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American Idol Season 5 (2006)

March 1 (Semi-finals: Men) - The sky can fall on Chicken Little now

Ryan shaved and put on a real suit tonight, so we are saved from the country theme - although the pink shirt has me nervous.

Taylor Hicks (sings the Commodores' "Easy"): His most memorable moment so far is being recognized.  The only way he can be anonymous in public now is to wear a toboggan over that gray mop of his.  He's performed this song with his band a lot, and Bo Bice is in the audience cheering his fellow Alabamian on, but the performance is just sort of "meh" for me...although I did figure out who he reminds me of with his looks and jerky motions.  Anyone remember the Thermians from Galaxy Quest?  Randy likes the Ray Charles shtick, Paula loves Taylor's enthusiasm, and Simon (correctly) says it was the wrong choice of song.  Taylor shouts "Woo!" anyway.  Okay, okay.  Sit down now.

Elliott Yamin (sings James Moody's "Moody's Mood for Love"): His biggest memory so far is his mother being in ICU during Hollywood week (she's better and in the audience tonight).  I would be annoyed at the potential for sympathy votes here, but he doesn't need sympathy votes.  He delivers a smooth, nearly flawless delivery of a technically complex jazz piece.  I just put my poison pen down and smiled.  This is the best vocal performance of the night.  Randy gives him a standing ovation, Paula thinks he's great, and Simon agrees but thinks he needs to pick another song now.  I agree - I want to hear him on something more current.  But if I were voting, I'd vote for you.  You make me proud to be a fellow Virginian.

Ace Young (sings Daniel Bedingfield's "If I'm Not Made for You"): His most memorable moment is wearing beanies in his rear hip pocket?  They're like a wedding ring for him, since he never goes anywhere without one now?  Um...okay.  This song is very pretty, but he can't seem to stay on pitch, and I am reminded a little too much of Constantine slaughtering Seal's "Kiss from a Rose" in last year's semi-finals.  Nevertheless, Randy says it shows his "sensitive range," and Paula thinks it was a good song selection in that he's taking more risks.  Simon - who I think is the only sane one tonight - points out that he struggled with the song.  Afterwards, Ace throws his beanie to the female contestants, and Brenna - who is probably every wedding party's worst nightmare - practically tackles Heather to catch it.  Please let her be gone tomorrow night.

Gedeon McKinney (sings Sam Cooke's "A Change is Gonna Come"): He remembers Simon saying during Hollywood week that if a contestant forgets the lyrics, that contestant is probably going home.  So of course he forgot the lyrics to one of the songs that week.  But he's here, anyway, and this is a decent performance, even if he does have to shake the microphone to get a vibrato.  It doesn't seem quite raw enough to me, and I'm thinking that he and Taylor should have switched songs, but it's fine.  Randy thinks he's a natural performer, Paula says he's unique and smart with his song selections, and Simon calls him a "funny little thing" who does that type of music brilliantly.

Kevin Covais (sings Marvin Gaye's "I Heard It Through the Grapevine"): His most memorable moment is getting e-mails from 12-13 year olds and being thought of as a sex symbol.  Eeuw.  Just...eeuw.  The cute factor is now officially gone for me, and it's not helped by his excruciating performance.  There's no dynamic range, he just sort of bounces there like a quivering bowl of jello, and his voice - while not off-pitch - seriously bugs.  Randy, however, thinks he can "blow," and Paula calls him infectious and "the next sex symbol."  You know they're not taking him seriously, but he thinks they are.  Simon says he likes Kevin, but he would turn off the radio if that song came on, and once again I agree.  Ryan finally points out that Kevin looks a lot like Chicken Little from Disney's recent movie of the same name, and even though it's TRUE, Kevin does not look at all pleased.  I'm telling you, if he makes it to the top 12, he is going to get the John Stevens/Scott Savol vote, thus eliminating someone much, much better than himself, and then get a backlash the following week.  And that will be much crueler than the Chicken Little joke.  Randy and Paula need to shut up.

Sway Penala (sings Stevie Wonder's "Overjoyed"): His most memorable moment was having his parents - whom he hasn't seen together for some time - both at last week's show.  Awww.  He's gonna need that sympathy vote, because there are nerves and pitch problems written all over this song.  And, contestants?  Stop with the Stevie Wonder songs already.  "Overjoyed" has quickly become "Overplayed."  Randy says the performance wasn't "unbelievable," Paula thinks Sway is a little disconnected and not "in the zone," and Simon proclaims it "pure karaoke" and forgettable.  Sway admits it might have been the wrong song choice.  Ya think?

Will Makar (sings Kenny Rodgers' "Lady"): His biggest moment so far was meeting Justin Guarini, Season 1's runner-up who has yet to make any impact in the music industry.  This does not bode well.  Actually, Will's voice is very pleasant, as long as I close my eyes.  But when I look at him, I still see Peter Brady (the perm years, yet!), and I expect him to belt out, "When it's time to change, you've got to rearrAAAnge!"  Randy doesn't think the performance was amazing, Paula thinks he was playing it too safe, and Simon says it was like an audition for Cats (huh?) and that 11-year-old girls will love him.  Will is shocked at that, and I want to say, "Son, just look in the mirror. You're Peter Brady, not Keith Partridge."  Poor guy.

Bucky Covington (sings Garth Brooks' "The Thunder Rolls"): We are giggling because his most memorable moment has been trying to read the Los Angeles menus.  "Smashed potatoes?" he asks in his country twang.  I'm not sure why I like him better than Kelly, but I do.  This song is the one Garth Brooks song I know.  It's good for Bucky's voice, but it's not as powerful as it could be, and that fakey thunder they put in the background just grates.  Randy thinks it's a great song choice, Paula thinks Bucky is finding his place in the competition, and Simon thinks he's very sincere, but only worthy of supporting act status.  Mike and I nod vigorously to that one.  Ryan tells Bucky he'll take him out for tuna spring rolls later, and Bucky says, "What?"  All he wants is some "sweet tea."  God bless him.

David Radford (sings Frank Sinatra's "The Way You Look Tonight"): His biggest memory was forgetting to wear a belt to auditions and having to borrow his mother's cell phone charger to keep his pants up.  Cute, but not as funny as Bucky's "smashed potatoes" moment.  Mike and I like the bass work in this song.  The singing?  Not so much.  If you're going to sing in your supposed "niche," then at least sing the song well, dude.  This piece should be sung smoothly, not with a wobbly vibrato all over the place. Randy says the band was great but the song was boring, Paula thinks he's done better with other songs, and Simon claims David has no charisma or confidence.  Really, he should go home now.

Chris Daughtry (sings Fuel's "Hemorrhage"): The whole experience of being in L.A. is his most memorable moment.  Not the most interesting of responses, but that doesn't matter, because the performance is hands-down the best of the night.  I was transported back to last summer's Rock Star: INXS, and I fully expected Simon to turn into Dave Navarro and say, "You know what? You rock!"  Okay, granted, Marty would have done this song better, but by A.I. standards, this was terrific.  Randy says it was the right song and Chris could be on the radio right now.  Paula calls him amazing, and Simon says it's the only performance that night that could stand out in the real world.  Dude, once again you're a breath of fresh air.  You're awesome.  Thank you.

I think I can actually rank the singers this time.

1) Chris - for the best overall performance
2) Elliott - for the best vocals

Big gap

3) Gedeon - solid if not amazing vocals and performance
4) Taylor - not his best, but still better than...
5) Will - like the vocals, hate the look
6) Bucky - not as strong as it could have been, but love the "aww, shucks" factor

Big gap

7) Sway - some pitch moments, but a few moments that were okay
8) Ace - Constantine won me over eventually, so I'll give you another chance
9) David - You don't even do Harry Connick, Jr. well
10) Kevin - You just grate. Get off my screen.

Unfortunately, the supposed "cute factor" will probably keep Kevin around for another week.

Another twelve weeks to go...

Eliminated on March 2 Results Show:  David Radford and Sway Penala

Review 2006 by Patricia Lowhorn.  For comments, e-mail tricia@lowhorn.org.

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