American Idol 4, March 15: Opening Night Jittersby Sting7 -- 03/16/2005
Ryan welcomes us, and gives us a quick camera spin around the spanking new studio, with a spanking new band. Then comes the unpleasantness of announcing Marioís withdrawal. Ryan says, "we wish him well. Weíll miss him around here." Thus, never to spoken of again. Ryan adds that Nikko Smith will be taking his place. We all knew that already though, didnít we?
What we didnít know is that the theme weeks have already begun! This week, it is Ď60s Week! On with the show!
Jessica Sierra, "Shop Around"
Randy - "It wasnít like unbelievable... kinda pitchy in spots, I was expecting everyone to be on and popping, like youíre trying to win! It was just okay for me, man."
Paula - "Iím a big fan of your vocals, you have a cool vocal, I think you did a really good job."
Simon - "I thought it was just a very boring, uninspiring song. (Audience boos. Paula disagrees.)"
Sting7 - I thought it was fun, upbeat performance. I like how Jessicaís voice flowed throughout, every "now" was on tune. It was actually one of the few times I thought Jessica was particularly special. She looked the part and sounded the part. Nice job, I say.
Anwar Robinson, "A House Is Not A Home"
Randy - "I expected you of all people to be on and popping... still, itís a kind of safe performance, it wasnít really great for me, dude."
Paula - "Weíre used to hearing your voice extremely open and big, because your voice is flawless... simply exquisite. Your style is flawless tonight."
Simon - "You look great tonight... there is no question you have a fantastic voice, you have presence, and I think you are good enough now... we want to see a slightly more fun side... there is risk that youíll come across as kind of boring."
Sting7 - This will not gain me any favorites out there, but I did not love this song on Anwar. I think the emotional quotient that Anwar needs to really sell a song like he can was too somber in this case. Anwar can do angst, but melancholy like this just doesnít suit him. Not horrible, but his worst so far.
Mikalah Gordon, "Son of a Preacher Man"
Randy - "I donít know whatís going on tonight man, but for me? That was rough dude for me man. That was rough dude.Ē (Mikalah chirps "Alright dawg!")
Paula - "I donít know if you were singing completely on mike tonight, it wasnít my favorite performance, but I like that you got back to being Mikalah again."
Simon - "I think your confidence exceeded your ability tonight. (Mild boos) And not a lot of booing so this lot agrees with me." (Mikalah says something about the audience looking "fub-u-luuuuuus")
Sting7 - Gulp. It wasnít as horrible as her stab at Barbra last week, but this song was sonically all wrong for Mikalah. She has a vibrato that needs a running start, like a kite, and "Son" gave her no room at all. Save for one pleasing last note, it wasnít enough to make up for babbling beginning and middle. Song choice, Mikalah. You are not one of those singers who can unleash anything.
Constantine Maroulis, "Youíve Made Me So Very Happy"
Randy - "I think that was your best performance to date for you. Props to you!"
Paula - "You sounded real nice, that last note, you did a great job."
Simon - "I think if this was Smoldering Idol, youíd win hands down. Constantine is a great performance, I think there are lots of girls who will like that."
Sting7 - This is the first time I actually liked Constantine. "Very Happy" is actually a nice fit for his voice. His stage presence, command, and for once, his voice, came together very well. I donít know if the judges are grading him on a curve, but I definitely give him a B this time.
Lindsey Cardinale, "Knock On Wood"
Randy - "I donít know whatís happening tonight. I think first time with this big new band everyone is just out of sorts."
Paula - "How do you think you did Lindsey?" (Lindsey says one can always do better.)
Simon - "I think 30 million televisions have their volumes turned down simultaneously on this song."
Sting7 - Can I just state for the record that I wish Amanda had stayed and Lindsey had gone home? I never really got Lindsey. Tonight, I donít think anyone got Lindsey. Her "Eddie Floydís ĎKnock On Woodí" was definitely Amii Stewartís "Knock On Wood" and while Lindsey is a low smoldering burn, Amii was a firecracker. So, you see, the chemistry was all wrong.
Anthony Fedorov, "Breaking Up Is Hard To Do"
Randy - "I never thought I would say this, but that was definitely like I was in a bad hotel in a very low average performance of Ė I donít know what that was dude."
Paula - "It wasnít bad, it just wasnít up to par with what weíve been experiencing from you... it was a little pitchy Ė"
Simon - "Anthony, let me put this into perspective for you (Paula groans, "oh no"). It was akin to... the office Christmas party when somebody gets up to entertain and they fail."
Sting7 - I donít think Anthony was as bad as the judges made it seem. Definitely pitchy in spots, and Anthony has such a clean, honest tone, every mistake will show. I am sure itís nerves, because Anthony is going to go a long way.
Nadia Turner, "You Donít Have To Say You Love Me"
Randy - "Yo! I got to give you props, the show has finally started tonight!"
Paula - "Iím a fan, Iím excited for you because youíre playing to win... Iím proud of you Nadia."
Simon - "Nadia, in a competition full of hamburgers you are a steak."
Sting7 - I will forever dub Nadia, The Professional. Star quality all over the place. While weíve seen nervous kids one after the other go up and do somewhat reasonable jobs, but flawed all the same, there is Nadia who is apparently made of steel. Hit every note, rung every emotional bell, and this song is a wringer! If sheís nervous, she doesnít show it, and she is clearly in it to win it. Sheís doing everything right. You can only admire that.
Bo Bice, "Spinning Wheel"
Randy - "You already know youíre one of my dawgs, you come out here, you get it done, youíre fearless, I love you, this is the way to get it done dude."
Paula - "Youíre already a superstar, keep going, do your thing."
Simon - "This stage can either make you or break you tonight. You look like youíve been doing it for twenty years!"
Sting7 - Constantine - outrocked again. Somewhere out there, Clive Davis is scratching his chin, thinking "can I sell this?" Itís almost like this is too easy for Bo. Can a rocker win American Idol? Prepare yourselves. Bo is as much a complete package as Nadia. I would not be at all surprised if these were the last two standing.
Vonzell Solomon, "Anyone Who Had A Heart"
Randy - "Very ambitious song choice, thatís what I like about you, if you can get control of that, you can work that out because youíve got a really good instrument there."
Paula - "You look beautiful and you sounded lovely tonight... really good showmanship."
Simon - "Vonzell, I think what youíve done is stay absolutely in the middle. At some point youíll have to do something great, otherwise youíll be out in five weeks."
Sting7 - Vonzell was stunning tonight! Vocally, there were times when she sounded like Diana Ross, that sort of love-wounded ingťnue Diana sold so well. I would have liked to have heard a bit more vocal control out of her, but by and large, she did her job well. I have no real complaints.
Scott Savol, "Ainít Too Proud To Beg"
Randy - "Scott, youíre back baby, I enjoyed tonight, you were confident... mostly in tune, you were hot!"
Paula - "It looked like you were having a lot of fun up there."
Simon - "You surprised me tonight because I thought youíd have a problem, but you did good."
Sting7 - What I am learning about Scott Savol is he has quite an impressive arsenal of vocal weapons. He can do the soul man growl (which he did so nice tonight), he can toss you a falsetto, you can give you fast or slow. Iím so sick of the commentary on his looks, just listen to the man. He is for real. Very confident, commanding performance on a song that has swallowed up many neophytes.
Carrie Underwood, "When Will I Be Loved"
Randy - "I have high hopes for you, it just hasnít showed up for me lately, just a very okay performance." (Audience boos)
Paula - "Now is the time to take risks, this was not a risk at all, just very safe and boring." (Audience boos)
Simon - "This has never happened before, those two have been horrible and Iím about to be nice. There are three people in this competition who know who they are musically and you are one of them."
Sting7 - If you ask me, the Carrie Underwood who has been MIA the last three weeks is back! She looked great, she started a wee bit rough, but she pulled it together for three-quarters of the song, and nailed it. Adding the money note at the end was a bit cheesey, she could have maintained her key and been as effective, if not more, but I am encouraged that the fog Carrie has been in has lifted.
Nikko Smith, "I Want You Back"
Randy - "Welcome back man. Iím glad that youíre back, you brought some fun, some excitement."
Paula - "You did it, you did your own thing and thatís what itís all about."
Simon - "Nikko, forgive me but I thought you sounded horrible. I think Iím the only one in this audience who can obviously hear."
Sting7 - Nikko is back and attempting to tackle another legend. Sadly, Iím with Simon on this one. Marvin Gaye to Ray Charles to pre-pubescent Michael Jackson? Doing songs so utterly associated with legendary artists is just dangerous! Ray Charles bit him in the butt. As Nikko was singing, I kept hearing Michael Jackson singing in my head, and Nikko was just not winning the comparison. I like Nikko, but I wish I could get him to choose songs that he wins. The Ď60s, of all decades, are chock full of them! I am praying his American Idol return is more than a revolving door.
The ladies were especially beautiful tonight. Eyebrows freshly plucked. Mikalah was particularly stunning, considering she sometimes looked like Groucho Marx up there. I do find it ironic that the contestants with the most significant stage experience (Nadia, Bo, Constantine) flourished under the pressure of the new stage, the new band, the brighter lights and the bigger audience.
So, in a nerve-wracked week one, letís see how they shake out. I think the Top 12 should be ranked like this:
Hereís how I think the voting will go:
I see Nikko and Lindsey at the bottom. I think Nikkoís fan club will definitely rally for him, especially after they dropped the ball last week. Mikalah has started yapping again. It will show in her vote totals that she should just stop it. Randy gave her a critique, she called him "dawg" like she wasnít even listening. She made a play for the audience, ill-timed and awkward. Lindsey just looked outclassed out there. I think she will be gone.
Sting7 has been a respected published writer for 16 years, as a music editor, entertainment critic, columnist, and interviewer. He also has a curious love for pro-wrestling! You can email Stinger at email@example.com.
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