Tuesday, April 27, 2010

American Idol, Top 6: Shania Twain Night

A review of tonight's "American Idol" performances coming up just as soon as I lament professional comedian Ellen DeGeneres' need to do two different "Shania Twain-as-train" jokes in one episode...

First of all, Shania Twain's Canadian-ness is one of those things I tend to forget (in spite of my own half-Canadian ancestry) for years at a time because I only hear her sing, and the accent only comes out in her speaking voice. Very unsettling to be reminded she could have played the love interest in a Bob & Doug McKenzie movie if the timing had been a bit different.

As to the show itself? Well, let's just say I find Shania's speaking voice more interest than a lot of what's in her songbook - and particularly the parts of her songbook that were performed this evening. (If only Big Mike or Aaron had come out and did "Man, I Feel Like a Woman"...)

Lee Dewyze, "You're Still the One": Every week, the judges completely ignore the number of outright horrible notes he lets into his performances. Until this week, those at least were the exception each week and not the rule, but tonight Lee sounded more off-key then on, while at the same time looking like he had just been up all night trying to recreate the "ADRIAN!!!!" scene from the end of the first "Rocky." I don't dislike Lee in general, but this was probably the worst he's been so far.

Michael Lynche, "It Only Hurts When I'm Breathing":
This is Big Mike doing his young Luther thing. Mostly sounded good - though the falsetto was oddly weak in spots - and passionate (the "wet" quality Simon was complaining about), but didn't do a lot for me.

Casey James, "Don't": Some other contestants this season have been ruined by inconsistent comments from the judges. Fortunately for Casey, the judges have all been telling him the same thing for weeks, and he finally listened. No pointless guitar mini-solos, no fixed half-smile; just his usual Bob Seger voice married to some genuine emotion. More vibrato than I would have liked, but overall his best since "Jealous Guy," and one of his strongest performances overall.

Crystal Bowersox, "No One Needs to Know":
After last week's powerhouse, tear-inducing "People Get Ready," Crystal takes it down several notches with a quirky alt-country performance that sounded very much like the sort of thing she might play at a concert five years from now in between two of her better-known hits. I liked the vibe of it, and the way Crystal sounded a bit like Neko Case when she went into the falsetto. The judges were clearly irked (though only Simon came out and admitted it) she didn't swing for the fences again after last week, but I'm fine with a Mama Sox double now and then.

Aaron Kelly, "You Got a Way": Aaron's voice has been pretty brutal the last month or so, but on a country-themed night he finally managed to grab hold of the notes and not sound like he was straining to reach them. But if he sounded better technically, he still put me to sleep, though I believe I woke up just in time to hear Kara accuse him of being a virgin. Is that about right?

Siobhan Magnus, "Any Man of Mine":
Okay, I think I'm done with her. All the usual Siobhan tics - dull, pitchy low notes at the beginning, building to a wail and an endless power note - and here we got the added bonus of her having major breath control issues as she tried to walk and sing at the same time, and then as she tried to deal with some particularly wordy verses. The judges were impressed by the big note at the end, but I've seen that trick too often to care when the rest of the song was so uninspired.

Best of the night: The Outlaw Casey James, followed a ways back by Crystal.

In danger: I'd be fine with either Siobhan or Aaron going, but he had the whole "I was singing it to my mom" moment, and she had the pimp spot, which is still mostly invulnerable, so... Lee, in spite of never being in the bottom 3 before? Big Mike, because his voters could get complacent twice? I'll be curious to see if Crystal goes bottom 3 after the judges finally criticized her, and also after a small-by-design performance, but I'd be stunned if she was in real danger.

Finally, as many of you know by now, I'll be blogging at HitFix starting next week, and in figuring out how the new job is going to work, I think "Idol" is one of the few shows I cover regularly now that won't get the weekly treatment in the new home.

Part of that is that it's been a real bear doing "Idol" and "Lost" live on the same night (which wasn't a problem this week), part is that I've been really uninspired by the cast this season, and part of it is that Fienberg has always been much, much better at writing about "Idol" (here's his review of tonight's show). When I was a solo act, it made sense for me to carve out time to do these weekly write-ups; when I'm at a place where another guy does it and does it better than me (and cares more than I do), it makes sense to focus time and energy elsewhere. I'm sure I'll weigh in from time to time, and maybe even do a weekly post where I link to Dan and invite you to comment, but at least until the finals, I'm out of the "Idol" reviewing game.

What did everybody else think?


DB Cooper said...

Agree on just about all of it.

Lee was pretty lousy.

Lynche bores me to tears - would anyone actually BUY a Vandross album today?

Casey was fine.

Simon was using his patented reverse psychology to help Crystal. A little criticism to rally the troops.

Aaron - bad AND boring.

Siobahn - What Alan said.

Dylan said...

Re: Crystal - I like the Neko analog. I actually heard a bit of some Ani Difranco in there.

I thought Casey lapped the field tonight.

I just don't think Siobhan will survive this week.

disgrl4 said...

I can not believe the judges' responses to Siobahn. But, what actually annoyed me the most about her performance was that she walked BEHIND her back-up singers. That should never be done by any singer who has a little common sense. Ever.

MPH said...

I actually enjoyed all the performances this week - a testament to the bland likability of the Shania Twain songbook, I guess.

And can we get another weekly installment of our "Bruce Gowers is an incompetent hack" who can't even manage to keep from running over with only 6 singers in an hour? I really would like to see the last 5 minutes of Glee on TV instead of YouTube next week

Marc said...

To me this is on FOX at this point. Everyone has been taking them to task for the overruns and they cant tell IDOL to get it together? DWTS is another live show that airs twice a week, with judges waxing extemporaneously. They NEVER go over. I know you dont watch it Alan, but you do watch LOST. Has it ever not started on time? No.

They time out their show and when a judge goes over, Tom B, always says ok, sinnaling them to shut up. If judges comments go too long they cut something later you would never miss. I believe FOX is brazen because a)they know its the highest rated demo show and b) they have local news at 10.

I believe if they said to Ken Warwick and IDOL - get it done on time, they would, hell they did 2 weeks ago when GLEE was promoted on billboards at starting at 9:28. Coincidence. I dont think so. FOX must have told them its a must

Anonymous said...

Professional comedian? Since when?

SunflowerKisses said...

Casey was beyond par! Aaron did great as well. The others pretty mediocre.

BigTed said...

I kind of thought they were all bad, and that the judges are grading on a ridiculous curve -- either because the producers demanded it or because they just haven't heard much decent singing in weeks.

Of the best of the worst, Crystal sounded okay -- but she really is basically a blues singer, and when she tries to sound "happy" her voice just gets thin. And Casey could be a half-decent bar singer, but he would have been kicked of "Idol" long ago if he looked like Taylor Hicks.

Everyone else was just plain lousy, and this really is shaping up to be a terrible season.

Anonymous said...

I think Casey James would be going. If not Casey, it would be Mike or Aaron.

Top 6 in order (based on their last performance)

1. Siobhan
2. Aaron
3. Big Mike
4. Lee
5. Crystal
6. Casey

Anonymous said...

I am getting a bit sick of Idol screwing up my Glee DVR! I usually watch Glee at 10 instead of news, and always see half the last Idol person (and I agree she was too much this week). However, I miss the last song of Glee most of the time.

I hope at least the other time zones are edited shorter for Idol to actually finish at 9!

Hollywoodaholic said...

Wasn't the 'genius' Svengali behind Twain's songs and productions ... Mutt Lange? Or, in the case of this episode ... HE WHO SHALL NOT BE MENTIONED. Awkward.

I don't understand the judge's praise for Siobahn here, either. She couldn't even get that big mouth around the fast lines Twain could handle so easily. And Crystal gets dissed for delivering a perfect little hoedown. I think Aaron sails through on the transferred Tim Urban votes. Justice would send Siobahn home.

And thanks for the reviews, Alan, we'll miss your take.

Bobman said...

Shania Twain? SHANIA TWAIN? I mean, none of us is really under the illusion that Idol is much of a "singing" competition anymore, but ... SHANIA TWAIN? Most of her songs are just her talking! Her biggest hit (as far as I can tell, based on airplay) is "Feel Like a Woman", and it's almost all just unmusical jabbing at the camera.

What a garbage theme. Seriously.

iamnoahjames.com said...

Wow, you and I are pretty close in our feelings about the show this week.

Lee has always been a mystery to me - not HIM (he seems nice, yet uninteresting), but the way the judges LOVE him. I've always found his voice very poor, and this week showed it quite obviously. It was still a hard pill for Simon and Kara since they've been praising him for so long; yet you could read between the lines on their comments to note they didn't care for it.

I 100% agree about Crystal's performance. I thought it was a great change of pace to show a different side of her. It seemed like she was already established.

Let me know what you think of my recap:


LA said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
LA said...

I deplore country music, this episode was painful start to finish for me.

Hollywoodaholic - I was thinking the same thing re: Mutt Lange. Has she released any music since they split, and more to the point, how does it compare?

As for who is going home? I'd say Aaron, but inexplicably the judges bent over backwards to coach America to vote for him, so who knows.

Anonymous said...

PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE don't stop your idol coverage! Do we need a write in campaign????

PS We already had a "Luther lite" win, and his name was Ruben. And he was a heck of a lot more likeable. Send Big Mike and his lounge-y wet performances go already.

And now that Tim is gone, they are doing that annoying thumb on the scale thing for Siobahn. She needs to go too.

Anonymous said...

PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE don't stop your idol coverage! Do we need a write in campaign????

PS We already had a "Luther lite" win, and his name was Ruben. And he was a heck of a lot more likeable. Send Big Mike and his lounge-y wet performances go already.

And now that Tim is gone, they are doing that annoying thumb on the scale thing for Siobahn. She needs to go too.