February 29, 2008

MUSIC: American Idol 08: women's semifinals, week 2

70s week continues with a most unimpressive night from the women. There were very few good performances and lots of bad ones; this is a tough group of singers to get a handle on.

The rundown:

Carly, "Crazy On You" -- Great song choice for her voice and style. She handles the pitch and dynamic range very well, and it's a vast improvement over last week; the power on display is actually appropriate to the song.

Syesha, "Me and Mr. Jones" -- Some songs you can gender switch, and some you can't. The "Mrs." was crucial in the original, as it instantly told us we were dealing with adultery; making it "Mr." robs the song of that element of the forbidden. (And how ballsy would it have been for Syesha to actually sing the original without a gender switch?) As for the performance itself, Syesha's personality -- all bright, sunny smiles -- doesn't match the song, and she's not bringing any sense of taboo to it herself. The notes are there, but the emotion isn't.

Brooke, "You're So Vain" -- Her enunciation is a bit mushy, and that first chorus is badly off-key. But I like the clear tone of her voice, and on a weak night, this will probably be good enough to keep her around.

Ramiele, "Don't Leave Me This Way" -- That chorus is repetitve, isn't it, pounding out those three punched notes every five seconds, and it starts to get dull awfully fast if it's not in the hands of an incredibly charismatic singer. And tonight, Ramiele is not that singer; she's utterly devoid of personality, and the song falls completely flat as a result.

Kristy, "You're No Good" -- Again, a chorus that wears out its welcome very quickly. Kristy gives a solid performance, but it's not a particularly memorable one. I think the judges are right that country would be the way to go for her.

Amanda, "Carry On Wayward Son" -- There may have been a note or two somewhere in there that was on pitch, but if there was, I missed it. This was a godawful mess, and when Amanda started "dancing" during the brief instrumental break, I honestly thought she was having a seizure.

Alaina, "Hopelessly Devoted to You" -- Breathy Alaina and full-voiced Alaina are like two different singers. The breathy Alaina is rarely on pitch, doesn't hold my attention, and feels like a bad Vegas act. At full voice, she still has some pitch problems, but at least you're aware that there's a singer on stage.

Alexandréa, "If You Leave Me Now" -- I forget what a weird, angular melody this song has, and Alexandréa handles the odd leaps reasonably well. But the energy and charisma that made her so much fun to watch last weak has vanished, and it's a dull, flabby performance.

Kady, "Magic Man" -- what is it about Idol women and sex? They keep choosing songs that are all about getting laid, and they sing them as if they're going on a hayride. Aside from her apparent lack of interpretive skills, the low notes in the verses disappear entirely.

Asia'h, "All By Myself" -- Simon nails it: She's almost a good enough singer to pull this one off, but not quite, and when you fail on this one, it's going to be a spectacular failure. To her credit, the low notes at the beginning could be clearly heard and were on pitch.

For the night: Carly, Brooke, Kristy, Syesha, Ramiele, Alexandréa, Asia'h, Alaina, Kady, Amanda.

  • Deserving to be in the top 12: none of the women have given two solid performances yet.
  • Deserving to come back next week and fight it out: Ramiele, Alexandréa, Carly, Brooke, Syesha, Asia'h, Alaina, Kristy
  • Deserving to be sent home: Kady, Amanda

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