April 04, 2012

TV: American Idol 2012: 1980s songs

It's 80s night, which means some songs I might actually remember! Yay! Gwen Stefani's a rather odd choice of mentor for that decade; she and No Doubt didn't really break through until the mid-90s. We are also padding out the hour with 80s duets, which since they aren't part of the competition, I will cheerfully ignore (aside from noting that almost everyone sounds better in their duets than they do in their solo numbers).

DeAndre, "I Like It" -- I find his voice much more appealing down in its regular range, especially since he's having serious pitch problems with the falsetto tonight. But the performance is lackluster, with no enthusiasm or excitement, and his dancing is a lethargic stomp from side to side that feels like a horrible forced march.

Elise, "I Want to Know What Love Is" -- What happened to the rocker chick who wailed through Led Zeppelin last week? Her body's been taken over by a creepy lounge singer who's so stiff (especially in the verse) that I fear a bone will snap if she moves too fast. This didn't work on any level.

Phillip, "That's All" -- He's sliding in and out of the top notes of each phrase ("I could say BLACK... tell me it's DAY..." instead of actually hitting them on pitch (or even hitting any single note at all), and as soon as he stops playing the guitar on the bridge, he goes consistently flat. It also feels to me as if he's taking it just a hair too fast, and working harder to get some of those quicker syllables in than he should be. Pleasant enough, but not his best.

Joshua, "If You Don't Know Me By Now" -- The opening verse was marvelous, and the performance had more grit than we usually get from Joshua, which was very effective. As the choruses went on, though, it started to feel like self-parody, as Joshua took us to church one more time. Yes, the ruffles and flourishes are impressive, but he's forgetting that these things are ornamentation, and that there needs to be an actual melody line somewhere in the mix, too.

Jessica, "How Will I Know" -- This is a pop song. It's a very good pop song, but it's just a pop song. It should be delivered casually, as if it's just being tossed off. (It can't actually be just tossed off -- a lot of work goes into doing it right -- but that is the magic of the great pop singer.) And Jessica is Singing Every Damn Note of it as if it were the Queen of the Night's aria. The big sustained note at the end? It's a lovely note, but it's got nothing to do with this song.

Hollie, "Flashdance (What a Feeling)" -- Much the same problem as Jessica, complete with an equally inappropriate and unnecessary final note. But even beyond that, Hollie isn't capable of the lightness and delicacy it takes to sing something even at this tempo, which isn't all that fast. Give her a big ballad that she can belt her way through, and she's marvelous; anything that calls for more subtlety than that, though, and she flounders.

Colton, "Time After Time" -- One mark of a great song is its ability to fit into a wide range of styles, and the rock edge works very nicely here. There's a lot less of that yelpy yodel in Colton's voice this week, which is a very good thing. His style isn't my cup of tea, but this is a very good performance.

Skylar, "Wind Beneath My Wings" -- WOW moment, indeed. Passionate, intense, fully connected to the song. And rather surprisingly for Skylar, every syllable could be understood. Her best performance yet by a wide margin.

For the night: Skylar, Colton, Joshua, Phillip, Jessica, DeAndre, Hollie, Elise.

For the season: Joshua, Skylar, Jessica, Hollie, Colton, Phillip, DeAndre, Elise.

Let's send home: Elise.

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