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Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Idol Eyes: The Finale

Ugh. They covered R.E.M. and Patty Griffin?

I can't. I'm sorry, I can't even describe how disappointed I am. I just felt like they weren't ready. Not good.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Idol Eyes: Top 3

Mighty Casey has . . . 
Three left. Penultimate show. We're getting short and sweet here.

Casey James
Okay, It's Alright With Me
At this point, the judges are completely extraneous. I mean, they are always kind of needless on this show because, aside from the one save they get to use, they have no vote. I don't really think that many people take the judges' feedback into account when they vote other than as a motivator when they disagree with the reviews. I think they might be right that the song was forgettable, and it fizzled out in a way that left the audience unaware of their cue to clap. But I did think the song suited Casey. It sounded cool. It wasn't annoying.

Kara doesn't read my blog, because she thinks Casey's audience is women and girls. That's cool. Casey sounds like he's intentionally trying not to sound like John Mayer. Unfortunately, it very closely resembled Mayer's live performances: stilted, detached, and full of weird guitar faces. I wanted the song to be over very shortly after it started. Things don't look good for Casey. Casey, on the other hand . . .

Crystal Bowersox
Come to My Window
This was a much bigger misstep than what Casey did. Crystal finally exposed herself as a mini-version of Melissa Etheridge. But she is, compared to the original, definitely mini. She doesn't have Etheridgian power, and all that song did was make the gap all the clearer for us. Not good. Not awful, but nothing to remember.

Maybe I'm Amazed
Crystal has sung two of my favorite sing-along songs this year: "Midnight Train to Georgia," and this. She did much better with Gladys. The pace of the song was all wrong. I'm not sure she got the lyrics right, and her transition into falsetto was iffy at best. That just doesn't make me want to vote for her. Crystal has backed into the finale.

Lee DeWyze
Simple Man
Lee seems to understand increasingly well what it means to build toward a climactic moment in a song, and he did that pretty well on this song. He also took a big vocal risk at said climactic moment and pulled it off pretty well. I really didn't expect this much from Lee. He's having a David Cook type season with less artistry and more aw shucks.

He didn't sing it as a polka? Darn. No bagpipes? Oh, but hey, the Pointer Sisters, the Pips, the Winans, and Whitney Houston circa '97. That was all kinds of wow. Probably the most explosive performance of that song I've heard. I don't know if explosive is what everyone wants out of that song, but it was pretty much vocal C4.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Idol Eyes: the Final Four

Batman Forever. Free Willy. The Graduate. Caddyshack. The movies that changed our lives.
I'm so ready for this season to be over. It hasn't been the worst bunch of singers ever, but it's hard to remember many of the performances. But we're at the point in the show when they have to do something special to advance. Unless, you know, they all keep serving up the mediocre stuff. Hopefully Jamie Foxx can repeat his inspiring mentor work from last season, but the summer-camp t-shirt gimmick doesn't fill me with excitement.

Lee DeWyze
You ain't never gonna win nothing singing Seal. You ain't never gonna win nothing singing songs from the Batman soundtracks. And you ain't never gonna win nothing singing out of tune. That was not good. It ended well, but mostly I was just glad that it ended. Oh dear, Lee, it's a bad time to lay your first real dud.

Michael Lynche
The Michael Jackson songbook is a lot more impressive than Seal, but we just can't leave the ocean mammals or the cheesy 90s movies behind. Free Willy? That said, I love this song (big shocker) but not the performance. It wasn't bad. He sang well. But it was very . . . yawny.

Lee & Crystal
"Falling Slowly" is pretty much the perfect song for these two. I don't know how much this duet business will count in people's minds and phoning habits, but if it carries any weight that's real good news for the both of them. That was cool.

Casey James
The I less-than-three Casey jokes pretty much write themselves at this point as he sings the signature song from The Graduate, so let's just sail right past all of them. Strictly musically speaking, he pretty much kicked the lemonhead out of that Simon & Garfunkel tune, and I genuinely loved it. But it wasn't the biggest vocal challenge in the world, which is kind of a big deal at this juncture. Not a big song. Not a big guitar. But it was a great song.

Crystal Bowersox
Caddyshack? Tell me Crystal isn't pinning her American Idol hopes on Kenny Loggins. Please. Tell me that, people. Tell me she isn't taking on the king of the soundtracks. . . . I'm waiting. Well, the song has started. "I'm Alright" is playing, and it's coming from the mild rasp of Crystal's larynx, so I have to assume there are no announcements coming from you. Oh, hey, she sounded good. Great, actually. But that was Caddyshack. Cinderella story, out of nowhere? Hmm . . .

Casey & Mike
Casey singing Bryan Adams is right down his alley. Michael's in a completely different alley, so it was pretty darn surprising to see the intersection of their disparate alleys work so well. It was pretty cool. Not mind-blowing, but cool.

I have no idea who's going home, so I didn't even bother doing odds for them. Gun to my head, I'd say Mike, but all of them deserve to advance yet none of them have done so well as to shock me by their dismissals.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Idol (Old Blue) Eyes

Might be the end of the line for Casey's choo-choo of soft-focus glory.
Harry Connick Jr. might be the coolest guy alive. But Harry, like Sinatra was to a greater degree, is inimitable. So doing the songs of Sinatra is the artistic equivalent of what a vocal challenge it would be to have Whitney Houston night. Having him arrange the songs and performing behind them is awesome, but I'm not optimistic (partially because Jim warned me in advance) that they'll be able to pull it off.

Still, this show is supposed to reveal who's got it and who doesn't. This should be informative if not entertaining.

Aaron Kelly
Aaron looks good dressed like a grown up. (When a critique starts with comments on your looks, AI performers, you shouldn't take that as a good sign, but this time it's not all bad.) I gotta say, the look helped sell the sound. The song exposed Aaron's weaknesses, most notably his lack of confidence, but I think it also revealed a lot of potential. The big problem though is that the top 5 isn't about potential; you're supposed to have realized it by now.
Odds of Going Home: 5 to 1

Casey James
Casey started shaky, finished strong. He was nowhere near as bad as the judges made it sound. To me, it sounded like Casey was just a few rehearsals away from perfecting that song, but according to Harry he was a rehearsal too early with his best work.
Odds of Going Home: 4 to 1

Crystal Bowersox
Crystal looked good too. Kara liked Crystal's phrasing, which was the very worst part of this performance. She was lost under the beat, she swallowed the key words in every phrase, and she lacked any lyrical continuity whatsoever. Crystal's still great, but that wasn't.
Odds of Going Home: 6 to 1

Michael Lynche
"The Way You Look Tonight," really is the perfect song. Michael didn't sing it perfectly, but he did it very well. He's also the very coolest of the performers, as Ellen alluded to it. And he wore the heck out of that hat. This week really played into Mike's giant hands, because this is not completely his sound, but it's closer for him than anybody. Except . . .
Odds of Going Home: 5 to 1

Lee DeWyze
Lee killed it. He really did. That drew applause from my wife. It sounded like if Michael Buble had testosterone. His "That's Life" just sounded real and natural and cool. The scary thing is, he's probably gotten better every week, which is a very bad sign for everybody else.
Odds of Going Home: Daughtry to 1

Now I'm nervous.