May 10, 2005

TV: American Idol -- country/Gamble & Huff night

Not a good night overall for the Idols, with only one or two decent performances in the bunch.

The rundown:

Round 1 is country, a traditional stumbling block for would-be Idols.

Carrie, "Sin Wagon" -- the song suits her, and a lot of personality comes through, but her voice sounds awfully clenched, as if her throat is clamped shut or she has a bad cold.

Bo, "A Great Day to Be Alive (?)" -- it's a dull song, and Bo is giving absolutely no energy to it. And why is he lugging the mike stand all around the stage? Doesn't he realize that the mike comes out?

Vonzell, "How Do I Live" -- she's very uncomfortable with the song, and more nervous looking than she's ever been. Her pitch is flat, and there's a nasty lyric bobble before the second chorus. Her worst performance to date.

Anthony, "I'm Already There" -- he'll never be a country singer; his voice is all wrong for it. But this is the sort of big sappy ballad that Anthony does well, and though this isn't his best performance, it's good enough to take the honors in a weak round.

Round 2: the songs of Kenny Gamble & Leon Huff, which should be cause for a bit more optimism.

Carrie, "If You Don't Know Me By Now" -- horrible song choice. She's clearly uncomfortable, and her pitch is off, though her voice doesn't sound quite so tight as in the first round. Still, it's been a very bad night for Carrie.

Bo, "For the Love of Money" -- reasonably well sung, I suppose, but why this choice? This song is all about the arrangement and the groove, not the singer.

Vonzell, "Don't Leave Me This Way" -- whatever emotional turmoil was bothering Vonzell earlier in the evening seems to be behind her now. This is a solid song choice, and a fine performance.

Anthony, "If You Don't Know Me By Now" -- unusual to hear the same song twice in one night. Unlike Carrie, Anthony nails it; he's comfortable with the odd half-spoken rhythms of the verse, and he understands what the song is about. One of his best performances to date.

For the night: Anthony, Vonzell, Bo, Carrie.

For the season: It's essentially a four-way dead heat. If you forced me to pick a leader, it would be Vonzell.

Deserving to go home: Either Bo or Carrie; I think Bo's fan base will keep him in, and Carrie will get the boot.

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