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American Idol Season 8 (2009)


March 3 - I would do anything for sleep (Semi-Finals: Group 3)


Is anyone else as bored by this season as I am?  Wait...I'm sorry, I can't hear you through all the crickets.


Von Smith (sings Marvin Gaye's "You're All I Need To Get By"):  Is it just me, or does he look like Vanilla Ice's kid brother?  No, honey, your arms aren't open wide - that's your mouth.  I could fit the balloon from The Prisoner in there.  Sheesh.  Oh, the song?  Better than the first songs of the previous two weeks, and he certainly has some energy, but I'm just not sold.  The judges drool all over him, though.  Randy says this is the way to kick off the show.  Kara believes he's coming into his own.  Paula loves how he knows when to pull back, push forward, and be a showman.  Simon says Von reminds him of Clay Aiken, which he claims could be a good thing.  Von is bemused by the comparison but ultimately accepts it.


Taylor Vaifanua (sings Alicia Keyes' "If I Ain't Got You"):  Eh. It's a little low for her.  It lacks Alicia's conviction.  And it has one nice note.  Ho-hum.  Kara says it's obvious Taylor has a voice, but she wants more of her personality to come through.  Paula is perplexed because she's singing something they heard in Hollywood already.  She wants to hear something new.  Simon calls the song generic and bland.  Randy says Taylor didn't tell them anything special about her.


Alex Wagner-Tugman (sings Elton John's "I Guess That's Why They Call It the Blues"):  Picture a dorky supermarket clerk singing after hours with a broom for a microphone.  Yeah, it's like that.  I so do not want to roll like thunder under the covers with this guy.  Eeuw.  Paula calls him entertaining and says she's glad he channeled his inner rock star.  Simon says they had fun watching him, not listening to him, and likens him to a hamster trying to be a tiger.  Randy believes he kind of screamed the song.  Kara says that at least he does Alex.


Arianna Afsar (sings ABBA's "The Winner Takes It All"):  The first time an ABBA song has been done on Idol, and this is the one that's chosen?  Um, okay.  She rushes it a little in the beginning, and she does some funky stuff with the melody which really doesn't work.  Stop, please.  She's got a decent voice, but this was a bad song and a bad arrangement.  Simon calls it absolutely terrible and her worst performance by a clear mile.  Randy says she tried to do too much with it vocally.  Kara calls it too dark and depressing.  Paula believes Arianna had some bright moments in the song, but with ABBA, you should stick to the melody.  Unless you're Pierce Brosnan, and then you can slaughter it. 


Ju'Not Joyner (sings Plain White T's "Hey There Delilah"):  Why is he wearing handcuffs on his belt?  Oh, well.  He's got a nice, smooth voice - probably the nicest to listen to so far tonight - and I like the arrangement, but I'm really not sure if it's enough to get him through, considering his placement in the show.  Randy appreciated they way he pulled back on the song.  Kara likes his spin on the song and believes he could bust it out the next time.  Paula likes the way he changed up the song.  Simon says it was better than he thought it would be, albeit a little bit safe.


Kristen McNamara (sings Tracy Chapman's "Give Me One Reason"):  Hey, not bad.  I wasn't quite expecting that.  I'm not quite enamored of the slightly more rock-oriented version of this song, but it suits her voice very well.  The judges, of course, disagree with me.  Kara calls Kristen a great singer but wants her to do a Kelly Clarkson song.  Paula wants her to show her range, and then tells her the song showed her range.  Really.  Simon calls the song choice odd and isn't quite sure who she is.  Randy says she tried to do too much with the song.  Translation:  We like you, but we don't want you in the top twelve.


Nathaniel Marshall (sings Meatloaf's "I Would Do Anything For Love"):  Mr. Drama Queen with the distracting nose ring is dressed as an 80s throwback.  He's sort of got the moves, but the song is way too big for him.  He doesn't have the voice for it.  For that matter, neither does Meatloaf.  Simon calls the performance verging on excruciating, but at least people will remember him.  Randy questions his song choice and isn't sure what kind of record he'd make.  Kara says he should show a more serious side.  Paula loves him but felt he gave the Boy George version of Meatloaf.  Heh.  And then we have a lovefest with the judges where Nathaniel gives Simon his headband.  Ick.


Felicia Barton (sings Alicia Keyes' "No One"):  She was called back when another contestant was declared ineligible, and she makes the most of her chance.  She pushes some of the notes too much, but unlike Taylor, she sings an Alicia Keyes song with conviction.  Nice job.  Paula says her talent is unbelievable and she's glad she was brought back.  Simon felt the first part of the song was better than the second half, and the whole thing was a bit copycat.  Randy wants her to set herself apart from Alicia more.  Kara says she noticed her for the first time tonight.


Scott MacIntyre (sings Bruce Hornsby's "Mandolin Rain"):  Um, you know, you need to have a mandolin playing in this song.  You just do.  Anyway, I hate to say this, but the biggest thing this guy's got going for him is the fact that he's blind.  He's got conviction when he sings, but he's just okay vocally.  Randy says it wasn't the most perfect vocal, but the parts that were great were really, really great.  Kara says he moves mountains when he steps on the stage, and vocals don't matter because it all comes from his heart.  Whatever.  Paula can't wait for people to hear him play at the piano.  Simon wasn't crazy about the song, but he says that Scott is growing on him, and he'll be amazed if he doesn't sail through to the next round.


Kendall Beard (sings Martina McBride's "This One's For the Girls"):  The good news is that I'm not tearing my hair out at a country song.  The bad news is that I'm falling asleep.  Ho-hum.  Is it over yet?  Kara likes her big personality but says there were some issues with the song.  Paula says Kendall's bright yellow dress takes the prize for the best outfit tonight.  Simon says she did the right thing because she's definitely a country girl, even though country isn't his cup of tea.  Randy says it wasn't her best vocal performance, but she did tell them who she was tonight.


Jorge Nuñez (sings Elton John's "Don't Let the Sun Go Down On Me"):  His accent is still getting in the way of the lyrics a little bit - that and sometimes he's overenunciating to compensate - and he's going flat on some of the glory notes, but take away the nerves and I could see him coming out of this experience as a successful Latino artist.  Certainly he'd bring something other than this year's usual blandness to the show.  Paula is so proud of him, and she wants to squeeze him.  Simon says he should be who he is, accent and all.  Randy says the vocals weren't perfect but were really, really good.  Kara believes he was born to sing.  Jorge starts to cry and blubber in Spanish.  Awwwww.


Lil Rounds (sings Mary J. Blige's "Be Without You"):  The song suits her, but it doesn't really showcase her voice.  I wouldn't necessarily have ended the show with this, but then, what other choice did they have?  Probably overall the best performance of the night.  Simon calls it brilliant, although he wouldn't have chosen the song.  Still, he thinks she's one of the best singers in the competition.  Randy likes how she kept her swagger.  Kara calls her a powerhouse.  Paula says Lil is first class and believes they'll see her for many more "lil rounds."  Oh, ha, ha.  Lil then proceeds to annoy me with her cocky "I know I've made this" attitude.  Beware, girl - lack of visible humility will hurt you.


My ranking (which is probably nowhere near what the results will be, except for the top one):


1. Lil Rounds - best overall performance

2. Felicia Barton - second strongest female vocals tonight

3. Ju'Not Joyner - I liked his smooth delivery, but the song choice/arrangement was probably dialed back too much for the audience to vote for him. 

4. Kristen McNamara - a bit over the top vocally, but nailed it more than...

5. Jorge Nuñez - he's earnest if a bit too much so   

6. Scott MacIntyre - he's everyone's darling, and the sympathy vote will get him in and keep him in for far too long, but I found him to be just middle of the pack. 

7. Kendall Beard, Von Smith, Taylor Vaifanua -  eh   

10. Arianna Afsar,  Nathaniel Marshall, Alex Wagner-Tugman - from bad to ugh


Proceeding to Finals (in order announced):  Lil Rounds, Scott MacIntyre, Jorge Nuñez


Review © 2009 by Patricia Lowhorn.  For comments, e-mail tricia@lowhorn.org.


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