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Handicapping Week 10 of 'American Idol'by Sting7 -- 08/14/2002
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And then there were five! You would have to think that at this stage of the game, the Idol contestants would have to expect some curves to be thrown at them. They should be prepared to be taken out of their comfort zones. At first, the mention of Love Songs made me think Tamyra and Justin would rule this. Then they threw in Burt Bacharach! And then I thought... RJ must be living right and Nikki may as well not even show up.
Then came the performances. The "kids" came up big. Well... four of them did. Here's how I say the voting will turn out.
1. Tamyra Gray, "A House Is Not A Home" - Wow. Tamyra may find herself with an Emmy nomination. I'm not kidding. Tonight, Tamyra went from 'great potential' to 'a star is born!' Her singing was gorgeous, and though she sounded a little nervous at first, it seemed to fit the anxiety of the song. Not everyone can sing with that catch in her voice that just breaks your heart. It was astonishing. I sat on my couch dabbing my eyes and applauding. (See, I'm sensitive! Christina Christian loves that about me!)
2. Justin Guarini, " The Look of Love" - That Justin. You just never know. His voice rang like a snifter of brandy on a cold winter night! Bacharach songs can take odd changes in orchestration (particularly "Look of Love," and Justin glided through them effortlessly. Effortlessly. Maybe that is what seems to be holding him back. He doesn't look like he's working that hard. Maybe he just doesn't have to.
3. Kelly Clarkson, "Walk On By" - I'm putting her third but that does not at all mean she sucked. Far from it! She, more than Tamyra I think, made "Walk On By" her own. The stately version from Dionne Warwick that we all know was vamped and bluesed a bit. I remember thinking if this was a record, I would buy it. Kelly Clarkson is explosive, and I say again. Nothing that happens on American Idol will stop her from being a force to be reckoned with.
4. RJ Helton, "Arthur's Theme" - Poor RJ. There are FLASHES of brilliance there. FLASHES. Every now and then THE PERFORMER comes out and you say "Oh, that's why he's there." And then, old RJ sneaks back in. I'm not just RJ bashing, I just think he is two or three years away from legitimately winning this competition. Here's an example. There were two occasions where RJ had a chance to blow the roof off the place by holding a high note. Once he looked like he was gonna, and he Timberlaked it. You know Timberlakeing, when you let your voice just skitter all over the scale to hide the fact that you can't hit the note that you should. It made me mad, because, believe it or not, I can't help but root for the guy. Simon just destroys him so. RJ's big problem tonight was that he was 'caught between' Kelly and Tamyra. It could have been worse...
5. Nikki McKibbin, "Always Something There To Remind Me" - Sweet Jesus. You know, Christina Christian was in the crowd and the look on her face said nothing less than "I can't believe she got more votes than me last week." You know what? I can't either. She was in trouble from the start. It didn't help that the band inexplicably decided to perform the Naked Eyes version of the song, rather than the Dionne Warwick one. I speak for America when I say we are sick of the Naked Eyes version. And there was Nikki, bouncing and prancing (I think she forgot she was supposed to, you know, sing!). I can't count the amount of times she came up flat, either she bailed on the bridge or it was a bad idea for an edit, and she lost herself in the wind-up, and that last note (always a killer for her) put cracks in my wall.
Nikki, I have wrung the death knell for you before, but I cannot see how you can escape this one. You were clearly flawed (but then again, you and RJ were last week too) and you were outclassed by the other four. Even RJ. You, my dear, your rocking little self, are out!
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