March 02, 2010

MUSIC: American Idol 2010: men's semifinals, week 2

Due to the illness of one of the women, the schedule has been changed at the last minute, and we're getting the men tonight. This strikes me as unfair, as it gives the men one day less and the women one day extra to prepare. And given the comments from Simon last week about this being "a women's year," it has the feel of inappropriate favoritism on the part of the producers.

This is live TV, and these are performers; sickness is part of life, and a professional either sucks it up and performs, or accepts the consequences of being unable to do so. Would it be fair for someone to be knocked out of the competition due to illness? Maybe not, but that's life.

So it's a pleasant surprise that the men are, on the whole, much better than they were last week, and there are very few problems that might be explained away by inadequate rehearsal time (memory lapses, for instance).

The rundown:

Michael, "It's a Man's Man's Man's World" -- Gutsy choice, tackling an iconic James Brown hit, and he pulls it off quite nicely. Huge improvement over last week, but his enunciation is still ghastly. Final consonants are being ignored, and 70% of the lyrics are incomprehensible.

John, "Gravity" -- He's in a higher part of his register this week, and he seems far more comfortable there. There's still the occasional tendency to overdo the vibrato, and his isn't a voice that I'm particularly fond of, but it's an adequate performance.

Casey, "I Don't Want to Be" -- The low notes are getting buried by the band, which wasn't a problem with last week's more acoustic performance, but that may well be due to insufficient rehearsal time to adjust miking levels. What he does have going for him is charisma, which he's got more of than the rest of the men combined.

Alex, "Everybody Knows" -- He still can't really hit the lowest notes, but I like his conversational, laid-back style. He's not an exciting performer yet, but if he can work through his stage fright problem, there's huge potential here.

Todrick, "What's Love Got to Do With It" -- Pitch problems throughout, and he's especially prone to tossing off the last note of a phrase with no regard for accuracy. The arrangement sucked all of the life out of the song, and he didn't put any of it back with his performance.

Jermaine, "What's Going On" -- Well, that was a mess. He insists on choosing keys that plant him in the weakest, breathiest part of his range, and when he does generate a little sound, it's not a pretty sound at all.

Andrew, "You Give Me Something" -- Pitch is horrible throughout. This is painful to listen to, and he looks so unhappy and miserable to be on stage.

Aaron, "My Girl" -- Not as good as last week, but not horrible. He's pushing a bit, overdoing the runs and flourishes, and this isn't his natural style; he sounds best, in fact, at those moments when his natural country inflections slip through.

Tim, "Come On Get Higher" -- There's nothing terribly wrong with it, which is itself a huge improvement over last week, but it's entirely bland and instantly forgettable.

Lee, "Lips of an Angel" -- Marginally better than last week, and certainly more in tune, but his voice is so unattractive that the improvement is like lipstick on a pig.

Deserving a spot in the final 12: Casey, Alex, Aaron.

Deserving another chance: Michael, John, Todrick, Tim.

Deserving to go home: Any combination of Jermaine, Andrew, or Lee.

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