Tuesday, April 6, 2010

AI9 Bagpipes and a Didgeridoo, too

This post was originally written for Rickey.Org.

We are down to the Top 9, and the last three out the door were women, so odds are a man will be the next to go. That said, one could think the Lennon/McCartney songbook would favor the men, having been written for and performed by men. This shall be an interesting night. It starts with Crusty in the control room, checking out the backstage action, from judges to contestants. After the introductions, we have the video roll celebrating the incredible work of John Lennon and Paul McCartney. This included a personal message from Sir Paul encouraging them to rise to the occasion. After some meaningless babble from the judges prompted by Crusty, we get an Idol-free Ford Fusion commercial. How refreshing.

First to take on a song of the best known songwriting team ever is Aaron. The other contestants talk about how they consider him Yoda, and make fun of him thusly. But they also mention how impressed they are how advanced he is for age 16. He is singing Long and Winding Road, a dangerous selection as it was also sung by David Archuleta on Beatles night in season 7. He starts out better than usual, but there is a rough spot on the bottom side of his range. But he recovers nicely, and is quite pleasant. The judges were unimpressed, even bored by it. They have a point. But the audience includes a few people who vocally disagree with the assessment. Next we have Katie, whose pre-roll has the other contestants feel she is fun and energetic. And she does her own Single Lady dance! She sings Let It Be, a song she remembers her father playing. This, too, is a bit risky, as season 8 winner Kris Allen performed it on that stage just a few weeks ago. Katie is in good form, however, and giving her best performance to date. She gives it a spin that sounds more current, without changing it too much. The judges are thrilled, although Simon thought it was a country version, something no one else on this planet would agree with.

Crusty warns us that after the commercial break, Andrew will be heading back to the 60s. The video shows the idols talking about how Andrew is the biggest personality in the group, no matter what Simon says. I have to say, so far, on stage, Andrew hasn't shown too much personality. He is singing Can't Buy Me Love, and is fearful of changing it up too much. He is okay, but uninspiring. It is a rather uninspired arrangement, and rather soul-less. The judges are being more kind than I would. Well, Ellen and Randy did, but Kara and Simon did not. I have to agree with them, which doesn't happen often. Damn. Big Mike is the next to take the stage, and he will be singing Eleanor Rigby. That song was also sung in Season 7, this one by winner David Cook, a popular although shrouded in controversy when a Seattle band, Doxology, claimed the arrangement as their own. Later, Cook credited them. The girls all think he is a big teddy bear. He chose Eleanor Rigby because he father used to perform it, and it told a story that appeals to him. He changes it up, making it into an R&B, Mary J-type of song, which seems a bit overwrought to me. He hits all the notes, and has the energy, but not the emotional depth of Mary J. Few do, really, that is why she is so special. The judges are loving it much more than I am. Well, Simon doesn't agree, and Kara and Randy refuse to let him finish before interrupting. Focus, people, it's about the singing, not the judges! And, Randy, while GLEE might be hot TV, I haven't noticed it taking over radio.

At about the halfway-point, I my mind is drifting a bit, wishing I was watching the new Doctor Who rather than this, but I shall get by this. For me, Katie has been clearly better than the rest so far, but there are some talented people to come. Like Crystal, who will sing Come Together, yet another song from the Season 7 catalog, sung by Carly Smithson. We hear about her mothering attitude, and they call her Mamasox. She chose it because it was a fun groove, and utilizes a didgeridoo. She is doing a fairly nice job, but the band is a bit overpowering, detracting from her vocals. I think she might have had issues with the lyrics, or just her voice, I am not sure. Judges all fawn over her, and Simon thinks it can be on the radio, and I am not sure what station he listens to, but I like Crystal, so I will take it. But I think Carly would have my vote over that performance Up next, we have Tim singing All My Loving, another early song. The girls loves his smile, and the boys seem to really like him. And he chose the song so he could sing with a smile. Take that, Simon. LOL. He takes the stage with a guitar, and a simple arrangement. On the chorus, a simplified band kicks in. The arrangement is a tad on the dull side, but he hits all the notes. Not bad. Randy immediately is talks down to him, talking about a 'Tim performance'. However, the judges are very kind and good to him. I don't think he was the worse so far, but are they trying to soften the voting base?

The other contestants think Casey has the looks and the laugh to be noticed! He sings Jealous Guy, from John Lennon's solo work. It is a popular song to cover, with versions by artists from Donny Hathaway to Roxy Music to Collective Soul. Casey goes acoustic guitar, with the support of a cello. He is nailing it so far. I loved it. Thought is was soulful and heartfelt. The judges loved it too, In fact, Simon calls it the best of the night. The other contestants think Siobhan is an individual, the most interesting person many have ever met. She sings Across The Universe, and wants to show a different side of her voice. The outfit is this Madonna-esque Like A Virgin meets Justify My Love thing I don't quite get. She did a very simple cover, something sounding very classically inspired. She sang it easily, with good control. It was rather subdued, although the judges are a little confused by it. There is an odd moment when Crusty brings the vocal audience member up to give Siobhan a hug. Weird.

This leaves the one and only Lee. We discover he is the worrywart, always worrying about going home. Crystal thinks Lee and Andrew will have Danny Gokey babies. I love her! He sings Hey Jude. Wow, a couple of rough notes off the top. He goes acoustic, playing the guitar, well, until the bagpipe comes down the steps. This is odd, and kinda a mess. He's trying to do a sing-a-long, which might be nice, since he is having trouble with the notes, but I am thinking not the intention of the show. Wow, Randy loved it. So did Ellen. Kara recognized the missed notes, but thought that was okay. Simon thought the bagpipe was a mistake. But thought he was doing well until then. Really? Do I have different audio on my TV?

So, that leaves me confused. For me, Casey was clearly the best, followed by Katie. I know, that is just strange to me, too. Crystal was certainly good and in the mix. Siobhan was nice, if odd. Lee seemed popular, and I have no idea why. Not a clue. I even thought Big Mike was better than that.That leaves Tim, Andrew and Aaron in the bottom? Wow, if I don't include Lee, I think Andrew was the weakest tonight. Tim, surprisingly enough, was not. He was a tad more original that Aaron even. Will Andrew go home? Heck, I thought he might last week. You guess, I bet is even better than mine at this point.


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