Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Soul Train, Idol Style

A Caveat: I like American Idol, especially the part where contestants sing songs and the judges say stuff.

The Top 10 is usually where I start crying and complaining about the length of the show. Two hours is just too much. There is too much space to fill so we get to watch the contestants get hugs after their performances. A couple more blown kisses and a bouquet of roses and we're back in Vancouver. And what's up with Ryan?! Is it me, or has he gotten a lot more annoying over the past few years. I feel like he's become so full of himself that he's trying to dominate the show. He was at his best when he did the Hollywood entertainment news thing: recap the performance, ask a couple of softball questions to keep the show running, and then move on to the numbers. He is not Mike Wallace. No need for "tough questions." He's Casey Kasem. Just count it down Ryan and move on, right Scooby?

There. Complaints gone. For now.

I usually like R&B week because I grew up listening to a lot of that kind of music. I was a little disappointed in some of the song choices, but there were enough really good performances that I was entertained in the end. I liked Usher as a mentor. He has serious street cred so the mentoring process meant something this week. You can decide for yourself what this means about last week's mentor. I will also say this: enough with "The Moment." A "Moment" happens by chance. That's what makes it special. The more a contestant tries to manufacture one, and the harder the judges push for one, the more ridiculous it gets each week. Let the poor singers be and see what happens. Like Ron Popeil always says, "Set it and forget it."

Siobhan Magnus: She decided to get into the whole soul thing by channeling her inner Apollo Creed. Or maybe she was going for Clubber Lang. Either way, I think those boots were the opposite of what Usher was talking about. Also, Simon read my mind. I've been tired of the screeching thing for a while. Siobhan is a better singer and performer than that. She doesn't need to trademark the higher octave to be legit.

Casey James: Like he said in his package, Casey was in good position this week. He's a genuine blues artist so he should have felt comfortable. He played well, seemed to fit the part, and looked very comfortable on stage. I'm wondering if there will be an Usher/James collaboration on a future album.

Michael Lynche: "Ruben with Moves" is now "Ruben with Guitar." Michael is a true R&B artist, like the guys I used to listen to. He is in tune. There is no gimmick to his performance. He's just a guy with a good voice who can reach out to people. I don't know if he is the next American Idol or not, but I definitely see him having longevity if he keeps this up. (An aside: add some Jehri curls and he looks like the guy hosting this show. I was waiting for him to interrupt the judges with a little refrain.)

Didi Benami: First of all, I hate it when contestants try to excuse their performances by saying, "I'm not a (fill in the genre) singer." It may be true, but it's no excuse for a lackluster performance. Didi just picked a bad song and her voice didn't fit it at all. The judges were right: she is so far from her authentic self as a performer that it's uncomfortable to watch. I did feel badly that Ryan kept pestering the poor girl. Obviously she's had a difficult experience she'd like to keep out of the spotlight. Dude, this is not some exposé. This is a talent show created for the teen demographic. Chill.

Tim Urban: I wish Facebook had a "Don't Like This" option on status messages. I also wish there was a line to call to vote "No" on Tim. He's smiling because he's been playing with house money ever since Ken Warwick made that awkwardly staged phone call to invite Tim to be a replacement on the Top 24 show. The judges already tried to get rid of him once and failed. Now it's America's turn. He seems like a nice guy having fun. That's fine. He's just not even close to belonging on American Idol. He was out of tune (despite the judges' comments otherwise), drowned out by the band, and hopelessly white. You can't teach soul--either you've got it or you don't. Tim is more of an Osmond kind of performer. He'd be rock-and-roll, I guess.

Andrew Garcia: If I were advising Andrew, I would have told him to keep playing the acoustic guitar until the people don't vote you back. He is obviously comfortable behind it. He has a great sense of style. He isn't a perfect singer, but he has great creativity. The judges nearly ruined him with all of that "where's your moment" and "we loved you when you played 'Straight Up'" crap. This week was awesome and his smile toward the end was proof that he felt it, too. I hope this helps him rebound and stick around for a while.

Katie Stevens: If the judges can't sort you out, where does that leave you? Apparently Katie isn't really listening anyway. I'd tend to trust Simon a bit more than Kara, but in the end who really cares? Katie is a little boring, a little arrogant, and not quite all that and a bag of chips. She's more of a half-bag of pretzels. Picking Aretha Franklin was a bit on the nose for me as well. I don't expect contestants to drastically change from week to week, but I think she already did Aretha. Switch it up a little. Please.

Lee Dewyze: Lee always looks like the sight of his shadow could make him run the opposite direction. He is a total ball of nerves ready to unravel. He is awesome, though. I love to hear him because he seems to understand who he is and what kinds of songs he should sing. His guitar playing is so good and I love the voicings he uses on the chords. It makes his arrangements so much more interesting. About halfway through the song tonight I think he started to realize how good he is. Usher pouring on the praise probably didn't hurt, either. He's one of the two or three relevant contestants in this group so I hope he does well. Early in the show when Ryan asked who people were cheering for I heard a lot of "Lee" in the crowd. Sure, his name just carries better than say, Siobhan, but I'm choosing to view it as an omen of things to come.

Crystal Bowersox: Crystal is by far the most "ready" contestant of the bunch. I get why she ditched the guitar and noodled around on the piano, but like Simon said, she can just do her thing each week and be confident that it is the right decision. Who in his right mind would have ever told B.B. King to lose the guitar? Crystal is a guitar-playing fool and should keep playing it every week. Most of the time when contestants try to "mix it up" for the judges it doesn't work very well. So Crystal, no more guitar-less performances. Also, this is one of my very favorite R&B songs so I was expecting a whole lot more from Crystal. Great song choice, so-so result.

Aaron Kelly: My adjective for Aaron is "adequate." He's better than some and worse than some. He's a nice kid with a good voice. He apparently didn't understand what Usher was saying about "I know. I know. I know." because I felt like he was reading me the 10-day forecast at that point in the song (apparently he "don't know"), but I've heard worse performances in my lifetime. This song is so great that I was quite disappointed in the end result. Plus, Kris Allen did such a phenomenal job that it was hard for me to get on board the Aaron bandwagon.

Bottom 3: Tim, Didi, Andrew (not that I think he deserves it)
Riding the Soul Train Home: Tim (please let it be Tim . . .)


Boquinha said...

Ha! That's so funny. We both mentioned the Olympics and didn't even mention it as we watched. We are so cute. :)

Jimmy said...

I missed more than half the show, but I agree with your comments about the guitar playing fool. That she is. She should embrace it.