Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Idol-izing: Thoughts on last night's performances

Other than really liking Kelly Clarkson over Justin Guarini in the first season, I've never cared much for all the Idol hoopla. However, a friend of mine recently got me a bit sucked into it by making me watch the '50's night two weeks ago. I thought most of the performances that night were stellar, but the two nights of performances since then have been a bit lacking.

Last night, the theme was country. Do you like country music? Not everyone does, but I do. I don't think it's a trashy or overly sentimental form of music, and if it is, well then perhaps I'm trashy and sentimental too. But the more important question is: can the Idol hopefuls sing it? Let's see.

Taylor - I missed Taylor's performance at the beginning, so I only caught the snippet at the end. He sang "Take Me Home Country Roads," and I have to say I didn't like it as much as I usually like him. One of the things that appeals to me about Taylor is his unabashed enthusiasm for the music. He's involved, he's enjoying himself, he doesn't care if he looks good--usually. Last night, he was too restrained for my taste.

Mandisa - Oh, honey. Shania Twain is an excellent singer, with a personality and a style all her own. Trying to take one of her songs (Any Man of Mine) and modify it to make it your own, sadly just didn't gel for me. You've got a great set of pipes, but this probably wasn't the best use of them.

Elliot - Elliot's performance flew a bit under the radar. Singing Garth Brooks' classic "If Tomorrow Never Comes," he put in a solid display of vocals without a lot of fancy vibratos and showing off. However, closing my eyes, I couldn't really see his voice being a hit. He's got a great personality, but I don't know if he's idol material.

Paris - Paris chose Leann Rimes/Trisha Yearwood's "How Do I Live" as her song selection. Picture three or four teenage girls singing this song off-key in a Ford Taurus station wagon, and you've pretty much got an idea of how I'm most used to hearing it sung. Paris's rendition was good, but I think it was a bit clinical. There was no fire, no emotion in her voice or her actions as she sang. You've got to have some yearning in your soul to sing it right.

Kellie - I'm not really a Kellie fan. I think she's got a decent voice, but she lacks subtlety. However, subtlety was most certainly not necessary for her song choice, Reba McEntire's "Fancy" - a tune that begs to be belted out in sassy fashion. Kellie did just that, so I give her a certain amount of credit, even if she didn't quite win me over.

Ace - Let's get one thing straight: Ace is a very pretty man. Whew! Pretty as he is, I think I'd prefer to watch him smile than sing; his face can get a bit spastic and overly emphatic when he sings. However, compared to his previous performances, I thought his rendition of "Tonight I Wanna Cry" was relatively understated and had the right amount of emotion. Not bad.

Chris - I heart Chris. Though I can't back him on thinking Creed is a good band (seriously, man? yech.), he seems to be down-to-earth, talented, and sure of himself. After several standout rock-and-roll performances, the only question was whether he was versatile enough. I think Chris proved it by singing "Making Memories of Us," a sweet and mellow tune. He sang it heartfelt and simply, as I think it's meant to be sung, and when I closed my eyes I really believed his voice could be on the radio.

Katharine - In general, I really love Katharine's bluesy singing style and classy personal style. I think she picked a fairly boring song, "Bringing Out the Elvis In Me", but managed to have a lot of fun with it. I like when a singer doesn't look like they're working too hard and are just enjoying themselves onstage. She is a true performer when she gets in front of an audience, natural in front of the camera, and willing to straight talk when necessary. (Her comment to Simon, "maybe you just don't like country music" followed by a reassuring yet dismissive "that's okay" may have endeared her to me permanently.) Brava!

Bucky - The song Bucky chose, "Best I Ever Had," is a great song. I've loved the versions recorded by both Gary Allan and Vertical Horizon. I like the song so much, and he sang it so assuredly, that I actually found myself enjoying it. However, there's something a bit squirrely about the guy. He's probably a great husband and good friend, but something about him doesn't sit right with me. Hard to see him being the idol.

Bottom line? Stay true to yourself, enjoy yourself, and do some kick-ass singing. That's what'll get my vote. So bring on next week!


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