This week's American Idol was better than last week, but still not totally excellent. There were some good and bad performances. Again, the mix of the sound was interesting in some spots as vocals got lost in the bombast of the house band; but this was a night of Queen music, so at least I knew going in that I was going to recognize the majority of the tunes.
One thing that might be improving are some of the contestants' song choices. There were two great song changes by Taylor Hicks and Katharine McPhee. Taylor originally wanted to do "We Are the Champions" but ended up doing a great preacher-in-front-of-the-congregation-feeling-the-vibrations-of-God type performance where he strutted around and bounced his way through "Crazy Little Thing Called Love" with good energy and vocals.
Similarly, Katharine switched songs to "Who Wants to Live Forever" and while the performance wasn't good, it was better than what I thought I was hearing in her taped rehearsal with Queen. After listening to "Forever," it was the perfect venue for Katharine to show off just how good (or bad) she is. Unfortunately for her, what came out was how sharp and thin she can sound when she is really going to the top of her range.
And I am not sure if all of America heard it, but when she said something about "it's nothing that they can't fix in the studio," my head wanted to explode. If we want to hear a machine sing, then what the hell do we need you for Katharine? It isn't about how awesome you are at using ProTools that makes an artist popular. Occasionally it works for an artist like Cher on a pop song, but Katharine is going for the Whitney Houston, Celine Dion, Barbra Streisand-type of singer and trust me when I tell you that each one of them can sing without a pitch adjustment. Well maybe Whitney needs it now, but she didn't when she sang the "Star Spangled Banner" at the Super Bowl all those years ago.
As for the other performers last night. . .
Chris Daughtry is another one who confounds me. He had the best vocal performance of the night by far. The way he commanded his song and hit those ridiculous high notes was truly amazing. Except, who would really know on a song that isn't really all that well known? I don't mean to parrot Simon, but if you want to create a moment with American Idol audiences, you really need to wow them in their own backyard on a song that they can relate to. I loved the song last night and like I said, I thought it was the performance of the night, but it was tainted by the obscurity of the song choice. Chris is going to choose his way right off the show with these continual song choice mistakes.