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American Idol Season 5 (2006)

April 18 - Bewitched, bothered, and...bothered ("Great American Songbook" standards) 

Oh, hooray! Another theme night totally divorced from today's popular music market! (And yes, I know that Rod Stewart's Great American Songbook CDs have been critically acclaimed, award-winning, and best sellers. But, really, it's only because it's Rod Stewart. The winner of this competition is NOT going to record anything similar to this. At least, not a whole CD's worth. And they certainly won't have the clout of Rod Stewart to push sales of such a recording to stupid heights.)

Sigh.

As usual, we get to see a short clip of the guest artist working with and enthusing over each contestant prior to his or her performance. Rod shows that he's actually quite amusing, even if he knows nothing about the history of rock music (you can't have rock without the standards? News flash, Rod: Elvis's early music was not based on the standards.). And, you know, I really didn't need to see this 61-year-old man trot out his oh-so-young fiancée and their new baby. Cute kid, but...yuck.

Okay, on with the show:

Chris Daughtry (sings "What a Wonderful World"): Okay, maybe it's because I had such low expectations for him, but he really, really impresses me tonight. He shows some vulnerability and a sensitive side to an extent that I haven't seen before, and after a while, he begins to smile. He's one of the few contestants tonight who I felt was really connecting with the words, and not just performing a song. So he gets kudos from me. Too bad he's in the number one spot of the evening, because historically, these people end up in the bottom three the next night, if not totally booted out. Randy calls him "da bomb." Paula declares Chris is in the competition to win it. Simon takes credit for the performance, since Chris "obviously" took his advice to change things up. Yeah, right.

Paris Bennett (sings "These Foolish Things"): Rumor has it that this was her fifth song choice, and it cleared with only 24 hours left before the competition. Maybe that explains why it seems so devoid of genuine emotion. I mean, the performance is fine, but the vocals seem strangely dull. And, honey, I've seen better looking business suits in Washington, DC. That's not saying much. But the judges have spiked their drinks, because Randy proclaims that this is Paris's greatest night ever. Paula says that if Paris recorded an album of this music, it would blow up. Er....yeah, she really said that. Simon admits that the song was stylish and cool and that he prefers Paris's singing voice to her squeaky, Minnie Mouse voice. Whereupon Paris says, "Thank yewwwwww" for about the hundredth time.

Taylor Hicks (sings "You Send Me"): I'm sorry, but when Taylor doesn't dance, he's boring. Which is not necessarily a good thing for this show. He doesn't pull out the dance moves until the last third of the song or so, and the rest was very ho-hum for me, especially since I was comparing it with Sam Cooke's version and finding it lacking. But the judges are still stoned. Randy likes that Taylor put himself into the song at the end. Paula says that Sam Cooke would be proud. Simon thinks the song started as cabaret, but became magic. Right now, I'm thinking I want some of what's in Simon's Coke glass.

Elliott Yamin (sings "It Had to Be You"): He has fun up there, the vocals are great, and there isn't a trace of his usual nerves. He loves this music, and it shows. It's a shame he'll probably end up in the bottom three again, just because Simon thinks he will. Randy says it's an excellent song choice. Paula says the performance was like Michael Bublé meets Harry Connick, Jr. Simon thinks the vocal was good, but Elliott wasn't showing any personality. Huh? Someone put the good stuff back in his drink, please.

Kellie Pickler (sings "Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered"): Let's see... She goes off pitch. Her eyes show no emotional connection with the song. And then she loses her timing and runs ahead of the orchestra about halfway through. Simon is collapsing in horror on the judges' table. And I'm sure she'll stay out of the bottom three AGAIN because of her stupidly rabid fanbase. Gawd. About the only points she gets from me is for embarrassing Rod Stewart during the pre-performance clip after he gave her advice by saying to him, "Thanks. You took a load off my chest." Heh. The look on his face was priceless. But...um...America? Is this really who you want to be your Idol? Randy points out the pitch problems. Paula can only say that Kellie looks "exquisite" (whereupon Kellie helpfully points out, "When all else fails, you gotta have great shoes!" Lord help us.). Simon says it was a boring song, and she could have just left out the bewitched and bothered part. Indeed.

Ace Young (sings "That's All"): He sings half the song through his nose, and he's consistently under pitch. The nervous vocals are back at the end of the piece, and, as usual, the falsetto is the only decent thing about his performance. But the worst part? His massive head of hair has been slicked back and put in a pony tail and he just looks...ugh. Like Mr. Boy Band meets the mafia. Despite Kellie's ugly rendition, I'm guessing that he will probably be the one to go tomorrow night. Nevertheless, the judges treat him kindly. Randy tells him that his falsetto is his money. Paula likes the "whole new Ace" with his suit and new 'do. Simon thinks the performance was "charming." Uh, no, folks, you put too much in his drink now. Try again.

Katharine McPhee (sings "Someone To Watch Over Me"): Judging from the audience's wild applause and the judges' comments, this is going to be an unpopular opinion, but I wasn't blown away by her singing. I knew that she would sparkle on the standards, so I expected great things of her. But she struggled with her lower register, and she added all these Christina Aguilera-like melismas to the piece that just made me want to smack her. This was her night. She was going to be declared the best up there, no matter what. So she didn't have to veer from the melody or add all that crap to make the song "her own." Just sing it straight, with emotion (and by emotion, I do NOT mean smiling at every other line), and it would have been fine for me. So while it was arguably one of the better vocals of the night, it just didn't wow me, even when I closed my eyes to listen. The additions were just too distracting. But, of course, the judges fawn all over her. Randy proclaims that this is her element. Paula says that this was the "most perfect" song for her. Simon thinks that Katharine made the others look like amateurs. Yeah, right. Let's see her try some real rock music next week, huh?

Again, my rankings aren't going to be popular. But here we go:

1) Chris - He's not necessarily the best vocalist for music like this, but I was very pleasantly surprised by his emotion and vulnerability. I thought he "felt" his song the most of anyone up there.
2) Elliott - He was a joy to watch and listen to. I just want to hug him.
3) Katharine - The strongest singer for this type of music, but not sticking to the melody and smiling at inappropriate moments just pulled her down in the ranking.
4) Paris - She's got decent vocals and solid performance skills, but the emotion wasn't there.
5) Taylor - Dull vocals, particularly for the first two-thirds of the song. I was comparing him to Sam Cooke, and found him lacking.
6) Ace - Pretty sucky performance, but he was saved from being dead last by...
7) Kellie - Because being an airhead is no excuse for screwing up your timing.

My opinion is that the bottom three should be what I ranked them above. My gut tells me that the bottom three will be Ace (no one likes him anymore), Elliott (his fan base just isn't that strong, and he doesn't seem to be winning new fans), and some "shocker" like Paris or Chris, who were placed early enough in the show to be forgotten. If Ace beats out anyone, he's toast next week, because the remaining contestants - with the exception of I'm-a-ditz-but-it's-got-me-all-these-fans Kellie - are at least ten times better than he is.

Note to producers: Could we have, say, Aerosmith week next week? You've got a requisite old geezer to advise the contestants in the form of Steve Tyler, and you could actually wake me up for a change.

Bottom 3 on April 19 Results Show (in the order announced):  Chris, Paris, and Ace

Eliminated:  Ace

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

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