And so it begins.
The Fox network has created the largest reality show ever in terms of viewers and publicity. American Idol has consistently, for four complete years, garnered national interest and creamed the television competition.
The show has evolved with such popularity that even the tryouts across the land have become widely watched, beating out such media events as the Olympics and other opposing televised programs.
Such is the world-wide popularity of the series, there is now even an Arab version of the competition, perhaps the first time many in this region of the world have been introduced to pure democracy as the selection of American Idol purports to be.
I’ve watched several of the tryout shows and, again, Fox has figured out what appeals to the mainstream American public. The tryouts are cleverly clipped and quipped to guarantee a continuing viewer interest and amusement.
It’s late February, the tryouts are done, the Hollywood finalists have been culled, and we’re down to the final 24 — twelve females and twelve males. On Tuesday, 2/21/06, the final twelve female contenders showed the voting viewers their stuff.
Out of the twelve, I managed to pare down the competition to the three female contenders that I feel certain will make it into the top six. I’ve also pegged a few that also show potential.
Let us move on to a quick and dirty recap of the contenders that began their quest to be the fifth winner of American Idol in the 2006 competition.
Another Blogcritic wrote up a review of the first night of the competition. I agree a bit with her conclusions but yon reader might want to compare.
We begin with Mandisa. That’s right, her name is just “Mandisa” and this shtick is catchy. Cher did it. Can Mandisa pull it off?
I was very impressed with Mandisa’s performance and immediately considered that she will move on to at least the top six, if not the top three, of the female contenders. Just as soon as I made the note that Mandisa was potential finalist material I fretted that I might find all twelve good enough to be finalists, risking my entry into the Paula Abdul wing of the blogosphere.
In fact, after Mandisa, I was mentally eliminating almost every singer of the evening.
I did cull the contenders down to three I consider definitely finalist material, with two others possibilities, and so we move on.
Ayla Brown is 17 years old, from Massachusetts, and plays basketball. Oh, and she can sing too. Her voice was strong and sure and she projected a star quality that at her tender age can only grow with experience.
Paris Bennett is also 17 young years of age. She was dressed in a snappy and stylish fashion and yes, she’s got star quality written all over. Paris sang “Midnight Train to Georgia” and I could see this child holding a pencil for microphone and singing and swinging to this song in her living room throughout her young life.
When her chance came to take the stage, Paris was ready to go. Years of practice and dreams were reflected in her performance. Paris will definitely make the top 6 and I see her as a real contender for the winner.
The final singer of the evening, Katharine McPhee, was another competitor that seemed a real contender for the prize. For this particular evening, I’d still consider her a dark horse to the three picked above.
Kellie Pickler, 19 years old and a sweet country bumpkin, wavered on some high notes and was a bit pitchy. The judges seem to like her but as sweet and dopey as Kellie is, I don’t see her winning this thing.
Beck O’Donohue didn’t seem to have much of a voice, at least compared to the others. The judges complained there was no wow factor and I’d have to agree.
An opera singer an Idol competitor? Indeed Stevie Scott is a trained opera singer and she sang, yes she did, an opera song. First, get real. An opera singer is not going to win American Idol unless said opera singer can sing today’s pop songs. No matter how varied and diverse the contest claims the singers are, in the end, the audience is looking for pop singers not of the opera kind. Scott’s performance, even with the advantage of singing in her genre, was breathy and not appealing at all.
Brenna Gethers performed just okay, in my opinion. Evidently Brenna is viewed as some sort of street-smart gal and brings a cockiness to the contest that the judges liked. Only Gethers sang “You Are the Sunshine of My Life”, a song the judges called “too sensitive” for the very insensitive Brenna. Smashing street attitude or not, I don’t see Brenna beating out my top three.
Heather Cox has a husky deep voice and my immediate thought is that her song choices would be limited. Indeed Cher managed to create a singing career with a range of about three notes but the American Idol isn’t about husky voices with limited ranges.
A Melissa McGhee performed and my notes indicate I considered her a possible top six and that she gave a good performance. Still, a dark horse, as I see it, to my top three.
Lisa Tucker, a very pretty young female, performed, and affected so many voice effects in her song that I zoned out halfway through the performance. I look for singers who have a broad range, carry a certain star quality, and appear born to perform. Simon liked Lisa’s performance so maybe I’ve pegged her wrong. Voice effects do not turn me on.
If American Idol had a Miss Personality award, I daresay it would go to Kinnik Sky. During her pre-performance vignette I was impressed by how personable she presented herself. As for her performance, Kinnik did have a deep rich voice but for whatever personal reasons, she did not appeal to me.
On Wednesday, 2/22/06, the twelve final males will perform, and on Thursday, 2/23/06, two will be eliminated from each group.
For now, I predict Stevie Scott, the opera singer, and Heather Cox will get the boot.
Pat Fish is a published author and her books have drawn attention from her fellow reviewers on Blogcritics. Reviews of Memoirs of Josephine Fish and Mystery and Mirth have been conveniently provided for your reading pleasure.