Tuesday, March 30, 2010

AI9 Baby, Baby, Where Has Our Soul Gone?

This recap was originally written for Rickey.org.

Backstage with Crusty. He makes Simon kiss Ellen, and then runs away screaming on to the stage. OK, maybe he wasn't screaming, but he did go to the stage with the screaming fans. He makes the audience scream out their favorite.

It is R&B and Soul night, and Usher is the mentor, and we are reminded he is the #1 artist from the last decade. They tell us he is the consummate performer, and he says he is here to help these talented people be better.

Siobhan Magnus - Through The Fire - Chaka Khan (1984)
Usher thinks she has an incredible voice, and has a great chance at a recording career. She starts off sounding great, but breaks a bit in the chorus, it is just a hair out of her range. She goes for her big note, more than once really. It is an uneven performance, not her best. All the judges thought it was her weakest performance, and Simon also said he is getting bored with the scream at the end. There is big discussions with the judges to make sure everyone knows the judges love her and think she should stay despite that performance. We get a backstage cam view of the kids in the greenroom, and Siobhan walking through dejected and Big Mike going to console her after tough reviews from the judges. Toughen up, girl, they weren't that tough!

Casey James - Hold On, I'm Coming - Sam & Dave (1966)
Usher really likes Casey, his voice and his confidence. He thinks Casey is one to keep an eye on, win or lose. Casey looks good as he takes the stage, and sounds great, loving every minute of it. He is on fire, That was fantastic. The crowd is going crazy. The boy judges loved him, the girls not so much, think it was a little safe. The cam catches Casey offstage, elated with his performance. He loves that song!

Mike Lynche - Ready For Love - India.Arie (2001)
Usher likes him, but wants him to connect with the audience more. Cause boys playing guitars get the chicks. Ask Usher. He starts soft, and in the bridge strengthens his vocals into the chorus. It builds to a big note, which he kinda swallows a bit. Too bad, it was his best performance to date. The judges loved it. Simon points out he didn't sound karaoke tonight. Usher loved it, too. The cam is near giddy, talking about being in the moment.

Didi Benami - What Becomes of the Brokenhearted - Jimmy Ruffin (1966)
An emotional song for an emotional young lady. She cried after singing it for Usher, and Usher thinks the honesty. It is an interesting performance, but seeming to lack the soul and R&B vibe and emotion that is the basis for the evening. She gets bold at the end, but to me, her voice is often flat. The judges are not loving it at all. Simon and Kara think she has lost her way. She picked the song because she loves it, and Crusty spends an inordinate amount of time not getting the answer he wants, and I lose interest. Let the girl alone, Crusty! The cam catches Didi going in the greenroom,

Tim Urban - Sweet Love - Anita Baker (1985)
Wow, if there was a song/singer mismatch, this would be it. I saw this, and thought 'Damn, does he want to leave?' There was this odd homoerotic moment for Usher and Tim, with Usher trying to keep Tim in the moment, singing from the heart, not the throat. He starts on the steps, and this is not terrible, but not great. Very Lite-FM. Actually, the last 30 seconds weren't bad. The judges hated it, and Tim smiles and laughs. Simon thinks as long as he smiles, his is getting through. Tim laughs again because he thought they picked on everything, but never thought his smile would be among those things. Into the backstage cam, he says they were nicer than he thought they would be, so it could be worse.

Andrew Garcia - Forever - Chris Brown (2008)
Usher sees Andrew overthinking, overworking everything, and tells him to take a breath. He likes the result. The first half of the song still seems tense and tentative, but then he works it out a bit, but ultimately it is still kinda boring. I still feel as if he is chasing that lost moment. The judges loved it, disagreeing with me. Simon does think he is a bit boring, and brings Andrews mama up to give Simon a talking to. The backstage cam is all about Mom.

Katie Stevens - Chain of Fools - Aretha Franklin (1967)
He likes her energy and her voice, and offers her performance tips. She is singing very well. She is in great voice. A tad on the karaoke side for me, almost a tribute band, and the judges think she is sounding better, but there is a disconnect, before it degenerates into a battle of the judges with Katie as an audience member. Nice. Are we voting for our favorite judge or singer? On the backstage cam, Katie gets big hugs from Big Mike and the boys, telling her she was great.

Lee DeWyze - Treat Her Like A Lady - Cornelius Brothers & Sister Rose (1971)
Usher digs him, and thinks he needs to figure out how to take that moment onstage. The first line or two of the song are off, but he pulls it together. One of the reasons he drives me crazy is he only seems to invest in the loud moments, and in the softer moments, drops off the words and swallows the notes. He is 1996 rocker, using growl at the expense of nuance. I thought it was a bit uneven. The judges, however, love him, and toss everyone else under the bus. With the backstage cam, we see Lee basking in the glory of the reviews, and choking up about his life changing.

There is a Glee commercial, reminding us in two weeks, they return. Yay!

Crystal Bowersox - Midnight Train To Georgia - Gladys Knight & the Pips (1973)
Usher loves her - thinks she is a sweetheart, and will be great. Crystal is on the piano. The first note or two sound a little nervous, but that soon fades away, and she is singing big and strong. She gets up from the piano, and takes centerstage, and goes to town. The judges adore her, and Simon, a tad less impressed with the performance, warns her to not lose who she is by listening to Kara. She assures him she would never do anything she wasn't comfortable doing. After the commercial, we get the backstage cam she talks about taking a risk, proving to be multi-faceted.

Aaron Kelly - Ain't No Sunshine - Bill Withers (1971)
Usher loves Aaron, thinks the song is great for him. The beginning is a little rough, very nasal and sharp. He had nailed that for Usher, is it nerves? He clears it up as he sings. Aaron is strong on intensity, but a little lacking in understanding, I think. He ends strongly, although the judges are are rather temped in their praise, all liking him, but no one loving him. And, sadly, he gets no backstage cam.

In the recap video, Lee gets the best edit, and I notice Aaron sounds a bit less nasal in rehearsal. On the whole, the show featuring R&B and Soul was a little lacking in the latter. Siobhan had soul, but her performance wasn't strong. I thought Casey was soulful and strong. Big Mike was good, but a tad lacking. For me, Didi, Tim, and Andrew lacked soul in their performances, choosing structure over content. Katie came off as someone 'acting' rather than being soulful. Lee went for rock and eschewed the soul, but Crystal brought back the soul. Aaron seemed a bit nervous, which stole some of the soul from the song.

For me tonight, Casey and Crystal had the strongest performances. And the two strongest audience responses were for Casey and Lee, so I would suspect those three are safe. And, most likely, Aaron. For the bottom three, I think we shall see Didi, Tim, and someone else. Tough to say, could be Andrew, but his mama might have saved him some. Could be Siobhan, but I would think her fanbase is strong enough to keep her out of the bottom. Could be Casey or Mike, buried in the beginning. And Katie touched the bottom last week, and could visit again. Odds are that it will be Tim's time to go, as two ladies have already left, it is time for a young man to join them.

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