April 06, 2010

MUSIC: American Idol 2010: Lennon/McCartney

The Lennon/McCartney songbook gives us a pretty good night, where even the bad performances are bad in more interesting ways than usual. Plus: Bagpipes! and a didgeridoo! I'd argue that the reason we got better performances this week than we did on (for instance) Rolling Stones night is simply that these are much better songs, and it's much easier to give a good perfomance when you've got good material.

The rundown:

Aaron, "The Long and Winding Road" -- A few pitch problems, and his voice seems a bit rough tonight; the last note has an odd rasp to it, as if he's got a frog in his throat. The stateliness of the song doesn't suit him well, either, and the whole thing drags a bit.

Katie, "Let It Be" -- Very nice surprise. Quiet and understated, and when she does build, she resists the temptation to get bigger than her voice can handle. It's a carefully controlled performance, and it's by far her best of the season.

Andrew, "Can't Buy Me Love" -- His voice and persona are so laid-back that when he tries to rock, even as mildly as this, it feels awkward; it's like seeing a toddler in a leather jacket. No glaring technical flaws, but not a good match of singer and style.

Michael, "Eleanor Rigby" -- Way too overwrought for my taste, and the vocal didn't work well with the arrangement. He's got a powerful voice, and that certainly came through, but he heaped more drama on the song that it can hold.

(On a side note, we have got to get rid of this backstage camera and interview nonsense. Let the singers have a few moments to themselves after they perform, for god's sake.)

Crystal, "Come Together" -- A lot of syllables are getting lost when she turns her head away from the mike; that's less of a problem than it might be with another song, because 90% of these lyrics are gibberish, anyway. And that makes this a pretty crappy song choice, because it doesn't give the singer much to do, and by golly, "not much" is precisely what Crystal does with it. Blah.

Tim, "All My Loving" -- It's as good as he's ever been -- pleasant and competently sung -- and it's still duller than a broken pencil. He's entirely devoid of charisma, and though he's pretty to look at, there's nothing that makes you want to hear any more of him.

Casey, "Jealous Guy" -- I love the simplicity of the arrangement, and the song suits him beautifully. There are a couple of times that his vibrato gets a bit too wobbly when he really belts a note, but on the whole, this is a marvelous performance.

Siobhan, "Across the Universe" -- Well, it was very pretty singing, aside from that one unnecessary note of yelling near the end. But it was so somber and weighty, as if she were singing German art songs. Very odd performance and arrangement that didn't really work.

Lee, "Hey Jude" -- Let's just ignore the bagpipes for a moment, shall we? Lee is falling back into his old tendency to push a bit harder than he should, which turns the rasp in his voice into something very harsh and unpleasant. So it's not a great performance to begin with, and then out come the bagpipes, which send the whole thing careening into a horrible pit of godawfulness.

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

For the season: Crystal (but her lead is dwindling with every passing week), Casey, Michael, Andrew, Siobhan, Katie, Aaron, Lee, Tim

Let's send home: Tim has deserved to go home for the last few weeks, but if you wanted to argue that a performance as horrific as Lee's must be punished, I'd be hard pressed to argue with you.

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