Now you know I’m a fan as much as the next guy, but four hours of American Idol in two days is, like, waaaaaaaaaay close to head-busting.
It didn’t help that the guys got off to a slow start, with “slow” being a euphemism in this case.
While Randy Jackson and Paula Abdul thought Jose “Sway” Penala’s “Reasons” falsetto-fest was “hot” and “truly amazing” (Simon, bless him, found it “pimpy” and “third-rate”), in this living room the party didn’t get rolling until Chris Daughtery was up with Bon Jovi’s “Wanted Dead or Alive.”
True, Chris sang full-throttle, all-body-parts-to-the-wall all-the-time, and he didn’t exactly major in the Phrasing Department. But he hit the notes and, more importantly, tapped into his own personal brand of charisma.
The next hot act was Elliott Yamin, he of the “I’m not into that do-re-me stuff.” (Kids, please don’t tell Julie Andrews.) The first thing I liked about Elliott was that he had the temerity to mention the “k” word, admitting that he actually sang karaoke and sang it well. Eliott floated Stevie Wonder’s “If You Really Love Me”, building it up, patiently, effortlessly until he filled the house.
Simon — mark your calendar — enthused that Elliott was “potentially the best male vocalist” American Idol had ever had.
Take that, Justin Guarini!
(Okay, is that fair?)
But I digress.
Then there was Fabio Man, Ace Young.
Proving once again that witnessing the live performance must be different than what comes across the small screen, Randy Jackson went on and on about how well Ace worked the room and worked the camera and worked the girls. Paula was Paula. Simon opined that Ace hadn’t had the best vocals that night, but that the presence of the “x” factor more than made up for any deficiency.
Me, I thought Ace’s performance — at least as it conveyed through the small screen — was surprisingly lifeless and his “working” (the camera, the room, the audience) bordered on off-putting. But never mind. The man can do the music industry equivalent of the Three R’s: he can sing, perform, and look good.
Moreover, he has, so far, escaped the kiss of death — that kiss of death being labeled a “rocker” by the American Idol Powers That Be.
No wonder they call him “Ace.”
The man who escapes all labels, however — the veritable Houdini of Label Chains — was saved for last.
Taylor Hicks came out singing the Elton John/Bernie Taupin classic, “Levon.” The key seemed a little high for him, leaving his voice a pinch — and just a pinch, mind you — thin.
In the end, it mattered not at all.
The man rocked. He amazed. He enthralled.
He made Simon admit he was wrong (about Taylor not being right for the Top 12).
And best of all, he made Ryan Seacrest break out into a crazy-abandon Joe Cocker performance art dance.
You go, Taylor! Ba-da-bing!
So, ladies and gentlemen, these are our top male contenders. There were a few interesting points in some of the other performances, but let’s face it. Bobby Bennett will go this week, and the others soon enough.
For the men, unless someone really breaks out (and that can happen), Chris Daughtery, Elliott Yamin, Ace Young, and Taylor Hicks are the ones who got it going on.