When Ryan walked out through that gauntlet of all 24 performers, I gotta tell ya...I was a bit overwhelmed. There are so....many...of them. This is going to be a LONG week. So let’s get to it….
As usual, I’m not gonna spend a lot of time going through what the judges say unless somebody either says something that I totally agree with and hadn’t thought of or somebody says something so ridiculous and egregious that I just have to stop and scream at them for a minute (gee…wonder who THAT would be?).
I will say this…Kara has either been watching another show or was lying through her teeth when she said that we probably know these contestants better than we have in years past. I feel like I have never seen half of these girls .
Theme for this week was…..? I never really figured it out. Ryan said something about the Hot 10 on the Billboard top 100 or something like that, but best as I can tell it was “Any Song From Any Era That You’ve Ever Heard of Ever".
1) Paige Myles – “All Right Now”: Speaking of contestants I have never seen…
I thought this was a good song choice in that it was unexpected. You could definitely see the nerves early, but it got better as it got to the chorus. She went for a big note at the end, and I don’t think she had quite enough to get there, but I’ll bet it sounded decent live. Overall, a passable performance that I will have forgotten about 5 minutes from now .
2) Ashley Rodriguez – “Happy”: Well, she looks fantastic. A few pitch problems on the verse, and….wait, that’s it? That seemed really short to me. There were a couple of times where it felt like it was about to go somewhere, but then…didn’t.
3) Janell Wheeler – “What About Love”: Oh Janell, Janell, Janell….HORRIBLE song choice. You only sing Heart if you have Alison-level pipes, and that is not Janell’s strength. She is overpowered by the song, by the backup singers…dang it. At least she LOOKS great, of course, and if she sticks around I hope she gets back to what she’s good at, which is the sultry Southern girl-next-door type stuff.
4) Lilly Scott – “Fixin’ A Hole”: She started out on my bad side because I read her bio and she says things like “I’m going to revolutionize the mainstream”. Who talks like that? I do think it’s cool that she’s 37 years old and finally getting a chance, though. And she’s a big Beatles fan, as you can tell by the song she chose to sing.
The performance was good…a bold song choice, sung in her very distinctive voice. It was one of those performances that you will either love or hate, but you will definitely remember. I liked it, but her problem is one that I will probably get into a little later (if I remember)…there are LOTS of “quirky, coffee-house singer” females on the show this year. Will they split that vote?
5) Katelyn Epperly – “Oh Darlin”: She really is a gorgeous girl, but Kara was right about the look this week. This is one of my all time favorite Beatles tracks, and it’s a really good “singer’s song”. Her voice sounds good, but you could tell she was nervous, and she tried to hide it by doing what Nigel Lythgoe (from SYTYCD) calls “pulling faces”. I also think she flubbed a couple of words…it’s not supposed to be “I’ll never do you no harm” at the end of every line, but if you’re not familiar with the song you probably wouldn’t notice that. Overall, I think it was a nice performance…nothing great, but I definitely think she sticks around for another week.
6) Haeley Vaughn – “I Wanna Hold Your Hand”: Wow, when did this become Beatles Night? I’m not complaining, just wondering..
You know what? I kind of loved this. Admittedly, her voice was sort of all over the place, but I think it may just be because she’s SIXTEEN!!! (sorry, I channeled Randy there for a minute) and hasn’t really learned “how” to sing yet. I absolutely loved the arrangement. She showed a lot of creativity and musicality, and managed to make what is possibly the most dated of all the Beatles songs into something almost current. I don’t know if I will buy in every single week, but for this week I dug her.
7) Lacey Brown – “Landslide” – Oof. This was not good. HORRIBLE start, and then even when the vocal got better it was just…boring.
And just to address her comments to Simon for a minute…number one, as I went over and over last season, “I love that song” does not equal “I need to sing that song on American Idol." Especially the first week…you need to pick a song that you sound GOOD on. Sorry, Lacey, but this wasn’t it.
Secondly, it WAS boring, just like Simon said it was. Not because it was slow…as you’re going to see in just a few minutes, you can sing a slow song and not be boring.
8) Michelle Delamor – “Falling”: Oh, good grief. As if we haven’t heard this song enough on this show. And Michelle has a nice voice, but she does absolutely nothing to the song to differentiate her from the other 957 times we have heard it. Hate to tell you , Michelle, but this show has progressed past that now.
9) Didi Benami – “The Way I Am”: Loved her interview package…no mention of the dead best friend, which is good. She needs to avoid going to the Gokey place (doesn’t everybody?), and she was refreshingly self-aware of the “Crybaby” tag.
This was a great song for her voice, and I thought she sang it well, though her voice almost went into the Megan Joy thing a couple of times. I agree with what Ellen said (which I did much of the night)…as one song in a set, it would be really great, but there may not have been enough here to be memorable.
And since Simon brought it up in his comments to her, this would be a good place to address one problem I have with their choices of contestants this year. There are too many of these same type female singers in the group…the singer-songwriter type with the quirky tonal quality who you usually find in local coffee shops (or on my MP3 player). I would put Didi, Janell, Lilly, Siobhan, Lacey, and maybe Crystal all in that same genre…that’s half of them! Even if you don’t count Crystal, it’s still basically five of the same type. “Different” is the new “Same".
Simon said she sounded like several of the other girls, but that’s not really her fault. She could have done what Janell did, which is try to sing a big Singer’s Song, but we saw how that worked out, didn’t we?
10) Siobhan Magnus – “Wicked Game”: All right, the more I see of this girl the more I am convinced she was sent here to save us all. First of all, that name is straight out of one of my nerdy SciFi/Fantasy books that I have suddenly gotten hooked on. Then she starts talking and she is just so refreshingly real and interesting. I mean, come on…a glass blowing apprentice? Isn’t that the coolest job that any of our semifinalists have ever had? Sure beats Kellie Pickler’s waitress-on-wheels out of the water, I’ll tell you that. Anyway, I am really starting to love her, if you can’t tell.
And this performance certainly doesn’t hurt. From a technical perspective, this was probably the most impressive performance I heard all night. She starts out in this really low register, where it is MUCH harder to sing. It’s very difficult to sing that low and maintain good breath support, tone, pitch, etc. But she NAILS every note. And then when it goes into the falsetto on the chorus, she just effortlessly switches registers with no breaks, no faults on the pitch…just really gorgeous. See, Lacey, you CAN sing a slow song and not be boring.
And THEN…Randy finally pushed me over the edge enough that I have to address it. HOW…HOW is he qualified to talk about singing? His fascination with big notes just shows how little he actually knows about the subject. Look, I’ve done a little singing in my time…if you have the range to hit higher notes, then the “big notes” are the EASIEST ones to sing, because you don’t really have to worry so much about control, or support…you can just rear back and BELT it. The truly great singers are the ones who can master the subtle parts, the nuance of a melody…not just “BLOW IT OUT”, like Randy likes to talk about all the time. What a useless, pointless person.
11) Crystal Bowersox – “Hand in My Pocket”: What can you say about this? The girl is just a pro, plain and simple. I truly don’t know if that’s going to help her or hurt her in the competition, because she almost makes it look TOO effortless. I do agree with what Simon said to her, though…this was good, but it was very “sound-alike”.
Here is her problem…she really doesn’t watch this show. I believe her when she says that. And she is used to doing her OWN stuff, which means she doesn’t have to worry about “making a song her own”…it is ALREADY her own. So I don’t think she has much experience taking somebody else’s song and rearranging it in a way that is unique and fits her voice, which is more and more what this show is starting to be about (which is a good thing, by the way). She will definitely be around for a few weeks, and I am VERY interested in seeing how she adjusts to that. I know she has the talent…I’m just curious as to whether she’s going to have the patience and wherewithal to use those talents in this very specific way.
12) Katie Stevens – “Feeling Good”: Ugh…I am so sick of this song. Just like that song Michelle did, it is almost impossible to do this song and not sound EXACTLY like everybody else who does it.
Which is precisely what happens her. Her voice is great, don’t get me wrong. But this is not memorable in any way. Not for me, anyway. She is another one who I think is going to stick around based solely on the audience’s familiarity with her, but she is going to have to bring more to the table than that.
Overall, this was a fairly entertaining show…the problem was that, in my opinion, there were no truly GREAT performances, nor were there any truly HORRIFIC performances. WAY too many of them fell into the “Good, but Boring” category: Paige, Ashley, Katelyn, Michelle, Didi, Katie. Then you had a couple (Janell, Lacey) in the “Why in the World Would You Pick THAT Song” category. The rest are my Top 4 for the night. Combine that with the fact that, as mentioned, so many of the contestants are so similar, and I REALLY don’t have a clue as to who is in trouble. Other than Crystal and Katie, nobody else would truly shock me if they went home.
My Top 4:
Who SHOULD go home: Lacey and Paige
Who WILL go home: Since I don’t have a clue, I’m sticking with Lacey and Paige.
One more quick note…I really thought Ellen did a great job. She seems like she is going to be more of the “voice of the fan”. A lot of her comments tonight were along the lines of “I don’t know about all the technical singing parts, but I know I did/did not like it”. She was pretty easy on them tonight, but again…I don’t think anybody really warranted any over the top praise OR criticism, so I thought her tone matched the performances.
Geez…I have 12 more of these to do tomorrow? Can we just start eliminating 8 people a week?