series critique and observations
Two more weeks until the final at the Kodak Theatre. Iíll be glad when itís over. All the hoopla and scandals and questions about judging. Ryan tries to make jokes about it, but the funny has worn off. Itís kind of a drag when no one talks much about the contestants and everyone is talking about one of the judges. Ryan should just announce what the theme is each week. This is not a group of theme detectives. They are worrying about what the hell theyíre going to sing this week.
Half of the theme is Nashville. I live here and I do not want to hear it. Carrie goes for ďSin WagonĒ by the Dixie Chicks. Itís blues on speed with a fiddle thrown in. Carrie does a good job, but what did you expect? This is her chosen field isnít it? I miss the three-part harmony of the Dixie Chicks, but Carrie did fine, if you like that sort of music. I donít. It all smells of set-up for Carrie. Randy and Paula mention Carrieís record as though it were a given. Simon says it would be a surprise if she didnít get that one right. Yep, she did, but so what. Iím not excited about Country Idol. Itís not what Iím looking for. Why wasnít she on Nashville Star?
Bo Bice is singing Travis TrittĎs ďGreat Day To Be Aliveď, which is the closest thing to Southern Rock on the country charts. Itís an odd song choice with all the potential songs available from Nashville and even Travis. Itís much too much a Nashville formula song with all the right bridges and chord changes and fake happy messages that permeate country music now. Bo does a good job and sings on key and emotes better than any of the other contestants, but the song doesnít reach beyond mediocre at any point. Thatís pretty much what Nashville is about these days and who cares? What happened to Pop Idol? Thatís the show I was watching.
I thought Vonzell might go for the obvious and select an old Pointer Sisterís song from their country album like ďFairytaleď, but Vonzell is singing a Trisha Yearwood song, ďHow Do I Live Without You?ď Itís a good diva crossover song that suits Baby Vís style to a T. Itís a diva ballad complete with multiple key modulations. If Vonzell lacks anything, itís complete control of her pitch and her high notes can go wacky at any time. Still, Iíd pay to see her before I would two other present contestants. Vonzell admits she had a hard day and loses a tear or two. We donít know why she had a bad day, just that she did. Simon says she sounded nervous for the first time in weeks and Iíd have to agree. Round two will clear things up, maybe.
Anthonyís parents pledge eternal love. His song choice is as saccharin as his story. He picks ďI'm Already ThereĒ and heís off and running with it. He over emotes and sings the high notes flat or sharp depending. I hope itís Anthonyís night to go home. He just bores me from start to finish. Randy gives him dawg props. Paula is back to stumbling over words again. Simon says it all feels like Miss Universe, gooey, syrupy. The judges could all use some vocal coaching on speaking plain English tonight. They are more bored than me at this point. And thatís round one.
Next weíre going to Philly for another duoís songs from the sixties. Who is thinking up these odd multi-themes? Iím guessing itís someone that used to work on a reality show that used lots of hidden clues, like maybe The Mole. Thereís something weíre not quite getting. Why canít they sing Pop or Rock Songs every week since thatís more likely what theyíll be selling if they are lucky? I am not buying an Oldies from the Idols record myself.
Gambill and Huff were writers of the Philly Soul Sound of the sixties. I am wondering how the turnabout of song styles will play with everyone. Carrie squeaks out a tearful thank you to her supportive friends before she sings, ďIf You Donít Know Me By NowĒ. She sings all the right notes but she rushes the song and misses the cues. She canít build up to the right place because she is playing catch up with the lyrics. I couldnít call it soulful. She was either ahead or behind the entire song. Simon blames the band and calls it boring, lethargic, and an utter mess. Turnabout is fair play after all, I suppose. It's hard to be versatile.
Bo chooses one of my favorite songs, ďMoney, Money, Money, Money!Ē ("The Love of Money"). Itís right up his soulful alley. He knows how to sing a soul song. I like the suit, but donít care for his flats. He needs no shoes at all or something really pimping. He plays the looks to its best and rocks the song up one side and down the other. Bo knows. Bo knows how to rock. All his experience and years of practice give him a chance to shine. It was a 10 in comparison to Carrie's 3. Go the Bo.
Vonzell, and everyone else, is playing the family tear jerk card tonight. Is it a vote getting ploy? Sheís singing ďDonít Treat Me This WayĒ, a major disco hit from the 70ís. She announces she is going to sing the chorus by saying ďHere We GO!Ē and I have to say she bit into it with all her teeth. She growls the chorus stronger than the original and actually comes up with a new take on the phrasing that is her own. I like Vonzell. She could be the next American Idol and I would not be disappointed. I donít think she will be, but nothing Iíve thought about this series has been correct yet.
We have to listen to another sappy story from Anthony before he ALSO sings ďIf You Donít Know Me By NowĒ. I saw the song list, and Gambill and Huff wrote a lot of songs. A lot more than three songs. What is going on here? He sings the soulful lyric with such clear diction is all I can say about it. Itís his best effort, but it doesnít speak from experience as much as technical effort. Itís clear as a bell, but I like a little gravel in my coffee. I like my bread toasted on both sides. I even like well-done meat. This ham needs more baking is what Iím thinking.
Tonight was the night for Bo to shine. It looks like it could end up the Carrie/Bo final weíve all been expecting. Of all the contestants, his style is the most unique in a 70ís southern rock retro kind of way. His performances and song choices are more adult oriented, but thatís not necessarily a bad thing. I wouldnít mind a record from an Idol that I might actually buy. Carrie and Anthony need a little more life experience, and Vonzell just needs to sing with a band on a regular basis to keep her chops up. Itís either Anthony or Vonzell going home Iíd guess, but Iíve been wrong so many times why bother? Scott could be returning for all I know.