April 13, 2010

MUSIC: American Idol 2010: Elvis

Adam Lambert is our mentor for Elvis night, and somewhat to my surprise, he is making more of an effort than many mentors to offer constructive criticism. Most of his advice, however, takes one of two forms -- be more dramatic and find some way to change the song -- advice which boils down to "be more like me." What we wind up with is a rather tepid night, with no real disasters but a lot of mediocrity, and the best performances coming from unexpected quarters.

Crystal, "Saved" -- We haven't heard much up-tepo from Crystal, and it proves to be a weak spot, as her enunciation is incredibly sloppy and lazy. The attitude is fine, but above all else, singing is about communication, and you don't communicate anything if you can't be understood.

Andrew, "Hound Dog" -- At his best, there's a gentle breathiness to Andrew's voice that's quite appealing, but it doesn't work well with this kind of angry scolding song. He knows that, I think, and he's working very hard to put more force and power into his volume, but it's sounding painfully forced and unnatural.

Tim, "Can't Help Falling in Love" -- There were some pretty moments, and this was far better than his usual. But the pitch was erratic, and what should have been lovely long phrases were chopped to bits because he can't sustain the phrases ("falling in love GASP with GASP you").

Lee, "A Little Less Conversation" -- It's too close to shouting instead of singing, and it never gathers much energy. Lee also has a bad tendency to pull away from the mike before a phrase is over. It's a sleepy, bland performance, too lethargic to be interesting.

Aaron, "Blue Suede Shoes" -- That's the first time I've believed that there was a grownup lurking in there somewhere. It was fun and playful, and it's the first performance tonight to come anywhere near the right swaggering attitude.

Siobhan, "Suspicious Minds" -- The opening is far too pretty and silky, with none of the tension and paranoia the song demands; the ending is, as usual for Siobhan, all about big, flashy notes instead of anything that might actually be in the lyrics. She's rapidly becoming one of the biggest disappointments in Idol history.

Michael, 'In the Ghetto" -- It's lovely singing, but he's taking it with such rhythmic freedom that it never develops any momentum; it just seems to stop and start with no particular logic. And that last little bit of melisma is horribly overdone.

Katie, "Baby, What You Want Me to Do" -- Fabulous. That throatiness really works for her on a song like this, and she's selling the hell out of it. By far her best performance, sassy and exciting.

Casey, "Lawdy Miss Clawdy" -- OK, but not memorable. Very much in the Joe BarBand thing that Casey is prone to falling into, with no spark of personality to take it beyond the competent.

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

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

Let's send home: Well, despite his relatively good performance tonight, Tim, of course; that goes without saying at this point. And though she started the season so well, I must sadly conclude that Siobhan has emptied her limited bag of tricks.

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