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TV Review: American Idol Final Six

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The Contestants:

Katharine McPhee seemed self-conscious. She sang fairly well, but her face did not match what she was singing. It was almost as if she was watching herself to see what she was doing, rather than doing it. “Do I look good? How about now?” It’s our job to watch, and not her’s.

Elliott Yamin sang well, and looked more sincere than anyone other than Daughtry. What annoyed me was that he worked his jaw like it was on a spring, to produce a high-speed, forced vibrato. Perhaps it’s just a matter of my personal taste, but the vibrato distracted me from the rest of the performance, and towards the end I thought he started to sound like an off-kilter washing machine. Plus, the arrangement was strange — there was this sort of ragged break in the middle, I thought — and he was running out of rhythmic space on some of the riffs.

Kellie Pickler sang a very bad version of “Unchained Melody.” If I was given to obvious metaphors, I might say that Pickler, following in the tradition of hundreds of mediocre singers before, shackled the “Melody” and flayed it. Since I am not so inclined, I’ll say that the word “Unchained” should imply a rubato style of singing, rather than a monotonous, rhythmic approach. In the lead-up video, the guy instructed Pickler to hit the high note, and said that even the short squeak that she initially emitted would be impressive and more her “style.” So Pickler retained the same squeak in her performance – a squeak you saw coming a mile away, because of the huge build-up.

Paris Bennett needs to be given a jazz standard to sing instead of these schmaltzy pop arrangements. I admit, I’d never heard anything like her rendition of “Memories,” and never thought it was possible to turn it into a real barn-rattler.

It was probably ill-advised, though. Bennett smeared her words together and was wearing too much make-up. Paris has the talent but sometimes does not use it with discretion. It’s sort of like buttering toast: too little and all you’ve got is dry, crumby tastelessness (Pickler). Too much and you have a soppy mess. On the last line, she sang “Of the way *huh* were,” an innovative twist on the traditional lyrics.

Taylor Hicks‘ new, shorter hair does not suit him at all. It makes his face look somewhat rounder, and robs it of unique character. Hicks has a good voice, but he would be better employed in his own idiosyncratic projects. Assuming, that is, that he has the talent to devise such projects. Pop music does not really have a place for him. I can’t imagine voluntarily listening to him on the radio; it’s his performances that are the point.

As to the performance tonight: it was a mistake to saddle him in front of a microphone. This left him unable to do much more than raise and lower, clench and unclench, his hands. He sounded the same as ever, except that the happiness of some of the previous performances was missing.

I thought it was funny that guest coach Andrea Bocelli could just call his voice “interesting.”

Chris Daughtry: man, where did he get the Spanish guitars? Were they just given to him? If he asked for them himself, then he is very savvy, because the appearance of two skilled musicians on the stage will garner votes just out of gratitude for breaking up the monotony. And Daughtry sang well and passionately. His was the best performance tonight.

The Judges:

Randy: “Man, I don’t know, man…”
Simon: “What that reminded me of was… [something horrid/marginally tolerable]”
Paula: (Weeps, or gesticulates furiously) “You are all like my own little singing/dancing children!”

Who Will Lose:

Really, I thought everyone was pretty bad except Yamin and Daughtry. The worst performance was by Pickler, followed by Bennett and Hicks.

Pickler has associated herself more closely than any other contestant with the country constituency, who I assume will see her through another round, even though her Daisy Mae act was wearing thin in the very stilted interview.

Hicks still has a certain weirdness going for him, so my prediction is that Paris has drowned herself out.

I do wish that we could get rid of Pickler, though.

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  • Jim

    I wasn’t that fond of Chris’ performance, same old stuff for me.

    Elliott blew me away.

    Katharine is gorgeous but too much mugging from her. I know she will probably be safe (Elliott probably won’t) but I think she needs another bottom 3 trip for her smugness.

  • Clyde 21

    It is very obvious they want Chris to win. That’s where he got the guitars. From AI’s pimping. I think since he was in the bottom three they tried to make him be a strong closer, knowing the last person has the best chance of getting votes. He sucks.

  • Eric Olsen

    Andrea Bocelli: he’s no Stevie Wonder

  • Kurt

    Elliot is, by far, reaching his comfort zone and looked more relaxed than he ever has. Great tune for his voice although the arrangement was a bit weird. Overall, he did an exceptional job.

    Kellie was horrid and performed just as she had been warned not to by David, very robotically and monotonously. I can’t believe he encouraged her to perform that schreeching note.

    Katherine looked stunning as usual but was off pitch in a few places. As every idol contestant has been warned from the start, don’t sing someone like Mariah, Celine, Christina or Whitney (in her prime) unless you can do it as well or better as failure to do so will expose you as being an inferior singer. Sadly she did just that and got dinged heavily for it.

    Paris was good but wasn’t sensational like she has the ability to be. I thought it was a good tune for her age since a love song would have been a bit out of character and she was wise enough to know that.

    I’m not quite sure what happened to Taylor. He sounded really good and took David’s advice readily during their rehearsal. He started flat from the beginning and stayed there through the whole song. It could have been another “Taylorized” version of a good tune. Instead it wasn’t very good and Randy was very harsh in return.

    Finally, Chris did very well. The Spanish guitars were a great touch and added a significant amount of flair and class to the performance. He had an alternative Bryan Adams vibe that worked well. I think he will have to be put in a genre that he just cannot adapt to his style for him to have a dismal performance.

    He’s a strong front-runner to win but with America voting, one can never tell how it will turn out.

  • Pauli

    I think you are all predicting Paris is gone because you want her to stay. I want her off and she WILL go tonight. She has to!

  • http://leoniceno.journalspace.com Sam Jack

    Well, happily I was wrong. Pickler’s out. Reports are that Bennet got second to least, though.

  • Laura

    Chris was great, I loved his performance. He should be the next American Idol.

  • http://gratefuldread.net NR Davis

    I don’t know why Taylor picked that piece of r&B-pop-mush. Chris did so well because he chose a ROCK love song (and the Spanish guitars? Bryan Adams laced the original with all kind of Spanish guitar; this was not innovative, though it did break the monotony) that fit his voice and suited him well – it’s no wonder his was the best performance of the night. Plus, Chris has finally gotten a clue about dynamics beyond booming, Vedder, and Stapp. Now imagine if Taylor had done a song like “Fooled Around and Fell in Love” or if he had gone through James Taylor’s “How Sweet It Is” like a whirlwind. That would have been awesome. I suspect he’s getting such shitty songs because AI doesn’t want Taylor to win and he is too popular for its liking. According to DialIdol, Taylor got the top number of votes pretty much every week of the competition. Until now. The Soul Patrol was able to save him from the James Ingram error, but only so much. I’m not surprised that he was safe this week, but Taylor really has to start making some intelligent song choices if he wants to make it to final two or three.

    Oh, and Katharine: Nice tits, but I’m bored with her. The McPheever leaves me cold.

    And yeah, Andrea Bocelli is no Stevie Wonder (in terms of personality), but wow, can he sing. The three of us – Spousal Unit, the boy and moi – had tears running down our cheeks while listening to him. Some of those notes he hit were just so gloriously lovely.

  • http://english Marquise Hillman

    People Paris is a great singer for her age and really needs to win. So please people of America VOTE FOR PARIS. And i’m sore you’ll like her cd’s,so please VOTE FOR PARIS, and you’ll love her cd’s

    thank you