March 06, 2007

MUSIC: American Idol (men's semifinals, week 3)

Remember two weeks ago, when the guys came out and delivered what was probably the worst night in Idol history? Ah, those were the good ol' days, because tonight, the guys were even worse.

The rundown:

Blake, "All Mixed Up" -- As Simon correctly notes, his enunciation is terrible; the beatboxing feels more like a gimmick (and a tired one, at that) every week; and the performance is so slick and insincere that it makes styrofoam look natural. The energy is good, and his pitch is OK, but it was a creepy and unpleasant performance.

Sanjaya, "Waitin' on the World to Change" -- or, to quote The Roommate, "Waitin' on the Song to End." At the beginning, it seemed that there might be reason for hope; Sanjaya had found a comfortable medium where he was getting some power behind his voice without completely losing control of the pitch. But as improved as it was, it still felt lackluster. And then along came the last chorus, and Sanjaya went for the high notes, missing them in spectacular fashion.

Sundance, "Jeremy" -- not a wise song choice; Sundance is not a hard rock guy, and that rocker rasp he's affecting sounds terribly insincere and unnatural (not to mention ugly). He's also having pitch problems throughout.

Chris R., "Tonight I Wanna Cry" -- maybe you can get away with a thin, whiny, nasal voice when you're doing Timberlake-style pop; but not in country. Country is a harsh mistress, and you actually have to be able to sing. His pitch is wildly off from start to finish; the runs at the end are not only unidiomatic, but unattractive as well.

(Did I mention that this was a really really really bad night?)

Jared, "If You Really Loved Me" -- The key is too high, but aside from that, it's an adequate performance, harmless and pleasant without ever actually becoming interesting. But Jared projects all the warmth and sex appeal of a Ken doll; he desperately needs to up the charisma a notch.

Brandon, "I Just Want to Celebrate" -- It's a dull song that doesn't allow him to show off any real range, but it's the first time that Brandon doesn't feel like a background singer. He's actually got some energy and seems a lot more comfortable on stage than he ever has before.

Phil, "I Need You" -- Like Jared, Phil's put the song in too high a key, which ruins the opening, which he can't sing well at that low a volume level. When he gets to the chorus and is able to sing at full volume, he doesn't have those pitch problems, but by then, it's too late to salvage the song.

Chris S., "Wanna Be Loved" -- Finally, a performance worth hearing. The song suits him; he sings with power, personality, conviction, and stage presence that simply wipes the other men off the stage. Probably the best performance any of the men have given in these semifinal weeks (and still a huge notch below any of the top three or four women).

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

The judges are asked how many of the men really deserve a spot in the final twelve. Randy and Paula say four; Simon says three-and-a-half. They are all generous, as the correct answer is three: Chris S., Blake, and Phil.

Of the other five, Sanjaya most deserves to go home (as he has since week 1); the other four are interchangeable mediocrities, and it doesn't much matter which one is cut. If you made me pick one, I'd go with Chris R.

No comments: