Top 9: Choir Overload

So, at lunch this week I had an interesting conversation with my good friend and co-worker Renee about American Idol. We often chat, disagree, commiserate, or rave about American Idol and the contestants gracing the stage each week. In fact, we’ll probably do a joint blog post some week just to show you that it’s not JUST “my way or the highway”. (But it kind of is. Ahem.) That conversation necessitated an addendum to this post…it was going to be included here, but I’m nothing if not verbose. Sigh. It’s below if you’re a glutton for punishment. 🙂

In my business–the business of books–I’m often called on to review ad design and (if I’m lucky) weigh in on the way a book cover looks. And a lot of times, I choose the coolest version of the art and am shot down because the font isn’t readable enough. I love a good script-y font, but apparently I’m in the minority around here. This makes me think that I should pursue a career with the trailer-making people at American Idol. ‘Cause that font they used this week was pretty doggone script-y.

The 80’s background music flair was a nice touch, but I’m starting to sense a theme coming through with these videos. Why are we having a prolonged “mourning period” when the other idols say good-bye to their friends that were voted off? Is this to hook us in on an emotional level? To make us feel bad for not saving them? Because it could be that I’m dead inside, but it’s not working for me.

DeAndre Brackensick – “I Like It” by DeBarge

What DeAndre misses: driving. With gas prices being what they are, DeAndre, so do I.

DeAndre started his performance by sitting in the audience. I kind of felt weird about that…like when the waiter at a restaurant comes to take your order and sits down at the table or the seat across from your table to do it.

I’m so torn about him…I like his voice when he’s not doing falsetto. Too bad that’s mostly NEVER. But this song was more balanced so I didn’t hate it as much as last week’s performance. He just needs to decide (vocally) if he’s a guy or a girl. Sheesh.

I do NOT get the judge’s love affair with this guy. In his response, Steven Tyler said he forgot where he was while DeAndre was singing. But you gotta think, if you’re Steven Tyler, that’s a familiar feeling. Right?

I appreciated Ryan’s pretending to sing the same as DeAndre, but I’m not so sure what the whole “dull-edged sword” thing was all about. But since Ryan rarely has an off night, I’m going to let it go.
Elise Testone – “I Wanna Know What Love Is” by Foreigner

What Elise misses: her band. Um, darling you could be with your band right now. But you chose to try a solo career…

Gwen Stefani was a fan of Elise’s but I gotta say I think that she and Jimmy and Tony Canal alike steered her wrong on the song choice. This was my least favorite of Elise’s performances. There were flat notes sprinkled throughout, but what I found more appalling was the AV team’s decision about what graphics should show up on the screen behind her while she sang. Dangling pocket watches? Really, AV team? That’s the decision you want to go with?

Also, I did NOT like the choir being on this song with Elise. I mean, I’m IN a choir and I love it, but this did not enhance her performance in the least. Instead, I think it made the whole song sound hokey and kept her from putting unique touches on it. I was also not a fan of the ending–it seemed choppy and disjointed to me.

I do think she should wear that shirt the next time she goes to the movies. Think of all the snacks you could sneak in! (Not that I do that…)

P.S. Dude, Elise. You WEREN’T IN THE BOTTOM THREE LAST WEEK! Maybe that’s why you should continue to do rock songs? At least until you gear up some support. Sigh.

Colton and Skylar Duet – “Islands in the Stream”

I do not know what people were talking about with feeling like Skylar and Colton had a romantic connection on stage. Scotty and Lauren? Yes. But these two barely connected throughout the performance and even when they did it was completely stilted as they were focused on inserting their own styles into the song. I know their vocal identities are really different, but I’m sorry. I just felt like it was not a very dynamic performance. It kind of fell flat for me…not in pitch, but in style and substance. Not even Colton’s hair could breathe life into this. Oh, and also I feel like this song single-handedly aged both of these kids a gazillion years.

Phillip Phillips – “That’s All” by Genesis 

What Phillip misses: Jamming with his brother-in-law, Ben. Awww!

Man, the mentors love this guy. Gwen thinks he’s sailing to the finals, and unless he royally screws up, I think so too.

I like that Phil Phil started his performance with a softer, forehead vein-less beginning. It lacked a little energy, but the song built and added grit as it went (I didn’t mean to rhyme. :)) It was a little more hokey than Phil Phil usually sounds, but oh. em. gosh. I LOVED THE BRIDGE. But does anyone else agree that, at times,  he kind of looks high while he’s performing? Maybe it’s all that southern sweet tea.

It was fun to see that he got to perform with his brother-in-law! That was probably really cool for them and now we see that the two of them were cut from the same cloth. Gray cloth, that is.

So, in short: I liked that he changed it up a bit, but I feel like the emotion didn’t come through as much. I hope he keeps down this path, though.

Hollie and DeAndre Duet –  “I’m So Excited”

Golly, those stairs were a challenge for Hollie! I’m not sure why, she was only wearing 1200 inch heels. 🙂 Plus, I’m sorry to say, Hollie’s count off at the beginning of the song wasn’t really right on.

I loved her approach to the song, though. She was almost unrecognizable without a ballad in sight! I do think the whole performance needed a bit more of a spark and the harmony wasn’t quite locked in, but overall a very entertaining duet.
Joshua Ledet – “If You Don’t Know Me By Now” by Simply Red
Gwen gave Joshua some golden advice by saying that he tries too many vocal gymnastics in his performances. You know what didn’t have any vocal gymnastics at all? His interview. Man, the guy is kind of monotone when he talks to the camera. I’m sure it’s nerves because we can see that he’s oozing with personality on stage, but I think he’s gotta find a way to connect with the audience in these video snippets or he’ll go home far before he should.

Okay, AV guys. I have a bone to pick with you. Who amongst you decided that a gazillion candles on the screen was a good idea? No, seriously WHO WAS IT? I want a name. And an email address. And the name of the HR representative that would fill your job should you vacate it. I give you exhibit A (I’ve been watching too much of The Good Wife again):

Despite his surroundings, Joshua brought it tonight! He wasn’t as forced and the whole thing deftly done and really enjoyable to watch/listen to. Alllll except for the choir. What, do these people get paid on a commission or something?  C’mon, now.

But then: OH NO! THE RETURN OF THE JACOB LUSK-LIKE WHALE TONGUE. Please don’t let this be a common occurrence, ‘k Josh? I’m begging you.

Dear Steven Tyler, please never say the word “nestle” again. That completely weirded me out!

Jessica Sanchez – “How Will I Know” by Whitney Houston

What Jessica misses: Boys, nails, and shopping BUT NOT singing to boxes in front of her mirror. I’m kind of wondering what boxes she might have in her room? Has she moved recently or something?

“Jessica is clearly shockingly good.” – Gwen Stefani

So far she is the best of the night! The song was up-tempo and fun, but had a unique Jessica flavor. Everything about it, right down to her outfit was VERY 80’s but modernized a bit. 80’s chic,  if that’s even a thing. There was only one slightly off note as she took the stage, but she absolutely nailed that key change.

The alter-ego thing was okay for me last week because she was doing a Beyonce song. But is this going to be an every week mention now? To me, this seems like the singer’s version of that weird thing when authors say that their characters talk to them. Awkward.

Oh, and her spikey bracelet concerned me. Safety first, Jessica.

Elise and Phillip Duet – “Stop Dragging My Heart Around”

Well, it certainly seems like Phillip and Elise are the Casey and Haley of their season. This song had some tough harmonies and they completely rocked them out! But boy, that suit coat looks so foreign on Phillip. Does it have shoulder pads? That would definitely carry the 80’s theme through…

“I love the way Phillip creeps around the stage.” – Ryan Seacrest. I think is possibly the only time where word “creep” can be legitimately used in a compliment. 🙂

Hollie Cavanagh – “What a Feeling” by Flash Dance

What Hollie misses: Her family, friends, and puppy.

I actually love this song choice for her! And this Tony Canal guy is pretty darn brilliant. I love the advice he gave her to prepare, prepare, prepare and then free fall when she takes the stage.

The keyboard apparently had a problem, so there was a delay in when the video ended and Hollie actually started singing. But I had no fears–Ryan vamps really well and handled it like the pro that he is.

The beginning of the song had some rather choppy phrasing to it, which didn’t quite thrill me, and I am convinced that the whole thing was too low for her…it needed to be at least a half step higher. And yikesamola on her pitch! Parts were really scream-y, too. She was really off for a lot of the performance. I do love that she moved around and chose something other than a ballad. I still think that’s the right thing for her to continue doing unless she goes home this week.

You know what I’ve noticed? While J.Lo and Randy always try to end positively after a harsher critique, SteTy just lets his negative feedback hang in the air like a challenge.

Jessica and Joshua Duet – “I Knew You Were Waiting for Me”

Oh my gosh! Her dress is so fabulous…vintage-y with an edge. Jessica always looks fly.

Annnnnnd, apparently, we cannot turn our backs for a second or we will be in the middle of a song with a choir. YAHHHHH!

The two of them really looked immersed in the song and they were having fun–Joshua was awesome and Jessica matched him in every way! This was the best duet of the night for SURE. And I would challenge anyone who said otherwise to a duel. Not with real swords, ’cause that could get bloody and I’m not so good with blood. But you know, maybe a texting duel. Or a fierce game of rock, paper, scissors.

Colton Dixon – “Time After Time” by Cyndi Lauper

What Colton misses: Face painting. Really? Okay.

Ooo, an edgy version…I’m liking.  What a strong intro! Okayyyy, I take it back. I love this! Colton struggled with pitch in a few places, but recovered really quickly! I was completely impressed with his rendition of this song (which he credited to Quiet Drive, whomever they may be).

That half-time section of the song was so amazing that I wanted to tear my hair out. I know that seems weird and oddly violent, but trust me: it’s a good thing and also, I am mentally stable.

Colton’s will be the only song I download from all of tonight’s performances. And I’m psyched to put it on my new playlist!

Skylar Laine – “Wind Beneath My Wings” by Bette Midler

What Skylar misses: Apparently a lot of stuff. Her friends, family, the food, gun, etc. Basically, she misses the south.

I actually don’t have a lot to say about this. She sounded great and was beautiful but it was boring until she hit that key change. After that, the song really took off and showcased her vocals beautifully. But I was busy searching iTunes for a not “album only” version of Colton’s previous performance.

The judges gave her a standing ovation, though, so I don’t feel so bad for my negligence.
Who do you think is going home? And who do you think will be the ones standing in the confetti shower at the end of this whole thing?

Haddock out!

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2 thoughts on “Top 9: Choir Overload

  1. Aaron says:

    Oh and I absolutely agree with you about Tony Kanal’s brilliance. He’s an incredible bassist (I wish I could play half as well).

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