I got home tonight at exactly 8:00, sweaty from my power walk from the subway. It’s going to be a race against the clock every week! My roommate announced that tonight’s theme is No Doubt songs and songs that inspire Gwen Stefani. That narrows it down a bit from the vast and elusive theme of pop with a capital P.
Also, my predictions are 2 for 2. We said goodbye to Stephanie last week.
LaKisha started the show with Donna Summers’ “Last Dance.” Gwen announced after her rehearsal she was sweaty and that she should be seeking advice from her. That made me a little weepy. LaKisha pronounces the word “bad” “bah-eed.” Is she from the South? I don’t know about this performance. I thought the arrangement of it was odd. She looked great though, and Simon says she’s thirty years younger this week. I don’t think it was her best. She seemed tired. But I’m sure she’s safe.
Chris Sligh is next. His hair just keeps getting longer. And he says he’s concentrating on losing weight (in interviews), but I just don’t see it yet. In fact, he might be bigger. He’s singing “Every Little Thing She Does is Magic”; (I love this song). Gwen advises him to concentrate on the beat. He’s bouncing with it to keep himself on track. I want him to be doing better than he is in the competition. I do love his voice, but he has definitely done better. Paula looks nice tonight. She says is losing the rhythm is an “eyesore”? I don’t think that’s what she meant, and I don’t think the judges like Chris anymore. I agree with Simon that with no other proof of Chris’s talent this performance would have left me unimpressed. I’m sure his fan base is strong enough that he’s safe, and there are certainly lesser singers left to sing tonight.
Gina’s next and she’s crying about Gwen. I would have also, girl. Ooooh, and she’s singing “I’ll Stand by You.” Great song. This is a good choice for her, a good niche, even. She’s so Kelly Clarkson sometimes. This was definitely one of her strongest performances. I was moved. She might go further than some people think. How exciting for her that on a week where she meets one of her idols, she does really well during the performance. I’m sure it’s not a coincidence.
I wonder if there’s any strategy to putting Sanjaya and Haley together in the middle of the show. Maybe the producers figure that’s when people take their smoke breaks or something. Sanjaya is singing “Bath Water”? But that song’s so good and sexy. And he is just disgusting. It hurts me how self-conscious he is. How almost aware of his ridiculousness he is. I mean, the Mohawk, the head bobble, AND HE FORGOT THE WORDS! The judges want him to go for it. He needs to not be 17 anymore and he’ll be OK. And I also agree that what the judges say doesn’t mean anything. Unfortunately. Blech.
Haley is next and she’s singing “True Colors,” which I read Stephanie was going to sing if she had stayed. How sad. Gwen wants her to stay with the melody because the song is strong on its own. Now, to be fair, this song was made famous by a woman whose voice is just strange. But Haley is not cutting it. Too weak, too flat, too blah. Snooze. Like Simon said, sweet but forgettable.
Phil is up next. I saw a baby picture of him today and he had jet black hair once. Can anyone else picture that? He’s singing “Every Breath You Take.” Gwen advises him too to stick to the melody. He even sounds a little like Sting. He’s so much hotter with that bald head covered. They really all just look better in beanies, don’t they? This is impressive. I think he’s safe, for sure.
Melinda is singing “Heaven Knows.” Gwen thought she was mind-blowing. I like her bright blue eyeshadow and disco outfit. She’s the cutest. She just doesn’t belong on this stage. She completely upstages the entire competition. I mean, I hope she does well, and I’m sure she will continue to, but I hope that what she does after Idol lives up to how good she is. And I also wish she had a neck.
(That’s nice that Sabrina is in the audience. She always seemed like such a grown-up to me. She’s there even though she deserves to be onstage.)
Blake is next and he’s singing “Love Song” by The Cure. He makes me blush. This is a perfect song for him, and I think he really knows who he is as a musician and singer, which is refreshing to me. We don’t care if he sings flat sometimes, when he pretends to play drums, he’s hot. Another solid performance. I’m still waiting for him to really bust out and blow everyone away. I agree with Simon that this performance was a bit boring, but I don’t agree that Blake is a dark horse; I think he’s a frontrunner.
Jordin is up next. She’s singing “Hey Baby,” and Gwen wants her to get her booty going. I LOVE her outfit and hair. She’s a little chameleon and a little actress. It’s interesting to here these kids sing up-tempo songs because some of them are having trouble keeping their breath controlled. I think this was an odd song choice for her, but I appreciate her attempt at staying contemporary, after weeks of her tackling ballads.
It’s 8:58. How late past 9:00 will it go?
Chris Richardson is next. He’s singing “Don’t Speak,” and Gwen advises again for him to stick to the melody. I was unmoved and he forgot the words also. Sometimes singing last is a curse, especially when you forget words because everyone remembers that you did! Why didn’t the judges mention either time when the singers forgot the words? Am I the only one who noticed? (And the clip they showed for Chris was so much better than his actual performance. That’ll probably save him some extra votes.)
It’s 9:06…someone’s gotta go so they can get the telecast to fit into an hour!
Favorite of the Night: Gina On the Way Out: first guess is Sanjaya, second is Haley or Chris S.
There is a Bobby Brown Parkway. The streets smell like bbq and the airport smells likes biscuits. I kid you not. It is an incredibly convenient city to get around; a great walk gets you from Downtown (where there are exciting things like convention centers and eerily empty malls) to Midtown (which seems to be where the college kids live) and cabs are called from public places like restaurants and the Botanical Gardens. Get aquarium tickets in advance. Stay out of Buckhead; it's the Jersey of the South. We dubbed it "Whitelanta." The meat literally falls off the rib bones at Fat Matt's Rib Shack. And the baked beans taste like Maple and rum. Mmmm. I think it's called HOTlanta cuz of the weather, not the men. I had forgotten what 85 degrees feels like. Go here for some pictures that Kendra took.
OK, fine! I’ll write a review about Elliott Yamin’s CD. Get off my back!
Those who are near and dear to me know what a soft-spot I have for Elliott. He completely stole my heart when he sang this song on American Idol last season. Even Simon Cowell was convinced. And did anyone else notice how HOT he got?
I had waited anxiously since the conclusion of last season’s AI to hear news of his CD deal and I marked March 20th on my calendar because I planned on getting it right away. This makes it a whopping three CDs by American Idol contestants that are played in heavy rotation on my iPod. (Should I be more embarrassed about that?)
The thing is: this CD is just OK. But what Elliott does with his voice is MASTERFUL. His first single, “Movin’ On,” is pretty typical. In fact, the whole CD is. Pretty standard pop/R&B. There are even a couple songs I just downright do not like (“Wait for You” and “One Word,” to be more specific. Both are kind of…lame). But when he sings it right, he blows it out of the park.
Listen, if you will, to the very end of “Find a Way,” which I think is my favorite track on the album. Forget the lyrics, the saccharine “They say that pride goes before a fall/Heaven help us all, if love don’t find a way.” Just listen to how perfectly he wails it. I listened to it twice the first time through the CD, and it gave me chills. He makes the mediocre music compelling just because of his voice.
His forte seems to be the bridges and crescendos of the songs. In “I’m the Man,” he climaxes with “As long as we’re together, I know it’s gonna be alright,” and sends the song into a sweet bridge and ending. During “Free,” he belts mid-way through the track, “Don’t wait for tomorrow. You got to do it today,” and I believe him!
There are some surprises on this self-titled CD as well. In “Train Wreck,” in which he warns a girl against rushing into a relationship, the key changes in the chorus are unexpected and sexy. And his cover of “Whiter Shade of Pale” is another great example of his energy and enthusiasm in his singing. You can hear his heart and soul in the songs he’s singing on the whole album, even though the music could be better.
Even the rendition of “Song for You” included on the CD left me a bit disappointed. I think it pales in comparison to his performance of it in the link above. The arrangement is good on this CD, but he oversings this stunning, simple song. I want to feel like we are alone and he is singing the song to me.
I can’t stop listening to it because his voice literally moves me, but I hope this album does well enough that he can put out a better one someday.
Before we begin, I’d like to officially announce that I am 1 for 1 for elimination predictions. Bye Brandon…
I was obsessing about making it home in time for the 8:00 showtime for like 18 hours. I went to sleep thinking about it. And then of course, at the subway station 4 stops from my house, the thought occurred to me that wishing for a subway to appear is like watching a pot boil. I did make it home at 10 to 8 tonight though.
And…it’s British Invasion Night with the top 11! Who’s excited? I’m hoping someone attempts to sing “Paint it Black,” and my prediction is that the Beatles’s catalog is not available to these kids. Stupid MJ. Not sure how I’m going to eat dinner and type at the same time…but I’ll try.
Paula thinks of Simon naked. And now we know. Oh good…the Beatles. But will anyone actually sing one of their songs?
I lose. I don’t know who Peter Noone or Lulu is.
Haley sings first tonight…they must want her gone. She’s singing “Tell Him,” and Lulu gave her brilliant advice. Girl needs to cut her notes short to get her away from her Broadway sound. I thought the beginning and bridge were the strongest parts of her performance. She is certainly fighting to stay. The song struck me as too long. But she is pretty. Certainly the prettiest girl in the competition. Simon predicted people talking about “a lot more than her singing tonight,” perhaps the fact that she wasn’t really wearing a shirt.
Chris Richardson is singing “Don’t Let the Sun Catch You Crying.” This evening will be interesting because I don’t think I’ll be familiar with a lot of what they sing. Noone wants him to sing it more like it’s written. How novel. I think Chris is brave. Last week, he was the first to jump into the crowd. Tonight, he’s the first to begin a song sitting, with just a guitar accompanying him. If only this performance weren’t so boring. His ending was very Justin Timberlake, albeit strong. I loved his reaction when Paula called him “sexy.” Kind of like, hell yeah…oh wait, that’s embarrassing. Very cute.
Stephanie Edwards in bright blue says song choice is the hardest part of getting ready each week. She’s singing “You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me.” Lulu praised her groundedness; I got a little teary when she said she sang the whole thing looking into her eyes. Intense. I liked the beginning of the song because I thought she tapped into the emotion well. But then she seemed to falter and ended flat. She may be at risk this week. Paula seems to think she’s lost her spirit a little. This competition is hard on these poor kids.
You’ll be happy to know I finished the lovely dinner my roommate cooked for me and did most of the dishes and it’s not even 8:40 yet.
Blake is singing “Time of the Season” (is that what it’s called?). Noone warned against the business getting in the way of the song. Spot on. That is what the song is called, by the way. Blake is such a smart singer. He is making all of these songs seem brand new. He might run away with the competition if the BBLs falter or cancel each other out. I think he runs out of breath sometimes though. And also, I am in love with the shape his mouth makes when he sings. Ryan + white boy dancing + Blake beat-boxing = hilarity. I bet Ryan and Blake get drunk together on their downtime.
LaKisha is next. She’s singing “Diamonds Are Forever,” even though Lulu gave her a demonstration of “You’re My World.” LaKisha has such an old-fashioned look and sound. I love it. And she’s owning the stage in a way I didn’t expect from her. I think she’s done better, but she certainly hit the money note at the end. Simon thought she was playing old and then got indignant about it. Those stools gave her an issue too. How impractical are they? LaKisha is sassy, telling Simon she hopes she looks that good in 40 years. I like her. And why is it always with the BBLs that Ryan and Simon have gay banter?
Phil is singing “Tobacco Road.” He came out swinging, but my roommate says he’s just not as cool as he thinks he is. I think he just needs to be hotter and we’d eat it all up. I am uninspired by this performance. He’s such a cheesy white guy but he ended well. I agree with Simon that his voice lacks grit AND that he’s vulnerable tonight. It also looks like there’s schmutz all over his shirt.
Jordin always looks lovely. She strikes me as legitimately smart too. She’s singing “I Who Have Nothing,” which Lulu gooed all over herself about. Her rehearsal gave us chills. She looks even more beautiful when she sings. I love when that happens. Uh oh, this girl is going to give them all a run for their money. Good for her.
I almost vomited when Sanjaya showed us his tonsils before the commercial. My roommate is threatening to walk out if he sings a Rolling Stones song. AI is going to lose viewers if this kid stays on for much longer. Not me, mind you…but some. Noone attests that he doesn’t have the experience to sell what he’s got. He’s singing “You Really Got Me.” He made someone in the audience cry, but it looks like it was out of pure pre-pubescent joy. It just sounds like he’s hurting himself. I think he may have actually found his niche, though. I was almost convinced…He’s totally safe again this week.
Gina was told she needs to be edgy. So now she wears shredded black shirts. I KNEW SOMEONE WAS GOING TO SING PAINT IT BLACK! I love this song. Lulu pushed her to take it up a half-step and to get into the drama. She certainly works the hair when she sings. Her performance, though, struck me as a little “Rolling Stones-Lite”…although I do enjoy her high notes. (I think Miss Gina has lost some weight too, if I may note.) I can’t imagine getting judged by three people who don’t quite know how to communicate. Even I was confused after Gina’s critique.
Chris Sligh is talking to Noone about being sexy. I love when fat boys talk about being sexy. No. Seriously. He’s singing “She’s Not There” and Noone insists he figure out what the song is about. He was so proud of himself after his big note in the middle. It struck me as a randomly difficult song, and I think he did admirably. I am not sure whether or not he figured out what the song is about. I guess we’ll never know.
Melinda is singing last tonight, “As Long as He Needs Me,” from Oliver! She’s such a smart woman. Lulu dubbed it the perfect song for her. Is it just me or does she sing with her shoulders at her ears? I think Melinda was really nervous this week. I don’t think it was her strongest performance. And that poor girl is crying again. Someone give her an anti-depressant. Melinda knows how to work it, but we’ve all heard her do better. She does seem like the sweetest girl out there though.
Favorite of the Night: Jordin On the Way Out: First guess is Stephanie; second is Phil
Beckett: "I can't go on, I'll go on. I can't look at it, I'll stare at it." That's a very compelling duality. I think that's something a lot of writers have in common, repulsion and attraction.--Amy Hempel
As I got off the train tonight at 10 to 8 and noticed the swarming masses flood past me, I wondered how many of them were running home to make sure they didn’t miss one minute of American Idol. Then I figured, probably most of them. It was the first performance of the top 12 tonight. And I made a 10-15 minute walk home in 6 minutes.
Tonight’s theme was the music of Diana Ross. This music just isn’t good for showing off your pipes, as my roommate quipped. Still, I wept a little when Ms. Ross entered the room and when she gave everybody hugs. She really seems like a lovely woman.
Brandon started off the show with “You Can’t Hurry Love.” I think he sang first because the producers want him gone. My first thought was, “Look at his chest hair.” Who knew? He’s been hiding it all season. It seemed like his dancing distracted him and he forgot his words, which KILLS me because he’s so adorable and he’s got a great set of pipes. And he’s definitely one of the most articulate contestants I’ve ever seen in the history of the entire show. Gotta give him props for that.
After awkward homoerotic banter between Ryan and Simon, Melinda was up. I was hoping someone would sing something from The Wiz and she blew “Home” out of the back of the arena and right onto my arms in the form of goosebumps. Then I cried. Why is she on the show? I hope she doesn’t win so she’ll be a big star.
My old crush (I’m totally over him), Chris Sligh, sang “Endless Love,” in the guise of a Coldplay song, which I caught onto before Randy said anything. Apparently, Chris has been bashing Diana Ross in the press. Subsequently, he seemed downright contrite onstage, probably realizing he shouldn’t be offending anyone this early, especially after none of the judges were particularly effusive about his performance. I do agree with Paula that he’s trying to be “ultra hip,” and with Simon who says he should keep his glasses on. I thought this performance of his was mildly snooze-worthy, myself.
Gina Glocksen sang “Love Child,” and Ms. Ross urged her to “pronunciate.” I cringed at her stupidity. None of the contestants seem to know what to do on such a big stage. I don’t really remember this performance already, but I did write down “yikes” at the time. Paula encouraged her to work on her “enunciation.” And the English language returned to its upright and locked position. We should all give Paula more credit.
And then Sanjaya sang. Or did he? What 17 year old Indian boy wears ringlets these days? And why does he whisper during interviews? Ms. Ross says he’s got a “winning ingredient and it’s not his hair.” He definitely finished the song well, and I really don’t think he’s going anywhere. He just needs a haircut. Tonight, he seemed to be channeling Michael Jackson during the Wiz-era. And he creeps me out.
Haley is working so hard to be liked. And I think she’s succeeding. Her performance of “Missing You” was weak, but I think she’s plucky and emotional enough to make it through another week, even though she looked incredibly defeated after finishing. Then Simon said it wasn’t that bad and she burst into tears—he must want her to stay too. He even made a point of remembering her name tonight.
Phil Stacey sang “I’m Gonna Make You Love Me,” and the vocals were impressive. But then he did the white man’s overbite.
LaKisha sang “God Bless the Child.” When she announced it, I got chills. Ms. Ross called her Kiki and praised her for really thinking about how to perform it when she asked if she should use a mic stand. LaKisha’s phrasing is perfection. This season will certainly be the Battle of the Big Black Ladies. Simon thinks so too.
For the record, I have a huge crush on Blake. He’s adorable, such a showman, such a musician. His version of “You Keep Me Hangin On” was stylized and smart. His vocals were strong, but he got a little tired at the end. The judges are arguing that classics should stay classics, but we in this apartment agree that being a musician should be important in this competition too.
(Side note: I’m glad Ryan is engaging the kids in conversation. It’s giving us a chance to get to know them a little more.)
Stephanie Edwards oversang “Love Hangover.” But the girl takes direction well, which seems to be a rarity in this competition. Paula wants her to “strive for better.” Poor girl is getting clumped into the Big Black Lady (heretofore to be known simply as BBLs) Battle, and I’m not sure she deserves to be criticized for not being one of them.
Chris Richardson oversang “The Boss.” He’s so darned cute, and I’m sure he’ll be here next week. His “working of the audience,” under the urging of Ms. Ross, was self-conscious. But good for him for jumping out there into the crowd. Simon argues that it’s a singing competition…but then, in another instance, they say someone needs more personality. He’s such a Machiavelli with his manipulation of us silly, silly mortals.
Jordin (who looked beautiful, btw) sang “If We Hold On Together” from the Land Before Time. I usually hate precocious teens, but I find myself liking her. Parts of her performance made me weepy and parts made me cringe. I’m sure she’s safe. Girl’s got some pipes. And she makes Ryan look like a shrimp.
Favorite of the Night: Melinda On the Way Out: Brandon for going first or Stephanie for not being able to separate herself from the BBLs.
Chris Daughtry is hot. Perhaps the hottest contestant in American Idol history. That much has been established. People thought he was going to win Season 5 of the show, but he was kicked off in the top 4, to everyone’s shock. Check out one of his performances here. You could tell he was going to be huge. In fact, if I have my facts right, he’s already become one of the best-selling Idol alums, creeping quickly up on Kelly Clarkson’s album-selling success. He’s said getting kicked off the show early was the best thing that could have happened. Surprise, surprise.
I made my coworker buy his album, “Daughtry,” last week. His first single, “It’s Not Over,” sounds suspiciously like Fuel’s “Hemorrhage.” So much so, the songs get stuck in my head at the same time. I was, however, impressed that he didn’t try to showcase his fledgling acting skills in his debut video. He did, however, have his bandmates’ pictures blurred on the CD cover. Oh…and the band is also just called Daughtry.
There’s nothing new on the CD. It’s kind of…Mild Hate Against the Machine, if you will. Or…Stoned Temple Cadets. Or…Unleaded Fuel. I could keep going…but I won’t.
A couple songs have cringe-worthy lyrics. “Used To” includes these: “You used to walk with me like we had nowhere we needed to go/nice and slow/to no place in particular.” Hogwash. And these: “I used to listen/you always had the just right thing to say.” A little trouble with the meter, there, boys?
About eight songs into the CD, you’re not sure where you’ve heard those chords before and then you realize it was on the CD itself.
Still, I can’t stop listening to it. “Home” is lovely, with a surprisingly beautifully orchestrated bridge and the prophetic lyrics “Be careful what you wish for/cuz you just might get it all.” And I heard he wrote the song right before he left to be on Idol. Maybe he imagined then the show wasn’t the right venue for him.
His falsetto singing in “Breakdown” also made me stop and listen. It was a range we hadn’t heard during his time on Idol. And Slash has a guitar solo on “What I Want.” That’s pretty cool, I guess.
I am especially impressed with the final two songs on the CD, “What About Now” and “Sorry.” They’re pretty and harmless and Chris’s correct pronunciation of the word “me” must be commended. I admit, I expected him to fall to the level of pop stars before him and sing it so it rhymes with “day.”
Despite myself, I’ve listened to the CD on repeat since Thursday evening. And I am not ashamed.
There were three teenagers across the train car from me on my way home. Two of them (a boy and girl) were so closely leaned into each other, I couldn't tell what was going on. They may have been kissing; they may have just been whispering to each other secretly. They were so...intertwined that I saw people strictly avoid sitting near them as they entered the car, and a dad was watching them, disapprovingly, as he rode with his young son.
I, however, found myself admittedly and hotly jealous. Of their isolated universe. Of their concentration and lack of regard for the world around them.
It's been a long time since time sort of stopped for me because of the person I was with.