Thursday, March 6, 2008

American Idol Top 8 Girls
Playing Catch Up With the Guys

When the semifinals began, we felt there were more talented girls than guys. As the season has progressed, we've done a 180, now that the wheat has been separated from the chaff. If the field is winnowed down to the correct Top 12, we think there will be more amazing performances by the men than from the women. Perhaps because two of the men -- David Cook and Jason Castro -- have already performed memorable standout performances. For those who want to include David Archuleta's rendition of "Imagine," go right ahead, but, personally, we didn't like it. But we have been hearing Jason Castro singing "Hallelujah" in our head since Tuesday night. And David Cook's take on Lionel Richie's "Hello" was different and amazing. We've heard some good voices from the ladies, but, as yet, we haven't seen that grade of performance from them. Perhaps the closest was Brooke White's arrangement of Pat Benatar's "Love Is a Battlefield." It was daring and different, but we didn't get the same chills we got watching Cook and Castro perform. But we give kudos to White, who perhaps has the most winning personality of any of this year's contestants, for trying to break away from her normally bland white bread performances.

The first up Wednesday night was Asia'h Epperson. She said her most embarrassing moment was when she skated into a set light while she was an extra in a rollerskating movie. Her version of Whitney Houston's "I Wanna Dance With Somebody" was peppy, fun and upbeat. Asia'h has a great (if sad) back story, but her voice is just a bit too raspy for our taste. It keeps her from completing the money notes in a song. But, like Brooke, she has an engaging personality and it might carry her all the way through to the Top 12. Randy Jackson, after giving himself credit for recording the song with Houston, called it a tall order but said that Asia'h proved that she deserved to be there, praising her with, "That was hot!" Paula Abdul said that she wondered whether Asia'h could pull off the big song, but then told her that she nailed it. Simon Cowell said, "At best, it was second-rate Whitney Houston." Asia'h answered him with she'd be glad to take second-rate Whitney. Simon continued with "You couldn't hit the big notes at the end" but added, "I think that was good enough to make the Top 12."

Watch video of Asia'h Epperson singing "I Wanna to Dance With Somebody" by Whitney Houston:

Realizing how close she came to elimination last week, Kady Malloy had to deliver a gangbuster performance this week. Unfortunately, she didn't. About the only sure things on tonight's show are that she and Luke Menard will exit. Kady said her most embarrassing moment was during her 9th-grade talent-show audition. She not only killed (in a bad way) Christina Aguilera's "Beautiful," she also tripped over the microphone cord and brought down the whole sound system. Her version was Queen's "Who Wants to Live Forever" was not necessarily horrible, but it was barely recognizable (And why do contestants who are about to be eliminated uncannily choose appropriate song titles the week they get the axe?). Even though we know she has a great voice, we're beginning to agree with Simon's assessment that her performances are robotic and lack personality (of course, we said the same thing about Carrie Underwood as we rooted for Bo Bice all during Season 4, so what do we know?). It's like she's somewhere in her head while she's singing. She has zero emotional contact with the audience. Randy used his tiresome "very interesting song choice" comment and told Kady that she did a pretty good job and hit the big notes really well. Paula called it Kady's best performance, saying she liked the tenderness of Kady's voice, "because it's really beautiful." Simon said "It was definitely better than last week. I'm still having issues with your massive lack of personality, though. You're like a robot when you sing, I just can't get anything out of you," adding "so you may be in trouble." She definitely is.

Watch video of Kady Malloy singing "Who Wants To Live Forever" by Queen:

We were anxious to see whether Amanda Overmyer could repair the damage she did to herself last week. We hoped she had realized that she both looked and sounded monsterous during '70s week. In her video, she said she had burnt down the deck and pool area in her backyard. (Between that and her car wrecks, we think we'll stay far away from her.) With toned down hair and makeup, she rocked the house with her marvelous rendition of Joan Jett's "I Hate Myself for Loving You." It was the perfect song choice for her gravelly voice. But she looked really uncomfortable and ill at ease after her performance. She barely looked up and wouldn't smile, in spite of the glowing reviews she was getting. A friend of ours noted more than a week ago that she acts as if she wants to be eliminated. Perhaps that's true. The crazy grind the contestants are put through is not for everyone. Randy said, "That's the Amanda that we loved when we first saw her. She's the bluesy rocker chick. That's the kind of songs she should be singing. That's who you really, really are. Well done." Paula complimented her on her appearance, then said, "When you pick the right song, you've found your niche and this is who we fell in love with." When Simon started with, "If I'm being honest," we cringed. But he followed through with, "I thought it was fantastic. I thought you absolutely nailed that song. It was the perfect song for you, and actually, in a way, it was one of my favorite girl performances of the entire part of this competition," adding "It was great. Well done."

Watch video of Amanda Overmyer singing "I Hate Myself For Loving You" by Joan Jett:

Carly Smithson is nothing if not dependable. She brings top-notch vocals to every performance. So much so, that sometimes it becomes a bit boring. Her most embarrassing moment was when she got her leg stuck in the railing at a bar and her friend had to grease it up with butter, oil and bathroom soap to get it free. A new hairstyle and less makeup softened her normally harsh and intense look, making her more attractive than in previous weeks. She made no missteps with her version of "I Drove All Night," soaring as she revved up her vocals. Still, as Simon might say, she still hasn't had her "moment" on the show. For us, the closest she came was when she sang "The Shadow of Your Smile" during '60s week. Randy told her that she keeps smashing it every week. He said he loved it and that it was another great performance. Paula said, "You are like the dependable dog," then fumbled to explain what she meant. Sadly, the most coherent thing she said was, "And by the way, your singing, there aren't enough adjectives." Er, yeah. Simon told Carly that "Once again, I don't think you chose the right song," and that she was a million times better than the song. But when Paula jumped in with, "She could sing the phone book," Simon readily agreed.

Watch video of Carly Smithson singing "I Drove All Night" by Cyndi Lauper:

Next up was Kristy Lee Cook, who said her most embarrassing moment was when she was 7 years old. Apparently she thought she was a dog, walked around on her hands and knees and barked at people. Kristy Lee started the semis pretty shakily and we were sure she would be gone by this point. She has a decent voice, but we thought Alaina Whitaker's was better. Apparently there is something about her that resonates with the public. Is it her "I sold my horse to get to the competition" story? Who knows? She did a respectable, if not earth-shattering, rendition of "Faithfully" by Journey, giving it a slightly country sound. Honestly, we prefer Steve Perry, but it was, as Randy might say, "aight." What Randy did say was, "Two things near and dear to my heart: dogs and Journey." He added that for him, no one will ever sing the song like Steve Perry, but he thought Kristy's country-tinged version could work and be a big single. Paula agreed that the song could be a hit for Kristy in country music. She added, "It would be amazing. You look great tonight and I have nothing but positivity. That's it. You were great." Simon said, "I think it was good that we heard a country influence," but noted that he still felt that Kristy was forgettable and at the best he could only see her coming in tenth. She happily told him, "That's okay with me."

Watch video of Kristy Lee Cook singing "Faithfully" by Journey:

Tiny Ramiele Malubay is so adorable, it's hard not to like her. In the Red Room before her video, a snarky Ryan Seacrest asked her, "Ramiele, you ready to go?" "Yes," she replied. "OK, you should head now," Seacrest said, "Because you've got about 10 seconds to get down there, you've got very short legs and you've got a lot of stairs. ... Careful." In her video, Malubay said her embarrassing moment occurred when she was in 5th grade. She rode her bike to the house of a boy she liked and dropped off a picture of herself. When the boy and his mom came out and saw it, then laughed. Poor Ramiele, she was SOOOOO embarrassed. As for her performance, where early in the season Ramiele exuded incredible confidence with her stunning voice, the past two weeks have been a bit rocky. Wednesday's version of "Against All Odds," not one of our favorite songs, but one that seems to be sung repeatedly by "Idol" contestants -- from George Huff and Scott Savol to Jessica Sierra and Katharine McPhee -- was an odd and inconsistent arrangement that seemed all over the place. As with the earlier "Idol" renditions of it, the song just didn't work. Perhaps the only person who can pull it off successfully is Phil Collins. Randy thought it was a pretty good vocal, but felt that " ... sometimes when I'm watching you sing I can hear you also thinking: should I sing this run, should I let this go. Just go for it. You've got mad vocals." Paula said, "You have such a beautiful face and there's such an innocent pure voice that comes out of you," then began some incoherent babbling, but finally told Ramiele that she deserved to be in the Top 12. Simon said, "Because you're so little and cute, it was good," a statement that makes no sense whatsoever. However, he also thought it was old-fashioned and said he didn't hear that big money note he would have liked. In the end, he proclaimed it a bit predictable and said he wasn't jumping out of his chair over it. Good, neither were we.

Watch video of Ramiele Malubay singing "Against All Odds" by Phil Collins:

Brooke White's most embarrassing moment was at church when she was 12 0r 13. She ran up to her dad and threw her arms around the back of him, only it turned out not to be her father. Brooke's performance this week was a surprise. Although she's always pleasant, she's never exciting, and even verges on dull. In a daring move, she sang a stripped down version of Pat Benatar's "Love Is a Battlefield," accompanied only by acoustic guitar. She sang seated on the edge of the stage and it turned out to be a very effective rendering of the song, not at all like Benatar's. In a word, she made it her own. Randy said he liked it because it allowed him to focus on Brooke's voice. He said he didn't know if she brought anything new to the song (actually, she did, Randy), but noted it was definitely interesting. Paula called it a very wise choice and loved that it was "very, very pure." However, she said she would have preferred if Brooke had incorporated the band more. Simon, totally disagreeing with the final part of Paula's critique, said, "I think it worked purely for the reason that you didn't have the band with you, therefore you did an original take on the song. The song normally would never, ever suit you. You made it into a completely different type of song. And once again, two weeks running, you've done a great performance."

Watch video of Brooke White singing "Love Is a Battlefield" by Pat Benatar:

The pimp spot of the evening should have gone to either Amanda or Brooke, but instead went to Syesha Mercado, whose most embarrassing moment was in the 2nd grade. She wrote a note to a boy she had a crush on and put a piece of strawberry gum in the note. He kept the gum and ratted on her to the teacher. Syesha has an amazing voice and great style, so we wish she hadn't selected a Whitney Houston song. Not that she did anything wrong with "Saving All My Love for You," it's just that she didn't do anything special with it, either. She had a chance to really shine with a better song selection. We're getting bored of everyone trying to prove they can take on Celine Dion or Whitney Houston. There's no shame in doing a great job on a song by a lesser-known singer. In fact, we think it's preferable. As they were running out of time, the judges had about 3 seconds each for their critiques, which resulted in these brief, uninspired remarks: Randy said, "Good. Good." Paula, "Sophisticated. Lovely." Simon, "Bit predictable, but good." Not very helpful, and perhaps because the audience didn't get why they were being so short with Syesha, it could get her eliminated this week. She's in 7th place (out of 8) on DialIdol, and certainly should have been no lower than 5 in the rankings.

Watch video of Syesha Mercado singing "Saving All My Love for You" by Whitney Houston:

Best of the Night: Amanda Overmyer, Brooke White
Worst of the Night: Kady Malloy, Ramiele Malubay

Tonight, Season 6 runner-up Blake Lewis guests singing his new single, "How Many Words."

Watch video of Blake Lewis singing "How Many Words":

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© 2008

1 comment:

The Troll said...

Excellent recap. Yes, the guys are way ahead of the gals this year.

I reveal WHY they ran out of time and couldn't evaluate the last and best contestant at my blog.