May 9, 2006

"American Idol" -- the final four sing Elvis.

What an interesting night! We are down to four, and only one is female. They must want Katharine McPhee to make it through. They've got to want the beautiful woman to survive amid the three less-than-beautiful men.

They put Katharine in the last slot, which is the standard way to signal support. All she really needs to do is sing pleasantly enough. Why try so hard? But she overdoes everything. It reeks of desperation. She's advised to give meaning to the words of "I Can't Help Falling in Love With You," and then she goes out and sings it as if nothing mattered less than the words. Why, Katharine, why? But the judges are pretty mean to her, and that tends to light a fire under the fans, and I think she will make it.

And then there's Elliott Yamin. Dear, sweet Elliott. Everyone assumed he's the one who'll have to leave. But he sings brilliantly, better than anyone. The judges lavish praise on him, and this is likely to lull the voters. The chances that he will leave, even though he was clearly the best, are quite high.

What about Chris Daughtry, my longtime favorite? I've seen him carry the microphone stand all over the stage two too many times. He doesn't deserve to beat Elliott, dear, sweet Elliott.

And Taylor Hicks? We know he's popular, and he's not going home. He threw himself all over the place for "Jailhouse Rock," and then he pulled it all together for "In the Ghetto," despite the terrible, intrusive arrangement, and the idiotic truncation of the lyrics. "In the Ghetto" tells a life story. Ending it with "And a hungry little boy with a runny nose/Plays in the street as the cold wind blows" is beyond ridiculous. Ooh, how tragic, that a boy has a runny nose!


Jennifer said...

Elliott sounded brilliant in the mp3s. I still think Chris is sexy for a musician. Does sexy trump brilliant......? Hang on, I'm still thinking.

I've been hearing buzz all week that people were gearing up to be offended by In the Ghetto and it's perpetuation of racial stereotypes. WTF? I assume that's why they truncated the way they did. So sad.

Hecla Ma said...

If Elliott goes home, the show is completely not worth watching. Katharine's time is up. She screamed her way through a simple song that needed quiet persuasion. Even Taylor, whom I detest, was better than she.

Chris was okay - thought his first song was very good...but Elliott was on fire for both songs, and he needs to go forward. Actually, I'm starting to think he needs to win this thing, and I'm voting for him tonight.

Hecla Ma said...

Bad sign: only 30 minutes into the voting, I was able to get thru for poor Elliott.

I'm sure the "soul patrol" is doing its duty, though. Arghgh.

Filly Pundit said...

I haven't been able to get through for Elliott once.

Dial Idol doesn't have him in danger either.

Jenny D. said...

I fear for Chris. Put down the mikestand!! he sounds good though. But Taylor?? What a hack! Please, lose Taylor, keep the rest. Ann, you might actually have to VOTE.

Ann Althouse said...

Ha ha. I never vote!

Anyway, I think Chris deserves to leave. He's last right now, according to DialIdol. So be it! He had his chance. Elliott did what he needed to do. All I care about is that Elliott survive.

But I still won't vote.

You vote!

Hecla Ma said...

how do you check dial idol? What is that?

I think Kat deserves the boot, myself. Even Taylor can stay if she goes. :-)

Filly Pundit said...

Dial Idol makes predictions based on the % of busy signals their users get. It's not scientific but it's been 85% accurate over the last couple of seasons in predicting who gets the boot.

That said, don't go here unless you really want to know the results ahead of time.

Hecla Ma said...

Thanks Filly...but argghghgh. Kat is ahead of Chris? Taylor is on top?

The whole world is crazy!

Jenny D. said...

Ann, I'll vote twice...for both of us.

Laura Reynolds said...

Taylor-very not great for Jailhouse Rock. In the Ghetto, not the right time for that song.

Chris-been there done that

Elliott- stepped up doing two less than standard Elvis songs and did very well.

Katharine- I've been on her side but she left herself open to rejection.

Really Chris and Taylor deserve close scrutiny (They aren't being impressive the last couple weeks), Elliott and Kat will probably be in trouble unless Ann's insight is correct re:Kat

Bee said...

I hope Elliott makes it. I can't understand what people see in Taylor, he signals all the wrong things to me--like a bad mimeograph of Michael McDonald. Taylor fans, what do you find so apealing?

Simon said...

McPhee should dye her hair, or at least walk around with a red pin spot pointed at her head, as she did in her second song; it suits her.

Look, let me say what my problem with her is. I'm mainly a bassist, but I sometimes venture into playing guitar. I understand that I'm not an outstanding technical guitar player, so I don't try to pull off that which I know I can't achieve. You can't play with authority if you're exceding your technical ability. Same problem with McPhee. She has a good voice and great stage presense, but her sense of pitch and sheer lungpower don't support this kind of diva crap that she pulled last week, and this week too. I think my evil namesake had it sort of right: he was wrong that she chose the wrong songs, but he was right that she was trying to overload it with showy diva crap that (a) the song couldn't support and (b) she can't pull off. She'd be much better off if she'd just stick within her capabilities, where she can sing with some semblance of authority.

Fortunately, most folks have no sense of pitch, and American Idol is not just (arguably, not even vaguely) about musical talent. She's lovely to look at, she doesn't sound bad, she's a shoe-in unless American Idol's demographic is majority hetero female.

Ann Althouse said...

Chris's two songs, "Suspicious Minds" and "A Little Less Conversation," are rather off-putting to women. They have a sexist vibe. And there was nothing in Chris's delivery to take the edge off that.

SarahWeddington said...

does anyone else think it's a little unfair to katherine to have an elvis theme night?

I mean, elvis is like the ulti,ate guy singer, guy who oozed sex appeal and all that, it's not katherine's fault she can't really do him justice.

how do you think the guys would do if they had a whitney houston, madonna, or mariah carey night?

taylor singing material girl or like a virgin? i'd like to see thta.

the theme was really tough for katherine, they should have had a more unisex theme going.

Ann Althouse said...

Sarah: "Hound Dog" was a woman's song that Elvis covered. Also, only Kat was allowed to sing a medley.

Why didn't anyone do "Heartbreak Hotel"? That's my favorite.

gyc said...

Frankly tonight was very disappointing. None of the contestants were anywhere near Elvis's league. Personally I thought Katharine was over criticized and Elliott was over praised. I thought all 4 were rather middling and that they all deserve to go home. I'm very disappointed with the lack of talent in the top 4 this season.

homericsimile said...

Kat: If you don't care enough to memorize your lyrics at this point, you deserve to go home.

homericsimile said...

Forgot the rest of my post..

Chris: PUT DOWN THE MIC STAND. It does not look "rocker" or "cool" anymore, it just looks like a security blanket.

Taylor: Go sing in a bar.

Elliot: I will buy your record when it comes out even after you get voted off. Best performance of the season so far, which is where contestants are SUPPOSED to be at this point.

SarahWeddington said...


Hound Dog was done by a woman originally, but it was the King that made it a hit and that everyone knows it by.

I just think the guys had a built in advantage with his material, just as Katherine would have had an advantage if they did a Madonna, Whitney, Mariah, Celine, Cher theme.

Not the biggest deal, just something I thought I'd mention.

It would be like if they had a Led Zeppelin or Pearl Jam theme next week. Chris would have an obvious advantage over Katherine or Elliot.

Tristram said...

"None of the contestants were anywhere near Elvis's league."

Err, no duh. But then, you can say that about 99% of the people who have released albums in the last 35 years.

Jay Solo said...

Mmm... Hallucinogens.

SarahWeddington said...

also, why does anyone trust the results they give us. know one sees the data. how do we know that the producers and fox don't just keep on the people they think will give them the best ratings? where's the proof that the results are legit?

Kurt said...

Taylor is a hack, truer words have rarely been spoken. So why do so many people in America keep voting for him?

Have to agree with the Silver Fox completely about the three guys. I'm not sure what to think about Katherine. Maybe she was over-the-top, but I didn't think it was quite as bad as the judges made it out to be.

homericsimile said...


Check out .

Beth said...

Hell, hardly anyone is in Eric Cartman's league for covering "In the Ghetto"!

XWL said...

As far as "In the Ghetto", Sammy Davis, Jr. owns that song.

(and no CD collection is complete without at least two of these Golden Throats compilations)

(If you follow the Sammy link, it mentions that Sebastian Cabot did a whole album of spoken word with chamber music background of Dylan songs, sounds like Prof. Althouse's strangest nightmare, strangely enough, that album has never been released on CD, or on iTunes)

Back to this week's Idol, Katharine still sucks, though I think she might be Tommy "a Devil" Mottola's next wife.

(she's as shreik-y as his previous spouse)

Elliott was solid, Taylor really is no better or worse than most singers for a bar band all across the country, and Chris may have been restrained to save his voice for the final two weeks.

Bottom two, Elliott and Katharine, out of the competition, Katharine (for some reason, the folks that vote love the 'Soul Patrol' schtick)

Bad Penny said...

There's nothing on the lyrics of "In the Ghetto" that even hints at the race or ethnicity of the boy in the song.

Intersting that people fill in information that isn't there.

Jerome C. Austriaco said...

"Also, only Kat was allowed to sing a medley."

Is that accurate? Or was she just the only one to have sung a medley?

This isn't the first gimmick of this nature - see Bo's a capella song last year...

Independent George said...

Last night was my first episode, ever, and kept thinking about this story. Eliott was clearly the best, but all I could think about for half the show was on was, "Damn, she's gorgeous."

One the one hand, I'm betting that 80% of the male vote is behind her. On the other hand, I'm also betting that 80% of the male vote amounts to about 30% of the total vote.

knox said...

Elliot really kicked ass! Not only did he make pretty sophisticated song choices, he actually sang them with style and restraint. To me, his performance was light years ahead of most Idol fare, the only thing I've seen that's in a league with Fantasia's "Summertime" from a couple years ago.

I did feel bad for Katharine, Elvis Night is tough for a girl, I think. Chris was just OK. I really just don't want to see Taylor do his manic act anymore. It used to be refreshing to see someone so willing to be a spaz, now it seems like a gimmick. Did ok with "In the ghetto" I guess (yawn).

But it was Elliot's night!

Ann Althouse said...

XWL: Sebastian Cabot's album was the original model for an actor covering rock songs so badly it was comical, but it was William Shatner's similar foolishness that lasted (because his show was more popular).

The suggestion that Fox doesn't use the actual results: ridiculous. 1. Look at some of the results! 2. Nothing would hurt the ratings as much as the news that they'd disregarded the actual vote.

Jerome: You're right that we don't know if anyone else asked to sing a medley. But I thought it looked like special treatment.

Kat had a disadvantage singing Elvis songs. But she had some pretty obvious advantages! And no one said you had to sing like Elvis. Pick a song and sing it well. As they say, make it your own.

HalfCentTriChic said...

I missed last night's show, but after viewing the clips on, Kat definately has to go - with Taylor right behind her. There was no 'there' there with her. It doesn't matter what the theme is - if you've got the chops you can cover Lawrence Welk if you have to!

Elliott was tremendous. Chris, well, you know how I feel about him.

I don't see Chris going anywhere.

hygate said...

Ann said:

"The suggestion that Fox doesn't use the actual results: ridiculous. 1. Look at some of the results! 2. Nothing would hurt the ratings as much as the news that they'd disregarded the actual vote."

And, since the show allows the test marketing of the contestants, not using the real results would not only be pointless, but counter productive. On a non-reality TV show it would be like killing off the most popular character. I think a lot of people want to believe that Idol is fixed because their favorite was voted off.

Nathan said...

Did anyone else think Chris hurt himself with his "boxer-briefs" comment? That was lame.

K. Johnson said...

I'd have a lot easier time supporting Elliott if he could just fix his terrible vibrato. First part of his second song was great...until the vibrato came in and ruined it.

Jennifer said...

Nathan - what did he say? I'm seeing girls swooning all over the boards about this boxer-brief comment. I'm curious!

Timothy said...

Chris sounds like generic 1997 alt-rock singer #12.

Taylor sounds like a poor man's Michael Bolton.

I've heard better than Eliott in high school musicals.

Katharine wishes she were Madonna, but sounds more like that diva-y girl from church* who think's she's way better than she actually is.

That said, I will admit that I root for Katharine because she is quite pleasant looking. When it comes to TV I'm shallow like that.

*Every church I ever went to had one of these.

PatCA said...

I think Katharine needs to go. She has a great voice but is clearly not a pop singer. I would pay to see her and Paris in a jazz club, though.

I think Chris is losing his voice so is holding back. Elliott just might make it--he's got the best voice and he is a Clay-type, likeable but not cute.

Jennifer said...

Chris's two songs, "Suspicious Minds" and "A Little Less Conversation," are rather off-putting to women. They have a sexist vibe. And there was nothing in Chris's delivery to take the edge off that.

I was wondering how he fell from your graces so quickly.

I disagree with you though, that the songs feel sexist. I think "A Little Less Conversation" is a fun, flirty song. We all feel that way sometimes! But, unfortunately I didn't hear fun and flirty in his delivery over the mp3.

Also, I'm not really catching how "Suspicious Minds" is sexist. I've identified with that song in the past. It's impossible to make something work with a jealous partner - I think that song could be sung by a man or a woman.

Ann Althouse said...

Jennifer: It's not just that. (And I agree the songs can be defended as not actually in the voice of an obnoxiously controlling man.) It's that he didn't sing them well enough.

Jennifer said...

I agree the songs can be defended as not actually in the voice of an obnoxiously controlling man.


I agree that he didn't sing well enough last night. I haven't watched the clips yet, but for the first time, I felt like all I heard was words coming out of his month. He usually emotes more, I think.

Catherine Wilkinson said...

Silver Fox is right on.
Chris is getting's annoying. Enough with the Creed crap.
Taylor is darker than anyone would know...I think he has tantrums and drinks brandy at 2am.
Did you notice Katherine's behavior at end of show? clapping, completely pissed off looking.
Elliott is compelling, terrific voice, increasingly good, could pull an upset. If Chris goes, he's in position to win. If Katherine goes, with the three guys, hm...hard to say.

XWL said...

XWL: Sebastian Cabot's album was the original model for an actor covering rock songs so badly it was comical,

Steve Allen did that bit from the very beginning of the Rock Era, so I think he beats Cabot when speaking of primacy (though Cabot was doing it as tribute, Allen as mockery).

Mocking rock lyrics is as old as rock n' roll, and the tradition continues on Conan's show, they've recently used James Lipton to read with dramatic flair Kevin Federline lyrics (You Tubed for your enjoyment, Freestyle here and Popo Zao here)

(on the "Freestyle" link, click for the reading of the lyrics, but stay for the beer bong at the end)

Ann Althouse said...

XWL: I meant unintentionally comical. Cabot is funny because you can hear that he thinks he's being deep and that the lyrics are serious. Allen -- the man who made Elvis sing "Hound Dog" to a dog -- just had contempt for the lyrics. I remember Joey Bishop -- who had a talk show in the 1960s doing the same thing. Bishop once read the lyrics of "Go Ask Alice" and then mocked them as just being nonsense (as if he'd never heard of mind-altering drugs). People like Allen and, today, O'Brien, present themselves as the hip ones. Cabot, we were laughing at. A different kind of fun.

michael farris said...

Just listened to mp3's (no video):

I'll go in worst to best order (for me)

Taylor : I'm so sick of this crap. Yell, yell, yell. Growl or speak when you can't hit the note. Maybe with the video I could work up some enthusiasm, but on sound alone, it's crap. Extra bonus points for mangling the lyrics: "or simply do we turn our heads and look the other way" simply have we not learned basic syntax?

Katherine : I'm no longer against her so much, but she surely didn't help herself very much here. I suspect sabotage in song selection: If she had sung "close your mouth, open up your heart and satisfy me" she'd be _so_ safe. What was up with merging hounddog/allshookup. I'm actually kind of flummoxed trying to say much about the performance and reduced to thinking maybe her rack will see her through to the next round.

Chris: Strangely dispirited, I couldn't help think that maybe five minutes before his performance he'd been told off by a producer who pointed out that he's not an artist, he's a performing idol boy. Or maybe he's resting his voice hoping charisma and material will carry him through the next round? The problem is, the only time i like his singing is when he's pushing his voice too hard.

Elliott: Really does just keep getting better and better, he's the real class of the field and he doesn't have a chance to survive to the next round (unless Taylor fans clean out their ears and/or _listen_ instead of watch or Katherine fans do the same). Trouble was okay on musical terms alone, but he can't quite pull off 'I'm eeeeeeevil'. Earth to Elliott, real evil guys don't use vibrato or hoot as they finish singing about how eeeevil they are. The other song (blanking on the title) was freaking amazing. His phrasing is just soooooo good. He's the only one who delivers whole lines of text mapped out in a coherent musical line instead of singing a sucession of notes and words at the same time. Even he can't save the patented American Idol truncated ending, but he's no worse than anyone else.

Should leave: TAYLOR!!!!! (the Bill Clinton of American Idol)
Will leave: Elliott, I'm afraid. Hopefully there are plans to record him anyway, he needs a disciplined producer but with the right material I could easily imagine paying money for an Elliott Yamin cd.

bill said...

XWL, the BEST version of "In the Ghetto" is from Jim Goad's brilliantly subversive CD Deep Inside a Cop's Mind. If there isn't something on here you find offensive, it isn't for lack of trying.

michael farris said...

OT: I'm completely crazy about Sebastian Cabot's version of "Don't think twice (it's alright)". I could listen to it a hundred times a week (if I no longer cared about my sanity, such as it is).

Just as good is "the look of love" performed in the same style by Greg Morris (black guy from first Mission Impossible tv series).

The dear departed internet radio show Friendly Persuasion used to have great stuff like that all the time, now it's harder to find ....

Hecla Ma said...

"Taylor is the Bill Clinton of American Idol."

Michael, yes, THANK GOD someone finally agrees with me!!!

And whoever suggested that Taylor is a darkling, throwing temper tantrums and drinking brandy at 2AM (Brandy? Not Muscatel?) I see that, too. I've never been able to buy a second of his "good ole' boy" schtick - I never bought it off Clinton either.

But it says a great deal about Americans - maybe some unnerving things - that a good flim-flam man can so capture their hearts. I used to think Americans recognised a con man and simply appreciated the I'm beginning to think they're simply suckers, after all.

Tara Alta said...

American Idol in Graceland is a perfect match. Ever been there? Although the outside looks grand the interior is constructed of cheap materials. Just like the skills of many AI contestants, Graceland looks good from the outside but it's basic construction seems flawed.
AI is not about narrowing the field down to the best singers, otherwise Mandisa and Paris would still be in the competition.
Ever try closing your eyes during the performances? It helps. Elliot is by far the best singer left (what sweet phrasing).
That said, I've been listening to Bo Bice's performances from last year. So many were memorable. How many from this year can you recall? Nothing has yet to top Bo's In A Dream.
As for tonight, if my vote mattered, it's time for KitKat to leave the club.

Kurt said...

I've thought that before about the Taylor-Bill Clinton similarity. I'm glad some other folks have noticed and commented on it, as well.

What's interesting is that the two folks I work with who are big fans of Taylor are also big fans of Bill Clinton. Coincidence? I suspect not!

word verification: rndkid
(i'd say that of all the remaining contestants, Taylor was most likely a rndkid as a child.)

Laura Reynolds said...

Michael: I always look forward to your comments. I agree about Taylor (the Clinton analog is perfect) he has clearly benefitted from a well organized and energetic fan club(s).

I think Elliott survives though. If Kat goes (50% chance IMO) her voters could go towards Elliott and pull him through. My two cents.

michael farris said...

thanks stever, I don't think I'm the first to notice Clintonesque features of Taylor but it's who he reminded me of from the first time I saw his picture to the first (and only) time I bothered to watch a video (and I'm not a Clinton hater, not a fan, but not a hater).

Interestingly wading through some Taylor fan comments (I didn't last long, but I was curious) there's almost nothing about his singing; it's all about how 'real' he is, or how 'he's himself' or how he made some song 'his own'. Of them all, he has the clearest concept of what being a celebrity is (and would be very good at being famous).

I'm hoping that Elliott gets all the Paris voters (since they're the closest in a lot of ways). But I think a good percentage of those just gave up on the show, I think I saw that ratings were down a little. If Katherine leaves (and by now, I'm actually thinking she's sort of trying to get voted off) I assume Chris and Elliot would split those votes, depending.

If Chris goes, Katharine and Taylor would split his votes.

If Elliott goes, I think Chris will get some of his votes (he's second best as a singer now though his technique isn't really compatible with vocal health) and some will be gone.

Ann Althouse said...

The reason Taylor reminds you of Clinton and the reason it was especially noticeable last night is because both men are echoing Elvis.