It is now American’s turn. For the past several weeks, we’ve been watching Fox’s X Factor. Watching the judges and their somewhat questionable decisions. We have said to the people we hold dearest to us (and just those who watch this show with us), “I would have NEVER put that person through” (yes, I’m talking about YOU, Simone Battle).
Well, here is your chance. The voting has now been turned over to you. The judges, Simon Cowell, Nicole Scherzinger, Paula Abdul, and L A Reid, have done their damage. Now it’s your turn. What are you going to do with all that power? Who are you going to award the $5 Mil to?
Last night, the Top 12 performed, live. Here is the rundown the way I saw it:
First, the whole show is an over the top, over-produced extravaganza. I’m really not sure what they are trying to accomplish, but all they are really doing is creating distractions. Between all the pyrotechnics, the huge video monitor in the background, and the seemingly hundreds of dancers flitting around each performer, it’s difficult to concentrate on the actual singer. Perhaps that’s the point. Are they trying to distract us from the main event? If so, that’s a shame. A few of them are actually pretty damn good.
Second, no one is benefiting from the ridiculous hyperbole and constant compliments from the judges (I really don’t think that Stereo Hogzz is the “best group in the world right now”, despite what Simon says. They’re good, but let’s not get crazy.
What happened to telling a contestant that they’re flat, or pitchy, or missed some notes? American Idol was severely criticized for this last season. How are they going to learn or get better if they are great every week? And more importantly, how is the American public, being the good sheep that they are, going to know who to vote for if the judges don’t properly direct them and every performer is fantastic? It’s just not right.
Males Under 30 (L A REID)
Chris Rene: Last night, Chris sang a beautiful version of the Carpenters Superstar, mashed with Akon’s When You Come Back. Interesting mash-up and really well done. Huge improvement over last week’s Love Don’t Live Here Anymore, but still nowhere nearly as good as Ruben Studdard’s version that I personally think helped win Season 2 of American Idol for him. In other words, it may help Chris get to the next round, but it ain’t winning him the scratch.
Astro: This kid is a bundle of boundless energy, but he’s boxing himself into a corner. For the umpteenth week in a row, (how long has this show been on for, anyway?) he showed he can rap and get a crowd on their feet, and did it with Missy Elliot’s Get Your Freak On. Ok, we get it. You can rap like it’s no one’s business, and the original lyrics at the opening were a very nice touch. But what else can you do? Let’s see him take on something out of his comfort zone and see how he does.
Marcus Canty: Marcus showed some old school hip hop flair and let his inner Bobby Brown shine through as he sang / performed Brown’s Every Little Step. And he was good. The biggest problem was, he was a little too much like Brown, both in movements and vocally. He really could have done more to make it his own. Simon really put it best, “Do we really need another Bobby Brown?”
Groups (Paula Abdul)
The Stereo Hogzz: I thought the lead singer started Janet Jackson’s Rhythm Nation off key and missed several notes in the first a cappella verse. As soon as the music kicked in and the rhythm started, the song took off like a rocket and it was pure perfection. It looked and sounded like halftime at the Super Bowl. That being said, I think someone on the judges panel should have mentioned the beginning of the song starting so poorly instead of suggesting they start writing their Grammy speech.
Lakoda Rayne: This all-girls group, resplendent in the four primary colors designed to represent the four seasons of the year for some unknown reason, sang a fairly unremarkable rendition of Fleetwood Mac’s Landslide. Sure, the vocals were good, and their harmonies were generally very good. But overall, there was nothing really special about this one that stood out.
InTENsity: This week, this large ensemble group gave us a very watered down, Disneyesque version of Kim Wilde’s We’re the Kids in America. They don’t want to be labeled as a Disney group, but I just can’t help putting them in that category. It’s their age, and their zippiness, and the fact that I’ve been to Disney World seven or eight times, and this is what it looks like on those stages. Throw them in some costumes and they would fit in very nicely there. It is what it is.
FEMALES UNDER 30 (SIMON COWELL)
Rachel Crowe: OK, she’s cute and she has TONS of charm and charisma. But she has lost a lot of what she had when she started this competition. And that’s vocal ability. Actually, she hasn’t lost the ability, her mentor’s song choices have just sucked. She brought nothing to last night’s Walking on Sunshine by Katrina and the Waves. Cleary this song was out of her league. And Simon did her no favors by changing the lyrics. “You’re my Sunshine, and you’re so good” What the hell is that???? That doesn’t even make sense. And why can’t she walk to the mailbox? We still have them. I get bills in mine every day. Speaking of doing her no favors, Nicole didn’t do her any by comparing her to Michael Jackson. How is this young girl ever going to improve if the judges are already comparing her to Michael Jackson? C’mon now. That’s crazy talk.
Drew: Last night, Drew took on Nelly’s Just a Dream, and apparently was really good. I’m not basing this on the judges’ opinions. They are not to be trusted right now (see above). I am basing this on my daughter, Tara. She sent me a text saying “Drew just made a rap song into a pop song and did it very well. Taylor Swift can’t even do that. Very, very good.” So, there you have it. For me, I just really like the tone and perfect clarity of her voice. She’s only going to get better with better song choices. I thought the tutu was pretty weird, but, whatever.
Melanie Amaro: After several weeks of power ballads, Simon clearly wanted the world to see that Melanie can sing something else. And it was a very good move because I think she could sing anything he set in front of her. Last night, in a great departure from her norm, she sang Desperado, by The Eagles. In a word, it was beautiful and stirring (ok, that was 2 words). She sang the first line a cappella and I really wanted to hear the whole song that way. Like a seasoned pro, she was very much in control of her powerful and rich voice throughout the entire song. My favorite performance of the night.
OVER 30 (NICOLE SCHERZINGER)
LeRoy Bell: Every week, LeRoy gains more and more confidence and you can really see it in his performance. Last night, his version of Lonestar’s Already There was emotional for him, as he thought about the days when he was apart from his son. Always a beautiful song, the tone of his voice (which I think is very similar to Michael Bolton), added a little more feeling to it.
Josh Krajcik: Another guy who sounds a lot like Bolton, with some Joe Cocker swagger sprinkled in, Josh sang Christina Perri’s Jar of Hearts. I have to admit, I’m not familiar with this song, but he sang it with so much feeling and emotion that it seemed to be written for him. The guy has a great voice with a special quality to it. Finding the right songs that show off his qualities will be a special challenge for Nicole. I hope she’s up for it. I think his success lies in how far her song choices take him. He has the ability to go to the final three.
Stacy Frances: Stacy had a pretty tough week with internet stories flying all week long about her past professional successes. But that didn’t seem to deter her from getting up there and giving it her all. Last week Simon told her that he thought she was a better church singer than a pop singer, and she told him that she took exception to that. But this week, she got up there and sang the hell out of Up to the Mountain, by Patty Griffin. I don’t think it was quite as strong, or as good, as Crystal Bowersox’ version on Idol last season, but it was a good showcapper. And like it or not, this is where her money is.
GOING HOME (or to Disney World) TONIGHT: INTENSITY