American Idol 4, March 29: Keeping It Real: The Sequelby Sting7 -- 03/30/2005
Ryan congratulates the contestants on making the Top Ten (which means they will be touring -- he didn't say that, I did!), and tells the crew they will be performing songs from the Ď90s. The contestants tell about pivotal moments in their lives in the Ď90s, but somehow, I still feel like the Ď90s are too recent to take any of that seriously, so letís get on with the singing, shall we?
Bo Bice, "Remedy"
Randy - "Iím glad to see youíre rocking again... Iíd love to see a rocker win this year... I think youíre on the right track."
Paula - "You know I adore you... you did an awesome job."
Simon - "I didnít like the song... I think the problem for me is when you do that kind of band, rock song, I hate to say this, itís something like what youíd see in a wedding!"
Sting7 - A Chris Robinson hat! Nice touch. It seems like a theme this season is song choice, and more specifically, the pitfalls of song choice. In the rock universe, there are few vocal styles as distinctive as The Black Crowes' Chris Robinsonís peculiarly perfect balance of rock, blues, and soul. Bo has some of one, a bit of the other, none of the rest. Not that itís a problem, but I kept hearing Robinson during the bandís dead-on rendition. Bad sign. Bo usually rises above the material. Tonight, he didnít. He was just okay for me.
Jessica Sierra, "On The Side of Angels"
Randy - "It probably wasnít my favorite song choice, but you sang it well... I still think you are one of the girls to beat. Good job, good job."
Paula - "Coming off of last week when you blew me away, this week didnít showcase what a vocalist you are."
Simon - "For some reason, you donít have the likeable factor other contestants do. (I do like her) but she has to try harder than the others... there are great Leann Rimes songs to choose from, that was not one of them. You need to do better than that."
Sting7 - Okay. Just okay. Iím with Simon here, but I wouldnít call it a likeability problem as much as she tends to blend in very easily. I mean, ask yourself, honestly, when you are suddenly awakened from the work haze and remember Idol is tonight, do you say, "Oh great! I get to hear Jessica!"? Jessica was okay tonight, but with the competition she is facing, really has to do much better, and I know she can... if she survives.
Anwar Robinson, "I Believe I Can Fly"
Randy - "Iím a Anwar fan, but Iím keeping it very real... what happens to a lot of great singers is their lower register comes off pitchy and it was pitchy Ė all of those notes didnít quite hit... thank God you have those big notes so you get the crowd... pay attention to the whole song."
Paula - "We have heard every rendition of "I Believe I Can Fly"... I have never heard such an incredible rendition... you made me love the song as if Iíve never heard it before."
Simon - "I think what Randy Jackson said was absolutely spot-on... you rescue yourself with the second half of the song, and I donít think it was anywhere near as good as you did, Paula."
Sting7 - I think Randy has pierced the proverbial veil on Anwar. He is right, Anwar does seem to have trouble with his lower register, especially these last two weeks. But, in the modern music business, many people have trouble with their lower registers and go on to sell millions of records. Britney Spears' lower register is a horror movie. However, Idol does judge on a much sharper curve than the average CD buyer. Another hit-or-miss performance for Anwar, and the fact that he sang a song I think most people are sick to death of hearing could mean trouble. He will get it together, if he survives!
Nadia Turner, "Iím The Only One"
Randy - "The thing I love about you, I know youíre not the greatest singer in this competition, but you are a great performer, Iím just keeping it real and you made something out of that song. I like that!"
Paula - "I would say miles better from last week, youíre back, Nadia, youíre back!"
Simon - "A thousand percent improvement from that horror we saw last week. I am slightly nervous about that song though. I thought the performance was great... I am a bit nervous that the audience might be left a bit cold because itís not a melodious song. I hope you pull it off."
Sting7 - Please join me in welcoming back The Professional! Nadia is clearly listening to the judges, and all the things we love about Nadia are back. The edge is back, the mastery of the stage, the emotional tactility of her singing. Interesting choice of song, she put her own stamp on it. Not the most memorable of the Nadia body of work, but itís back in the pocket.
Constantine Maroulis, "I Canít Make You Love Me"
Randy - "So dude, you know what, this is great for me... I think you were probably a cool kid went to school studied theatre, not really that much of a rock guy, this is your best vocal performance for me by a mile!"
Paula - "Constantine that was one of my favorite songs, it was so refreshing hearing a male version. This was your best vocal performance by far. Youíre creeping up into the favorites."
Simon - "I think you did better than Bo tonight... what you did wasnít the best vocal, but you were like a classic pop star because you appealed to your target audience and your target audience will love that!"
Sting7 - Whoa! Where did all that bel canto come from? I was in another room when Constantine started singing, and I swear to you, I thought he was Anthony for a moment! It is easily the best vocal performance of Constantineís Idol career! If he can string a few more of these together, he may just win this thing!
Nikko Smith, "Can We Talk?"
Randy - "I donít know what events happenedĖ I am so happy that you are back in this competition, you blew it out tonight man!"
Paula - "You make me feel so proud to sit where I am sitting... I am so glad you are in this competition... you had another consecutive great week!"
Simon - "I think you are a breath of fresh air, if Iím being realistic, itís quite a good imitation of the original. Itís still a compliment."
Sting7 - Nikko makes me laugh. Not because Iím making fun of him, but he just bleeds on the stage! Heís always on the brink of being over the top, but itís just so damn earnest! He trying his damndest to make the best out of what he has. Tonight, I believe, he pulled off his best vocal performance of his Idol campaign! Simon does not know the original (Tevin Campbell) version well-enough to know that Nikko definitely took vocal liberties with it. And, it worked!
Anthony Fedorov, "The Way You Look Tonight"
Randy - "Innocent Anthonyís grown up! It was alright, it was alright. (audience boos) It was alright!"
Paula - "I think you did a great job, good for you!"
Simon - "I want to be nice because I like you. I think in parts it was absolutely excruciating. The middle, the end and the beginning."
Sting7 - Wow! I do not know what Simon was listening to, but Anthony was far from excruciating! I think that this was Anthonyís best vocal performance to date! He corrected the breathing problems that plagued him before, took off the glasses, found some emotional depth Ė I do love the sound of straight-out, unriffed singing, and Anthony is the only male who gives us that. Personally, he sang it better than Elton John did, especially the ending -- finding power notes where there aren't any, smart. I don't think I'm offending Elton, who thinks his singing is quite average. Iím getting the feeling that some of my Weíll Be The Judge comrades arenít as enthusiastic about Anthony tonight as I was, but I think the kid did the job tonight.
Carrie Underwood, "Independence Day"
Randy - "Great, great, great, great, great, greatgreatgreat performance! The best vocal of the night!"
Paula - "I love when you sing country... it just feels so natural when you are singing those songs, you were wonderful tonight."
Simon - "I do get a hard time for being critical, but some of the performances tonight, I have seen across England, America... you have something different, that "it" factor and thatís what itís all about."
Sting7 - Itís a funny thing for me. I am not a fan of country music per se, but I love Nashville Star. I just donít want to see the American Idol become a country star. Maybe that is just my problem. Maybe I had better get used to the idea. Carrie had a surge of confidence that you could almost taste as she effortless tackled the finest female country vocalist of the last 20 years, Martina McBride. If anyone else is going to win this competition, they will have to stop Carrie.
Scott Savol, "One Last Cry"
Randy - "Very ambitious song... it was alright, it was a little pitchy starting in spots, but you did good."
Paula - "I didnít hear pitchy at all. I was closing my eyes, I was right there, swaying, I was vibing it. You got my heart."
Simon - "I used the karaoke reference before, we have to get real here, because whoever wins this competition actually goes into the real world, and if I was sitting in a karaoke bar, I would have switched the microphone off."
Sting7 - Oh Lord. Not "One More Cry" again. Why canít they ban this song? Scott, as Randy correctly noted, was sharp in places, flat in others, but he saved it toward the end. The problem is, he was really sharp and flat in the beginning. I mean, very noticeably. When the sonics just arenít there, the voting usually bears it out. Iím worried for Scott.
Vonzell Solomon, "I Have Nothing"
Randy - "This is a hot show tonight man. A little sharp in spots... but you were the bomb tonight, you keep getting better!"
Paula - "You were actually singing even higher than Whitney! America is falling in love with you. I think you outsang the girls tonight."
Simon - "I would have thought three weeks ago you attempting Whitney Houston would have been career suicide, but I think you pulled it off."
Sting7 - Sheís stunning tonight! Easily the most improved contestant, Vonzell was told a few weeks ago she would have to be great. She was excellent last week, she achieved great this week! Paula is right, she actually was singing in a higher key than Whitney numerous times throughout the performance. There was not a sharp key throughout, in fact, she showed more power than I thought she really had in her! "I Have Nothing" can be a very winning song, the kind of song that demands you vote for it, in the right hands. Who knew they would be Vonzellís?
All told, this was a great night of performances. No one laid an egg, but some were clearly better than others. Here is how I think the voting should go:
And, hereís how I think the voting will go:
Yep, Jessica will make her second visit to the bottom three, Anwar his first, and Scott his most fatal. Iíd love to be wrong about this.
This is the horror weíve been expecting. I really donít want to see anyone go. If I can be frank, Lindsey and Mikalah were certain for doom, though I thought Mikalah was going to linger into the top seven or so. I like this ten. This ten is full of people who are clearly competing. Many heartbreaks to come.
Tomorrow, weíll hold hands for the first one.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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