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American Idol Season 4 (2005)

 

March 29 - The 1990s

 

So Mikalah is gone and there is no one left whose personality really, truly grates on my nerves (well, other than Simon, who last week determined that Carrie will win this thing and nothing else matters).  But tonight we're doing 90s songs, so I'm sure some of the music will grate just as badly as our dear, departed Ms. Gordon.

Bo Bice (sings the Black Crowes' "Remedy") - Of course, we start off with a song by a band that I never really cared for.  It's a good song for Bo, though, and he's rocking the place - so much so that he nearly runs down a camera man.  Simon, who is on the Carrie love train and can't really say anything good about anyone else anymore, declares it's like something someone would sing at a wedding.  I don't know what weddings he's been to lately, but with inane comments like that, this has long night written all over it.

Jessica Sierra (sings LeeAnn Rimes' "On the Side of Angels") - Her vocals are fine; country suits her better than what she sang last week.  She needs to break that habit of standing in one spot the whole time, though.  Move, girl!  The judges think she needs to pick better songs, and I'm like, "Oh.  She's not Carrie.  Whatever."

Anwar Robinson (sings R. Kelly's "I Believe I Can Fly") - Simon and Randy finally get what I've been saying all along: Anwar always messes up the first half of a song and redeems himself with the last half.  And why the heck is he singing a song that Ruben got so many kudos for?  Do these contestants truly not know what other Idols have sung?  Paula says that's the best rendition of the song she's heard, and I think, "Gee, you just made your pal Ruben feel really special.  I'm sure he appreciates that."  (UPDATE: Okay, I think I was getting this confused with Ruben's "Flying Without Wings."  Apologies for that.  I still think the performance was bleh, though.)

Nadia Turner (sings Melissa Etheridge's "I'm the Only One") - Nadia the rocker is back, and she's vastly improved over last week's mess.  The biggest problem I had with this song is that the arrangement is way too much like Melissa's, so I was making comparisons the whole time and found that Nadia didn't quite measure up.  Melissa is more raw and emotional in her delivery.  And, of course, I expect all the snarky people on the forums to start making rude comments about Nadia's sexuality with that song choice.  Ppphhtt.  Not the best of the night for me, but a solid performance.

Constantine Maroulis (sings Bonnie Raitt's "I Can't Make You Love Me") - I confess I missed about a third of this song because I was laughing at the appropriateness of it.  Poor Constantine.  Still, from what I saw, I was impressed.  He cut out the theatrics and showed a vulnerability that is sure to get the young girls dialing their fingers off for him.  Heck, if I was sixteen, I'd be tying up the phone lines, too.  Come to think of it, that was a sexy performance.  Scary.

Nikko Smith (sings Tevin Campbell's "Can We Talk") - Nikko is developing the annoying habit of picking songs that I don't know, but he really knows how to perform.  His vocals are better than Anwar's tonight.  I still don't see him winning this thing, but I have fun watching him.  I'm guessing he's safe for another week.

Anthony Fedorov (sings Elton John's "Something About the Way You Look Tonight") - He lost the glasses and...ugh.  Put them back on.  Beady little eyes, loud green shirt, and a horribly bland performance except for a few notes at the end.  Mike says it was very Vegas-like, and I tend to agree.  I hate to say it, but it was like watching a bad Clay Aiken imitation, and that's frustrating since I know Anthony has his own voice if he could just pick the right songs to showcase it.  Since he was in the bottom three last week, I'd say he's in trouble unless his fans really power-vote.

Carrie Underwood (sings Martina McBride's "Independence Day") - This song is like "Born in the U.S.A." in that if you're not paying attention you think it's a patriotic tune about America, but it's really about something much different (in this case, domestic abuse).  You would never know that by Carrie's performance, of course, because the song's been hacked to death for time and the emotion just isn't there in her eyes.  So now she looks like she's Miss Red-White-and-Blue Patriot.  Argh.  Vocally, it suits her perfectly, and that's all the judges seem to care about, because she is The Chosen One this season.  They just looooove her and need drool cups to catch their saliva, even though two seasons ago, Simon said he hated country music.  Carrie's so safe this week, she might as well not even show up for the results tomorrow.  And I'm beginning to wonder if I should even bother watching A.I. anymore this season, since it's so obvious that the judges are going to push for her to win, and when they start doing that (see: Ruben, Fantasia), the other contestants - and the audience - might as well give up.  Why don't they just sign her already and let the others compete?  Jeesh.

Scott Savol (sings Brian McKnight's "One Last Cry") - This was a surprisingly poor song choice for him.  His pitch is all over the place in the first half, and the song gets kind of ugly when he goes into his falsetto voice.  He's starting to fade as a competitor, and that's sad.  He really needs to be able to go back to the Motown stuff he does so well.  Like Anthony, I think he's in danger this week unless his fans can pull him out.

Vonzell Solomon (sings Whitney Houston's "I Have Nothing") - I'm tired of Whitney songs on this show, but this girl blew me away.  Blew me away, I tell you.  She is absolutely gorgeous, she's got this beautiful voice that's not simply all about power, she shows emotion in her singing, and she just gets better and better every week.  Simon, of course, gives her faint praise compared to his darling Carrie, and Randy has to point out one instance of pitch problems (of course, he never heard Carrie's seriously flat note), but none of the judges can say anything really bad about her.  Look out for this woman.  She's going to sneak up from behind.

My ranking this week:

1. Vonzell
2. Constantine (yikes!)
3. Bo
4. Nadia
5. Carrie
6. Nikko
7. Jessica
8. Anwar
9. Scott
10. Anthony

The show had some solid performances this night, but I was left feeling a little cold.  Why?  Because, even more than some past episodes, I really felt like I was watching a glorified karaoke show.  With the exception of Constantine, all of the song arrangements and singing were very close to the originals.  Some people handled that better than others (Vonzell, Bo, Nadia, Carrie), but it was boring.  And for all that the judges kept saying at the beginning of the season that they wanted something "different," it really just looks like they want the same old thing: a big voice.  And what the heck is with all these "You're not the best singer in the competition" comments this year?  How does that help anyone?  Can someone offer one piece of constructive criticism other than, "You need to pick a better song"?

Last year, Fantasia had a big voice, but it was also unique.  Love her or hate her, you could never accuse her of doing karaoke.  She made each song her own.  The only person who is really coming close to that this year - I hate to say - is Constantine.  He's the only one for whom I think, "Hmm. I wonder what he's going to pull out of his hat this week?"  But because Carrie outsings everyone else, she's getting all the praise.  And that, frankly, is annoying me.  Good singing involves more than a big voice, at least for me.  It needs some passion behind it, and I just don't see that in Carrie.  I'm sure she's a nice girl, I agree she has a good voice, but she just doesn't do anything for me.  I'd hate to see some of these other singers get shafted simply so we can have another female belter in the marketplace.  That would say something about America's musical taste - and the power of A.I. to shape it - that I don't really want to know.

Eliminated on March 30 Results Show:  Jessica Sierra

Review 2005 by Patricia Lowhorn.  For comments, e-mail tricia@lowhorn.org.

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