March 23, 2010

MUSIC: American Idol 2010: Billboard #1 Hits

Miley Cyrus is on hand to coach the singers, and she is among the show's more inconsequential mentors. It's Billboard #1 hits, and with a theme this broad, each singer should have no problem finding a song that fits his or her style. But this is one of the weakest fields Idol has ever produced, and as usual, they rarely rise above mediocrity.

The rundown:

Lee, "The Letter" -- I like the brassy arrangement, and it's the first time that I haven't found the rasp in his voice an overwhelming annoyance. Not something I'll remember in a week, but very entertaining in the moment.

Paige, "Against All Odds" -- Pitch is off throughout, but it's worst in the quiet moments, when she isn't providing enough support to keep the pitch up. Had she waited another year or two, she could have been a contender, but her lack of experience shows.

Tim, "Crazy Little Thing Called Love" -- Not half bad, actually, which is a huge step up for Tim. It's not a "moment," as Simon would say, but it's technically solid and he's at least trying to give us a bit of charisma and some personality.

Aaron, "I Don't Want to Miss a Thing" -- There's nothing horribly wrong with the performance, but there's also nothing remotely interesting about it. It's bland competence. (And he's not helped by a bad combination of lighting and makeup that makes him look like a negative image of himself.)

Crystal, "Me and Bobby McGee" -- It's a good performance, though (Miley notwithstanding) I think it was pitched too high. But here's the thing: You could hear the entire performance in your head as soon as you heard "Crystal" and "Bobby McGee," and it's too early in the competition to have become that predictable.

Michael, "When a Man Loves a Woman" -- Marvelous. One of the few really good performances we've gotten this season. His enunciation is greatly improved, and there's passion in the song. My biggest quarrel is that the string accompaniment at the beginning didn't quite work.

Andrew, "I Heard It Through the Grapevine" -- The notes are all in place, but where's the anger, the pain, the sense of betrayal? It's emotionally empty, and as a result, it's duller than canned tuna.

Katie, "Big Girls Don't Cry" -- I like the even tone she gets from low to high pitch, and from quiet to loud. But she's pushing too hard, so phrases start sharp, and running out of breath before the phrases end, so the pitch sags. Like Paige, she'd benefit from more training and experience.

Casey, "The Power of Love" -- He's got similar issues to Crystal, in that he's starting to fall into a predictable rut. Working in his favor, at least this song isn't as overdone as "Bobby McGee;" on the other hand, this wasn't as good a performance as Crystal's.

Didi, "You're No Good" -- I still don't much care for her voice, but this is the first time that I could sort of see why she appeals to some. Not a terribly interesting performance, but less annoying than her usual.

Siobhan, "Superstition" -- OK, clearly she's taken all that praise for the big high note a couple weeks back in "Think" too much to heart, because now everything is ending with ugly, shrieky high notes. It was actually fairly good until the very end, but it went to hell in the last twenty seconds.

For the night: Michael, Lee, Crystal, Siobhan, Casey, Tim, Aaron, Didi, Katie, Andrew, Paige

For the season: Michael, Crystal, Casey, Siobhan, Lee, Andrew, Aaron, Didi, Katie, Paige, Tim

Let's send home: Paige, because a performance that bad cannot be rewarded.

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