Thursday, March 13, 2008
American Idol Wednesdays (on Thursdays): Lennon-McCartney Catalog Released to Idols, America Squeals With Delight
After seven years of Beatles'-less shows, American Idol was finally granted the use of the Lennon-McCartney songbook this season. We've already heard a taste of the catalog so far in the competition (David Archuleta anointing himself the front-runner with a cover of '"Imagine") but this week, it was wall-to-wall Beatles, and the contestants' renditions ran the gamut from inspired re-imaginings to country-fair nightmares.
Seyesha Mercado "Got to Get You Into My Life" When Seacrest announced her song choice, I thought it had potential, but Showcase started "UGH"-ing as soon as she opened her mouth and I'm joining him within seconds. The arrangement was horrible, I mean, just torture Normally I'm a fan of a horn section, but they were totally misplaced here. This song is all drama-- in the melody, in the lyric-- and she turned it into a number worthy of a dinner show on Princess Cruises. Though Mercado tried so hard to infuse it with some semblance of energy, it totally fell flat and thrusts her into the elimination-danger zone right off the bat.
Chikezie "She's a Woman" Well, hello Chizekie! We thought you might have something like this in you! Working an arrangement that vacillated between twang-heavy country and hard rock, Chikezie finally stood out from the pack with this performance. There were no sleepy smooth jams in sight from him tonight-- this was a huge risk that should pay big dividends. However... and I said this last season and it bears repeating: black men should not wear argyle. Especially argyle vests.
Ramiele Mulabay "In My Life" With the cut to the audience's swaying arms... it was over and we were dying with laughter (and not just from the OG Kush we were smoking). Seriously, is there some idiot with a headset out there cueing the screaming teenage fans in the "mosh pit" to start swaying? This was pretty, but boring turn from Ramiele. Though it started out promising, the song never really went anywhere and did nothing for her voice. We still haven't seen anything original or exciting from Mulabay, and though this performance miiiight just left her fly enough under the radar to advance to next week, she's looking at an 10-11th place finish max the way she's going.
Jason Castro "If I Fell" Dreadlock boy is so adorable, even if the falsetto was about 50% on pitch. There's sort of a Jack Johnson vibe about him, but this was still just a little... boring? But, no worries, Paula "feels his heart" when he performs so it's all OK. I was more into his version of "Halleluljah" last week that I was with this. It's getting time for Castro to think about switching it up. We know he can do the sensitive guitar-boy thing. Now it's time to surprise us.
Carly Smithson "Come Together" Girfriend blew. It Out. I'd totally buy the single on iTunes (and lo and behold, it should be available next week! Thank you corporate partnerships!). America, say hello to our new female frontrunner. Irish lassie clearly had command of the song, sustained a nice build, and slayed the ending. Not to mention that the organ-infused arrangement kicked ass. Keep 'em coming Carly.
David Cook "Eleanor Rigby" Again, I loved it and immediately thought it could be a single. Cook's performance was consistent with his vibe and sense of musicality and boasted some AWESOME orchestrations on the chorus that modern rock radio would wet their pants over. However, I'm not digging the turned up collar on his leather jacket. Seriously, that was a bit vampire for me.
Brooke White "Let it Be" This was not my favorite thing from her, but that doesn't mean she stunk up the joint. And Paula can feel her heart too, so she too is OK. Brooke turned out another solid effort this week. She didn't try to overdo the song, and I think that was appropriate for the piece she chose. We've had piano and guitar already from Brooke-- what's coming next week? Fiddle? Jazz flute? Sitar?
David Hernandez "I Saw Her Standing There" Well, after a nice run of well-thought out cover renditions, David Hernandez takes us right back to karaoke-land. Ever since he threw it down with "Papa Was a Rolling Stone" a few weeks ago, he's come at us with performances that are better suited to a lounge act at Harrah's Lake Tahoe than mainstream American pop audiences. Anyway... I'm so over the stripper.
Amanda Overmyer "You Can't Do That" So much of Overmyer's phrasing is pure Janis. And I love that. And it's been a good strategy for her so far in the competition, this week included. But it's that time when the set needs a slow song. Or at least something not quite as hard-dribing as her choices so far. So, nice job this week, Amanda, but let's see another side to you. Oh, and as much as I dig her style I'd like to roast a hot dog over the burning embers of those black and white striped pants. And seriously, girl--why the return of the skunk hair? I thought we just got that under control!
Michael Johns "Across the Universe" Though it might not be the showiest performance Johns has given, I think it was his best pure vocal to date. I'm afraid, though, that he might ultimately meet his end on the show when America has to decide between the two male "rockers"-- he and David Cook-- and I think Cook is better. John's rendition was a bit straightforward and solid enough, but not a big enough risk with the arrangement and style compared to what the top of the pack has delivered this week.
Kristy Lee Cook "Eight Days a Week" Well that was 120 seconds of two-stepping redneck hell. Look, everyone who reads these recaps knows I'm not the biggest country fan, but this arrangement was ATROCIOUS. Now this, kids... this is the risk that doesn't get paid off. This is the risk that sends you home. Even on the country scale of awfulness, this was putrid. Seriously, there were about 20 fiddles and 10 banjos too many in this one. Kristy, why did you have to take the Country thing to such an extreme? Can't you at least find some nice alt-country chica to try and emulate? Lucinda Williams? Kathleen Edwards? Gretchen Wilson? I think Lennon is spinning in his grave and McCartney is forgoing green tea and tofu for steak and scotch after hearing this horror show of a performance.
David Archuleta "We Can Work it Out" Wonder Boy fucks up his lyrics!! OMG, he IS human! Everything was off about this performance. The falsetto notes were off. The phrasing was off. Showcase thought he looked lost. For a kid who usually sounds like such a pro, something was going on with him tonight. He just couldn't hit those notes that he'd normally belt out effortlessly. Even though he had a bad night, I think Archuleta is in no danger-- his rabid fan base might even vote for him more just to ensure he stays on.
My prediction for the week: Kristy Lee Cook will two-step her way home.
The actual results: David Hernandez will be getting back on the pole.