March 14, 2006

"American Idol" --singing Stevie.

Aw, I love all the kids that made it to the top 12. I have a feeling the next few weeks will eliminate Kevin, Melissa, and Bucky. It seems obvious. Too predictable. But maybe something surprising will happen.

Tonight, they are all singing Stevie Wonder songs, and we begin with a quick biographical montage. I remember when the only Stevie Wonder record was "Fingertips," and "Little" Stevie Wonder first appeared on "American Bandstand." It was his thirteenth birthday. Yeah, Stevie Wonder is overplayed on "American Idol," to the point where the judges have criticized some contestants for "playing it safe" by singing his songs. But here they are devoting a whole 2-hour show to him. Well, why not? His songs really are great. They're our standards. Do you have a favorite? I'm going to say: "For Once in My Life." We see the 12 finalists practicing "My Cherie Amour," and, suprising them, Stevie Wonder is ushered in. Extra points to Kellie Pickler and Elliott Yamin for crying genuine tears.

Ace Young ("Do I Do") is awful. He's overwhelmed by the bigger band and bigger stage. He's imitating that breath-holding thing that Wonder does.

Kellie Pickler ("Blame It on the Sun") is very dull. Randy: "It was kind like a nonevent, like it didn't even really happen."

Elliott ("Knocks Me Off My Feet") bores me at first but then gets good in the end when it's challenging.

Mandisa ("Don't You Worry 'Bout a Thing") sings the high notes well but doesn't thrill.

Bucky Covington ("Superstition"). For once, his hair looks clean. Not just clean, but all fluffy and curled, like something Austin Scarlett would concoct. Wait, the hair was so distracting... How about the song? It was okay.

Melissa McGhee ("Lately") blows her voice out, straining all the way through.

Lisa Tucker ("Signed, Sealed, Delivered") misses the spirit of the song.

Kevin Covais ("Part-Time Lover"). Ooh, he's too young for this song! And he makes a point of saying how sexy he's going to make it. Nooooo!

Katharine McPhee ("Until You Come Back to Me"). Screetchy. Empty. They love her though.

Taylor Hicks has my favorite song choice: "Living for the City." Nice singing and dancing. He brings joy... to a song of pain.

Paris Bennett ("All I Do") wails somewhat appealingly.

Chris Daughtry -- he's my favorite. He's not too familiar with Stevie Wonder: he expressed relief at finding out that "Higher Ground" is a Stevie Wonder song. He knew it as a Red Hot Chili Peppers song. I love this song choice too. Bo-like, he brings out a mike stand to interact with. This is by far the best of the night. Simon agrees, saying, "Best tonight, by a mile."

Come on, Chris is going to win the season -- don't we all know that?


Hecla Ma said...

Oh, MAN, I can't believe I missed it - Chris Daughtry is really great, I'd have loved to have heard him sing Higher Ground!

Jerome C. Austriaco said...

Chris was fine, nothing wrong with his performance - was supposed to be Stevie Wonder night. The arrangement was for the Chili Peppers version. This enabled Chris to stay in his comfort zone for this song and not have to take any risks. Did no one else find it telling that he was "relieved" to find out that a rock band had covered a Stevie song? He won't be able to get through every theme night doing this.

Wickedpinto said...

Elliot did his Worst, though he's my favorite for final Idol.

Mandisa didn't do well at all, though she hit the "big" parts, which MIGHT have reminded America of her talents (Mandisa is built for the SSB, and such)

Kevin, who is the least talented actually did VERY well I think, and I think it will be Bucky who goes home, unless it is one of the attractive non mandisa women who gets sent home. This year the Women are, generaly, too hot.

Though the men are BY FAR! even bucky, more talented than the women, America likes hot chicks, even the fat ugly chicks sitting on their ass at home like hot chicks. Kevin is the least talented with a VERY good performance, but I like kevin, but I think it will be McGhee. (thats the brunette with the flower print over her excellent breasts right?)

It's a Bitch, this week, I think it should be the flower print broad, cuz she sucks as much as cox, MAYBE or kevin, JUST GET RID of him so I stop rooting for the kid?


Every episode? I was unimpressed by Paris, tonight she was FRIGGEN AWESOME!!! she beat EVERYONE in my opinion, and I LOVE Mandisa and Elliot

Wickedpinto said...

One More Thing? if you listen to the Althouse PodCast? you SHOULD listen to "hoist the Black Flag" it is a netcast, hosted by Ace of spades, and EVERYONE should listen.

I hope Anne makes a main post about it, but if she doesn't she doesn't. ACE is HILLARIOUS, and HONEST, and Ironic. Ace is a real guy, a conservative guy, but a real guy nonetheless, and I LOVE that in voice, and in fact, in visual, but the media doesn't have the balls (nor does ace) to broadcast the ACEholeish thing he says, though there is a LOT of truth.

Think of southpark, with less preparation, and more commonly disseminated.

Ma'am? Is it okay if I push an ACE OF SPADES concept? I don't link, thats your job, if you chose too.wb

J. Peden said...

"Do you have a favorite [Stevie Wonder song]?"

Try "Contract on Love", possibly his first hit song. It's the only one of his I still listen to.

Michael Farris said...

"He brings joy... to a song of pain."

This is my whole problem with the whole Idol franchise. It digs up all these young people who are .... unfinished.

They have talent, talent is cheap, there's lots of it around. What they lack is artistic judgment. What follows are poor song choices (usually because it's a song that means something to them, they don't have the self-awareness to think of the audience or matching material to their particular gifts).
The poor song choices are then compounded by confounding interpretive choices since they don't know anything of the background or meaning of the material. Performers tend to be self-centered, good performers sooner or later get the idea pounded into their head that it's not all about them.

All this comes with the territory of course. But it never seems to get any better, they finish the competition basically the same as they begin. I'd like to see some evidence of constructive engagement by people who know what they're doing and who can give them some of what they lack. The couch potatoish jury comments are just too banal for words.

Michael Farris said...

BTW My favorite Stevie Wonder song is Tuesday Heartbreak from Talking Book (and the flipside of You are the sunshine of my life IIRC). It's not his best, by a long shot, but it's probably my favorite.

Ann Althouse said...

Wickedpinto: For the longest time, I thought you were talking about Ace Young and found your comment quite puzzling. This is the "American Idol" post, you know. Or is Ace Young actually Ace of Spades?

Jerome: "This enabled Chris to stay in his comfort zone for this song and not have to take any risks." He either stayed in his comfort zone or -- that other AI cliche -- "made it his own," which is what they told him, basically because they were unfamiliar with the Chili Peppers version (or pretended to be).

Uncle Mikey said...

Michael Farris, I couldn't disagree more. All of the winners (in my opinion) and some of the runners up have changed into professionals over the course of the show, and that's what's interesting about it. Which is why I'm not as hard on these kids at the beginning of the process as I am at the end.

And in case anyone hadn't seen this, read about Gedeon McKinney's pre- and during-Idol difficulties, and wonder (as I do) why the show didn't tell us about them. Weird.

Jennifer said...

Oh I can't wait to see this one! I finally got last week's shows in the mail yesterday. Sorry, but I am so last week here.

Awww, Gideon grew on me! I wish he hadn't been voted off. He was downright adorable with his painting and his mom and grandma bit. That speech in the final announcement/long walk of doom room killed his chances. I have a feeling that if I watched that speech again now that I'm a little more familiar with his personality, it would come off totally differently.

Anyone complaining that Chris Daughtry wasn't forced to go outside his comfort zone didn't watch them frantically rearranging all the themes last year to accomodate Bo. They went from using specific artists and genres to whole decades to make sure there was good rocker material.

Ann, I think you're absolutely right about Kevin, Melissa and Bucky. But please nobody hurt Kevin. He is so earnest it kills me. Melissa has a great, kind of rough quality to her voice but she is just so ugly and I can't get past that. I like Bucky but he's pretty out of his league, I think.

Jennifer said...

Uncle Mikey - I wish they had clued us in too. But, Gideon could push his sob story at every chance like Kelly Pickler if he wanted to. I have more respect for him that he didn't.

Melissa McGhee's parents have apparently been in and out of jail too, but she hasn't said a peep either.

It's too bad because it takes more class to try to move forward on your merits, but clearly it helps your chances to be whiny.

Ann Althouse said...

Jennifer: Kevin has gotten cocky. I'm not sure how that will work, but he's sure not being the little kid Simon would like to portray him as. He's playing, maybe overplaying, the Clay card, saying, essentially, I'm really sexy in exactly this form. He's talking back to Simon too. We'll see how "America" likes that.

Jennifer said...

Ann: Ooh, that can't play well. His sweet deer-in-the-headlights thing was the only thing I liked about him.

I guess we'll find out tonight.

SteveR said...

I agree that Chris is good and obviously Simon is very happy with his performances, but I still wonder how much range he has beyond the rocker mode. I think he'll need to do more than just one thing really well. Ace or Kevin should go.

Adam said...

The question is whether Kevin is fully in on his own joke, because, for real? "Part-Time Lover" is a song about infidelity, and I don't know that he understands even that much.

Taylor offended me last night -- you DON'T sing that bitter, resentful song as though it were joyful.

Patrick said...

Kevin has turned into Jason Alexander with a time machine, and he's starting to make my skin crawl. I wonder how long VFTW can keep him in this?

Big props to Stevie for the way he worked with the contestants. Most of his one-line assessments carried better advice than they're likely to get from the judges all year.

Ruth Anne Adams said...

My favorite Stevie: Sir Duke.

Can someone who is familiar with the Chili Peppers' version let me know if Chris did indeed split the difference. Or was he entirely doing the Chili Peppers' version?

I think knowing one's own style is a key to success. In the country music realm, Toby Keith languished trying to be Nashville's version of him. When he was allowed to sing what he really wanted to sing, he made it HUGE. And because he writes a lot of what he performs, he's continuing to be huge.

Jennifer said...

Ruth Anne - Next week I'll tell you whether he split the difference or not! :) Sorry I'm so behind.

You're totally right about Toby Keith. Same with Kenny Chesney. Back when they were trying to make him a cowboy with the "She Thinks My Tractor's Sexy" and all he wasn't getting very far. But now that they let him do his frat boy on the beach thing he's huge.

Jerome C. Austriaco said...

"Anyone complaining that Chris Daughtry wasn't forced to go outside his comfort zone didn't watch them frantically rearranging all the themes last year to accomodate Bo. They went from using specific artists and genres to whole decades to make sure there was good rocker material."

Jennifer: I actually had the same complaint about Bo last year. In addition, when you get to see the episode, you'll notice that he gets the Constantine Maroulis "Bohemian Rhapsody" treatment with the overdone stage production.

The whole thing was just ridiculous. Chris is a one-trick pony (who does his trick pretty well). He won't win.

Jennifer said...

Chris is a one-trick pony (who does his trick pretty well). He won't win.

I'm split here. He definitely is a one-trick pony, I'm with you there. But, he is my personal favorite. At the same time, LORD I HOPE HE DOESN'T WIN!

Bo looked so sad and broken when he performed on the results show from last week. They'll do the same thing to Chris with their cheesy and badly written rock. I wish he had taken up Fuel on their lead singer offer. I guess he couldn't get out of his Idol contract, though.

paulfrommpls said...

I thought possibly Bo wrote that song. Which would have been too bad, it was a terrible song. But I couldn’t believe AI’s professional handlers (assuming they exist) would hand him a song that bad. The problem is he doesn’t have a great enough voice to be an interpreters of others' songs. He needs to be seen as singing his own songs, even if he’s a front man in a band where someone else wrote the songs. Unfortunately, maybe he can’t write songs. It’s very hard to do well. It’s harder than comedy, I think.

Troy said...

Favorite Stevie Wonder song... "They Won't Go When I Go" and I love "Superstition" -- Stevie Ray Vaughan's version (though Stevie Wonder's original is great too

Harkonnendog said...

Hicks said he really felt the song being from the South, but it is more about being black than poor, if you look at the lyrics. (I don't have a problem with it, I just find it odd that Hicks would make that comment.) Does anyone know if Hicks sang these lyrics?

To find a job is like a haystack needle

Cause where he lives they don’t use colored people

I'm just wondering if American Idol would allow that...