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American Idol Season 5 (2006)

April 4 - Love can be so boring (Country songs)

Zzzzzzzzzzz.

Huh?

Oh. It's country week.

Ryan's nod to country is to have about five days' worth of stubble on his face. Find a razor. Now.

This week, Kenny Rogers helps out the contestants. And boy, does he look awful. Someone sandpapered all the scraggly, sun-damaged wrinkles out, botoxed his face, and made him as pale as a ghost. Ugh.

Mercifully, no one sings any Kenny Rogers songs. Not so mercifully, we are subjected to an hour-long snoozefest. I always expect country week to be like nails on a chalkboard. Tonight, it was like a professor giving a lecture in the same monotone voice. Country can be hokey, country can be crappy, but it's not supposed to be this mind-numbingly boring. Jeesh.

Taylor Hicks (sings John Denver's "Take Me Home Country Roads"): I expected him to do well tonight. Instead, it looks and sounds like he's in pain. Did he go out last night and get blind stinkin' drunk, knowing he'd have to sing this song, and then suffer from a hangover today? Really, that fiddler is more exciting than he is. Please bring the old Taylor back. Please. Randy correctly says that Taylor showed no personality. Paula agrees that the song choice didn't let him shine. Simon says the performance was safe, boring, and lazy. I should have known that the rest of the show was going to suck when Ryan then had to point out that safe, boring, and lazy is what Simon's love life is. Ha, ha, very funny. Next.

Mandisa (sings Shania Twain's "Any Man of Mine"): Ummmm...there surely are some country songs out there that would allow her to show off her belting ability, right? Right? Lyrically, this song was cute, but she was practically stumbling over the wordy lyrics by the end, and...well...I started critiquing her fashion sense, or lack thereof, because I had nothing better to do. Sigh. Randy only liked the last four measures of the song. Paula says that Mandisa's voice was amazing, even if the song wasn't. Simon thinks the song is both horrible and cutesy, whereupon he and Ryan start a catfight about which of them looks most like someone from Desperate Housewives. What the...? I'm thinking that the judges must have all joined Taylor in the bar last night and stayed there until right before the show. God, this is painful.

Elliott Yamin (sings Garth Brooks' "If Tomorrow Never Comes"): Good grief. This boy's vibrato wobbles so much tonight, it sounds like a goat's singing the song. And he looks so nervous up there, I want to give him a valium. Then I think, no, if he listened to his own singing, he'd probably put himself to sleep. No one likes country music tonight. No one. But I guess the judges started passing a flask around, because Randy inexplicably thinks this performance is "hawt." Paula loves that Elliott is humble and understated but has a reckless abandon (huh?). Simon thinks it was a good song choice but not a great vocal.

Paris Bennett (sings Leann Rimes' "How Do I Live Without You"): Okay, this is more like what I was expecting tonight - a horrible rendition of an overplayed song. "How do I leeeeve without you!" Paris has some real problems with pitch tonight, which is unusual for her, and she has to perform the song with these big Whitney Houston-esque poses. Like everyone else, she's out of her element here. Randy thinks the performance was just aiiigght. Paula doesn't feel that Paris connected with the song. Simon has got hold of the flask, because he thinks it's an excellent choice of song and reminds him of early Dionne Warwick. Who is so NOT country.

Can I shoot myself now?

Ace Young (sings Keith Urban's "Tonight I Wanna Cry"): He hits some bum notes, and there's a nasal quality to his tone that I'm finding annoying, but he at least injected some emotion into the piece and attempted to connect to it. And he didn't have to resort to pointing to his scar. Oh, nice falsetto, too. But of course we expect that from him, don't we? Randy thinks it was boring, but Ace came out at the end with his falsetto. Paula believes it was a nice take on the song. Simon thinks Ace chose the right song. Ryan now points out, for no real reason, that Ace is single. I'm guessing they wanted to wake up the audience with all the adolescent screaming.

Kellie Pickler (sings Reba McEntire's "Fancy"): Wow. Who plugged that red halter into the light socket? Ryan asks her if her naiveté is an act, whereupon she plunges into a ten-minute explanation about how she never knew what calamari was or how to pronounce salmon. Sort of like, he asked the wrong question and she just gave the scripted answer because she had no idea how to improvise a real one. Please. Just sing. And sing she does. This is not the most exciting country tune I've ever heard, but it has some bounce to it, a dash of rock, and Kellie belts it out on pitch and with some semblance of emotion. The biggest distraction was the eyebrow exercises she was doing throughout the piece - up, down, up, down, up, down. Go see Kenny Rogers' cosmetic surgeon about that tic, honey. Randy says that Kellie is in her element, and the other two judges basically agree. She is so safe.

Ryan points out that both Whoopi Goldberg and Chris Rock are in the audience. They both hunker down in their seats and look like they want to be anywhere else right now.

Chris Daughtry (sings Keith Urban's "Making Memories of Us"): I admit that I can't be unbiased with this song, because I'd read prior to this show that he sang it at his wedding. So I was listening to the words and imagining him singing it, and I was very impressed, despite the fact that his vibrato is like a sped-up version of Elliott's goat. I could sense the emotion behind the performance, but I'm not sure I would have done so without knowing the background. Why didn't they play that up? Randy says he enjoyed it. Paula declares it shows that he can be versatile and true to himself. Simon thinks it was boring and uninteresting. I guess he must be sitting on that thesaurus I bought for Randy.

Katharine McPhee (sings Faith Hill's "Bringing Out the Elvis"): Vocally, this is fine. Performance-wise, I didn't like it. She's just smiling all over the place, and I'm thinking, "She hates this song, but she just decided that she's going to come out here, grit her teeth, and smile her way through it." No connection to the words at all, really. Randy thinks it was very nice, though. Paula calls her sexy and cool. Simon shrugs and says the song was peculiar. Katharine gets snitty and tells him to just admit that he doesn't like country music. He does, but the look he gives her says, "You're walking on thin ice, dearie." And, really, I agree. That was a comment that Ryan should have made, not Katharine. Contestants never look good when they talk back to the judges - especially when the song barely qualifies as country anyway.

Bucky Covington (sings Gary Allan's "Best I Ever Had"): I recognize this from the cover that Vertical Horizon did. Obviously, Kenny Rogers didn't, because he thinks no one will recognize the song [*rolls eyes*]. The appropriateness of the words to this evening - "love can be so boring," "it's not so bad, you're only the best I ever had" - would make me chuckle, but Bucky seems to be getting into the music sufficiently that I have to just stop and give him an A for effort. Performance-wise, he's improved, and I think his diction has, too. That's not to say he's the best performer tonight or that he has a chance of winning this thing, but I like him, and I think he's safe for one more week. Especially since he had the pimp slot tonight. Randy thinks it was aiiigght and a good song choice. Paula says Bucky is in his element. All Simon can say is that it was okay.

My ranking this week is probably not going to make sense, but here's my rationale: with country songs, I give more weight to performance than to singing, unless the singing is either very, very good or very, very bad. With that in mind, my ranking is as follows:

1) Kellie - solid vocals, good song choice, decent performance, killer eyebrow gymnastics
2) Chris - only because I know the background behind it, and the emotion seemed genuine
3) Bucky - not the greatest vocals, but again, some genuine emotion
4) Ace - almost overboard on the emotions, to the point where the vocals were affected. Okay, okay, you connect!
5) Katharine - one of the better vocals of the evening, but a throwaway performance
6) Mandisa - I get what she was trying to do, even if she didn't quite succeed
7) Taylor - for the fiddle player
8) Elliott - I like his personality, but this performance really bored me.
9) Paris - Whitney and country just don't mix. Not like that.

Who will be in the bottom three? I haven't a clue. I know that Kellie, Chris, and Bucky should not be there this time. Everyone else is in danger. And I so don't care anymore.

Next week: the music of Queen. Train wreck, here we come!

Bottom 3 on April 5 Results Show (in order from most votes to least):  Paris, Elliott, Mandisa

Eliminated:  Mandisa

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

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