Tuesday, May 16, 2006

American Idol: May 16 (Who the Hell is Left)

Y’all know I like Taylor: he’s fun to watch and he has a decent voice. I have to ask a serious question, though: if any of the remaining three hadn’t been on American Idol, would anyone ever care about them? Do they have the kind of talent that just begs to be discovered?

I don’t think so. These are three, essentially, mediocre talents who will probably never have much of a career beyond the bounds of their contractual obligations with American Idol. There is nothing terribly impressive about these singers and they don’t have much to offer the world. Which will be a topic for another post (hopefully tomorrow).

Now, to the music:

Elliott Yamin sings Journey’s wonderful (if you, like me, are a child of the 80’s) ballad, “Open Arms.” First, without Steve Perry’s voice, the song immediately loses some of its shine. Elliott wasn’t feeling it, though; his take was timid and distant without actually being bad. And I guess that’s part of my point: there is nothing to Elliott that is unique or particularly interesting. He most definitely isn’t a bad singer, he’s just so amazingly typical that I can’t imagine why he is still in the competition.

“I Believe I Can Fly” is one of the most irritatingly saccharine songs of all time and marrying it to Katharine McPhee’s not-particularly-impressive level of talent made for a maddeningly ugly few minutes for me. Missed notes, a weak attempt to make some emotional connection with a vapid song, and an audience that ate up this little bit of trivial crap. What the hell?

Surprisingly, Randy offers up good advice: just sing the song. Simon offers up a kinder response, but he was wrong; it wasn’t pretty and this lovely young lady with a moderate voice tries to sing the songs as if she had a huge voice.

Springsteen’s “Dancing in the Dark” actually seems tailor made for Taylor (sorry, I had to); a jumpy, fun, energetic song for the man with the most charisma of the bunch. It also fits his voice beautifully. Nicely done--although some of those faces he made had me wondering if he was suffering a stroke. I find it odd that Simon would be polite to McPhee but a bit cold to this performance (and, indeed, a much better performance than the other two offered).

Elliott is a better fit with his second song, “What You Won’t Do For Love”, but I still find myself cool to his vocals. He doesn’t have the warmth or power of the original.

I was surprised at Simon’s choice of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” for Katharine. She actually toned down the opening, letting her voice stay controlled until the end (where she tried to do a little more than she should have). She sounded awfully good during the quieter bits--it was a good choice for her and perhaps better than I’ve ever heard her sound.

Strangely, Taylor’s take on “You Are So Beautiful"--which wowed the audience and judges--just seemed like an average performance to me. Good but not great, especially given my expectations.

Elliott chooses a song and I get bored. He seemed awfully happy, though, and his voice was spot on.

“I Ain’t Got Nothin’ But The Blues” was just sort of strange. There were good moments, bad moments, and downright goofy moments while she sang a song that would have been far better for someone like the departed Paris. Odd.

And the last song of the evening, “Try a Little Tenderness”, also ends up being one of my favorites. It started a little rough, but damned if Taylor didn’t inject energy and excitement into a song that fit him perfectly. I’ll agree with Simon that the ending was wrong, but the middle section of the thing was more than enough to put a little smile on my face.

My guess would be that Katharine will be going home. Let’s be honest, though: boobies conquista todos. Or words to that effect…

PS- Andy think’s I’m deaf. I think he’s blinded by the boobies.


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