March 04, 2008

MUSIC: American Idol 08: men's semifinals, week 3

And we trudge into another decade. The 80s give us a rather mediocre night from the men, who select an assortment of (mostly) dull songs and (mostly) don't do much with them.

The rundown:

Luke, "Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go" -- Maybe it's his experience as part of an a cappella group, but Luke doesn't project much personality, and he absolutely cannot take charge of the stage or the audience. His voice is whiny and unassertive, and the performance never rises above the competent.

David A, "Another Day in Paradise" -- Awful song choice; the judges are right to suggest that he needs to do something more lively and cheery. He also desperately needs to break the habit of licking his lips after every phrase, which is getting very distracting. He sings the song well enough -- there are some scattered pitch problems -- but it's his least interesting performance yet.

Danny, "Tainted Love" -- It's clear now that Danny is deliberately courting the Sanjaya audience. He's a better talented singer than Sanjaya, certainly (not that that's saying much), but he's trying to bully his way through the competition on pure attitude, and he doesn't have the talent to back up his grandiose diva persona.

David H, "It's All Coming Back to Me Now" -- The overly breathy low notes, the bellowing of the high notes -- he's going for higher levels of melodrama than he can get away with, and it's not pretty. A serious letdown after last week.

Michael, "Don't You Forget About Me" -- I still don't much like Michael's voice, and his nervous bouncing about on stage isn't helping him any, but this is the best he's been yet. The song suits his voice, and even if he still looks jittery, he sounds more confident.

David C, "Hello" -- Ballsy reinterpretation that works surprisingly well. This arrangement fits his range and style absolutely perfectly, and he sings the heck out of it. Not a style that I would choose to go back and listen to again, but impeccably done for what it is.

Jason, "Hallelujah" -- In my opinion, the most overexposed song of the last decade, so major kudos to Jason for making it sound fresh and interesting again. He bobbles the falsetto at the end, but there's so much vulnerability in the performance that the bobble may actually be more effective than hitting the notes would have been.

Chikezie, "All The Man That I Need" -- The song's been so badly chopped up that it's barely recognizable, and though Chikezie's in reasonably good voice, it's not an interesting or a memorable performance.

For the night: David C, Jason, David A, Michael, Chikezie, David H, Luke, Danny.

Deserving those Top 12 spots: David A, Jason, David H, David C, Chikezie, Michael.

Deserving the trip home: Luke and Danny, by a large margin.

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