American Idol 2, April 15: You Have To Be A Big Shot, Don't You?by Sting7 -- 04/16/2003
The week after Rickey, the week after the double-scoop, is singer-songwriter Week! The great Billy Joel has stated for the record that his teenaged daughter, Alexa (as in 'Downeaster Alexa') is huge fan of American Idol and all but threatened a hunger strike if he didn't participate.
Who can argue with that?
However, Billy has other obligations, so his songs are featured, though he can not appear live. Smokey Robinson, certainly a legend in his own right, will be the in-house guest judge.
What's more important is that it has come to crunch time for the contestants. Now is the time they win this competition. They must step up. Can they?
Ryan Seacrest welcomes us to the show and intros the seven remaining contestants and judges. Then, he intros Smokey Robinson. Smokey, too, arrived with a video package, and anyone who doesn't know who Smokey is should be ashamed. We then see a package on Billy Joel and his songs. I, personally, can confess that "The Stranger" was the first album I ever bought with my own money!
On with the show!
Kimberly Caldwell, "It's Still Rock and Roll to Me"
Randy - "always look great... look like you belong up there... songwise, performance was okay... some pitch problem... all-in-all I liked it"
Paula - "you've been successful with rock edge... tonight was one of your best"
Simon - "we are sort of at halfway point... I expected better... that verged on a Six Flags (performance)"
Smokey - "terrific... love your personality... you have charisma"
Sting7 - I wasn't as thrilled. Like Simon, I just expect more from her. Paula had said she was complacent, now she was satisfied when Kimberly didn't give us anything more than she has always done. Good, not great. What will it take to make her dig down?
Ruben Studdard "Just the Way You Are"
Randy - "every time you show how it's done... you just got it going on!"
Paula - "every woman yearns to hear those words... they reflect how the world feels about you!"
Simon - "it was good... last few weeks you've seemed one-dimensional... a bit redundant"
Smokey - "there's a thing called 'it'... you've got it!
Sting7 - What seems to have been missed here is that Ruben did give us some extra textures to his voice. He wasn't Luther-smooth, it was a raspier "ain't to proud to beg" sort of sound, and it flattered him. In my mid-season report card, I said that Ruben was going to be challenged to show something different, and, predictably, by Simon. Curious thing, Simon usually issues that as a demand, this time, Simon was almost polite ("just for one week"), which says that he doesn't really want Ruben to stray too far. Interesting.
Kimberley Locke "New York State of Mind"
Randy - "knew you could show your personality... best I've ever seen you"
Paula - "your most professional performance... you nailed it"
Simon - "you took a risk, made the song your own... look great... sounded sensational"
Smokey - "it's a privilege to hear you all sing... you laid that song to rest!... as they say in my neighborhood, 'you can sang'!
Sting7 - This is the second time this season Kimberley made the hair on my arms stand up! An exceptional song choice for her, Kimberley flat-out knows what works for her. Just a sensational performance. On key, measured, gorgeous, professional, like Paula said, and her own, like Simon said. Why the hell is she always in the bottom three?
Carmen Rasmussen "And So It Goes"
Randy - "very pitchy... reminded me of a very average beauty pageant"
Paula - "didn't seem like you knew what to do with the performance"
Simon - "like going to a ghastly party and a child comes out to sing at the end... if I were the parent, I'd say shut-up!... terrible"
Smokey - "you were nervous, in my opinion... just relax, because you can do it"
Sting7 - Oy. There were so many things wrong that weren't Carmen's fault (she said she and her friends used to sing it all the time - I don't believe a bunch of teenagers are sitting around singing this heart-wrenching song for a minute!). The arrangement was completely wrong, the verses for her to sing were wrong and contextually confusing. "And So It Goes" is a complex song, of complex emotions. It is one of the songs that speak directly to Billy Joel's divorce from Christie Brinkley. It's in part whimsical, wistful, and mournful. You need the whole song for the impact to be complete, and those emotions are a little advanced for Carmen to try to interpret. Other than that, I wanted to shake her. Where is the tremolo? I noticed that sometimes she sounds like a vocoder, and I'm new wave enough to find that interesting. If only she knew how to use that uniqueness.
Joshua Gracin, "Piano Man"
Randy - "started rocky... nice upper register"
Paula - "class act... you are a gentleman... you did it justice" (what is she talking about?)
Simon - "trying not to be negative... not hearing a mesmerizing voice... just a nice-looking guy, in tune... so what?"
Smokey - "hard to sing a song that jumps an octave... you did it" (I think Smokey was reaching here)
Sting7 - Why didn't he sing "Goodnight Saigon"? Josh said he thinks folks thought he would sing "Shameless" because Garth Brooks did it. This is your Marine, America. Nice to see the war is on his mind. Okay, that's out of the way. Josh had me going 'yes' 'no' 'yes' 'no' throughout the whole song. He was sharp and flat in places, but that is his way. But, his conviction and passion more than compensate for those kinds of glitches. I was left lukewarm.
Trenyce "Baby Grand"
Randy - "it was alright... pitchy... oversung, pushed too hard in places"
Paula - "sultry, yet understated... good job"
Simon - "applaud you... didn't go through the motions... you did go off in places, but you took a chance and that's what we're looking for... good job"
Smokey - "you were great!"
Sting7 - Baby! (After the shower) I never thought "Baby Grand" would be a sexy song, but she flat out seduced me. She was trying very hard, and yes, I think she oversang a couple of verses, but like Simon said, she took a chance, did an interpretation, did her own version. After tonight though, Kimberley solidified her case for rightful number three. Trenyce did a nice job tonight, but it wasn't the knock-out that "Let's Stay Together" was, and I want that from her.
Clay Aiken, "Tell Her About It"
Randy - "good to see you switching up"
Paula - "you have a great voice... wish you would let loose and dance more!"
Simon - "I prefer you when my eyes are closed... the facial expressions are so theatrical!"
Smokey - "you do usually sing ballads... you proved you can sing anything! Terrific!"
Sting7- He changed his whole repertoire, his whole style, his whole delivery. Wow! I was a bit nervous with that ballady intro, but blang! Up-tempo just like that, and he never missed a step! I was as impressed with Clay tonight as I had been for weeks.
Tomorrow night, somebody will leave. Here's what I think should happen, based on tonight's performance:
1. Kimberley L.
6. Kimberly C.
But, that's with all things being equal and fair. I think Carmen and Kim C. deserve to be in the bottom two, and Josh because there has to be a third. We're at the hard part again folks, how long can Carmen hold on? Not much longer. Not past tomorrow.
Am I right? We shall see.
Sting7 can be reached at email@example.com.
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