February 27, 2007

MUSIC: American Idol (men's semifinals, week 2)

Week 2 for the guys, and it's a huge improvement over the nightware that was Week 1. Some unexpected song choices -- not all of them wise -- and a more relaxed group of singers made for a pleasant evening. (They've still got a way to go to catch up to the women, though.)

The rundown:

Phil, "Missing You" -- very good song choice for his voice, and though the performance was a bit on the safe side, it was smooth, polished, and very entertaining.

Jared, "Let's Get It On" -- When a guy this sexy sings this song, the audience ought to be melting in their seats, at least a little bit. All the notes were there, and there was nothing technically wrong with it, but there was no sex, no lust, no oomph; it was the performance of a virgin.

AJ, "Feeling Good" -- unusual song choice that paid off very nicely. The intro is intense and hushed in a way that drew me in, and when the brass kicks the song into gear, AJ is relaxed and sexy, with terrific falsetto notes that are right on pitch. And that glissando at the very end? Ooooooh, that was nice!

Sanjaya, "Steppin' Out With My Baby" -- He's too young for the song, and his attire isn't sophisticated enough for it. It's "top hat and tails," Sanjaya, not Michael Jackson drag. He still can't do pitch and power simultaneously, and he's so whispery that it feels like a dress rehearsal, as if he's saving his voice for the real performance that's a few hours away.

Chris S., "Trouble" -- I like Chris's voice very much; it's confident and powerful without ever being pushed too hard. This song choice is a bit on the safe side for him, perhaps, and the performance is a bit prettier than the song ought to be, but it's not bad.

Nick, "Fever" -- Nick doesn't look comfortable; he's tight and tense, and you can hear it in his voice. How can someone work so hard to produce such a breathy little sound? There's none of the rhythmic flexibility or spontaneity that the song needs; it's a rigid performance, and the pitch -- especially in the last chorus -- is not pretty.

Blake, "Virtual Insanity" -- worst song choice of the night; it's a boring trainwreck of a song, and the beatbox/scat thing in the middle just feels out of place. On the plus side, it does show off how wide Blake's range is from low to high, and it shows how well controlled (for the most part) his pitch is.

Brandon, "Time After Time" -- instantly forgettable; he's got to find some charisma, or he'll be a background singer forever. His phrasing is choppy, and he's breathing in all the wrong places. ("...I hear the (gasp)(pause) clock tick...")

Chris R., "Geek in the Pink" -- another odd song choice, and I don't think it shows him off as a singer very well. I'm less annoyed by his voice than I was last week, but I still think it's a bit thin, and it disappears entirely when he goes for falsetto. He's got tremendous stage presence, though, and he's fun to watch; I'd like to hear what he sounds like with a more melodic song.

Sundance, "Mustang Sally" -- winner of the Most Improved award, with 90% of the difference coming simply from song selection. The blues-rock thing is his strong suit, and though I suspect he'll be in trouble when the theme weeks begin, this was a fine performance. Needs to work on breath control, though; he seems to run out of air awfully quickly.

For the night: AJ, Sundance, Phil, Chris S., Chris R. Blake, Jared, Nick, Brandon, Sanjaya. Overall: Phil, Chris S., Blake, AJ, Sundance, Jared, Chris R., Brandon, Nick, Sanjaya.


StinkyLulu said...

Thanks for this rundown. Very helpful...

Keith said...

Thanks. I have fun doing it.