit over the top.

But the night didn’t go to Adam alone.  Allison Iraheta was having a good night too.  Normally, I don’t like it when contestants try to take on Janis Joplin, but Allison had the voice to do it.  And let me tell you she did it right.  I was very impressed with her rendition of “Cry Baby.”  Sure, I would have rather heard “Piece of My Heart” but I still liked what she chose.

Next we were treated to our first duet of the evening.  Kris Allen and Danny Gokey sang “Renegade” by Styx.  The pairing for me was interesting.  I agree that the two probably complimented each other the best.  Still I think the two are worlds apart.  I really thought we got a glimpse into Kris’ rock side while Danny looked like every performance he’s ever had.  However, it did look like they were both struggling to hear themselves which could be a direct result of the missed rehearsal.

Meanwhile, I was having trouble picturing baby face Kris singing a hard rock song, so I was very glad to hear that he picked a Beetles tune.  But then I worried about it sounding too much like the original.  I shouldn’t have been concerned.  Once again, Kris proved that he’s a dark horse not to be counted out.  I loved what he did with “Come Together” and I thought the song suited him perfectly.

And then we have Danny trying to sing Aerosmith.  I’m a huge Aerosmith fan – to the point of driving my husband crazy.  And I was so upset that Danny tried to take on “Dream On.”  The performance just came on across as so manufactured and he totally blew the ending.  He doesn’t have the chops to pull it off and shouldn’t have tried.

Finally, Allison and Adam returned to the stage for their duet of Foghat’s “Slow Ride.”  These two make an awesome duet.  They have very compatible voices and styles.  The performance was a perfect way to finish off the Rock Night.

It’ll be interesting to see if the duets have any impact on the voting.  Adam and Allison definitely won the night.  Personally, I enjoyed Kris the most, but because the judges panned him, he’ll probably join Danny in the Bottom 2.  My hope is that Danny’s going home this week.  I think he’s gone as far as he can go.

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Adam in the Bottom 3 of Idol This Week

April 30, 2009

The biggest shock of the night as American Idol dwindled its numbers to four was not who got sent home, but who was in the Bottom 3.  At this point, at least one person had to grace the stools for the first time, but this week we got two newbies.

Season 5 winner Taylor Hicks returned to the idol stage to sing his latest single “Seven Mile Breakdown.”  Photo courtesy of American Idol.

Season 5 winner Taylor Hicks returned to the idol stage to sing his latest single “Seven Mile Breakdown.” Photo courtesy of American Idol.

The jeopardy seats went to Matt Giraud, Kris Allen and Adam Lambert this week after 47 million votes were received, the highest of the season. 

I wasn’t surprised to see Kris there.  Not because of his performance (I loved it), but because he performed first on Tuesday.  Luckily, Kris was declared safe first.

However, I was a bit shocked – and apparently so were his fellow competitors – to find Adam in the Bottom Three.  In all honesty I was mostly surprised that Idol went with three on the bottom tier with only five competitors.

Sure Adam is popular and a favorite among the judges.  But he also has a large contingent who doesn’t like him.  And I think that now that we’ve gotten down to the Final 5, those that don’t like Adam will vote for anyone but him.

In the end though, it was Matt who was sent home, as expected.  It was only two weeks ago, Matt was in this same spot and was spared by the judge’s save.  I don’t think anyone expected him to win after that, but at least we got to hear him perform a couple more times. 

Aside from the results, the Idol stage was busy tonight with three guest performers.  But first the Top 5 took on a medley of “I Don’t Mean a Thing” and “I Got Rhythm” for the opening number.

Next up was Natalie Cole.  Now she would have made a great mentor for the Rat Pack week.  And I enjoyed her performance of “Something’s Gotta Give” from her album Still Unforgettable.  My husband seems to think it was a remake, but I couldn’t find out who originally sang it.

Then Season 5 winner Taylor Hicks returned to the Idol stage to sing his latest single “Seven Mile Breakdown” from his album “The Distance.”  I wonder why the Idol producers keep bringing back the former Idols.  Is it strictly a contractual obligation or are they trying to get them more face time in front of the public?  I can’t imagine it’s really because of demand (well with a few exceptions).

And finally, guest mentor Jamie Fox performed “Blame It.”  This song was so far away from this week’s theme that I am again wondering why Jamie was a mentor for Rat Pack week.  I was really in the mood for more big band tunes and instead I got a plug for Jamie’s album and his movie.

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American Idol has Found its Own Rat Pack

April 29, 2009

This week American Idol is down to its Top 5, the same number of members in the Rat Pack.  So it was fitting that we were treated to the sounds of the Rat Pack tonight.

Top 5.  Photo Courtesy of American Idol

Top 5. Photo Courtesy of American Idol

Personally, I’m so glad they saved this theme until now so we didn’t have to hear anyone butcher the songs of the greats.  And overall I’d say that the Top 5 put in a good showing even if no one came out to sing smoking a cigarette and carrying a glass of Jack Daniels #7.

The night started out on a good note.  I was as blown away by Kris Allen’s performance of “The Way You Look Tonight” as Guest Mentor Jamie Fox.  He came across as very sincere, sophisticated and sexy.  He just took a golden oldie and made it golden again.  And more than anything, I’d love to hear it again!

But Kris wasn’t the only one shining tonight.  Beautiful that’s the only way to describe Allison Iraheta’s rendition of “Someone to Watch Over Me.”  She sounded fantastic and she looked wonderful.  I noticed that if I closed my eyes during this performance, Allison sounded older, but not in a dated way.  Not only was her voice well suited to the song, but she had great composure as well.  And she showed us that she could sing more than rock songs.

On the other hand, we saw more of the same from Matt Giraud.  It’s not that Matt had a bad performance tonight; it’s just that he paled in comparison to the others.  He had his moments, but overall I thought his version of “My Funny Valentine” was drab.  And I definitely am not seeing what Simon saw in this performance.  He called it authentic, but I thought at best it was copycat.

Simon was also a big supporter of Danny Gokey.  Now it’s no secret that I’m not a big Danny fan.  I think most of his songs all sound alike.  But this week, I liked his sound.  He added a nice little jazzy feel to “Come Rain or Come Shine” that worked well.  However, I think he got a little over zealous towards the end.  As a whole, not a bad performance, but please don’t give us a whole album of that as Randy suggested.

And closing out the show again this week was Adam Lambert (he does that a lot, anyone else notice?).  As usually, he wins the award for most unusual arrangement.  His “Feeling Good” was like Big Band on steroids.  The performance had the full orchestra, but still had the rock edge.  I’m still not sure if I liked it.  I think I need time to digest it.

For traditionalists, I’d say that Kris won the night.  Even going first I think he had the strongest performance.  However, if you go on originality, Adam is still in the lead.

I think Matt is going home this week and my pick to join him in the Bottom Two is Danny.  But since Simon really liked both of them, I could be totally wrong.

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Paula Deemed Safe, Brooke Sent Packing as Idol Dwindles to 4

May 1, 2008

While the fate of one of the Top 5 hung in the balance of this American Idol results show, Ryan felt the need to reassure us that Paula’s status as a judge is secure despite her mishap in the bizarre judging format on Tuesday night.

Brooke WhiteDoes anyone really think Paula mistake would cost her her job?  This woman has flakiness down to an art form, having cultivated it for seven years on this show.  Why would they can her now?  While I think her flightiness is genuine, I think the producers gladly play it up to juxtapose Simon and Randy – the ditzy flower between to thorns.

But that was just the beginning of a night full of surprises.  The biggest shocker of all was that lackluster Jason Castro was deemed safe right from the beginning.  Everyone I talk to or read comments from think it’s well past time for dreadlocks boy to depart.

This guy can barely string two coherent sentences together for the interviews and looks as if he can’t be bothered to even try when performing.  But apparently a significant number of the 45 million votes don’t agree with me.

All I have to say is – what are these people smoking?  Are they not watching – and more importantly listening to – the same weak ass performances I am?  Surely that charming little smile that he pulls out when he knows that he can’t compete with the others isn’t winning that many votes.

I probably wouldn’t be so animated about his unjust success if I felt like he was taking the contest seriously.  His other four co-contenders are busting their butts each week (albeit not always successfully) to put their best efforts forward, while Jason continues to just coast.

With both Davids continuing with safe passage, that left Brooke White and Syesha Mercado in jeopardy.  And choosing from this pair was not an easy feat.  Syesha outperformed Brooke on the first song Tuesday night, while Brooke clearly took the lead with the second song.  In the end, Brooke was sent packing, leaving Syesha as the only female in the Top 4.

I liked the format last week where they let the bottom two sing their songs one last time before announcing the elimination.  This week, not only was Brooke too emotional to sing by the end, but her swan song was abruptly cut off when the program ran over time.

But aside from the voting results we (or at least I) learned a few new tidbits. 

For example, we learned when Ryan announced the winner of the Coke cup design (chalk this up to more needless promotion) that Randy used to be a model.  I can’t find anything to back up this claim so I don’t know if it is legitimate (if so, what did Randy model for?) or if Ryan was just running off at the mouth.

And we also learned during the fan call in segment (which I had hoped would continue to be overlooked for other programming like last week) that Simon got his first kiss from a girl name Tara when he was nine.  Although it was the most interesting call of the season, I can’t help but wonder if it was staged.

In the end, I’m still reeling from the fact that Jason was granted immunity so early in the show.  What do you think?  Did America get it right?  Did Jason deserve to stay?

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Cook finds a Hit Among Diamond’s Offerings on Idol

April 30, 2008

Tonight Neil Diamond offered the Top 5 American Idol contestants variety with songs from some 25 albums to choose from.  In fact, the contenders each got to select two Diamond songs, but did they make the right selection?

American Idol Top 5Out of all the mentors, I was looking forward to Diamond the most because of the number of great songs that he had to offer the Top 5.  However, I think the results were a mixed bag.  Only one competitor stood out with both songs.  And the other four made one performance better than the other – for two it was the first song and for two it was the second song.

Leading the pack tonight was David Cook with two of Diamond’s lesser known songs.

Picking the more obscure “I’m Alive” was a smart choice for Cook.  It allowed him more flexibility with the song and less comparison with the original.  As always, I was impressed with his performance.  However, I’m wondering if there was any significance in this song choice for him?

Cook steps up to the plate again outdoing his first outing of the night with a version of “All I Really Need is You” that not only rocked but showcased his ability to truly own a song.  I’d never heard this song before, but I’d buy Cook’s single.

The girls didn’t do too shabby this week either although I think their second songs were much better matches for them.

“I’m a Believer” wasn’t a bad song choice for Brooke White.  I think she started out a little tentative, but picked it up towards the end, looking like she truly was enjoying the performances.  Unfortunately, I can’t help but compare her to the Monkees’ version and she didn’t quite measure up.

However, “I Am … I Said” was a much better song choice for Brooke.  It seemed to fit her personality and her voice much better.  I think it was one of her better performances and reminded me of what I like about Brooke.  I understand that she wrote a critical lyric on her hand to prevent a reoccurrence of last week’s mishap, but I have to wonder how she planned to read it while she was planning the piano.

At first I was afraid we’d seen the last of the personable Syesha Mercado from last week.  For her first song, we had Syesha barefoot again (does she not like shoes?) singing yet another ballad.  But in actuality I don’t think she did a bad job with “Hello Again.”  While it was pleasant, it did nothing to stand out from the rest.

But Syesha rebounded the second time around with “I Thank the Lord for the Night Time.”  This type of song suited her much better than the ballad.  It gave her a chance to showcase her personality, not just her voice.  I like this upbeat Syesha better that the crooner.

Also splitting his song choices tonight was David Archuleta.  I’m not surprised that Archuleta chose “Sweet Caroline.”  Not only did the song seem to fit his tastes, but he handled it very well.  My only complaint is that the ending didn’t seem natural (I understand that’s an artificiality of the time restraint).  All in all, I thought this was one of Archuleta’s better performances.

As much as I liked his first performance, I disliked the second.  I know I’m in the minority, but I didn’t like his versions of “America” at all.  I think it lacked the power that Diamond brought to the song.  I’m not sure if it’s because of Archuleta’s voice or because he seemed to slow the song down.  Either way, I didn’t care for it.

And then there’s Jason Castro, slacker extraordinaire.  “Forever in Blue Jeans” was a nice safe choice for him – a song that didn’t require him to put forth much effort (and obviously that’s his mantra – anyone else would have been mortified to forget the lyrics in front of the song writer).  The performance itself was forgettable.

But his first song was nothing compared to the train wreck that was to come.  Jason’s second song “September Morn'” did absolutely nothing for me.  I can’t even find a silver lining here.  I was just left wondering – did he try at all?

My pick to go home is definitely Jason (let’s see if I’m right this week).  I would like to see Archuleta join him in the bottom two, but even if Archuleta wasn’t a favorite, he’d earn points with his patriot song choice.

It’ll be one of the girls joining Jason.  My guess is Syesha, after all forgetting the words didn’t earn Brooke a bottom slot last week and she performed better this week.

Who did you think performed the best?  Who’s your pick to go home?

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