February 25, 2010

MUSIC: American Idol 2010: men's semifinals, week 1

So, a day late with this one, as life stepped in to keep me away from the TV last night. By now, the results show has aired on the East Coast, but I haven't peeked to see who went home.

It's another generally uninspiring night. There are a couple of performances that rise above anything the women did last night, but for the most part, it's another night of blandly competent singing.

The rundown:

Todrick, "Since U Been Gone" -- Well, he's got stage presence and confidence, and there's a good voice buried somewhere beneath all of those runs and frills, but just because you can throw in an extra flourish doesn't mean that you should.

Aaron, "Here Comes Goodbye" -- He's a little young for the song, and the judges are right that the nerves are showing, but I like his voice. There's a lot of potential here.

Jermaine, "Get Here" -- Pitch is problematic. When he's quiet, his voice is terribly thin and reedy, and when he belts, it gets very pinched. I'd like to hear him in a lower register; I think he's forcing himself into a tenor range that may not be the best place for him.

Tim, "Apologize" -- I was right there with him for about 15 seconds, and then he hit his falsetto, which is painfully thin and out of tune. And since roughly half of the song was falsetto, this was a disaster.

Joe, "You and I Both" -- The opening verse is nice, but the louder he gets, the more trouble he has staying on pitch. I like the tone of his voice, though.

Tyler, "American Woman" -- It's an angry breakup song; shouldn't there be at least a hint of emotion on his face? He comes across as a little boy playing 70s-rock-star dressup in his grandpa's closet.

Lee, "Chasing Cars" -- Pitch, pitch, pitch. There are some wincingly sour notes here, and I don't much like the sound of his voice when he is in tune.

John, "God Bless the Child" -- He doesn't know his own voice very well yet. Vibrato's inconsistent (though there's usually too much of it), and he wavers between pinched nasality and full-throated clarity, sometimes within a single note.

Michael, "This Love" -- The lyrics are completely incomprehensible. It's like watching one of those Irish gangster movies where the accents are so thick that even though it's in English, it needs subtitles.

(What is it with the sudden ubiquity of "Big Mike" in pop culture? There's the boss on Chuck, the football player in The Blind Side, and now this guy. Odd...)

Alex, "Wonderful World" -- The low notes are out of his range, but I love the tone of his voice; reminds me a bit of Jamie Cullum.

Casey, "Heaven" -- This is the first time in two nights that I've even come close to being really excited by anything on the show. It's not a brilliant performance, but compared to everything else we've heard tonight, it's terrific.

(The Kara/Casey thing is really embarrassing, and the rest of the judges and Ryan need to stop playing into it before it turns into a rerun of Paula Abdul/Corey Clark.)

Andrew, "Sugar, We're Goin' Down" -- The song is deadly dull, and the performance feels like something you'd see in a college-town coffeehouse on Open Mike Night.

Deserving a spot in the final 12: Aaron and Casey.

Deserving to come back for another hearing (if only because someone has to come back): Todrick, Jermaine, Joe, Lee, John, Alex, and Andrew.

Deserving to go home this week: any combination of Tim, Tyler, and Michael.

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