It's Season 7 of American Idol already. 7 years this monster has taken to the airwaves each spring and dominated pop culture and American television viewing habits. And this year, some of the contestants are young enough to boast that they started watching the show when they were 10. Welcome back to American Idol Wednesdays, where I'll re-hash and re-cap the week's performances and make my predictions as to who will be voted off all while skewering these poor young things' fashion and styling choices.
Yeah, I know it's Thursday, but by next week, we'll be back to one Tuesday performance show and one Wednesday results show. So I'm keeping the name.
We're down to 16 contestants this week, four of whom will be eliminated this week and won't even get to become C-list celebrities, just asterisks and anecdotes. It's 80's week, so let's get down to it!
Asia'h Epperson, "Somebody to Love Me" They're cautioned against it over and over again, but still these kids try on Whitney songs. Epperson is full of the youthful energy the song demands, but her performance was rife with pitch problems on the bigger sustained notes. This song was too big for its performer-- just like she did last week by attempting a Celine Dion tune. Listen, for once! She'll probably squeak into the Top 12, but just barely.
Kady Malloy, "Who Wants to Live Forever" I've heard this Queen song done really well by women-- British stage diva Elaine Paige comes to mind-- but why go so for the super-dramatic ballad when it's 80's night for Christ's sake? Not to mention that you're a cute blonde girl, one of like, four of them in the Top 16, and you desperately need to separate yourself from the pack and define your niche as an artist. This song did none of that for poor Kady. The big notes on this one were either hopelessly flat or cringe-inducingly sharp. Ms. Malloy is our bad choices Barbie of the night and this performance should send her home.
Amanda Overmyer "I Hate Myself for Loving You" This Joan Jett song was a perfect choice for rocker-chick Overmyer (right), though I think the melody has been permanently killed for me due to the horrible "NFL Sunday Night Football" re-do of the song. (Seriously, all I hear is "I've been waitin' all week for Sunday night...") Overmyer slayed the song and cleaned up her look a bit as well after last week's strong critique. Most of those horrible white streaks were out of the front of her jet-black hair and her makeup was significantly toned down while remaining appropriate for her rocker vibe. I can't wait to see what she'll do next.
Carly Smithson "I Drove All Night" This Roy Orbison song was re-recorded by Cyndi Lauper in the 80's, then re-re-recorded more recently by Celine Dion-- and that's the version Smithson went with. Simon & Co. seemed to take issue with that choice, but I could have cared less. I love this girl. This Irish lassie had me from the auditions and she knocked "Crazy On You" out of the park two weeks ago. She's easily one of the top 2-3 female vocalists and unlike most of her competitions-- can sing a wide variety of genres. Smithson has proven herself as a solid rock/pop vocalist thus far... I'd love to hear her take on soul and blues.
Kristy Lee Cook "Faithfully" Cook comes at us with a slightly country-fried version of a Journey classic...and I decide to take out the trash, I'm so bored. Kristy Lee is one of that pack of attractive yet forgettable blonde girls that have made it on the show this year. Maybe the "country" aspect defined her a bit, but I just didn't find it interesting at all. The judges were talking about how to package it as a single, but if I heard it on the radio, I'd be like, "next!"
Ramiele Mulabay "Against All Odds" Seriously, it's starting to sound like LITE-FM in here. IT'S 80'S NIGHT! And you're a young, cute girl! So... start acting like it! Mulabay has impressive vocal chops-- I put her up there with Carly Smithson and Brooke White-- but what is she doing picking something this... stale? Song choice, people, song choice! It's really too bad she fell short this week because I think it will cost her a spot in the Top 12.
Brooke White "Love is a Battlefield" Brooke White (left) is another contestant that impresses me week after week. Our resident earthy guitar-playing chick, White is never content to go with the traditional, recorded version of a song. She constantly changes it up, like she did here, singing an up-tempo, stylized 80's number accompanied only by acoustic guitar. White's varied musical background is always reflected in her performances--there's nothing "karaoke" or "cabaret" about this girl at all. She's clearly a frontrunner among the girls and should sail into the Top 12.
Syesha Mercado "Saving All My Love for You" OMG... another Whitney song? Do these girls ever learn? Syesha is probably the only one that has a big enough voice to handle Whitney/ Celine/Mariah/etc., but that doesn't mean she should set herself up to be compared to those artists, like she did tonight. Like the judges said, it was "good, but predictable"-- but is it enough for her to squeak through?
Luke Menard "Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go" I just don't see this guy in pop music. In a Vegas show or in the Broadway company of "Beauty and the Beast," sure. I'm not saying the guy should hang it up and get a job as a Dealertainer, he's definitely talented and has a great voice. I'm just not seeing a great artist here. But definitely, definitely go and audition for Les Mis. Or maybe The Producers.
David Archuletta "Another Day in Paradise" Another solid performance from this year's Idol Boy Wonder. Props for playing piano on it too. I didn't dig it as much as I did last week's much-lauded rendition of "Imagine" but this kid will be a front-runner in this competition for weeks to come. Cowell even acknowledged that we'll likely see Archuletta "in the final two."
Danny Noriega "Tainted Love" Danny Noriega (right) is so very very young. And so very very gay. Like, the audience needs flame-retardant vests gay. And he's doing nothing to hide it whatsover-- major props to Danny for being so confident and self-assured at such a young age! And props to him for at least attempting to re-think the arrangement of the song and taking a risk to make it his own. But that said...it was a disaster. Every growling, hip-swiveling moment of it. Just wasn't my thing... or the judges' either. But make no mistakes, Noriega has a young, thriving fan base. He'll be back next week fo sho. Do we have this year's Sanjaya?
David Hernandez "It's All Coming Back to Me Now" OK, now the guys are going for Celine songs. Seriously, it's your funeral. Though, of all the "big" songs this week, Hernandez's rendition was probably the most successful. Though he struggled on some of the lower passages, the money notes were just that.
But that's not what people were thinking about while Hernandez sang. They were thinking "OMG! That's the one that was a male stripper in Phoenix!"
It's true-- Hernandez danced for three years at an all-male totally nude cabaret with a mostly gay male clientele. And yet... he's still on the show. And staying on the show, according to FOX. OK, so last year, Antonella Barba has naughty pictures discovered on the internet... and she gets to stay. Hernandez is a confirmed stripper... and he gets to stay. But Frenchie Davis shows her boobies on the 'net to help pay for college and gets thrown off for fear of not being a proper role model? Now that's a serious double standard.
Michael Johns "Don't You (Forget About Me)" There's something about dreamy Aussie tennis aficionado Michael Johns. He's not the best male vocalist in the competition, he's not the most original performer, and though he always makes smart song choices, they're not always the most interesting picks. But still, I enjoy him, the way he attacks a song, his formidable presence onstage tempered with his obvious good looks. Even so, Johns is probably better suited for singing in a cover act or a bar band. Like, a really good bar band... but a bar band. Whatever, he's still dreamy.
David Cook "Hello" Even Lionel Ritchie himself gushed over Cook's rock rendition of his hit song. When I talk about separating from the pack, about putting a stamp on the song, this is exactly what I'm referring to. Though Middle America may be drooling all over David Archuletta, Cook is my favorite among the guys. Like Randy said, this version of the song could be a hit single on the radio tomorrow. And isn't that what the competition is all about?
Jason Castro "Halleluljah" The Jeff Buckley version of this Leonard Cohen tune is one of my favorite songs of all time. And I'm happy to report that dreadlocks-boy did it justice. Though he's been accompanying himself on acoustic guitar the last few weeks, he put it down tonight and let everyone focus on his vocals. Good move, and great song choice. He's one to watch for sure.
Chikezie "All the (Woman) That I Need" Seriously, who told these kids it was Whitney week? Chikezie can sing, but this was an unfortunate song choice for him. Yeah, he hit all the notes, it sounded OK, but it was totally forgettable in a week where it's imperative to stand out. When you've got David Cook, David Archuletta, and even Danny Noriega re-arranging their songs... Chikezie needs to pop out with something really dramatic in order to go much further in the competition.
My predictions for the week: Kady Malloy and Ramiele Mulabay will bite the dust amongst the ladies, while Luke Menard and Stripper Boy will be dunzo for the guys.
Tune in tonight for the results!