Tonight is Rod Stewart/Great American Songbook night. It's what they used to call Big Band night before Idol became the refuge of aging Pop Stars. It's all about promotion and cross-promotion and sister corporations. It's a boost to anyone's career to be included on the most popular TV show in America. We get to see Rod's new baby and his fiancée. Old rockers never die, they just keep marrying younger women and having more babies.
Ryan is wearing a medium/narrow tie tonight and he's still has the beard, at least the one he's growing. Teri says nothing is going on there otherwise. His banter is brief tonight, just a little smattering with the judges, then we're off.
Chris is going to be singing “What a Wonderful World” and maybe not like a rocker for once. I guess he finally got the clue everyone has been yelling at him for a month. He is singing the song straight tonight, actually singing. He proves he does know how to carry a melody. The dress-up looks a little gangsterish 1940's, but the singing may be the best thing he's done for himself in weeks. He proved he could just sing without any affectation, yelling, or screaming and seems to have pleased everyone else involved if not himself. Hope has arisen and Chris earns a spot for next week.
Paris looks like she might be working as a stewardess and is on call tonight. Who is doing orange now that Braniff went under? Paris is only 17, so a few things can be forgiven. She is singing “These Foolish Things” and this genre seems to be more friendly to the contestants tonight. There are lots of key changes and modulations in this song and Paris does a great job with it. She keeps the focus on singing the song and sounds like an adult singer for the first time in weeks. Her speaking voice could still use some work, but she sang extremely well and earns a spot in next weeks show. How pleasing is it to be entertained instead of disappointed?
Taylor Hicks, fresh from his SNL parody, is ready for anything. Taylor is singing “You Send Me” by Sam Cooke. It's a nice smooth song for Taylor after last week's hurried fiasco. Taylor's raspy voice works in a lot of ways like Rod's. It has a smoky quality that works great on an old R&B standard. Taylor works the ending in a hyped up Taylor fashion, a little herkyjerky, but he never misses a beat or note. Great job once again. I think the big difference tonight is in the genre and song choices. After all, they've already been deemed American Classics so it's hard to go wrong. Or is it?
Elliott seems the most likely to be natural in this style. “It Had to Be You” is his song choice. Elliot's makeover seems to be a continued success. Hey look at Rod Stewart; he's not a natural pretty boy either. And some of the haircuts and clothing he's sported in the past. Did you think he was sexy? Anyhow, Elliott is a natural at this style. He grew up listening to this stuff and it comes easy to him. Simon thought the performance lacked a degree of personality and made just slightly more sense than Paula. Bad Simon.
Kellie's stupid girl routine is annoying me more each week. It's not all an act, but it's a poor substitute for respect. She seems to lack that at times when she falls back on the “I don't know any better” routine. “Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered” is the song of choice. When Kellie is singing is when she is the least irritating. She does an OK job at the first and almost looks innocent, but then she loses pace and forgets where she is at times. She gets ahead of the music and barely reigns it in with the band. She was not present in the moment and the silly banter afterwards didn't help much. It will never happen, but I'd love to see her go home tomorrow. She has to be bottom three at least.
Ace is happy with his approval from Rod at rehearsal. He has pulled his hair straight back tonight, trying to make it a non-issue with his black suit. It's OK except the bun in profile looks funny. He is singing “That's All” and it is better than he has been in several weeks. He has to work the falsetto a bit in the middle, but moves back to the melody before too much damage is done. It seemed to be an honest attempt to sing without too much mugging. Everyone is better tonight it seems. I still say it's the songs.
Katharine is right at home with these song choices. “Someone to Watch Over Me” is always a dramatic winner. If Katharine doesn't win American Idol (and I think she easily could), she'll be singing somewhere soon. She could go to Broadway or sing Pop, anything she wants to. She is the best singer left in the show at this point, but that has nothing to do with winning.
Everyone was better tonight than the last couple of weeks. Who was the worst? Kellie was. It wasn't lack of talent so much as her usual lack of interest in anything much outside her chosen field of country music. Will she go home? Who knows? The bottom three are going to be hard to pick because most everyone was greatly improved. It's all about fan base and fast dialing at this point.