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American Idol Season 4 (2005)

 

April 12 - The Year You Were Born

 

Nikko is gone, which was annoying because he was not the worst singer last week.  But he was among the most middle-of-the-road of the lot, so I guess people forgot about him.  Too bad.

This week the theme is "The Year You Were Born," which means the contestants have to sing something that was a hit in - you guessed it - the year they were born.  What's sobering about this theme for me is that if I was in this competition, I'd have to choose from a bunch of Beatles songs.  Boy, do I feel old.

Nadia Turner (sings Crystal Gayle's "When I Dream" from 1977): Although her hair grows - and grows scarier - every week, overall she's lovely to look at and she performs this song very well without as much diva-esqueness as in the past.  The judges diss the performance because they don't recognize the song, and while I see their point (people won't remember the performance as well as the others, so may be unlikely to vote for her), I think it's stupid to not acknowledge that she did a great job.  Remember what you said, Randy?  Song choice doesn't matter, right?  It's how they sing it, right?  Grr.

After the commercial break, we come back to see the three judges playing with Ryan's body.  What the...?  Paula must be sharing her pills.  Shudder.

Bo Bice (sings Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Freebird" from 1975): We learn that Bo's grandparents named him Bogart, and I think I'm glad he shortened it.  Anyway, the rocker is back!  I'm not sure this was the best song he could have picked - I am SO sick of hearing this song on the classic rock station - but at least it got chopped to about a tenth of its length.  Bo sort of looks like he's phoning in his performance, but he seems a lot more comfortable this week than last week, that's for sure.  He's happy, and I'm happy he's happy.  It's hard not to like this guy, even if this wasn't his strongest effort.

Paula, who only a couple of weeks ago was getting on Simon's case for picking Carrie to be the winner, now proclaims that Bo will be in the finals.  Whatever.

Anwar Robinson (sings Dionne Warwick's "I Know I'll Never Love This Way Again" from 1979): I really don't like this song, but he does a decent job on it without overdoing the melismas or trying to put glory notes where there aren't any.  I mean, those octave jumps are hard, folks, and he makes them sound easy.  He's trying to play with the camera a little more la Constantine, and all I can say is: Don't.  One is more than enough.

Oo, look, everyone!  Hall & Oates are in the audience!  I must say, it's a sad state of affairs when such classic stars feel they have to appear on American Idol to promote their next album.

Anthony Fedorov (sings Paul Young's "Every Time You Go Away" from 1985): You can tell that Anthony is not as seasoned a performer as the other singers, but this song suits his voice.  It's a thousand times better than that horror he performed last week, and probably close to his performance of "I Want To Know What Love Is" from the semi-finals, so he gets my "Most Improved Singer of the Week" award.  I want to shake his hand, too, for not attempting to sound like either Clay Aiken or Paul Young, whose voice always gave me the creeps.

Vonzell Solomon (sings Deniece Williams' "Let's Hear It For the Boy" from 1984): What is with people tonight?  This is the third song in a row that I never really liked in its original form, and the contestants are doing far better than I'd hoped.  Vonzell bounces, she smiles, she has the most fun of anyone this evening.  I don't even mind when she urges the audience to "come on" and clap with her, and that's usually a big no-no for me.  Yes, it's clearly a karaoke version - she never strays far from the original or from Deniece's voice for that matter - but it's some of the best darn karaoke I've ever heard.  She was in the bottom three last week, but if she's there again this week, then America has lost its mind.

Scott Savol (sings Hall & Oates' "She's Gone" from 1976): He has a rough time with the low notes in the verses, but he nails the chorus in his own style.  Mike says that when Scott cranks it, he can really crank it.  It's his best performance of the past four weeks.  Hall & Oates are out there in the audience cheering him on.  But then Scott ruins the moment by weirdly applauding himself for five minutes afterwards and back-talking Simon.  Did he dip into Paula's drugs when she wasn't looking?  Don't talk, Scott.  You're not doing yourself any favors.  Just sing - preferably the way you sang the chorus - and you'll be fine.

Carrie Underwood (sings Pat Benatar's "Love Is a Battlefield" from 1983): You know, I have to give her credit.  She finally walks out to the audience instead of just walking to one spot and standing there.  And what's that?  A heartfelt smile?  Could there be a personality in there somewhere?  Wow.  She also manages to sing this song without a trace of country twang.  In fact, she sounds so much like Pat Benatar that it's almost scary...until she tries to add glory notes to the end of the tune and nearly kills the whole thing when she goes horribly flat.  Ugh.  No one else bothered with glory notes tonight, so why did she feel she had to?  But I think she's starting to learn.  Randy wants her to stay in her nice, little country box, and I say he should be ejected from this show.  Why the heck does everyone have to stay in their box???  I almost pity the person who wins this competition.  "No, I'm sorry, you're country (or R&B, or rock). You have to sing these songs."  Jeesh.

Constantine Maroulis (sings Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody" from 1975): Okay, he's no Freddie Mercury, and there were a couple of flat notes here and there.  But this song was PERFECT for him.  He could be theatrical, and he could rock out - and for the first time in this competition, he out-rocked Bo.  He just blew everyone out of the water.  Why?  Because he brought the passion to his performance that no one else had tonight.  And he managed to do it without relying too much on his trademark "let me make love to the camera" moves.  I did giggle at the way they showed the backup singers on the screen behind him like the old Queen video - I wonder how many people got that?  Anyway, this was the first time I was compelled to vote this season.  I won't say how many times I voted, but suffice it to say if he goes home tonight, it won't be because of me.  (Same goes for Vonzell. Mike says that those two need to be in at least the top three, and right now I agree wholeheartedly.)

Everyone did so much better this week than last week that it's hard for me to rank them (except for the obvious).  But here goes:

1. Constantine (the most passionate performance of the night)
2. Vonzell (the most fun performance)
3. Anwar (toned down and solid)
4. Carrie (she proved she's more than a country girl)
5. Bo (nice to see the rocker back, but I wish he'd chosen a better song)
6. Anthony (improved over last week, but not polished enough to beat the others)
7. Scott (a decent performance marred by an inappropriate post-performance attitude)
8. Nadia (great job, but others were better and I've already forgotten the tune)

Positions three through seven could be mixed in any order, actually.  If Constantine or Vonzell go home, I will be very, very upset.  Well, for a day or so, anyway.  I do have a life.  Really.

Eliminated on April 13 Results Show:  Nadia Turner

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

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