Thursday, May 21, 2009

Kris Allen's Greatest Hits

Congrats to Kris Allen...I'm extremely happy for him, and for Adam as well, because they are both going to be big stars and I'm very excited to see what kind of albums they put out.

I'll say this, though...the difference between where Kris and Adam are right now with regard to stage presence and "rock star"-ness was pretty apparent last night. When Kris was performing with Keith Urban, I remarked to my wife that you could tell which one of them was the "Star" and which one wasn't...Keith was performing like a star, while Kris was just standing there playing and singing, and generally acted like the backup singer the whole time. Then Adam came out and performed with the one of the most over-the-top, bigger than life Rock Icons of all time (KISS), and the whole time he was up there, he looked like the biggest star on that stage, and carried himself like it. Simon was right (as usual)...if the point of the competition is to find a world-wide superstar, then that was accomplished, no matter who actually won the show.

Thought it might be interesting to go back and see what I said about each of Kris's performances...the first one is the most ironic now, and just goes to show how little I really know.

Top 36:
6) Kris Allen - "Man in the Mirror": Never seen this person before in my life. Much like....umm...(Ricky? I think?)...last week, he has now passed through my subconcious, never to be remembered fully again.

I will say this, just as an aside...Michael Jackson is a better vocalist than he gets credit for, in my opinion. His songs are much more difficult to sing than you might think, to the point where I would almost put him in that "untouchable" category where you only sing one of his songs if you know you can NAIL it.

Kris sang it OK, and seems like a nice guy and all, but I don't see him gaining enough of an audience with that performance.

Top 13:
6) Kris Allen: "Remember the Time" - Let me say this first...those two are going to produce some gorgeous children.I'm not sure why he played his guitar on this one...we couldn't even hear it, and I don't think a guitar really fits on this song. It's like he really wanted to do this song, and he REALLY wanted to play his guitar, so he just stuck them together.

Couple of pitch problems on the bridge part, but overall a nice performance... one of those where he's probably not going to lose any of the people who voted for him before, but he probably didn't really make any new fans, either. I think he's going to stick around for a couple of weeks, but he has a definite "ceiling"...probably around top 10 or so.

Oh, and I think the RandyBot malfunctioned, based on his critique to Kris: "Very well job done, Baby." May need some re-wiring...I think a couple of the words got crossed up.

Top 11:
3) Kris Allen - "To Make You Feel My Love": My first thought was that it made no sense to me that he used the guitar LAST week, and then chose not to use it on this one...but I ended up loving the arrangement, so what do I know?

This was really a lovely vocal performance. The only problem I had with it had nothing to do with Kris...why do the sound people insist on putting the annoying re-verb on all of the ballads? The echo effect was distracting, and it sounds bush-league. But that's not his fault, and he did a great job. This was a perfect song choice for him, and he sang it well.

Top 10:
2) Kris Allen - "How Sweet it Is": Kris shows up ready to FIGHT! in his vintage army shirt and Daniel Faraday tie.

One thing that confuses me about Kris is his choices as to when to use his guitar. I would not have used the guitar on "Remember the Time," but he did. I thought last week (To Make You Feel My Love) was a great opportunity to use the guitar, but he didn't. This week, he used the guitar again, and once again it is completely overpowered by the rest of the band, so why bother?

As for his performance, it was another very good outing in a very consistent string for him. With this song, it is very easy to fall into an imitation of either Marvin Gaye or (more likely) James Taylor, but Kara was right (finally)...this rendition was very much Kris, and that is a good thing.

Top 9:
9) Kris Allen - "Ain't No Sunshine": OK, here is the problem with Kris, and I'm not exaggerating just to make a point (which I have been known to do, believe it or not): After Adam sang, I was looking at my notes, realized that there had only been 8 performers...and I could not for the life of me remember who was left. It's not his fault...he comes out every week, does a great job, makes good decisions with his song choices and arrangements, and I really enjoy his performance...and then 5 minutes later I completely forget that he exists.

Maybe this week will change that, because THIS was my favorite performance of the night. This is one of my all time favorite songs, so he already had that going for him...but then he sang it beautifully, I was pleasantly surprised at seeing and hearing him on the keyboard, and he did just enough with the arrangement that it didn't come off as an impression of the original. Great, great performance...hopefully I will remember it when it comes time for him to sing again next week.

Top 8:
2) Kris Allen: "All She Wants to Do is Dance" - Again with the guitar you can't hear? I don't get it.

I did not like this song choice, or the arrangement. I guess he felt he needed to go up-tempo? He sang it OK, except that there were several of the high notes in the chorus that he did not quite reach and stayed a little under the pitch.

Randy actually got one right here...the band was distracting. Bad song choice, arranged badly, performed OK. Kris may be in trouble.

Top 7:
6) Kris Allen: "Falling Slowly" - YES. I LOVE this song. I've been known to listen to it 4-5 times in a row. I know, very manly, right? Shut up, this song is beautiful, and I'm only crying cause I stubbed my toe on my weight bench on my way to drop an engine into my pickup truck so I can go shoot some animals and do a bunch of other manly stuff. Ahem.

I thought Kris sang this very well, though he continues to confound me with his choices as to when to play his guitar. Maybe he thought it was too much like the original if he played and sang?

Regardless, it was a nice performance, and the backup singer(s) had one of their few bright spots of the season. I totally disagreed with both Randy and Kara...Randy thought it was pitchy from the start, and Kara thought it was his best moment so far. My thoughts were somewhere in the middle, but I am predisposed to love the song so I may be biased. I will now listen to that song on a loop as I finish this recap.

Top 7 (part 2):
I called in sick this week, but this was the week he did the accoustic version of "She Works Hard For the Money," and I put him in the "Great" category (along with Adam) in my "mini-recap." I think this was the week that I really became EXCITED to see what he was going to do every week.

Top 5:
1) Kris Allen - "The Way You Look Tonight": First, let me say this...Kris was looking very sharp tonight. I'm secure enough in my heterosexuality to point that out (obviously...I blog about AMERICAN IDOL, for Pete's sake).

I love this song, and I thought Kris did a very good job with it...I loved the first part, when he was sending out the crooner vibe. The middle was just OK for me, dawg...I don't like his falsetto voice, and this little R&B part just seemed unnecessary to me. I get what he was doing by trying to change up the original a little, I just didn't really like it all that much. I also think he should not have ended with the falsetto...his falsetto voice is just not strong enough to pull that off.

Despite what this is starting to sound like, I actually did enjoy this...probably in a 2-way tie for my second favorite of the night. I just would have enjoyed it more if he had sang it straight, but that's probably going to be the way I feel about everybody since I love this style of music and think these songs are some of the most beautiful ever written.

Top 4:
3) Kris Allen/Danny Gokey - "Renegade": And here we go with the pointless duets. Seriously, what is the point in this? I can see doing this on the finale, but we're not supposed to be voting on who can handle a duet best, are we? the spirit of fairness, I actually watched Adam and Allison's duet first. So this one had a lot to live up to. And...they didn't. Their harmonies start out OK, and they end OK, but the middle was a hot mess. Kris was cracking all over the place, and they are both trying to do too much riffing, which causes the harmonies to get screwed up. Also, they look VERY uncomfortable...again, in fairness, you can maybe chalk that up to them not having a dress rehearsal due to the stage malfunction, but that didn't seem to affect Adam and Allison.

After the performance and the judges' commentary, Kris looked TICKED, didn't he? He was kind of having a bad night...first, he has to perform with Gokey, then he doesn't get to rehearse, then they schedule him to sing his solo RIGHT after this (which is really unfair), then Simon throws him under the Danny Bus.

And what exactly was Danny complaining about after the performance? Dude, shut up. EVERYBODY is dealing with the same crap tonight. Stop making everything about you, as usual. This is when the anti-Danny anger really started boiling over, in case you're wondering.

4) Kris Allen - "Come Together": You know, if we had not already heard Adam and Allison, I probably would have liked this more. I REALLY liked the arrangement, which considering that I am a Beatles fanatic is saying something. I actually think it would have sounded better as an acoustic version, but he probably couldn't get away with going unplugged on Rock Week. Again, I think he took a good song and tweaked it just enough that it was a "Kris Allen" performance rather than a copy. I liked it. He still looks like a chimp, though.

Top 3:
2) Kris Allen - "Apologize": First of all, I did not like this song choice for him at all. His falsetto is the weakest part of his voice, in my opinion, and the chorus of this song is almost all falsetto. He sounds pretty good, anyway, especially when he does the last chorus and comes out of his falsetto a little. More than anything, Kris always sounds current, and this was really no exception. He also seems genuine, which is more than I can say for OTHER contestants. Well, actually ONE other contestant.

I really had high hopes for Kara after the early part of the season, but she is dead to me at this point. I can see her point to Simon, that they expected him to change the song up a little, but then why pick the song and then blast him for just singing it? Why not pick a song that ALREADY sounds like what you want him to do? That's like asking him to cook you a steak, but instead of handing him a NY strip, you bring him a cow. Yeah, he could turn that into a steak, but why make him do all the work? I thought the point of the judges choice was to pick a song that the judges think fits the contestant as an artist. So if you don't WANT him to sound like One Republic, why hand him a One Republic song? Ugh.

5) Kris Allen - "Heartless": FINALLY, a performance that I really enjoyed. Totally re-imagined the song, but in a simple and scaled back way...very Kris Allen of him. Although I think Adam may be the greatest overall performer this show has ever seen, it's going to be Kris's album that I am most likely to buy, just because he sings my kind of music. This was by far the best of the night, in my opinion. I would buy this TODAY.

One more thing about Kara, then I'll shut up about her....she actually asked him why he didn't do that with "Apologize." Well, moron, it's because he was already planning on doing this arrangement and didn't want to do the same thing twice in one show, and plus he was under the mistaken impression that you asked him to sing "Apologize" because you thought he would sound good singing it. Idiot.

Top 2:
2) Kris Allen - "Ain't No Sunshine": Another great choice, as this was also my favorite of his from this past season. This is what I'm talking about when I say that although Adam is maybe the most talented contestant this show has ever seen, and he probably deserves to win, the first album I will probably buy from this season's cast is Kris's. Love the arrangement, love his treatment of the song. This is one of my top 2-3 favorite performances of the whole season.

4) Kris Allen - "What's Goin' On": I didn't think this was a great song choice for him by Simon Fuller, but I liked what he did with it. He pulled out the congo and accoustic arrangement that he used previously on "She Works Hard For The Money," and I thought it worked here, as well. Vocally, he's not in Adam's ballpark, but I really enjoy how he arranges songs and manages to twist something that we have heard a gazillion times, like this one, and turn it into something "relevant," as Simon would say.

6) Kris Allen - "No Boundaries": Yeah, this wasn't very good, but I'm not putting the blame for that at his feet. This song does not fit his style AT ALL, and it's too high for him, as well. I think it was probably written with their Golden Two (Lambert and Gokey) in mind. The less said about this, the better.

And of course, I'm going to redeem myself a LITTLE bit...this from the recap of the last performance show:
I would honestly be happy with either of these two as the winner. Like I said, Adam probably deserves based on the fact that he has turned in consistent jaw-dropping performances, and has done things on this show that we've never seen before. But part of me actually wants Kris to win, just because I think he needs it more...Adam is going to be fine at this point, from a career perspective, no matter what, but Kris may need that extra push that being the American Idol WINNER brings.

Tonight should be fun, and VERY interesting. I think most of Danny's votes probably went to Kris, for reasons that I have NO interest in discussing. With that in mind, for the last time this season...

Who SHOULD win: Adam
Who WILL win: Kris

And that's OK with me.

1 comment:

Segraves said...

Thanks for all your recaps/opinions this season. I really enjoyed them and I look forward to reading your Season 9 notes in January. Great critiques and pretty accurate even though you missed Kris' "ceiling" by 1 or 2 or 10 spots. :)

Now, on to Bulldog blogging...