Idol recap: Top 11

18 Mar

idol1.jpgWelcome to the return of the WoB American Idol recaps. I’ll be recapping every show (though not the Recaps episodes – I avoid those like gonorrhea) from here on out. I’ve been doing them for a few years, but gave up pretty quickly on last season. Why, because last season was lame.


This year, however, has been damn good thus far. So, the recaps have returned.

Alright, on to the action: Round 2 of Beatles Night, which, despite its potential, ended up being really, really lame.


Amanda ceased from being incredibly grating for about two minutes this entire season, and that was during her rocking version of “You Can’t Do That” from last week. Besides that, she’s bugged me. I actually wanted to hate last week’s performance as well, and I tried, believe me, but it didn’t take. Her ragged voice worked well for the song, and the arrangement was solid (meaning it more or less drowned her out).

This week, though…back to grating. Amanda tries to rough up “Back in the U.S.S.R.” but it doesn’t work. The song is too clean for her; she just yells the chorus over and over. Randy calls her “pitchy,” a term I’ve never heard him use before, Paula claims she loves her, which, again, is an unfamiliar sentiment coming from her, and Simon of course nails it: it was what it was, and a bit messy in parts.


The Idol producers show a quick montage of all the times Cook has been in the last two contestants about to get bounced, which I suppose is the only unique thing about her at this point. Her “You’ve Got To Hide Your Love Away” sounded like a bad karaoke performance: she stands perfectly still and sings flat verses and a too-loud “hey!” in the chorus that sounds like she’s yelling at the audience. I picture her directing it at people in the crowd who are getting up to leave (“Hey! You’ve got to come back to your seats”), which is a fun diversion, and just about the only semi-interesting thing I can think of doing during this vanilla-bland performance.


Is Archuleta a Mormon? I’m just asking, because he has to be the only young musician in America that has never heard the Beatles. He forgot the lyrics last week, and his pre-performance video shows him expressing the hope it doesn’t happen again this time around. I’m just sayin’, could be the behavior of a Mormon. I’ve never heard “The Long and Winding Road” that Archuleta performs; it’s a ballad that sounds as if it could have been sung by Fievel, but Archuleta returns to form. When he’s on, the kid is money.


Johns does his best to shrink “A Day in the Life” down to less than two minutes; no intro and a rush through the rest of the parts. Kind of an up-and-down performance; he just doesn’t have the range to hold the “ahs” in the middle of the song, so the quality noticeably dipped.


Before getting to Brooke’s performance, I need to retype the comment TK made after my recap last week: “Call me crazy, but every time I see her I immediately think of Melinda from the Gauntlet and expect Danny and CT to rush the stage in a fit of ‘roid rage and pummel Seacrest.” God, that’s spectacular. And not just because the sounds (in my head) of Ryan’s girly screams while being beaten to a pulp are hilarious; but because Brooke has reminded me of someone familiar for the longest time, and until TK’s comment I was unable to put a finger on it.

“Here Comes the Sun” is my second-favorite Beatles song, after “Something.” Brooke’s version of “Sun” is fairly straight-up, with a few extra strings thrown in. Brooke’s singing is soft and controlled, like usual, but her stage movements are embarrassing. I have to look away. Just awkward twirls and offbeat gyrations throughout; she badly needs a piano or guitar in front of her. And while her voice says “I know how to ply my vocal limitations to create an enjoyable performance,” her movements say, “I am fucking drunk.”


David tells us he’ll be doing “Daytripper,” and then appends that statement by saying he’ll be doing Whitesnake’s version of it. And there he goes again on his own, going down the only road he’s ever known: he’s got his guitar in tow, he brings his familiar rock arrangement (10% rockier than the original song!) and does a fair amount of yelling, even throwing in a voice box for good measure. The result: damn solid. Really loving what this guy is doing right now.


Her version of “Blackbird” starts out as a standard arrangement with a few more strings thrown in, but about halfway through she decides to stray from the melody and just practices vocal gymnastics over the last half. Great, great voice, but that wasn’t really music. Was it? If this were a contest based purely on vocal range, Carly’d win, but I hope someone reminds her that it’s not.


This guy is quickly becoming the Jack Johnson of the competition, and I mean that in a good way. Johnson may not be the most dynamic of musicians, but he knows how to make a mostly enjoyable, mostly inoffensive song. That’s pretty much how Castro’s “Michelle” goes. “Hey, I think he’s super high right now!” claims my roommate Norm with glee. And by god, I think Norm’s got a point. With the way Jason lazily meanders around the stage and almost whispers the words, as well as his glassy eyes and perma-grin, I’m fairly convinced he’s stoned to the bone.


Syesha sings all the correct words to “Yesterday,” and the guitar plays all the correct chords, but this isn’t really McCartney’s song at all. Syesha goes falsetto whenever she damn well pleases, holds notes for no reason, and basically sings a different note for pretty much the entire song. Randy acknowledges her liberties but says he likes it, as do Paula and Simon, but I disliked almost every second of it. She’s got range, but again, that was just a set of vocal runs. It wasn’t music.


I’d never heard “I’ve Seen Her Face” (or something like that, I don’t recall the name), but Chikizie turns it part-ballad, part-bluegrass, part harmonica solo, part smooth vocals and part rough … and while it was a bit of a mess, I still dug it. At least Chikizie brings some attitude and tries new things, which is more than what could be said for most of the other performers today.


Wearing some oversized fedora, Ramiele gives the impression of a kid playing dress up. Once again, she wastes her strong voice by saving it for the huge notes; everything between is boringly monotone. But what else is new.




Best of the week: David Cook, David Archuleta, Chikizie

Need to be kicked off ASAP: Kristy Lee Cook, Amanda Overmyer

(Sorry this wasn’t funnier. Just a boring night all around.)


One Response to “Idol recap: Top 11”

  1. Beth March 20, 2008 at 10:23 am #

    I have to agree. Very boring. Bad idea to do Beatles night again.

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