April 28, 2009

MUSIC: American Idol 09: Rat Pack night

The Rat Pack serve as this year's excuse for a night of standards, and Jamie Foxx is brought out to serve as the most unexpected mentor in Idol history. This is normally the week when we begin to get two songs from each contestant, but in an unspoken acknowledgement of the show's inability to manage time this season, we're still getting only one song each.

The rundown:

Kris, "The Way You Look Tonight" -- Kris has a natural, intimate quality that suits him well tonight, and the performance isn't bad overall, though his phrasing is occasionally strange (why would you breathe after the word "just" in "just thinking of you" instead of before?) and his enunciation is still sloppy. The up-tempo section in the middle is a mistake, though, especially the painful falsetto note that leads into it.

Allison, "Someone to Watch Over Me" -- I had been worried about Allison tonight, but she made a good song choice and pulled it off very nicely. Like much of her material, it's not really a 17-year-old's song -- it's about the fear that one is running out of time to find love, after all -- but Allison's preternatural maturity allows her to get away with it. No serious technical flaws, and while it's not a brilliant piece of interpretive singing, it'll do.

Matt, "My Funny Valentine" -- Foxx tries desperately to get Matt to sing full voice instead of falsetto, and he's right; those are Matt's best moments in the song. But his pitch is off throughout (he frequently hits a pitch badly and finds his way to it by the end), he's throwing in too many pointless ruffles and flourishes, and the moments when he does go to falsetto are terribly unattractive, especially at the very end of the song. (Simon's praise of this is one of his rare moments of lunacy.)

Danny, "Come Rain or Come Shine" -- Remember how all of Taylor Hicks' bluesy riffs started off seeming so fresh and original, and by the end of the season were revealed to be a very limited batch of cheesy affectations? Meet Taylor II. It's not a horrible performance, it's just never an interesting one, and the further into the song we get, the sillier and more overblown it gets.

Adam, "Feeling Good" -- An unusual song choice, not only because it has nothing to do with the Rat Pack, but because it is perhaps the most cursed song in Idol lore, having led to the elimination of two contestants in one night (Leslie and A.J., semifinals, two years ago). As for Adam's take on the song, it's his best performance yet, if only because he's actually singing much of it instead of screaming the entire thing at us. The big note at the end is held way too long, to the point where it starts to feel like Sideshow Bob and the rakes, and there's a terrible unplanned raspy moment when he drops out of it. Still, it's the first performance Adam's given that I genuinely enjoyed.

For the night: Adam (!), Allison, Kris, Danny, Matt.

For the season: Allison, Kris, Danny, Matt, Adam.

Deserving to be sent home: Adam earns himself a reprieve this week, so let's send Matt packing.


Perth Gal said...

Keith, if I can ask a question of you please? And excuse my ignorance with asking...

It appears to me that Adam is always one of the last singers to perform on stage - or within the last 3 or so to go on stage.

How is the selection process done as to what order they go on stage? Draw straws? Paper, rock, scissors? Behind the scene people pick?

Why I ask is that, to me, with Adam going on as one of the last singers, are they (producers, judges etc) hoping his big note screaming will bring the house down & keep him safe for another week?

Keith said...

To the best of my knowledge, the producers choose the order.