April 21, 2009

MUSIC: American Idol 09: Disco night

After last week's surprising waste of the Judges' Save on Matt, the top seven return for a night of disco songs. Everyone's a little desperate, knowing that two will be sent home this week, and we wind up with a night of unexpected arrangements and performances that are, even when they don't quite work, more interesting than we might have predicted.

The rundown:

Lil, "I'm Every Woman" -- Remember Lakisha from two seasons back? Fabulous voice, but no emotional connection to the songs or to the audience? That's who Lil reminds me of as she delivers the least interesting of the many Idol versions of this song. And I've always thought this was a bad Idol song; there's not much melody, and the backup singers do too much of the work.

Kris, "She Works Hard for the Money" -- Very nicely done, though Kris's enunciation is particularly sloppy tonight. The arrangement is clever and effective, and Kris manages to give the song his own style without making it unrecognizable or destroying it entirely.

Danny, "September" -- It almost hurts to watch him lumbering across the stage. On the other hand, it doesn't sound too bad; it's less forced than usual, and I'm surprised at how well he's hitting the high notes. It's not a great performance, and it has the tentative feel of something he's not quite sure he's got memorized yet, but it'll keep him around for another week.

Allison, "Hot Stuff" -- Oh, dear. Nothing about that worked. The arrangement, the outfit, the staging, the song choice -- all of it just wrong. It's the first time that she's come across as a kid singing material that's too old for her. Given the surprising frequency with which she's wound up in the bottom three, I fear that she's in big trouble after that performance.

Adam, "If I Can't Have You" -- His pitch is unusually shaky tonight, and in spots his enunciation is so nonexistent that I'd swear he was mocking us ("If I caaaaaaaaayuuuuuuuhh"). There are moments, though, when he drops into his lowest register, that I hear for the first time a voice that I'd be curious to hear more of; those few notes are far more attractive than the high-pitched shrieking that he so enjoys.

Matt, "Stayin' Alive" -- Big kudos just for getting out all the syllables in comprehensible fashion. The performance was better than I'd have expected, not that I'm going to remember it in the morning. And someone needs to club him upside the head with a great big No More Falsetto Stick; the last five seconds were painful.

Anoop, "Dim All the Lights" -- When the repeated line in the song is "gonna dance the night away," it would be nice if the arrangement felt like something you could, I dunno, dance to; this felt more like something that would be playing quietly in the background of a birthing class. It was pretty and well sung, I suppose, but the performance and the song were so utterly at odds that it landed with a thud.

For the night: Kris, Danny, Matt, Adam, Lil, Anoop, Allison.

For the season: Kris, Anoop, Danny, Alllison, Lil, Matt, Adam.

Should go home: Since it's a given that Adam isn't going anywhere, I'll have to say Lil and Matt. But with two going home, I expect a surprise, and I fear for Allison.


Perth Gal said...

Hi Keith,

I have been a long time lurker on TT & looked forward to reading your comments each week.

For me they are a great guide as I am based in Australia so I don't actually get to watch AI til Wednesday night my time.

Disco Night = succeed or fail. IMO.

Keith said...

Cool! I didn't know they aired AI in other countries. Must be a very different experience to watch it having heard all of the American commentary already.

DG Strong said...

That birthing line is great. I have consistently had people in a different order than you do, but I always like your write-ups.

Hillary said...

Hi Keith,

I am also a TT lurker who has always looked forward to your AI reviews on there. I'm so glad to be able to continue reading your insights here on your blog. As for the show, Kris and Matt were my favorites. Allison has been my favorite for the season but as you say...that just didn't work and yep, she could be in trouble tonight. We shall see!

Tessie said...

Someone needs to break it gently to Matt that he is not Justin Timberlake.

Anoop turned "Dim All The Lights" into a lullabye!

Adam CANNOT SING. I don't know why the judges are fawning all over him. There's a lot of interest in his persona right now, but I don't think that's going to translate into album sales.

Keith said...

That's my thought, too, Tessie. I can maybe imagine myself being entertained at an Adam Lambert concert by the visual spectacle and the razzle-dazzle; I can't imagine myself being moved by the experience, though, because there's no real personality or human feeling behind any of Adam's multiple personae.

Reduce him to just the sound of the music by putting him on a CD, and you don't even have the showmanship to keep you entertained.

Anonymous said...

I would say Adam definitely can sing. There's a video on YouTube of him singing a song from "Finian's Rainbow" that is simply lovely.

He *can't* and *shouldn't* sing rock, though. He's an actor, giving a lousy performance as a rocker.

Anonymous said...

Correction to my earlier comment: the song on YouTube isn't from FINIAN'S RAINBOW, as my mind stubbornly wants to believe. It's "Come to Me, Bend to Me," from BRIGADOON.


Keith said...

I never watch any of the YouTube stuff anyway. To my mind, the only thing that should count for or against a contestant on Idol is his/her series of performances on Idol, and since that's what I'm judging and commenting on, that's all I want to see.

Anonymous said...

Understood, Keith. Perhaps you'll give it a listen when the competition is over.