American Idol: Top 9

1 Apr

idol1.jpgI’ll be flat-out honest with you, team. I rushed through this week’s TiVo’d episode of American Idol as fast as I freaking could, for a few reasons: (1) the last two weeks have been bo-ring, (2) the Twins game was on, (3) so was Suns vs Nuggets, and (4) Dolly Parton night? Get out of here.

Before watching, how many of the nine remaining contestants would you think could sing a decent rendition of a country song? I guessed two.

The result: better than I predicted. Dolly Parton Night was surprisingly decent. Let’s break down the action:


Brooke sang one of Dolly’s best songs, “Jolene.” She performed it exactly the way you’d’ve thought she would perform it: acoustic guitar, simple arrangement and by-the-book, quiet vocals. Nothing more, nothing less … Brooke has apparently set up shop at Camp ForgettableVille (note: not an actual place). Paula’s take: “You are … Brooke White.” Oh…kay?


Puts a gospel spin with “Little Sparrow,” kind of a weak number that forces him to use a softer volume and a few falsetto notes, but his picked acoustic guitar version helped show his versatility. I guess.


So I went to karaoke night at my local watering hole last Saturday. Had a blast. Some old black dude rocked “My Girl” like nobody’s business, and some pedophile-looking dude with a bona-fide mullet actually sang “Rhythm of the Night,” like, to a tee, and those two performances were miles ahead of Ramiele tonight. Another random point: I wrote the anecdote above during the judges critiques, and as I’m set to fast-forward through the following commercials to get to the next performer, I have already forgotten what song Ramiele sang. No kidding.


Li’l Jack Johnson sings that he’s “just a weary pilgrim” with his trusty acoustic in hand, but he’s actually putting some force in his voice and almost seems to care. Strained vocals, eyes squeezed shut … gotta say, the kid knows music, and what notes to hit, and, well, when he’s not stoned to the bone like the past few weeks, he’s enjoyable. I won’t be distraught if he goes home, but for the first time in a while, I won’t be bummed if he stays another week.


Carly, we get it: you’ve got a great voice. So, so good. It’s well known and agreed-upon and pretty much unanimous at this point, so could you maybe think about performing songs that actually have a beat and a melody and some sort of hook, instead of just background instruments that allow you to shriek to your heart’s content? (There was one funny part during the judging segment in which Paula yells at Randy for his comments last week that Carly was off-pitch, at which point Randy looks to Ryan and yells, “Rewind the tape!” and Ryan looks around helplessly, as if to say, “Um…I don’t have that capability. Do you see a remote control in my hands? No. I am useless.”)


This young buck is so damn earnest and determined with his singing, constantly looking into the camera with his stare that says “believe me! believe what I’m saying! I am very serious right now.” that it ends up creeping me out a bit. His “Smoky Mountain” song, I will admit, is on pitch 100% and allows him to show off his range … but still, so damned serious, kid.


Kristy Lee, reportedly heartbroken that Dolly Parton wasn’t the original singer of her preferred selection, The Star Spangled Banner, instead chose some other by-the-numbers country ditty that was neither good nor bad. It was just boring. But she seems to have a following from the country fans, so I’m guessing she somehow sticks around another week as well. Boo.


Wow, if we’ve learned anything from this big dumb show, at all, it’s to never cover a song that was also sung by Whitney Houston. Syesha boldly chooses “I Will Always Love You,” starting out super quiet and then ending on belted, loud-ass notes. She was OK. Still don’t have any interest in hearing anything this girl has to sing.


Boy, this one had disaster written all over it. If we are reluctantly agreeing that Michael is best suited for big, loud arena rock songs, you’d think country music would be his kryptonite. Right? But, he instead goes gospel, just a piano and riffing guitar behind him and the background shadowed vocals from the ladies… and, dammit, it was pretty good. Good for him, I guess.

The end.

Random postscript: it has to be asked: why didn’t anyone perform “Nine to Five”?


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