May 2, 2006

So much for radio... it's time for TV: "American Idol" -- the final 5.

Let's throw the cares of the world aside and fall into the arms of Ryan Seacrest, who will guide us through our national folly.

The theme tonight is songs from the year you were born.

Elliott Yamin was born in 1978, so he's singing "On Broadway." That's from '78? I remember hearing it in the 60s. Am I losing it? Key lyric: "And I won't quit 'til I'm a star." Elliott keeps winking.

Paris Bennett, born in 1988, is singing "Kiss"! I can't overstate how much I love this song choice. "You don't have to be cool to rule my world." Simon: "Screetchy and annoying." Paris: "I thank him." Ryan: whaaa? Paris: "I love all the opinions." Stay positive. You don't have to make sense to rule my world.

Chris Daughtry, born in 1979, sings "Renegade." Simon: "A million times better than the first two performances."

Katharine McPhee -- sorry I missed the year -- "Against All Odds." It sounds thin and -- well -- screetchy. But she looks lovely.

Taylor Hicks, born in 1976, sings the perfect song for him, "Play That Funky Music, White Boy." He's wearing a paisley shirt and doing a weird dance. He ends singing flat on his back on the stage.

For the second song, there's a new theme: current hits.

Elliott, "Home." Rich and sensitive, but kind of dull.

Paris, "Be Without You." Simon's right: "You did rather well with that."

Chris, "I Dare You." The band is putrid! The backdrop is licking red flames. But despite all that, Chris is good. The judges don't like it much though and keep saying his voice was giving out. Talking to Ryan, he's all short of breath. Poor Chrissy! Vote for him!

Katharine, "Black Horse in the Cherry Tree"? That can't be the title. She's crawling on the floor next to two guys playing (and sitting on) box drums. I'm simply not comprehending anything about this song or this performance.

Taylor, "Something." Ah! A song I can relate to! He's giving it the Joe Cocker treatment. How is this a current hit? Someone must have a record out. Whatever. Nice!

Everyone did a creditable job tonight. It's hard to rank them, but I'm going to go with: Chris, Taylor, Elliott, Paris, Katharine. The only person I think is safe is Taylor.

UPDATE: In the comments, there's some talk about what songs we would pick if we had to pick a song from the year we were born. I'm not commenting on that myself, because I already talked about it last year, here, when the same theme came up on the previous season of the show. Also, what exactly did Paris say about the song "Kiss"? "The song is not really a song that people can make a song, but I think I can." That quote is not really a quote that people can make a quote, but I think I can.


Jennifer said...

Oh lord, they're almost all younger than me. Sigh.

I've listened to the birth year songs for Chris, Paris and Katharine so far. I liked Chris, loved Paris.

Katharine reminded me of what it sounded like when I tried to play some of Mozart's trickier stuff well before I was ready. It just sounded like she was having a hard time with her instrument.

Pastor_Jeff said...

Ann - I think you're right. It was a Drifters song first, covered by Geroge Benson (I think) in a funky 70s version.

I think "Against All Odds" was from the mid-80s. Is that right?

How about this, anyone: What song would you sing from the year you were born?

For me, it would be "Respect," "Soul Man" or "Ode to Billie Joe"

Jennifer said...

Ooh - Elliot's Home sounds beautiful.

Jennifer said...

Looks like "Against All Odds" was from 1984 - if its the Phil Collins song.

1984? 1988? Geez. Those just don't sound like birth years.

Simon said...

Re Katharine -
I couldn't resist sticking a head around the door to watch, but musically, that was a bit of a train wreck. Her voice just doesn't seem to be apt to this diva shit that she's been doing the last couple of weeks; it worked wonderfully when she was doing standards, Norah Jones type material, which really seems to fit her like a glove (or, perhaps, a tight yellow dress...Marvellous). But tonight she seemed to struggle to hit, let alone hold any particular note. Unpleasent.

But she is, again, just stunning to look at.

Jim H said...

Too bad Kellie is no longer there given that Simon called the night's performances "erratic". The confusion would have been particularly entertaining.

Jim H said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Jim H said...

Simon, you're right about Katharine's first performance, but she redeemed herself with something completely different the second time around.

katiebakes said...

The bar had been set fairly high, but the Simon-Katharine interaction was particularly awkward tonight.

bill said...

pastor jeff got it, he sang the George Benson version. This version was used by Bob Fosse for the mass audition scene that opens the 1979 "All That Jazz."

rue316 said...

Jennifer said: "1984? 1988? Geez. Those just don't sound like birth years."

Sure they do - the birth years of my children!!!!

Dawn said...

There were some, uh, interesting hits in 1961.

"The Chipmonk Song" being one of them.

But I'd have to go with either "Crazy" by Patsy Cline or "Dedicated to the One I Love" by The Shirelles.

I didn't get to see tonight's performances (youngest had softball practice), but I did get to hear them over the cell, courtesy of our oldest. If Chris looked anywhere as great as he sounded, it's a lock.

TOM said...

I'm not sure I understand what calendar AI uses. "Something" was from 1969, not today. Benson's "On Broadway" was a year later than when Elliot was born. And "Kiss"--which, indeed, is a truly magnificent song on an album full of junk--came out in 1986, not 1988. Prince's 1988 release was the crappy Lovesexy and the only hit single was the deeply bland "Alphabet Street," which has rightfully forgotten in music history.

Ruth Anne Adams said...

I missed tonight. Was there any tootie? Was Paula sober? Did we miss Kellie's energy?

knoxgirl said...

I think Chris was the strongest tonight, but I'm still pulling for Elliot and his teeth!

Ann Althouse said...

Ruth Anne: No tootie, but last week's tootie was discussed. I don't know what got into Paula, but at one point she cracked up and had a really weird laugh that I don't remember ever hearing before. I think maybe it was the first time she ever genuinely cracked up.

katiebakes said...

I thought Paula seemed drugged or something.

SteveR said...

Ok Elliot was boring, not matter what year and how good he sang whatever song. Ann's word: dull

Paris: still don't know where she belongs musically but she did ok tonight.

Katharine: Those who don't like her loved tonight. I still think she gets by this week but she not stepping up enough to make it much further.

Chris: Renegade was good, not my favorite Styx song, the last one was Chris doing Chris which is what everyone loves, I guess.

Taylor: Not coincidently the last time I heard PTFMWB was at a wedding. "Something" was a technicality owing to the Beatles #1 CD that's out. I draw the line with that song. like that, its wrong to do it like that. Sorry Taylor and Taylor fans an unforgivable sin for me.

XWL said...

Prince's Kiss charted in 1988 with The Art of Noise featuring Tom Jones version (which was arranged more similarly to how Paris sung it).

I don't recall there having ever been a Prince or Beatles tune on this show, maybe a Prince theme like has been rumored might be in the offing.

And Randy called for a Beatles theme show during the banter.

And Ryan explained that the Beatles song was currently sixth on the catalogue charts.

Still they did seem to play pretty fast and loose with this week's concept.

My choice for birth year song (1969), easy Always See Your Face by Love/Arthur Lee from the Four Sail album.

Finally, Paula, Drugs? Say it isn't so. Also, seems like she's having trouble deciding which contestant she wants to sleep with more, Chris or Katharine (plus her ex is single again, he'd probably like to join in, with either (or both))

PatCA said...

Looks like we're going to have a boy Idol this time! Paris is great but too young and just growing into herself, and Katherine is too sophisticated, so soon it will be male only. I pick Chris. He's a real audience pleaser.

I loved Paris Mary J. Blige song--better than Mary's version IMO!

Bee said...

I thought Paris did well with Mary J.'s song, too. But has anyone noticed that Paris always has to insert the word 'Hey!" in her songs? It's a word prop. I believe tonight it was a long and emotional "heeeeeey."

XWL said...

No one's making predictions.

I think Eliot, despite singing both songs well, is in trouble.

That second song was really sleepy, plus going first is probably a disadvantage when two songs are sung.

Paris is probably safe based on her solid performance on the second song (she was screechy with Kiss).

Katharine was terrible singing that terrible Diane Warren penned song (anyone who chooses to invoke Phil Collins deserves banishment). Plus the whole down on her knees while singing thing didn't work, even though her vocal performance with that song was one of her best.

Chris screamed too much on the second song, and if he keeps that up he won't make it past the first week of a tour before blowing out his voice (and he may not make it to the finals if he doesn't cool it. I wonder what they'd do if one of a contestant absolutely couldn't perform in the last few weeks?).

Taylor, White Cherry?! That was no better and no worse than what every bar band plays in any good sized town, fun song, but might not get votes with that. Second song was better, he has a pretty voice, he should seek to display it to favor, yet often he doesn't, go figure.

So I think overall Paris and Katharine were weakest (each had one bad, one good performance), but Eliot is most in trouble.

Michael Farris said...

Taking both together. Just listening to the mp3's with no visuals.

Taylor - Somethings in the way he sings makes me want to listen to somebody else, anybody else. He's not funky, he's a karaoke guy. How is this guy still around? He's lasted way past his talent level.

Paris - Her sense of phrasing is better than what she can actually accomplish at this stage. and ... I just realized which singer she reminds me of most - Gladys Knight.
Like Knight, her effective vocal range is small and she's at her best when she doesn't try to knock the audience out with vocal effects but concentrates on the text and engages the audience conversationally. I like both these performances more than anything else she's done put together. I just wish she'd gone with the Age of Chance version of this song.

Katherine - Finding out about her semi-light-classical training changes the way I listen to her. I don't enjoy the results any more, but I don't dislike her, I feel for her struggling through inappropriate material. The first is just a mess, the avoidance of chest support really leaves her lower range underpowered and I think she's avoiding her head voice too. I just don't know what it is she's trying to do exactly. The second, is actually okay, puzzling but almost entirely listenable in vocal terms as she finds a sweet spot in the voice she can really _push_.

Chris - is there any difference between the two numbers? He's really a one-noter. But, it's a really great note and at his best he gets a really charged, masculine sound that I really like and would like even better with better/less accompaniment and better more intelligent lyrics. Unofrtunately, he thinks he's a rocker, but he's not. For him, fortune will lie in crooning.

Elliott - Elliott, my poor doomed Elliot, he's breaking my heart.
We're past the point where you can get by on vocal talent alone and being the most highly developed singer with the best pitch (despite hearing problems) isn't going to cut it anymore, for the final, the audience wants drama queens, not unassuming brilliance.
"On Broadway" is accomplished and rhythmically secure, a trifle he can toss off to an ungrateful world to show just how easy it is for him. He can take unpromising difficult songs and sail through them with assurance and no one cares, because they don't see any agony, which is what the show is all about. The second performance is astonishing, and just about gives me goosebumps - he knows he's going soon and he's letting us know he's okay with it.

My ranking
1. Elliott
2. Chris
3. Paris
4. Katharine
5. Taylor

Should leave: Taylor! or maybe Katharine
Will leave: Elliott or maybe Paris.

Tim Sisk said...

After defending Katharine last week, I'll go on record and say "Against the Odds" really wasn't that good at all, probably the weakest performance of the night.

I wasn't a big fan of the "choreography" of the second song either even though vocally it was pretty good.

And after kind of knocking Chris, I thought his second song was really good even if the voice failed a bit. I think I saw in his second song what you folks seem to like so much about him.

Regarding Paris' voice: I'm not familiar enough with Diane Warwick to know if she compares but I remember being blown away by her voice when she sang in the audition the Billie Holiday song. There has only been one other time she sang a "jazzy" in the competition that has been when she really has shined. If she can find that kind of material to record she'll have a really big career, I think.

MadisonMan said...

Hmm. I'd have a hard time with my birth year songs. I think "It's now or never" is a great song -- but how can you outdo Elvis? Maybe I'd sing El Paso or Itsy Bitsy Teeny Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini

LizrdGizrd said...

There are just too many good songs from '74:

The Joker, Steve Miller
I Shot The Sherrif, Eric Clapton
Don't Let The Sun Go Down On Me, Elton John
Radar Love, Golden Earring
Taking Care Of Business, BTO
Feel Like Makin' Love, Roberta Flack
Time In A Bottle, Jim Croce
Hooked On A Feeling, Blue Swede

and don't forget Jungle Boogie, Kool and The Gang.

verification: zdump - where most of these singers are going after AI.

Larry said...

"Over The Rainbow", by Judy Garland, is the song of my birth year (1939).

I think Paris is going home this evening.

Michael Farris said...

I just looked at the charts for my birth year, the number one song when I was born (or close enough) was Chances Are, which is better than most of the alternatives from that year.
Not even in my wildest imagination am I singing 'Tammy', brrrrrrrrr

Renee said...

ALTHOUSE COMMET: Katharine, "Black Horse in the Cherry Tree"? That can't be the title. She's crawling on the floor next to two guys playing (and sitting on) box drums. I'm simply not comprehending anything about this song or this performance.

Today on "DAYS OF OUR LIVES" they played the song Katharine sang "Black Horse in the Cherry Tree” I never heard the song until last night on the show. Katharine did a good job with the song. She sounds just like the original.

But I believe the bottom two will be Paris and Katharine, with Katharine going home. I fill Katharine is better then Paris...

I still want Chris to when. Home town favorite (NC).......

SteveR said...

Michael Farris: Same year for me, I'd go with You Send Me or maybe Peggy Sue.

Michael Farris said...

You Send Me would be okay, but it's been overdone.

SteveR said...

Michael: My uncle's last name is Reynolds and he got married in 1957 and they named their first daughter Tammy after the song by Debbie Reynolds (no relation). brrrrrrr.