I resume after an evening’s repose, refreshed and semi-alert, with commentary on last night’s American Idol birth-year theme (pt 1 here). Before I forget: the live band that accompanies the singers is absolutely great: they are versatile, know when to hold ’em and when to fold ’em, and have made the finals performances feel like real EVENTS.
That said, after his performance and subsequent judicial critique, Ryan asked Anthony how he responds to negative criticism, especially Simon’s scabrous dismissals. Young Anthony quoted Conan (the Barbarian, not the O’Brien): “That which does not kill me makes me stronger.” THAT is the way to deal with Simon, not direct confrontation ( a la Scott, see below), which only solidifies Simon’s resolve to be a sphincter.
Sweet, cheery Vonzell Solomon was up next. Every time they introduce her she finds a way to slip in the martial arts thing, as if to say “this sweet cheery veneer is backed by a spine of steel, sucka!” In a jean skirt and sequinned top, she looked something like a sorority mermaid. Nonetheless, the lovely, effervescent Miami-native bounded across the stage and our screens with a joyous rendition of Denise Williams’s “Let’s Hear It For the Boy” from her birth year of ’84.
She’s on a roll with very apt song selection and the judges noted as much. Simon compared her favorably to Nadia, which was nonsensical since they are nothing alike as performers, personalities, or sensibilities, but he is correct that Vonzell does make people want to get up and vote for her because she’s a people pleaser.
The dreaded Scott Savol next lumbered onto the stage, his squinty eyes, wary glances and general sullenness make him the opposite of a people pleaser, yet somehow he has found a constituency: perhaps there are more squinty-eyed, sullen sloths dragging across North America than I realized. I very much like the quality of Scott’s voice, a textured full tenor, but he seems to always have pitch problems in his lower register, and as a result Hall and Oates’s “She’s Gone” (’76), though a great song, was not the tune for him, with the verses rooting around in the vocal root cellar before soaring in the choruses. As a result, he yo-yoed between wretched and inspiring.
After Simon said as much, Scott, squinting even more fiercely, turned to him and drawled/spat out something about having the nerve to stand up in front of millions and concluded with the onanistic statement, “I rocked.”
Only the ground you walk on Scott, only the ground.
Everyone keeps ejaculating how much they love the COUNTRY Carrie Underwood, and the blonde from Oklahoma is quite fine in pop-drawl mode, but I think she rocks when she ROCKS. Her jeans and tanktop-clad spanking of Pat Benatar’s “Love Is a Battlefield” (’83) was riveting and energizing, with a real sense of moment, and though she did go a bit sharp with the high notes at the end, by then she had convinced me that she can rock as well or better than she countrys, that she has real star-power, and that her butt is too wide for jeans. I am now thoroughly in the Carrie camp.
The show concluded with Constantine, whose charm and vocal chops seem to grow with his chutzpah every single week. While Bo took on an icon in “Free Bird,” Constantine had the unmitigated audacity to tackle the theatrical extravaganza that is Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody,” and damn if he didn’t find the song’s original appeal lurking under the accumulated crust of classic rock cliche, cooing the delicate parts and pounding the rocking segments with the authority of the late great Freddie.
Paula stated bluntly and creamily, “You are the one to beat.”
Simon said simply, “Astonishing.”
And it was. Tonight we find out who departs (Scott please, Scott please, Scott please).