April 18, 2006

"American Idol" -- the final 7 sing old standards.

Rod Stewart is here tonight to lead the kids into "the great American songbook." "I've always loved these songs. I was brought up on them." Okay. I'm willing to believe that. Now, just get the kids to sing these songs well.

Chris Daughtry. "What a Wonderful World." Lovely! Simon: "Great!"

Paris Bennett. "These Foolish Things." Rod is impressed by Paris. She's only 17! "I was still digging graves when I was 17." A little phonily over-mature and over-enunciated. The judges are entirely complimentary, which is nice of them.

Taylor Hicks. He's doing "You Send Me," which doesn't seem to be from the right era, but it's a cool song. Rod, approving of Taylor: "You've got to grab the audience by the balls... Will that be allowed?" (It's not.) The band is way too loud tonight, and it makes him seem subdued, until the end where he kind of rocks out ... or something. The judges love that make-it-your-own ending.

A huge commercial break follows and makes me think the potential losers are about to follow. Losers and Kellie.

Elliott Yamin. "It Had to Be You." This song always makes me think of "Annie Hall." Wow! I finally get Elliott. He's the only one so far who really seems natural inside this music. Simon is a bit mean, but this is helpful to him. People need to know to vote. (Not that I vote. I only voted in Season 2, I think.)

Kellie Pickler. "Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered." Cute interaction with Rob. Super red dress! Pretty... devolving into thin and whiny. I was ready to love her. Really! Randy: "What am I going to say?" Kellie: "Ah butchered it!" Okay, that's my favorite thing she's ever done. What nerve to concede badness before anyone's even rubbed your face in it! Cool! Simon: "It wasn't great." Kellie: "Ah agree." Nice!

One bad performance can destroy you on this show. (Remember "New Attitude"?) And Kellie astutely got ahead of the problem, using a new technique. She is so not dumb!

Ace Young. "That's All." Rod thinks he's "absolutely brilliant." His curls are all slicked back into a -- what's that? -- a bun? The band is overpowering and he seems desperate. I don't know. Without the hair... For some reason, as Randy is talking to him, the camera pans down to his shoes. Yeah? He has huge feet. We're impressed. The judges aren't mean, and that may be just the kiss of death needed to lull his fans.

Katharine McPhee. "Someone to Watch Over Me." Rod is totally in love with her. We get some beautiful extreme closeups. I love this song, especially as Frank Sinatra sings it. So her singing seems too harsh to me. Simon: "So much better than the others."

My ranking: Elliott, Chris, Katharine, Taylor, Paris, Ace, Kellie.

45 comments:

Jennifer said...

I can't wait to hear these! I loved Big Band night and this is probably the closest we get to that kind of thing this season.

I can't believe that Kellie is actually growing on me. I'm too easy!

David Boyd said...

He has huge feet. We're impressed.

A myth, I'm afraid. No reason to keep him around for his singing or otherwise.

Dawn said...

I'm glad to know I'm not the only one who feels Katherine is just.plain.annoying. She's just too showbizy, for lack of a better word. My impression of her is that I'm watching a Disneyworld Automatron singing.

Chris was terrific, I think he suprised a lot of people tonight. Kellie knew she was in way over her head as she went along, but finished and was smart enough, as you mentioned Ann, to acknowledge it.

Ace - as my daughters said "he looks like a girl!" PLEASE let this be the last week we have to deal with him.

Bottom three - Elliot, Ace, Kellie, with either Elliot or Ace leaving.

Ruth Anne Adams said...

Kellie's granddaddy is on the local news tonight telling folks that she is really nah-eeve.

I think she's the real article.

Ann Althouse said...

Why are you saying that, David? Do you have big feet?

Hecla Ma said...

I've never voted on AI before, but I feel like I wanna vote for Elliott. Anyone know the number?

Dawn said...

1-866-IDOLS05

Ann Althouse said...

1-866-IDOLS-04

To vote for Elliott.

My post has all the kids in the order they performed, so you can figure out all the other numbers.

Joe Hogan said...

I have not liked Kellie's singing since the shows from LA began. She is often off key and mechanical. As for the imitation of Jessica Simpson dumbness, real or feigned, it just doesn't get to me.

Her performance tonight, with its pitch problems and the awful second half where she sang a half a bar ahead of the band was a train wreck. It's the worst performance we've seen on the show since the horror stories from the initial auditions around the country.

If she survives it will be purely on personality and looks, which won't be enough to carry her in a potential career. At least not as a singer.

Hecla Ma said...

Thanks, Ann. I also thought Paris and Chris were very good. Chris was surprising and I think he needed to be!

Simon said...

I still think it's an abomination as a show, but the McPhee woman sure is easy on the eye. Give her a decade or two to mature and she's going to be real pretty.

Dave said...

"My post has all the kids in the order they performed, so you can figure out all the other numbers."

That sounds dangerously like an LSAT logic game!

Dawn said...

Opps!
Better hit the phone again - I kept voting for Elliot!

knoxgirl said...

When Chris first started, I thought, "Yikes! This is awkward." But then, as Tim Gunn says, he "made it work." Oh, wait, I'm mixing up my reality shows...

SteveR said...

Kellie might have saved herself, its better to admit a disaster in tht way.

Ace should go (but I repeat myself)

SteveR said...
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tcd said...

Simon
WTF! We get that you don't like the show because it's so below your "refined" level of taste. You don't need to keep posting on it to remind the rest of us how unsophisticated we are for watching it. Killjoy.

Simon said...

You find the word "refined" in any of my previous AI-related posts and I'll clap. In any event, the thrust of my post was self-evidently to say something nice about one of the contestants.

Christopher Althouse said...

I think Katharine is by far the best singer and should win. It's about time someone actually pretty won the show, anyway. Do they have to make an anti-beauty statement with the AI winner every year? Time for a pro-beauty season.

Ann Althouse said...

Chris: Poor Elliott! I know he's too ugly to win... Don't you think Chris is good looking? Though I wish he'd shave that S-shaped sideburnish things he's got...

Hecla Ma said...

Funny thing about looks - you don't always have to be gorgeous for the camera to love you - case in point would be Chris, who is not "gorgeous" but is certainly "hot." The camera picks something up, a charisma or something, and it adds to your whole sense of a person's looks. Hence, certifiably "gorgeous" guy like Ben Affleck leaves me cold, while a less-beautiful Russell Crowe can (at least when he is acting) make my knees weak. Chris has that camera-loving thing. Poor Elliott...does not. But I still like him.

Hecla Ma said...

And I'm sorry, but I still don't get Taylor's appeal. But I'm clearly in the minority. I puzzled.

jinnmabe said...

Exactly right, Simon, that McPhee woman is simply...well, in case my wife is reading, she is very attractive. And I think she's the best singer too, sorry everybody. (Prof. Althouse, your son is very wise).

That said, I hope she loses, so she won't be stuck with Am.Id. management and them calling her shots. She likes Broadway, she ought to go do that, she'd be great.

Christopher Althouse said...

My point is that they keep having people win who are no where near the beauty ideal--Kelly, Ruben, and Fantasia. Carrie's not really beautiful, either, though she's the least unattractive of the group. Clay, who's sort of a co-winner, was ugly. Voters get into the idea of forcing executives to promote an ugly person. It's their way of feeling like the voting process made a difference in terms of what kinds of people become stars. Not being hot might help Elliott, and being beautiful might hurt Katharine.

PatCA said...

I loved the music--what a nice respite from all the intensity of the pop and rock and roll and a great showcase for singers, as opposed to performers. This kind of music, to me, is like impressionist art. It's romantic. There are other kinds of art and music that are good, but let's face it, love makes pop culture go round.

I thought they all did well (well, Kellie didn't but she knew it). I would pay to hear Paris and McPhee at a club doing jazz or classics. Note to Simon, now that he's working on his second billion: how about a CD of this stuff?

Michael Farris said...

Just heard mp3's with no visuals.

Gold: Elliott! God, this guy is great. Sounds maybe a tiny bit too much like Sammy Davis Jr here but he sounds comfortable with a great sense of rhythm and phrasing. What's more he's dead on pitch from note one (the bete noire of Idol singers).
I hope he loses and is signed by someone who knows what to do with him. He's the only one I could imagine making a record I'd pay to listen to.
Overdoes the vibrato just a little, he does hit the note squarely before applying it though so it's not like he has to.

Silver: None

Bronze: Chris. Competent in a song I don't like much.

Pewter: Taylor. Knows how to pick material that doesn't overwhelm his unimpressive instrument and is so convinced he's having a great time and dong a great job that I want to indulge him. But, lordy, there's only about two degrees of separation between him and Bill Murray's lounge singer.

Ace and Paris didn't make any impression on me.

Kelli was bad, but I don't expect much from her. Especially in challenging material.

Katherine was the worst, easily. Struggles with pitch and has no idea about how to get into or out of the song and bad register choices all the way through with no sense of rhythm or phrasing on display.

I'd love to hear a Bacharach/David show with their high priestess Dionne Warwick giving advice. That would be so cool.

Taylor - 24 hours from Tulsa
Chris - The man who shot liberty valence
Ace - Trains and Boats and Planes
Katherine - I'll never fall in love again
Paris - Anyone who had a heart
Kelli - I say a little prayer
Elliot - Walk on by (or I just don't know what to do with myself)

Ruth Anne Adams said...

I think Elliot has gotten less bad looking over the season. Haven't the stylists been making improvements on him? His hair seems better and so do his teeth. Maybe I'm imagining that?

Michael Farris said...

"My point is that they keep having people win who are no where near the beauty ideal"

Yes, by all means, we don't have nearly enough pretty but vacuous stars with limited talens, male or female.

hygate said...
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hygate said...

ruth anne adams said:

"Kellie's granddaddy is on the local news tonight telling folks that she is really nah-eeve.

I think she's the real article."


I agree. This "Kellie is dumb" or alternatively "Kellie is playing dumb" thing seemed to start after it was revealed that she didn't ' GASP ' know what calamari is. Well I don't think I'm stupid and I didn't know what calamari was when I was nineteen and sure as hell wouldn't have eaten any if I had encountered it. To me she seems like a perfectly normal person from the rural south who has been blessed with a pleasant attitude.

David Boyd said...

Ann: Do you have big feet?

No, but I have a friend...

Tristram said...

My point is that they keep having people win who are no where near the beauty ideal--Kelly, Ruben, and Fantasia. Carrie's not really beautiful, either, though she's the least unattractive of the group.

First, Kelly Clarkson is (and was at the time) very attractive. Second, Carrie may be more pop-video pretty, true. Third, as many people from all walks of life can attest, beauty / good looks are defined differently for guys than girls. For many, many people, Reuban is cute and cuddly at a minimum. And if you asked a statistically large sample who is better looking ace or chris, I think you make get surprising answer, particualrly if you have a video/interview footage.

And lastly, there is a lot of packaging done on the stars after they get big. Take a look at first album Faith Hill, and look at here now. Same with Shania Twain. You may argue the beauty is 'obviously' there, but if you are honest, you will admit they were much plainer / less stand-out pretty when they started.

(Oddly, some are much less attractive now, like Jessica Simpson, Britney Spears, etc.)

So, perhaps Katharine and Kellie could be prettier than the others, but it may be that she is just better now with the presentation than the others. Though, other than clothes and beard, it is unclear what Chris could do, because he does his hair the right way, and so this may be as good as it gets with him. (Which is fine).

Ann Althouse said...

Elliott has awful teeth. There's nothing they can do about that at this point. It would take a long, long time to fix them. And he's a singer. You can't hide your mouth. Too bad. It shows he grew up too poor to get braces. I really feel for him.

Gerry said...

"My point is that they keep having people win who are no where near the beauty ideal--Kelly, Ruben, and Fantasia"

I thought then, and do now, that Kelly was very pretty. YMMV.

PatCA said...

Ruth Anne,
I think you're seeing Elliot "Through the Eyes of Love." :)

If Elliot got braces, which would change the shape of his jaw, would that affect his singing? Seems like that would be a big chance.

paulfrommpls said...

Calling Clay "ugly" is pretty harsh. Kinda made me go ick about the commenter.

jinnmabe said...

Katherine was the worst, easily. this is the kind of comment that makes me think there's something wrong with my TV. I thought she was fantastic. I can understand people having different evaluations, different likes, etc., but claims of on or off pitch seem pretty objective, right?

Like I said earlier, maybe the Cubs have won the World Series and I just didn't get that memo.

jeff said...

I have a copy of Shania Twain's first CD - the one prior to the one where she hit it big.

I prefer how she looks in that one to the C&W Spice Girl she's been transformed into.

Michael Farris said...

"I thought she was fantastic. I can understand people having different evaluations, different likes, etc., but claims of on or off pitch seem pretty objective, right?"

I just heard an mp3 without the (impressive, I'll admit) visuals.

She sounded off pitch a few times and lunging around trying to find it a few times and seems to have passaggio problems (or just really bad judgement as when to use head voice).

Steven said...

I thought Chris' version of "It's a Wonderful World" was one of the most boring versions I've ever heard. He should have listened to Louis Armstrong instead of Rod Stewart. The guy would be an above average front man for a rock band, but that's his limit. that's my problem with Taylor too--he's a great front man for an Alabama bar band, but not much else. And please, can Ace go home this week.

Jennifer said...

Steven - I have to agree. I thought it showed how well Chris could sing. And he's still sexy, for a musician. But, I was bored!

Sanjay said...

OK, look, I'm not an idol guy. But _Rod Stewart_ -- the latest pop star to cut a standards album -- there as the representativer standards singer? Jeez Louise. There's real singers they could've gotten for cheaper who would've had more authority. Get Dee Dee Bridgewater or Diane Reeves. Go with the current flavor and get Diana Krall. Go "classic" and get Tony Bennett. Go all avant-garde and get Cassandra Wilson. Jezz, even get Norah Jones if that's what your marketers say. But Rod Stewart as jazz crooner?

paulfrommpls said...

You know, what's weird is that Kellie may the one with an actual chance to be an "American idol" as in big star. I still go back to her audition, which was great: deep within her is a fantastic country voice. She seems to genuinely lack confidence while also showing flashes of being genuinely funny. Plus she is just so damn cute. Unbelievable.

Ruth Anne Adams said...

PatCA:

Elliot's sort of growing on me. I really like him.

As to the jaw work--I have a friend who was a good singer in high school with a pronounced underbite. He had major reconstructive surgery in his adult years [6 months with jaw wired shut] and, while it completely changed his looks, he would tell you his voice stayed the same. His diction and his breathing improved, so that's an improvement in the singing, too.

You might be thinking about Barbra Streisand not getting a nose job because she suspected it would change her singing. Noses will affect the quality of singing, but I don't think jaws would. Or not as much.

Any oral surgeons out there who are truly in the know??

Medopine said...

"Elliott has awful teeth. There's nothing they can do about that at this point. It would take a long, long time to fix them. And he's a singer. You can't hide your mouth. Too bad. It shows he grew up too poor to get braces. I really feel for him."

On the latest episdoe of America's Next Top Model one of the contestants had her teeth fixed over a period of 48 hours. It looked pretty intense. Of course she only had to pose afterward, not sing.

She also said her family couldn't afford dental work when she was a child.

Elliot is so charming and cute though, I hardly notice his teeth!