Tuesday, April 28, 2009

American Idol, Top 5: The gang sing Frank, Sammy and Dean (sort of)

Some thoughts on Rat Pack night on "American Idol" coming up, but first, I have to once again complain about how lazy and padded, if not outright bumbling, the production of the show has been this season. On most seasons of "Idol," the top 5 show features each contestant singing two songs. This time, they only sang one, and yet the show still ran a couple of minutes past 9 p.m. There's just no excuse for that. None.

Who knew I would miss Nigel Lythgoe this much?

Song-by-song...

Kris Allen, "The Way You Look Tonight": Kris sings one of the only songs of the night that I strongly associate with one of Frank, Sammy or Dean, and more than anyone else on the night, he understands that these songs are more about phrasing and storytelling than they are about vocal gymnastics. It's a clean, pure vocal, and this guy's become a pleasure to listen to.

Allison Iraheta, "Someone to Watch Over Me": I should note that, while the "American Idol" band is usually a mess, this orchestral version sounded pretty terrific. As did Allison, for that matter. She sang it straight, didn't try to turn it into a Heart song, and while there was some belting at the end, it felt like a part of the song. Great voice.

Matt Giraud, "My Funny Valentine": Where a couple of contestants (Allison and Danny) tonight were singing songs that Kat McPhee kind of butchered in season 5, Matt took on a song that Melinda Doolittle owned in season 6. He throws in his usual assortment of annoying, unnecessary runs (and is oddly criticized for it by run-loving Randy and Kara) and just when you think he's going to follow Jamie Foxx's advice to sing the final note with his full voice, he piles some falsetto trilling on top of that. Why did we bother saving him again?

Danny Gokey, "Come Rain or Come Shine": Danny can sing. This has never been a question. The issue with him is can he be a contemporary artist, and can he develop a stage presence beyond the karaoke moves he has now. Rat Pack Night isn't exactly the evening to resolve those issues, though Danny does seem to be getting more confidence on stage of late. A good vocal, as usual, though I thought he added too much unnecessary mustard and relish at the end.

Adam Lambert, "Feeling Good": Half the fun of Adam Lambert has been wondering what song he might pick, and then what bizarre thing he might do with the arrangement. In picking the inevitable in "Feeling Good," he takes away the first part of the game, and in doing half of it in an identical style (down to the dramatic blue lighting) to his "Mad World" from a few weeks ago, he mostly takes away the second. He's still likely going to win, but the artifice and insincerity of his performances becomes more obvious when he's predictable like this.

Best of the night: Kris Allen. And to think that I ranked him dead last at the start of the finals in terms of chance to win. Adam's still running away with things at the moment, and Danny's still the likely second-place finisher, but Kris looks like he's going to at least make things interesting on Top 3 Night.

In danger: If Matt -- who has technically been saved by the judges twice now -- doesn't go home, then the voters have fallen asleep on the job. I could see a scenario where Allison goes home, but she shouldn't, as she was my second-favorite of the night after Kris.

What did everybody else think?

48 comments:

MattB said...

What was the other time in which the judges saved Matt besides using the "judge's save"? I don't think it's fair to count last week, if that's what you are counting.

Adam said...

Pretty much 100% agreed, which makes my review tonight a bit redundant.

I was worried for Adam until that penultimate note, wondering why he took on a song that defeated two semifinalists in one week. But now? Safe. And Matt must go.

Anonymous said...

I don't care if Adam's performances are artificial, at least they're performances. The guy is pure entertainment, I'm not sure what everyone expects of him. The only difference between the other, boring contestants is their voices.

Alan Sepinwall said...

MattB, he wasn't voted through in his semi-finals group, and then the judges made him a wildcard.

Anonymous said...

Maybe I'm being a Katharine McPhee apologist, but I remember Someone To Watch Over Me and Come Rain, Come Shine being perhaps her two best performances aside from Somewhere Over The Rainbow.

For the record, I thought this week just reinforced that Adam's the best of the contestants and Matt is the weakest performer left in the field.

Alan Sepinwall said...

I'm a Kat McPhee apologist, too, and there are some extremely painful notes in both performances.

Kat's best other than Over the Rainbow was Black Horse and the Cherry Tree.

J said...

Doolittle's "Valentine" was so perfect (though the production on the full version released as a made it unlistenable) that Simon's praise for Giraud's turn devastated his cred.

It's lucky for Adam that Sinatra did that track with Muse on Duets II.

Oh, and Kris Allen, don't call Jamie Foxx. Jamie Foxx will call you. (Don't wait up.)

JD said...

I find it so odd that I loved Danny the most tonight out of all the others. I wasn't a fan of Simon's baiting of Allison into saying she wanted to win it all but then saying she wasn't proving herself to that point in her performances. It seemed a little mean spirited and confusing since he was praising her a few weeks ago. I hope she doesn't get cut tomorrow.

Anonymous said...

J, Sammy Davis, Jr., also sang Feeling Good. And it happens to be from a B'way show (The Roar Of the Grasepaint, The Smell Of the Crowd). Adam? Theatrical?

Kris was amazing. A lot of people who watch this show don't understand much about jazz, apparently. He's the only one who knew how to sing it.

Beckett said...

I started watching this with my daughter about four or five weeks ago, and was sincerely shocked that Megan was sent home! I don't understand why Allison, Chris, and Matt are still there. Especially Matt??? I think Anoop and Megan would have made some interesting, entertaining contributions that would have challenged the voters during the final episodes. Adam and Danny had it going on tonight, although I agree that Adam is a showman, but not very sincere, or interesting anymore...he's going to stick his tongue out, he'll either be punk or comb his hair, and he's going to scream.

Linda said...

"I don't care if Adam's performances are artificial, at least they're performances. The guy is pure entertainment, I'm not sure what everyone expects of him. The only difference between the other, boring contestants is their voices."

Unless you're always going to be watching people on video or seeing them live, they have to ultimately survive on their voices. I wouldn't listen to an Adam Lambert record if it were the only alternative to listening to my own teeth being drilled. I'd listen to any of the other four first. Most of the singers I listen to, I just listen to. I don't get to enjoy their hair, nails, entrances, white shiny suits, or glowering at the camera the vast majority of the time. So it's about the voice, to me.

Jenn. said...

I definitely agree that Kris, followed by Allison, was the standout. I kind of had Danny (whom I generally don't like) and Adam tied---gah, I hate the screaming, but I might go see him in a show if I had a down-to-the-second identification of each time he would scream and a high-quality set of ear plugs to insert at each of those times.

I thought that Matt was plainly the weakest, and I don't know what Simon was thinking with those comments.

Danny said...

@Linda

But Adam already proved he can just sit back and sing with "Tracks of My Tears" and "Mad World," so he really has nothing to lose by making crazy showman-like performances that rally the crowd and excite viewers into voting. And clearly people want to listen to it and not just watch it since Mad World is the #1 Idol iTunes download. I'm not saying you have to like his voice, I'm just saying that plenty of people appreciate more about him than his performances-- though they are a big selling point. I don't think he'd have made it this far without a killer voice.

Simon has actually never given Allison unqualified praise, which I find a little ridiculous and fishy. I don't know why they don't want her to do well, especially being the last girl and all. But week after week she impresses me, enunciation be damned. I sincerely hope Matt goes home tomorrow but I'm so worried that America will listen to Simon as we so often do.

Anonymous said...

10 songs in 40 minutes?

That's 4 minutes per song.

That would seem impossible.

Joe Reid said...

Well since the Kat McPhee apologists are all meeting here, I should say I quite loved her "Come Rain or Come Shine." That and her "Since I Fell For You" were my faves. Well, those and the bugfuck insanity of "Who Wants To Live Forever," but I don't expect anyone to jump off that cliff with me.

Anyway, Allison was just utterly lovely to listen to, while Danny was an utter snooze. Adam's voice is obviously the strongest, and while I actually quite liked him this week, it's was all VERY Lorne-from-Buffy (RIP, Andy Hallett). I liked that Kara called it "sleazy" as a positive.

Anonymous said...

Also, here on the West Coast my TiVo recording captured the whole show without running over.

It was scheduled to end at 9:01. By 9:00 they were already doing the recaps.

Did they edit it down from the East Coast broadcast?

Kelly said...

Well, those and the bugfuck insanity of "Who Wants To Live Forever," but I don't expect anyone to jump off that cliff with me.I'll see you at the bottom of that cliff good sir.

I really loved Kris tonight; damn that boy can sing. And oh so adorable.

Adam - geesh, I dunno, there's just something about him that annoys the poop out of me. I feel like he does the exact same thing each time out; just mild variations on it. And baby, it's growing old.

I thought Danny was pretty good tonight and normally he too annoys the poop out of me.

Obviously I spend a lot of time in the bathroom during American Idol.

(Did I share too much? I shared too much didn't I.)

Anonymous said...

As Adam walked down the stairs in his white suit wailing away he reminded me of Conrad Birdie!

Theresa said...

I find myself shocked to be agreeing with Randy and Kara over Simon, but I am equally shocked that Simon called Matt's terrible performance "brilliant." If by "brilliant," he means "pretty bad," then I'm with him, but sheesh. That was not pretty, and I am more than ready for Matt to leave. I am also not sure what Simon meant by "wet" except that Kris is like a puppy and they are usually wet.

ghoti said...

I am getting checked for a brain tumor ASAP, because I agreed with Randy all night and I have no idea what show Simon was watching.

I thought Adam was the worst of the night. Horrible, horrible song choice and he sang it poorly.

Matt was equally awful and (of course) far less fun. I hope somehow Allison gets more votes than he does.

Undercover Black Man said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
amysa said...

I'm tired of Adam. But, more than that, I'm tired of being told that I just don't get Adam or that Adam isn't my "thing" or any number of things that disqualify me as being fit to judge Adam. I get Adam. I *like* Adam. Adam is talented. But, I'm tired of him. He's very, very calculated, every move is very carefully mapped out, he has his sincere "thank you" face down and I feel absolutely no connection to him. There's nothing at all spontaneous about him and there's something a little Stepford about that. Since things have actually gotten real as far as chances of winning goes for these guys, we've not seen him raked over the coals. We haven't seen him get what Lil or Anoop got. I'd be curious to see how he would handle that. If he Daughtry'd it, even if that means revealing the size of his ego, I'd find him a lot more interesting than I do now because as it is, there's nothing especially compelling happening up there on that stage. But, that's not going to happen because the judges can't get enough of him.

All that aside, Matt should go tonight. He should have gone last week with Anoop going this week, but whatever. Allison and Kris were my favorites of the night and I'm assuming that Simon was either very bored and wanted to screw with people or suffering from some sort of issues with his ears if he thinks Matt was better than her or anyone else on that stage.

Undercover Black Man said...

Kat's best other than Over the Rainbow was Black Horse and the Cherry Tree.

I deg to biffer. My favorite Kat McPhee performance -- evidently overlooked by many -- was "Until You Come Back to Me."

I don't buy her as an interpreter of jazzy pop standards. Not at all.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Also, here on the West Coast my TiVo recording captured the whole show without running over.

On the East Coast, my recording of "Fringe" begins with half the recaps. So even though they scheduled it for 61 minutes, it still ran 62.

And with 90 seconds (give or take) per song, that's embarrassing that they couldn't fit that into an hour.

Anonymous said...

I actually liked Danny best last night!!!!!!!!

I've always liked Matt, but last night he was just plain daft or badly advised to sing that song - not good. He should go.

@ theresa ( I think) In england 'wet' means something along the lines of what I think 'sappy' means in the US!

K J Gillenwater said...

"Most of the singers I listen to, I just listen to. I don't get to enjoy their hair, nails, entrances, white shiny suits, or glowering at the camera the vast majority of the time. So it's about the voice, to me."

This is my feeling exactly...you had me laughing out loud. White shiny suits, indeed.

I thought Danny was incredibly good. Kris was great. But Danny was the ONE performance I am going to rewind and listen to again. That last section of the song was amazing. Best I've heard him.

Kathy said...

Kris's performance was one of his best. I wish there was a little more power behind his voice. And that mustache??? Please shave! I think Simon was trying to say that he was "wet behind the ears" or lacking maturity. Still sorry for the wife and her designation as "friend and family"!

Allison needed this ballad to prove she could sing and I really enjoyed her performance.

Matt just needs to go! I'm feeling the same way about him that I did Scott when he stayed a little too long. I hate the hat, his apparent decision that he is the second coming of Timberlake, his desperate air, and all the runs! Go! Go now!

I have not been a fan of Danny Gokey but I actually enjoyed his performance last night. Again, I hate his smug smile and find him hard to watch but I think I could enjoy listening to a CD of his music.

Adam's entrance was pure Vegas down to how the light would shine on that white suit. As a previous commenter said, his performances are calculated but they are still amazing and entertaining! He is the only reason I have continued to watch the show this season. I can see him in Vegas ala Celine with lots of costume changes and dancers and mood lighting and he would sell out the house.

jennilynn said...

Here in the Central time zone the recaps continued into Fringe also -

Wow, I was shocked, was Simon listening to a different song while Matt performed? I thought the whole thing was flat and painful to listen to. Kids got a good persona, but ouch.

Kris was incredible. Adam talented, but I'm over being awed by his prowess.

Sonia said...

While I agree Adam is incredibly talented, I'm not a huge fan of his b/c of (my perception of) his lack of sincerity. And the vocal gymnastics are getting boring.

Adam said...

A question for the Hokey Gokey fans: do you actually see him becoming The Next Pop Superstar? In what genre of music?

A few cycles back on America's Next Top Model, there was a woman named Melrose who was really really good in the individual challenges every week, and in fact made it to the finals -- but everyone knew that based on her age and height, she had no hopes of major stardom outside that contrived realm. To me, Gokey's the same phenomenon.

Matthew said...

A question for the Hokey Gokey fans: do you actually see him becoming The Next Pop Superstar? In what genre of music?If Danny wants it, he could have a nice, long career doing Contemporary Christian. But if he does a pop album, it's likely one and done for him. Maybe he would insist on writing his own music and maybe he can't actually write, but if he plays his cards right, he could become a pretty big artist within the C.C. music world, which is far, far bigger than people tend to want to believe. Chris Sligh is doing alright, and he had only a fraction of the fan base that Danny will leave the show with.

And for the Southpark fans -- perhaps Danny's records will go "myrrh."

Tanya said...

Adam,

I think Danny could be a great pop star. I base this mostly on the fact that I will buy his album.

But, in reality, I think he will end up being a contemporary Christian singer and mostly sing about Jesus. I predict he will make money hand over fist this way and be so successful that they will have to rename Christian music "Gokey music."

As for ANTM, honestly, none of those girls will ever be a top model. Maybe they will have some commercial catalog success, some cover girl ads, or a tv show or movie. Or like Melrose, maybe they will date Jeremy Piven. But top models start modeling when they are 15, they are 5'11", and they are 100 lbs. The ANTM girls are in their 20s, too short usually, and too big.

Steve said...

I only had a chance to see Kris's performance last night (watching the rest on DVR tonight) and I thought it was very weak. I guess I have to rewatch it to see what all the fuss was about (I was very tired).

He has a weak voice, but has a packaged appeal with his guitar and could be a Jason Mraz/Adam Duritz type.

Though not the right place for it, as great as Lambert was on "Tracks of My Tears," I tought "Mad World" was very overrated. Have these judges never heard Gary Jules' haunting version of it? Lambert's version didn't have an iota of the raw emotion displayed by Jules

maura said...

@Linda: What, you didn't like Adam's shiny white suit? I loved it. It cracked me up.

My husband finally heard/saw him, and said Adam reminded him of Dick Shawn in The Producers.

Allison was so good. I agree that Simon was flat out mean to her. And he tells Kris there was no connection to the song. And then he praises Matt? I seriously didn't know what he was talking about half the time. He and Randy must have had some kind of Freaky Friday switch, or he broke into Paula's stash.

bettyd said...

I agree that it was really anoying to sit through 4-7 minutes of commercials between each performer. OK, you can rake in the money, FOX, but you still need people to watch and not TIVO through them.

I think Danny is another Soul Patrol guy who was good in the competition but can not do much outside. I enjoy listening to him, but can't see him finding a comercial, pop song to sing.

I loved Kris and Allison. Linda Rondstat sang a great version of that song on her "What's New" album of songs from this genre. That is who Allison was reminding me of last night.

please go away Matt. I hate that song anyway, and he didn't make me like it any more.

I was hoping for Liza or Shirley MacClaine as the mentor !

LA said...

In my mind, Simon is firmly committed to convincing America that he didn't waste that Judges' Save, thus his otherwise incomprehensible praise of Matt last night.

I would have loved it if Allison sang At Last. Enjoyed her very much anyway, but I thought that was a missed opportunity.

Matt needs to go NOW.

Nicole said...

As I am listening to Muse's Feeling Good right now, Adam's version doesn't hold a candle. Putting a new twist on a song is interesting the first and maybe the second time it's done, but everytime? That gets boring. And it isn't even a new twist as much as its copying a revamped version done by someone else.

Unfortunately I am so bored by every other contestant too, that I can't bring myself to care who wins. I'll be surprised if it's not Adam, but I won't be devastated.

amysa said...

Good point about proving the Matt save wasn't a bad move, though I'm not sure why Simon would be the one. He didn't care about Matt, right? I would think he would want to use that chance to prove to the women that Matt had spoiled someone else's chances. Then again, he was over Lil and never seemed to like Anoop, so maybe Simon just doesn't care.

@Nicole, I would actually find it really refreshing if Kris could pull out the win. He's a nice singer, nice performer, nice guy, etc. and I think he could sell some records to the Jason Mraz and Jack Johnson fans of the world. If he doesn't win, fine, but a win over the two guys who have already been crowned First and Second would be sweet. That glee over an upset aside, I ultimately don't really care either. This has been a weird season.

Kelly said...

Danny is definitely this year's Taylor Hicks in that he is not a contemporary recording artist. He's a likable guy with a good voice. And will America please end Matt's suffering this week? He was terrible and Simon's critique makes me think that the over-the-top pimping certain contestants to guide the voting process is so disgustingly overt this year. Why would Simon want to keep Matt around if only to get weaker singers in the top 3 so Adam will win by a landslide? Why did I find myself agreeing with Randy and Kara all night?

LA said...

though I'm not sure why Simon would be the one. He didn't care about Matt, right?@amysa Because the Save was ultimately Simon's final decision. At the time, he seemed pressured into it, but I think his ego is now at stake. I honestly can't think of any other reason he would praise Matt. I also think that's why he threw Allison under the bus. If he can get Matt into the final 3 or 4, he won't look like a complete fool for wasting the Save on Matt.

amysa said...

But, I don't think it was his final say, was it? That's only if he *does* want to send someone through on a tie. I know that the women were very clearly voting "yes", but I thought Randy said "yes" as well, which would make Simon's opinion on the entire thing totally irrelevant.

Anonymous said...

CONRAD BIRDIE - that's it!! I kept trying to figure out who Adam was reminding me of. Thanks!

You know Adam might be talented and entertaining, but sorry guys, he....creeps....me....out. Kara was so right with the "sleazy" comment, although she meant it as a compliment - I dont!!

Theresa said...

But, I don't think it was his final say, was it? That's only if he *does* want to send someone through on a tie. I know that the women were very clearly voting "yes", but I thought Randy said "yes" as well, which would make Simon's opinion on the entire thing totally irrelevant.Well, according to what they said at the beginning, the vote had to be unanimous, so he would indeed have to say yes in order to keep Matt.

ghoti said...

"Though not the right place for it, as great as Lambert was on "Tracks of My Tears," I tought "Mad World" was very overrated. Have these judges never heard Gary Jules' haunting version of it? Lambert's version didn't have an iota of the raw emotion displayed by Jules"

I'd say that is the standard version of the song (thanks mostly to Donnie Darko and a little bit to the ubiquitous advertising campaign for the original "Gears of War")

It's much more well known than the Tears for Fears version.

So not only was Adam's performance overrated, he cheated the theme. (The Daughtry comparisons continue!)

I did like "Tracks of your Tears" though.

K J Gillenwater said...

I think Danny Gokey could totally have a career after this. He would fit in very well as the modern Michael McDonald or MIchael Bolton. Every generation needs a really cheesy, romantic balladeer type singer. And he has the scratchy voice to prove it.

I'd buy a Danny G. album.

There's 2 out of how many who posted here?

amysusanne said...

@Theresa, Thank you. I could have sworn that when it was first announced that Ryan said that Simon was the tie breaker, in the same way that it worked during the audition rounds. I've mentioned that before here and nobody corrected me, so I never bothered double checking to see if it was correct.

wjm said...

So not only was Adam's performance overrated, he cheated the theme. (The Daughtry comparisons continue!)In that case, David Cook also cheated last year with "Hello" and "Billie Jean." But if that's what it takes to get him singing those two songs the way he did, then bring on the crib sheets.

Linda said...

"But Adam already proved he can just sit back and sing with "Tracks of My Tears" and "Mad World,"

As I recall, both of these contain screaming.

Hilariously, my best friend pointed out that his "Tracks Of My Tears" was basically a rip-off of "More Than Words" in every way, including the overwrought lip-quivering.

As for "Mad World," it was okay, I guess, but nothing special to me. They overproduce him so much every week that somebody thinks he needs it. Why is he the only one who gets those ridiculous lighting setups and hypertheatrical entrances? Because somebody thinks that's part of the appeal. To me, that's all nothing.

I'm all about Glen Hansard opening a show by coming to the very front of the stage of the Beacon Theater to sing "Say It To Me Now" UNMIKED with nothing but an acoustic guitar, before getting into the meat of the show. That's what moves me. Lighting? That makes me think you're trying to hide something -- probably a lack of original ideas.