Wednesday, April 09, 2008

You're the inspiration - AI final eight

"You make the call... you call the shots." You shoot the contestants! THIS.... is American Idol!

In keeping with Idol Gives Back, tonight the contestants are singing inspirational music. This may well be the week I throw things at David Archuleta. And if anyone sings that "release your inhibitions" piece o' poop, millions will suffer my wrath.

Michael Johns is singing a bit of Aerosmith's "Dream On" to inspire us. Randy says that this is where the contestants start to tell America who they are - contrasted with all of the other weeks, where the contestants generally jerk us around.

Mike - "I'm living here in America, and dreams can come true, and it's happening."
Randy - "This show is about being the best singer, undiscovered talent we can find, not about dreams."
Nightfly - "...the hell?!!?" He's serious, too. He broke into Paula's dressing room and found her Special Tonic.

Paula and her chihuahuas loved it, Simon liked it but wasn't thrilled with the Steven Tyler imitation at the end. I liked it as well but am forced to agree that he didn't quite put his own stamp on it. And THAT is how you tell America who you are. (Biker Nurse sure did.)

Syesha is singing "I Believe" by Fantasia Barrino, season three's winner. This is probably a poor idea. Talk about imitating others - will she sing this like Whitney? Will she sing like Ramiele, with whom she's been keeping in touch? Will the size of her afro match the diameter of her earrings? That would inspire me. Well, she's not singing so badly after all: pretty well, in fact. That last note cracked the front of the TV, but she got it. My problem is that this song is NOT inspirational, unless you consider Hallmark's rejection pile an inspiration. Shmaltz Week is rolling along.

Randy, though stoned, is right about comparing Syesha to Fantasia. Simon said it was technically fine, but he missed the emotion. "We want to find out who you are," he says.

Up next, Jason Castro. (Direct quote from Ryan.) During the taped intro he tells us that he will be singing "Over the Rainbow," and credits the arrangement to a Hawai'ian singer named Britta Iz (sp?). The producers are all over this attribution thing. He's singing very well, and it's growing on me - started sort of cartoony but is really coming on. He boofed a lyric in the middle but he's right on key and hit that beautiful falsetto note. Connected emotionally. This was the opposite of shmaltz. Thank you, sir. Paula says it was his definitive sound; Simon calls it fantastic.

Aside - the Meat Loaf/Paradise by the Cel Phone Light spot was bizarre. I liked the Sealy mattress commercial, though. (I'm only letting them run to catch up on typing. OK, fast forwarding.)

Here comes Kristy Lee. She's singing "Anyway" by Martina McBride, because it inspired her. That's the idea. And she's smoking this! Holy crap. She's doing that bouncy thing where she stands off on one leg and bops to the music, which I rather dislike, but the singing is very good. She got down to the low notes too. (I didn't hear the pitch thing Randy did, but I could be wrong.) Simon gave it a thumbs up as well - and he says "you look like a star tonight, Kristy. You're appealing to your audience." And he's on his game again: Paula says it was unbelievable, and Simon says, "Well, not unbelievably - it was good."

Aside - Al Gore is a complete dilweed. Holy freaking hell, comparing the Normandy landings and the civil rights struggle to global warming? Hey, Mr. "We Didn't Wait to Take Fred Phelps' Money," if you want to lead the fight, how about cutting down on your own Godzillian carbon footprint? Snotrag.

David Cook is singing Our Lady of Peace's "Innocent." He says it speaks to him. The jacket doesn't say much for him, though. His performance is not doing it for me. I'm not sure why; he's showing more range than normal, but I think it's the speed of the song. He does the slower, power jams quite well but tonight he seemed rushed and a little short of breath. He wades into the audience and then has "give back." written on his palm. (The Crown Prince really wishes he thought of that.) Simon says not near as good as the last two weeks, and calls it a little pretentious. Paula is happy with it and wants to make sure that everyone saw the palm thing. (Maybe her TV's mute button kills the picture instead of the sound?)

Now it's Carly, who threatens to club Queen's "The Show Must Go On" like a seal pup unless everyone votes for her. No, no, no... she didn't really say that, but I fear that this is what will happen. Maybe three dozen contestants have done Queen songs, including the ill-advised Queen Week a few seasons ago, but how many have even come close to pulling it off? Three? (And two of those were Mike Johns this year.) I also like that they're showing the behind the scenes stuff like they are this season; I love the shots of them with the vocal coaches.

The beginning is pretty good. She's singing like Carly, not Freddie. Then the choir comes in and it's too much. The oh-oo-whoa-oo-ohs are unconvincing, and she failed to even attempt the note at the end with the choir. Pfffft. Linda Carter called, she wants her Wonder Woman bracelet back. (Though otherwise the outfit is an improvement over last week; anything would be.) Simon says that it came over a little oversang and as a result, sounded angry. Carly was gracious about it, but she may be staring at the bottom three this go-round.

Ryan's talking with the Crown Prince in the Coke Ad Section. They cut to the tape, and David says he had a hard time picking this week. (HAHAHAHAHAHA. Must be because he's already sang this genre five times.) But he found a message in "Angels." He's at the piano, which I don't think is smart. It started slow, and he was a little off on the low notes. When the chorus comes up, he does much better. Randy heard a few runs and calls it his best moment of the season, proving that he hasn't been watching the show at all this year. Simon does say it's the best song choice of the evening but says it was nasally and that the end was better than the start. But he says it's nitpicking, "you'll sail through."

Another break, and then Brooke will take us home with some Carole King. "You've Got a Friend," right? Yup. She is not at the piano, which is also surprising, but she opened better than David did. The throwback late 60's sun dress is an inspired choice with this song. And she's connecting much better with this song, no Happy Facing. (Nice piano riff in the high notes, whoever you are back there!) This is a good performance. And you know something, the audience seems to have held back on all of the slow arm waving. (That, my friends, is inspirational. There's hope for the children!) Randy gave it an "aight," Simon called it "a pleasant walk in the park. Was it original? No. Was it pleasant? Yes." I liked it more than that, but not an unfair assessment.

Neither of my choices of song were here; no surprise. I'd have gone with "Gotta Knock a Little Harder" by Seatbelts (great gospel rave up at the end of it), or "Stand!" by Sly and the Family Stone as easier to cut down a bit.

Bottom three? Kind of tough this week. I think Carly and Dave Cook are there. Third... I fear Jason may wind up there, though he was my favorite of the night. Syesha would be my pick. It's not that she was any worse than Brooke, but she sang way early (harder to remember) and wasn't really any better than usual, while Brooke really improved from last week's misstep.

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