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American Idol Season 5 (2006)

March 28 - What if...you knew how to choose a song?  (Songs of the 21st century)

Well, I'm glad that this episode of Idol was only an hour, because it sucked all kinds of donkey eggs. Ugh.

You would think, out of all the songs from 2000 to today (and obviously Idol's idea of "21st century" includes the year 2000, or even 1999 if we want to get technical about it), these singers could pick SOMETHING to show that they could compete in the marketplace, or that they at least knew what that market was.  But then we had to start off with...

Lisa Tucker (sings Kelly Clarkson's "Because of You"): Singing a song that's so popular everyone is sick of it, and doing so mostly off-key, with enough green eye shadow to paint the Emerald City, is not the right thing to do.  You may have finally shown us some emotion (although, seriously, I doubt you can relate to a song about abuse), but you are not long for this competition, honey.  Randy says it was just aiigght.  Paula says Lisa can sing her butt off, but she needed to add a twist to the song.  Simon says that the song was too big for her voice and parts of it were painful.  Indeed.

Kellie Pickler (sings Sara Evans' "Suds in the Bucket"): What the...?  Of all the country songs, she picks this drivel about some woman who leaves her trailer to get married in Vegas??  And then she channels Carrie Underwood's lifelessness?  Really, the most exciting thing about this song was her pink Daisy Duke top.  Zzzzzzz.  Randy says the song isn't exciting enough for her voice.  Paula agrees.  Simon basically tells her she made a stupid selection.  Kellie apologizes, but fortunately we don't have time for her to say anything else.

Ace Young (sings Train's "Drops of Jupiter"): Yawn.  This is such a mind-numbingly boring song, and Ace isn't doing it any favors with his boy band voice.  There isn't even a safe falsetto for him to fall back on.  And then at a key point in the song (where he's singing about scars), he opens up his shirt a la Constantine to reveal...a scar.  Oh, how exciting.  Except not.  I keep waiting for him to impress me, and he's just not doing it.  I mean, couldn't he have picked the Backstreet Boys or something?  Randy says it was the wrong song, and Ace didn't sing it well.  Paula says it wasn't her favorite performance but tells Ace he'll have to explain his scar later (whereupon Simon all but tells her, "We do NOT need another scandal from you.  Shut up.").  Simon thinks the performance was quite karaoke.  Ace tries to explain that he got the scar from basketball, but Ryan scoots him offstage.  Thank you.

Taylor Hicks (sings Ray LaMontagne's "Trouble"): Taylor is one of the few contestants that Ryan interviews tonight prior to a performance.  Hmm.  We find out that Taylor's fans are called the Soul Patrol.  Tonight, he wants to show he can just sing a song without breaking into spasms, and yeah, he can do that, but it's not very exciting.  Maybe if he (and the others for that matter) had more than a minute and a half to perform, he might have warmed up to it a bit more.  As it is, the song is all about trouble, trouble, trouble and worry, worry, worry, and it's just okay, okay, okay until the end, when his leg starts to twitch.  Randy doesn't think it was a great song because it didn't allow Taylor to show off.  Paula says it was nice to see him just sing.  Simon thinks the vocal was great but that he looks like Clay Aiken.  Um...huh?  Ryan, of course, has to say that if Taylor is Clay Aiken, Simon is Kelly Clarkson.  Oh, ha, ha.  You two.

Coincidentally enough, George Huff - the season 3 contestant whom Taylor most reminds me of - is now shown in the audience.

Mandisa (sings Mary Mary's "Wanna Praise You"): It's something Mandisa should be safe with, because she's performed it in her church 10,000 times.  And it's all shouty and hand-wavey and full of praise-the-Lord moments and just not the sort of music I ever want to hear outside a gospel church, you know?  But it's okay, and Mike thinks the band is cooking.  Randy is stuck in "it's the wrong song choice" mode.  Paula proclaims that people have now joined the church of Mandisa (whereupon Mike dryly states, "I doubt that's the outcome Mandisa had in mind with that song").  Simon thought the song was indulgent and claims he didn't get it at all.  Which, being Simon, is not surprising.

Chris Daughtry (sings Creed's "What If"): Ryan now interviews Chris and settles the whole Live non-controversy by saying, "So you did 'Walk the Line' last week - that version was by Live, right?"  Whereupon Chris says yes, it was, and Live is one of his favorite bands, he worships them, blah, blah, blah.  So that tempest has blown over for now.  And then he sings this awful, awful Creed song.  I mean, because it's Chris it's a lot better than most of what came previously, but, really, there's no melody, just a lot of shouting, delivered with the exact same intensity that Chris gives every single week.  You'd think that if he were going to do a Creed song, he would have at least chosen "Arms Wide Open."  Randy thought the song choice was good, but not the vocal.  Happy-happy joy-joy Paula says she's one of Chris's biggest fans.  Simon informs Chris in no uncertain terms that a band like Creed would not be caught dead on American Idol, so he'd better start showing a different side on this show.  Ouch, and way to snark on your own show, Simon!  Hee!

Katharine McPhee (sings Christina Aguilera's "The Voice Within"): This is a pretty good rendition, I guess, but I'm thinking she's singing it too much like Christina, without quite the depth that Christina has.  So it merits a nod and a shrug from me.  Randy says she needed to change it up some.  Paula thinks Katharine was at her best.  Simon thinks the performance was the best tonight and that the vocals were almost as good as Christina's.  Eh.  Okay.

Bucky Covington (sings Tim McGraw's "Real Good Man"): I admit it.  I enjoyed this.  He's in his element, he's having fun, and the words (when they aren't mumbled and are loud enough to be heard over the band) are a hoot.  He won't be in this competition long, but he's starting to grow on me a little, even though I'm not a country fan at all.  Randy says it was the right song for him.  Paula warns him to be careful of his diction.  Simon, who obviously wants him gone soon, says it was just okay and that he couldn't understand a single word.  Well, shoot, I could at least understand ten words.  Give the man a break.

Paris Bennett (sings Beyonce's "Work It Out"): She says this song is supposed to show her youth and is for all the "young ones" in the audience.  Ummm...this song is about doing it on the floor.  Am I the only one to hear these words??  I don't know how to rate this.  The performance and the vocals are fabulous, but it's just not quite believable coming from her 17-year-old mouth.  Randy says Paris is fearless, da bomb, and a hawt one.  Paula jumps from her chair and says those dance moves weren't kid moves.  Simon says it was precocious, like a little girl pretending to be Beyonce.  Darn it, why can't this woman age about ten years?

Elliott Yamin (sings Gavin DeGraw's "I Don't Wanna Be"): Okay, everyone seemed to like this, but it just didn't do anything for me.  He wanted to bring "soul" to it, but what we saw were a lot of rap moves and spastic hand gestures and bouncing up and down out of rhythm.  I agree that it shows that Elliott is a little more vocally versatile than I thought, but, frankly, Bo's version of this song last year was better.  Randy, however, thinks "this boy can sing!"  Paula says he's "one funky white boy."  And Simon says simply, "Great song, terrible arrangement, great vocal, horrible dancing."

This show was so blah, and there were so many different genres represented, that it's tough for me to rank them this week.  But here's my attempt:

1) Paris - okay, she has guts, she showed she can sing something modern, and vocally I felt she was the best. I can close my eyes for the rest.
2) Katharine - a little too Christina for my tastes, but good
3) Bucky - just because that was fun, and he's improving
4) Taylor - I think he would have been better if he'd been able to sing longer
5) Elliott - the arrangement did nothing for me, but he at least showed versatility
6) Chris - you know, Constantine got kicked out at #6 for a similar performance on a similar theme night.  Be thankful there are 10 contestants left.
7) Mandisa - that was okay, but take it back to church, please
8) Ace - an uninspired performance of an uninspiring song
9) Kellie - an uninspired performance of an awful song
10) Lisa - Kelly Clarkson just paid Idol to get her songs back

My guess is that Lisa will go home, that Ace may be in the bottom three again, and that Bucky may join him.  But anything could happen.  We'll see.

Bottom 3 on March 29 Results Show (in order from most votes to least):  Ace, Katharine, and Lisa 

Eliminated:  Lisa

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

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