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American Idol Season 5 (2006)

April 11 - Just gotta get out, just gotta get right out of here (Queen songs)

Before the contestants launch into another night of limburger, we see clips of them rehearsing with Queen.  And I go into the kitchen to see if we have any alcohol on hand to numb the pain.  No?  Not even a little?  Crap.

Bucky Covington (sings "Fat Bottomed Girls"): Big fat BWAH! to allowing these words on Idol.  What's even more amazing?  I can understand most of them, and I don't even know the song that well.  Kudos to whoever is getting Bucky to spit out his marbles before he goes on stage.  And I'm enjoying his take on this piece, even if it is better suited for a backwoods bar.  Randy says it's a good way to start the show.  Paula notes that Bucky made it into a country rock song, like this is a surprise.  Simon thinks it's a good choice of song for Bucky, but still a mediocre performance.  Eh.  What does he know?

Ace Young (sings "We Will Rock You"): I honestly thought Ace would tank on this song.  In the pre-performance clip with Queen, Brian May refuses to change the arrangement for him and says that he's nervous about it.  But you know what?  Ace was fine.  No, it wasn't Freddie Mercury.  Yeah, he messed up a few words.  But it wasn't the tentative boy band thing he's had going since week 2 of the competition, and for that I thank him.  The judges, however, are ready to de-pimp him like crazy.  Randy thinks it was just aiigght and too karaoke.  The best Paula can muster is that she liked what Ace tried to do.  Simon pulls out the tired "it was a complete and utter mess" phrase and thinks Ace was singing "We will rock you gently."  I appreciate the snark, but ppphhtt to him...and is Ace wearing a semi-sheer shirt tonight?  I can see some muscles.  Goodness.

Kellie Pickler (sings "Bohemian Rhapsody"): "Mamuhhhhh.  Ewwwwww."  Eww indeed.  I thought she was going to give this a country treatment.  But she sings it with the original instrumentation.  For the love of all that's holy, what was she thinking, picking this song?  Her voice is way too weak for it, her pitch is all over the place, and she looks like she raided Janet Jackson's wardrobe.  I want to run screaming into the parking lot and cry, "Why, God?  Why?"  And after the song has been completely butchered, the judges give her a big, fat PASS.  Randy says he was entertained.  Paula lamely compares her with Constantine and says she worked it out.  Simon believes a lot of people will think it was hideous, but he thinks it worked.  And then Kellie falls back into her Southern hick routine again, claiming she doesn't understand either the phrase "it looked bad on paper" or Simon's accent.  She, of course, says that she doesn't have an accent at all.  Pardon me while I puke.

Chris Daughtry (sings "Innuendo"): This?  Is odd.  It's an obscure tune that Queen never performed live before.  Chris is screaming most of the words to me, and I can only understand something about "keep on trying to the end of time."  It sounds like his voice is suited to the piece, and Brian May really, really likes him ("Chris is great! He has a real rock sensibility!").  I'll just have to take his word for it, I guess.  And oh...look out...is that a hint of a smile on Chris's face while he's singing?  Nawww.  Couldn't be.  Randy states that Chris delivered tonight.  Paula blathers and blathers and says something about the band loving Chris.  Simon says Chris has the best "believable vocal" tonight, but once again his song choice was "indulgent" and he missed his chance to sing something more familiar to the audience and really have a "moment."  Which is just what I was thinking, more or less.

Katharine McPhee (sings "Who Wants to Live Forever"): She rehearsed "Don't Stop Me Now" with the band, but once Mandisa left, she decided to take the song that Mandisa was going to do.  Oh, oops, I'm sorry.  That's not what she said.  What she said was that she didn't want to do a song where she had to bounce around.  In other words, she wants to stay in her nice, safe little box.  Snore.  She has plenty of emotion in her singing tonight -- so much so that when she gets to the high notes, instead of belting them, she borders on screeching them.  And despite the weepiness in her voice, when I look at her, I'm still not convinced she understands what she's singing.  She really looks like she wants to smile, and this song is about dying, for crying out loud.  But, of course, the judges never call her on this.  Randy thinks she was a little pitchy and the song was a little big for her, but overall the performance was fine.  Paula calls her glorious (gag!).  Simon says she was one of the strongest performers tonight and he thinks the lighting made her look gorgeous.  Whereupon she giggles uncontrollably.  Ugh.  I must now pull out my Sarah Brightman CD and cleanse my ears.

Elliott Yamin (sings "Somebody to Love"): With his warbly vibrato, this is the perfect Queen song for him.  Given the time constraints, he performs it well, even managing to keep up with most of the intricate rhythms.  Personally, I think it's one of the best performances of the night, so I can't really snark on it.  But, uh, note to him, Ace, and Bucky - either learn how to keep time with the clapping and hand-waving, or don't do it.  And note to whoever is handling the sound: turn the microphone for the singers UP and the volume for the band DOWN.  Randy says that Elliott picked the hardest song tonight, but he loved it.  Paula says Elliott had the best vocal tonight, then switches it to him having "the best Elliott vocal."  Simon thought the song was a tough one, but Elliott pulled it off.

Taylor Hicks (sings "Crazy Little Thing Called Love"): He'd rehearsed "We Are the Champions" with Queen, but after the drubbing he took from the judges the past two weeks, he decided to go back to happy, dancing Taylor.  And thank God for that.  He's bouncing, he's having fun, he just wants to entertain people.  I even like the fact that he missed the mike stand the first time he tried to kick it over.  Yay!  Let's just rename this "Crazy Little Thing Called Hicks," okay?  Randy proclaims that Taylor is back, and he's hawt.  Paula is glad we're back to the authentic Taylor, although she's not sure whether he should have a record deal or a straightjacket.  Simon asks Taylor if he's drunk and says the performance was ridiculous.  Whatever.

Paris Bennett (sings "The Show Must Go On"): This was one of Freddie's last songs, sung when he knew he didn't have that long to live.  When you know that, the words make sense.  The song also requires an emotional maturity that 17-year-old Paris, for all her big belting, simply lacks.  I mean, bouncing around like that?  No.  I don't care if Brian May thinks she's "damn good."  I think the whole performance is just an act.  She's out of her element again, singing a song that's too old for her.  Stop it already.  And what's with the lacy gloves and hair extensions?  Can Paris please decide who she is already?  And can the sound man be shot now?  Sheesh.  Randy says she worked it out.  Paula urges her to keep on rocking.  Simon says helpfully that "it was a little weird."

This show didn't exactly go down in flames as I thought it might -- which is probably just as well for my readers, as had I really exploded I wouldn't be here to write this -- but once again I was underwhelmed.  Here's my order:

1) Elliott - Perfect song choice, good execution
2) Taylor - A little raw around the edges, but it was the only performance I completely enjoyed
3) Ace - Yes, Ace.  I think he was a lot better than the judges gave him credit for.
4) Bucky - He's certainly not the strongest singer there, but again, a good song choice
5) Chris - He would have been higher if he'd picked a better song and took Bucky's marbles out of his mouth.
6) Katharine - I just don't get the Katharine love.  I don't think this was one of her better performances, and I'm not buying it.  Mandisa would have done this better.
7) Paris - Please sing something that indicates that you're 17, okay?
8) Kellie - [covers head with pillow and moans, "Make it stop!"]

The bottom three are tricky to call.  If Kellie isn't there, then that's a sign of how strong her fan base is because, really, she sucked.  I suspect that Paris, Bucky, and Ace are the most likely candidates, unless Ace's fans rally around him after the drubbing he took from the judges.  But Katharine, Chris, or (goodness I hope not) Elliott may be there, too, since they were smack in the middle of the program and people tend to forget about you if you don't blow them out of the park.  We'll see.

Bottom 3 on April 12 Results Show (in the order announced):  Elliott, Ace, and Bucky

Eliminated:  Bucky

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

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