February 23, 2010

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

At last! After the wasted weeks of sadistic auditions and Hollywood tedium, the competition finally begins. Sadly, it doesn't get off to a rousing start, and there's not a genuinely impressive performance to be found. There are fewer glaring errors than we might expect at this point -- pitch is generally good and so on -- but not much excitement or personality comes through, and overall it's an evening of bland competence.

As always, the semi-finals are about cutting out the obvious weaklings, so just quick thumbnail comments for now; there'll be time for more careful analysis after we've winnowed the field a bit.

The rundown:

Paige, "All Right Now" -- Good voice, and very nicely sung, which is the problem; this style demands a bit more roughness than she brings to it. It's also not a terribly demanding song, and in these first few weeks, everyone should be trying to make a big impression.

Ashley, "Happy" -- A few iffy pitches, and very poor microphone technique; her sibilants are hissing and her Bs and Ps are popping like crazy.

Janell, 'What About Love" -- A lot of iffy pitches, and she doesn't have a big enough voice to pull off this song.

Lilly, "Fixing a Hole" -- She's chosen a key in which she can't hit the low notes, and she's far too pleased with her own precious adorability. And the word "right" has a "T" at the end, dammit.

Katelyn, "Oh! Darling" -- Very well done; certainly the most credible rocker chick we've heard this evening.

Haeley, "I Want to Hold Your Hand" -- She's overdoing the melodic/rhythmic flexibility a bit for my taste, and there's a sour note or two, but I like her power, and she's making the song something more than a historical relic.

Lacey, "Landslide" -- She breathes with complete disregard for the way the words are phrased, and her voice is an ugly, nasal, Kewpie-doll mess.

Michelle, "Fallin'" -- I like her intensity, but it gives her facial expressions an edge that's a bit scary; I feel like she wants to bite my head off. If she can soften her presence, she could be a contender.

Didi, "The Way I Am" -- The song suits her voice well, and it's the night's best song choice so far. I'm not all that wild about this sort of indie-quirky-faux-naif thing, but she does it well.

Siobhan, "Wicked Game" -- Lovely voice, and she even has some power in her lower register, which is practically unheard of in Idol women.

Crystal, "Hand in My Pocket" -- When you've only got a few seconds to make an impression, don't waste ten of those seconds on the harmonica. And again, enunciation: There's a "d" in "hand."

Katie, "Feeling Good" -- Some pitch problems, and she has the charisma of mashed potatoes.

Deserving a spot in the final 12: No one impressed me enough to claim a spot yet.

Deserving to come back for another hearing: Paige, Katelyn, Haeley, Michelle, Didi, Siobhan, and Crystal.

Deserving to go home this week: Lacey and any one of Ashley, Janell, Lilly, and Katie.

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