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American Idol Season 4 (2005)


May 10 - Gamble & Huff + Nashville


Now that we've gotten rid of all the interesting contestants (see: artsy-fartsy-big-hair Nadia and theater-boy-posing-as-rocker Constantine) and all the irritating ones (see: Babs-meets-Fran-Drescher Mikalah, every-man-is-a-serial-killer Scott), I find that I am totally bored with this year's top four.  Yes, they're all good singers.  Yes, they all more or less deserve to be there.  But they are all so nice and so predictable in what kind of music they do and...zzzzzzz.  Huh?  What?  Oh, yes.  The review.

This week the themes are "the Philadelphia sound of Gamble and Huff" (my money's on a cheese-tacular version of "Love Train" for the group song tomorrow night) and Nashville (a.k.a. country).  Gag.  They usually do country much earlier in the season and get it out of the way.  And hasn't Carrie been doing Nashville - or Nashville-esque - for almost the ENTIRE season, anyway??  Enough already!

Carrie Underwood (sings the Dixie Chicks' "Sin Wagon" and Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes' "If You Don't Know Me By Now"): First song, safe and bo-o-o-ring.  Not even a glory note.  I can't understand most of the words and her voice is all fake-gravelly.  I mean, to me this was the equivalent of Constantine's last song - as in, out of the entire country genre, why did she pick this?  I don't like dirty country Carrie singing about mattress dancing, folks.  I mean, what is she trying to say?  Last week she was evil, this week she's jumping on the sin wagon.  Yeah, like I'm supposed to believe that.  The judges love it, though, even though she could "sing it in the shower."  I'll comment on that comment later.  Second song was a horrid choice.  What the heck does she know about love affairs?  And she was flatter than an Okie pancake on those glory notes.  The judges don't like this so much, although Simon tries to blame the band.  Phooey on that.  She picked the wrong song, plain and simple.  She did, however, manage to scrunch her eyes a few times in a rare show of emotion.  Or maybe the heavy eye makeup was falling into her contacts.  Eh.  Whatever.

Bo Bice (sings Travis Tritt's "It's a Great Day To Be Alive" and the O'Jays' "For the Love of Money"): First song, boring, but better than Carrie because he's smiling and singing about how his high isn't drug induced, which is such a comment on his whole "drug scandal" last week that I want to shake his hand.  The judges get on his case for playing it too safe and I'm like, "Wait a minute.  Carrie plays it safe and you love her for it.  Bo plays it safe and you hate it.  Huh?"  I'm not saying that their critique wasn't valid, but I can understand why he chose such a safe song because he was saving all his energy for... the second song, where he blew everyone else in the competition away.  He actually woke me up.  Sure he's still carrying that microphone around on stage, but wow!  That white boy can get down when he wants to.  He really got into that song, and I agree with Paula that it's one of his best performances to date.  And Mike just luuuurvs that bass in the background.  But, uh, Bo...a pimp suit and sandals?  No.  I don't care what Carson would say: cowboy boots would have been just fine.

Vonzell Solomon (sings Trisha Yearwood's "How Do I Live Without You" and Thelma Houston's "Don't Leave Me This Way"): I'm really confused with the first song because she's so flat that it almost sounds as if she's singing in another key, and her trademark smile is missing.  And then she starts crying when the whole thing is over.  The judges don't know what to say, and I feel all sorry for her because for some unknown reason she's had a "really bad" day [Internet rumors range from an illness to a death in the family].  So I'm talking to her as if she's right in front of me, and I'm saying, "Pull it together, girl.  You've got one more song to go."  And on the second song she's much better, although it's in a scary "by-God-I'm-going-to-rise-above-this-and-nail-this-song-just-like-Nadia" sort of way, which is so serious that I want to cry out, "Okay!  Okay!  I believe you!"  Despite that, the judges and I both applaud her for coming back and sounding fabulous.  I'm not sure how the tears will affect the voting for her - remember Jasmine bursting into tears last year after Simon criticized her and then getting so many votes that the far superior LaToya got ousted? - but I just want to hug her and tell her, "It's going to be okay.  I'll save you from the evil Carrie."

Speaking of LaToya, she's in the audience, along with Jasmine and John Stevens from last year, and Mikalah from this year.  But Ryan ignores LaToya when he introduces Jasmine and Mikalah, and LaToya gives him a look that says, "I will kill your dog tonight."  Heh.

Anthony Fedorov (sings Lonestar's "I'm Already There" and Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes' "If You Don't Know Me By Now"): He's fine on the first song.  It suits him vocally, although I'm a little creeped out at this 20-year-old singing a song about an out-of-town Dad telling his little girl that everything's going to be okay.  The second song was a much better version than Carrie's, although Anthony concentrates more on the chorus than she does and I wish he'd done more verses.  But no matter.  This is a guy's song, and he sings it well, although he's not Simply Red (who, uh, didn't do the song originally, Randy).  Anthony is simply Anthony, and that might not be good enough to get him to the next round, between Vonzell's tears and Bo's and Carrie's fan bases. We'll see.

These are my personal rankings:

1. Bo - for waking me up and making me grin
2. Anthony - for the most consistent performances of the night
3. Vonzell - for rising above her difficulties and bringing it on with her second song, albeit in a Nadia-channeling sort of way.
4. Carrie - for being boring and not that good

Whether the audience agrees with me or not - and whether the contestants' fan bases can power-vote their favorites into the top three - is anyone's guess.  I suspect that either Anthony or Vonzell will go home, but I guess it all comes down to what musical "gendre" ( Bo Bice) the voters prefer this year.  I would giggle like crazy, though, if Carrie gets sent home the week they do country. Bwah!

Eliminated on May 11 Results Show:  Anthony Fedorov

Review 2005 by Patricia Lowhorn.  For comments, e-mail

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