May 17, 2005

"American Idol" -- the final three.

We’re down to the last three, so it’s a big night. “Vonzie” is the underdog. Bo is my favorite. Carrie is the actual favorite.

They’re going to sing three songs each. The first song is the choice of Clive Davis, and he's sitting in on the judges' panel tonight. The second song is the contestant's own choice. The third is chosen by one of the regular judges.

“I’ll Never Love This Way Again” is Davis’s choice for Vonzell Solomon. She’s immobilized by a stiff black dress. She hits the high notes nicely. But there is something cold and meaningless about it. Randy comes up with his usual set of made-up adjectives: “Pitchy… rangy.” Paula: "pitchy" but you ended up “nailing the power.” Simon: you’ve got two more songs.

For Bo Bice, the song is “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me.” A great choice for him, because it fits his voice but is pop. Davis: “Heartfelt… passionate.” Randy: “That was hot.” Paula: “Pure brilliance.” Simon: “Great, really great.” Simon likes the pop Bo better than the rock Bo.

For Carrie, “Crying.” The beautiful Roy Orbison song. Beautiful! Best Carrie yet. And you know I don’t like her. Beautiful song. Horrid last note. You missed the falsetto end, Clive Davis moans. Randy: “Hot.” Paula: “Poignant.” Simon: “Not sure about that last note … a little wooden… Round 1: Bo.”

For her own choice, Vonzell does “Chain of Fools.” Again, the high notes are a thrill. But it’s missing some feeling. Clive: “You missed the soulful essence of the song.” Randy: “Perfect… in tune .. you made it your own.” Paula: “Nailed.. with gusto.” Simon: “You have the likeability factor.. Terrific… great fun.” Clive was right, but she’s 19. How much can you expect?

Bo will sing his song without the band. “Within a Dream.” I don’t know this song, but he sings it with real feeling. Is it a religious song? (It ends with a cross-shaped lighting effect.) Did Bo dismiss the band because it played so bad? Or was it a real choice? He stands with his hands clasped behind his back. No acting up. All sheer vocal power. Clive: “You took a risk.” Randy: “Unbelievable.” Paula: “You truly are a gift.. a gift on the inside too.” Simon: “You may have just put 34 musicians out of work.”

Carrie sings an Air Supply song. I don’t know this song. It’s yell-y, and I can’t find the melody. The performance is strenuous, with a show-off extra-long note. This is the kind of thing that leaves me ice cold. Clive: “Great job.” Randy: “You can definitely, definitely sing.” Paula: “You really got to power your voice.” Simon: “You may have pushed that song too much.”

Now the judges pick the songs, and Vonzell is given a Donna Summer song, “On the Radio.” Though I just titled a post "On the Radio" yesterday, I don’t really know this song. The judges all acknowledge she was "having fun." Seems they’ve designated her as the loser.

Bo is given “Satisfaction”!!!!! Paula chose the song. I vocalize my approval (all alone here in my hotel room, with my laptop balanced on my knees). Bo leaps out into center stage. He’s got to be able to do this. And he can. Clive: “You’ve nailed it.” Randy: “You rocked the house tonight.” Paula: babbling praise. Simon: “I’ve heard all this before at weddings. … That was just a bit of light fluff.” Well, Simon, Paula made him sing this.

Carrie is assigned “I Feel Like a Woman,” a Shania Twain song, which, of course, I’m not familiar with. The early low notes are incomprehensible to me. Ack! I hate this kind of song. Partly, it’s the band: just a big cacophonic mess. I don’t get the song at all. It isn’t musical. The judges all think this was a typical thing for her and that she did it right. Simon complained about the weird, early low notes, but thinks she’ll make it.

All in all, it looks bleak for dear Vonzell.

UPDATE: The impoverished language of the judges was quite obvious last night. One judge came up with "nailed" early on, and the word turned up in half the judges' comments after that. Simon's big slam of the night -- that Bo sounded like a wedding singer -- is one he's used approximately every other week. On alternate weeks, the reference is to a singer in any local bar. For a real stretch, he comes up with "karaoke." I'd love to see him for once concede that it's the nature of the show itself to push the singers into such performances. Or that it's the nature of the show itself to drain singers of real emotion and to cause them to rely on oversung long notes and ugly-sounding early low notes leading to thrilling late high notes.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Rereading this post, I notice Simon announced the winner of "Round 1," but then refrained from even mentioning the terms "Round 2" and "Round 3." I think that's because Bo, his winner for the first round, won Round 2 even more decisively, and the only interesting question became which of the two female singers was coming in second. And, really, almost nothing was said to push us to see Carrie or Vonzell as especially needing or deserving our votes. It was also interesting that the footage gleaned from the visits to the home towns was not used to try to inspire voting. I wonder if this was because it would have favored one of the contestants -- Vonzell? -- in a way that would tend to make this crucial vote more about personal warmth than actual singing.


Julie said...

...and for a special treat, be sure to vote while you still because the voice recordings are from the idols themselves. (Did I mention I love Bo?)

Gerry said...

I forgot the numbers, oh well.

I am sticking with my prediction. No way Bo loses.

Ann Althouse said...

Do you know, I haven't voted all season? I've voted in past seasons, but for some reason, I just don't see it as a thing I do anymore.

henny said...

I have to say that I liked Carrie's Air Supply song. I'm starting to see her as a 70's/80's power vocalist country/pop diva. I'd love to hear her sing a Juice Newton song. I thought Bo was great tonight, but I didn't get his Stones rendition. It didn't excite me, and vocally sounded a bit flat. Vonzel is adorable as usual, but needs to be a modern day Supreme in a girl band. I don't see her as solo.

ploopusgirl said...

Oh, Ann. Are you really this sad? Halfway across the country to visit your son at college and yet your find yourself home at 8 P.M. blogging about American Idol? Pathetic.

Irene Done said...

Oh my gosh, ploopusgirl -- if that's your real name -- I was worried Ann Althouse WOULDN'T blog about Idol tonight. So I'm happily surprised.

The annual Clive Davis appearance is my favorite show. I think he absolutely captures what's wrong and right about each performance.

ploopusgirl said...

That IS my real name. I have all sorts of proof and family at

Bill Millan said...

They all but gave it to Bo, didn't they? Too bad Carrie doesn't have some more personality to go with her great pop-country sound. Looks like those two for the final.

Ann Althouse said...

Ploopusgirl: Thanks for your concern. It's only an hour show!

dax said...

Last week I had doubts about Bo and posted that he needed to "knock it out of the park"
Last night, he did.
BTW: Last week several of you were poo-pooing what it would mean for Bo to win. What a "burden" it would be for him to be the AI. If you happened to catch the comment from Clive Davis to Bo about doing recordings and then Bos' reaction to the comment, you have to realize that this guy has nothing to worry about.
Way to go Bo!

jult52 said...

Ann -- not to be snippy, but you "can't find the melody" in Carrie's Air Supply song? Maybe you were having a bad night.

I was very disappointed in Paula selecting "Satisfaction" for Bo. It didn't demand that he expand his range and is a very easy song to sing. Bo's version was better than Mick Jagger's, IMO, which isn't saying all that much. When Bo had to sing an Elton John song, he was clearly inferior to the original. (Every time I hear an AI contestant try one of Elton John's songs, I have more respect for Elton's singing ability. It is exceptional.) I don't think Bo had an outstanding night, despite some positive commentary.

Monkeydarts said...

For the first time all season Bo has pulled ahead of Carrie in AI futures trading at Tradesports. Bo futures are at 49.8 and Carrie futures are 48.0. She has had a comfortable lead all season--- until last night/ this morning when Bo futures soared by about 12 points! Vonzell futures are in the single digits of course.

Tosy And Cosh said...

Did anyone notice that Vonzell sang "I know I'll never love this way again" with a smile on the entire time. She's happy about it. The sheer disconnect from the lyrics is truly remarkable.

jennifer said...

The biggest problem this year has been the disconnect from the lyrics. They know the words and think that's good enough. Like memorizing dates for an exam.

Bo was 2/3. Paula should be forever banned from choosing songs. Carrie was 1/3. Poor girl is trying so hard to emote. And now all I see is a desperate attempt to try. Her first performance was the best from her all season, but still just missed the emotional mark.

Poor Vonzie never stood a chance. But the shift from the Carrie coronation to the Bo annointment has seemingly run full circle.

And to ploopus -- I could be in the middle of my wedding, and I would still watch and blog AI.

Conservative_D said...

Never voted for anyone on AI, before last night. Bo got a vote from me and one from the wife.

First 2 songs were incredible, I was nervous before he sang Elton John (he's always tough to sing for anyone). And what a risk singing without the band for the second song, but he 'nailed it' :) My problem with Bo's version of "Satisfaction" was the arrangement (who put the horns in there????? might have been better without the band for that one too) The song really doesn't show off any vocal ability 'nonono, heyheyhey, that's what I say'. Don't get me wrong, I love the Stones and will see them later this year, but Bo couldn't be faulted for song choice there.

The wife and I have been Bo fans the whole year, but up until 2 weeks ago, I thought Carrie was going to win (Her version of 'Alone' IMO was good enough to get her to the finals). Bo needs to bring it home next week!

Harkonnendog said...

I thought all 3 were great. Carrie's Crying was unbelievable. I'd buy that single online right now if I could.

With these 3 I don't think there should be a loser. In fact I don't think there will be. All 3 get contracts, all 3 will have hits, and all 3 will have long careers.

Compare that to Fantasia the Screamer, who I always thought sucked, and whose latest overhyped hit is a montage of Fantasia screaming over herself and then screaming over herself again and then doing again, and again, until a listener's head explodes if they don't turn it off. (Nobody has ever finished listening to that song, I guarantee it. There head would explod 1st.)

Really happy with this season.

Grimwell said...

Bo's song is called "In A Dream" and was originally written/performed by Ray Gillen & Jake E. Lee as a part of the band "Badlands"

Originally it was an acoutistic/lyric combo but Bo did a great job and blew me away with the selection. I've always gotten a kick out of Idol, but Bo took it up another notch.

Here is a link to Jake E. Lee's Website article on it.

Very cool.