May 08, 2007

MUSIC: American Idol (Barry Gibb / Bee Gees songs)

Oh, my children, our little Idols did terrible things to the songs of Barry Gibb tonight. There wasn't a single impressive performance in the bunch; it was a tremendous disappointment on what should have been the best Final Four night in Idol history.

The rundown, taking each singer's two songs at once:

Melinda, "Love You Inside Out"/"How Can You Mend a Broken Heart" -- Without the harmonies and the slick production, all of tonight's songs lean to the dull side, and Melinda isn't doing anything to help them. She's got less personality tonight than she's ever had. "Broken Heart" is particularly weak; its lyrics are on the cornball sentimental side, which is undercut somewhat in the Bee Gees' original by the relatively precise rhythms of the singing. But Melinda is emphasizing the sentiment, and giving the song precisely the sort of florid melodrama that it can't withstand. Oh, the notes are there, and the big finish sounds impressive in the abstract, but it's the first time that Melinda has utterly failed to understand how best to make songs work for her.

Blake, "You Should Be Dancin'"/"This Is Where I Came In" -- Let's dismiss the whole beatbox thing first. It's boring, dated, and does nothing to improve these songs. Even more than Melinda, Blake doesn't seem to understand that rhythms matter in this music. The word "crisp" isn't in his vocabulary, so where these songs should crackle with energy, Blake simply oozes from word to word, from pitch to pitch. (He's not helped any by the excessive echo on "Dancin'.") It's lazy, mushy singing, and while there are nights when he can get away with it, this isn't one of them.

LaKisha, "Stayin' Alive"/"Run to Me" -- Paula, of all people, nails the problem with the first song: By slowing it down so much, LaKisha has sucked all of the energy out of it. She has (again) ignored the advice of the guest mentor, which was (again) a foolish thing to do. We lose her voice completely at one point, as she forgets where the mike is. "Run to Me" is a bit better, but she ignores the drama that's built into the song and tries to improve on it with a flurry of R&B runs and flourishes. Her voice is a bit off tonight, and at one point, I find myself wondering if she has a cold. Worst of all, tonight marks the return of the LaKishaBot, as the glimmers of personality that had started to shine through in recent weeks have vanished.

Jordin, "To Love Somebody"/"Woman in Love" -- There's some minor pitchiness in both songs, and neither performance is particularly memorable, but she's doing a better job than anyone else of finding her own approach without destroying the things that made the songs work in the first place. "To Love Somebody" is the night's high point, rising all the way to bland competence.

For the night: Jordin, Melinda, LaKisha, Blake.

For the season: Melinda, Jordin, LaKisha, Blake (but all of the momentum is with Jordin).

Should go home: Blake.

Will go home: LaKisha.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Barry Gibb did a pretty good job of performing on American Idol, though the contestants, for the most part, botched up the Bee Gees. Jordan was the exception, as was Linda Dolittle, at least with her second performance of the evening.

I think most people would like to see the Bee Gees back together, but with Maurice gone, it just wouldn't be the same. I miss the days:

When the Bee Gees were Three
words and music by Dr BLT (c) 2007

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