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.
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.