American Idol 2, April 29: Two-for-Tuesday with Neil Sedakaby David Bloomberg -- 04/30/2003
We're down to the final five. I don't know about you, but I can hardly believe it.
Anyway, Ryan Seacrest introduces the singers, the judges (complete with cricket sound effect and a silent audience when he introduces Simon), and then the guest judge, Neil Sedaka! The final five will sing two songs tonight - one from the '60s and one written by Sedaka.
After a brief look at Sedaka's career, we shoot right into the performances.
Ruben Studdard, "Ain't Too Proud to Beg"
It's nice to hear Ruben sing something other than a ballad! And damn, he can sing anything - plus he does a little moving around the stage, which is nice to see. Amusingly, as soon as the song is over, he gets this really nervous look (I mentioned it last week during the Results Show). So what do the judges say?
Randy: You sound like a winner every time you get up there.
Neil: You are a hit-maker.
Paula: You are so cool and you showed some moves - you shook what your mama gave you!
Simon: I give the song a 9, the outfit a 2. Now I know why there is a cow shortage in California.
Trenyce, "Proud Mary"
I am distracted early in the song by a backup bass singer whose voice is set way too loud. I don't dig the hairdo at all. But she goes into a whole Tina Turner thing and it turns out quite good.
Randy: You brought it, you did your thing.
Neil: Positive and uplifting, and if you find your own style they will say, "That's Trenyce." (Huh?)
Paula: Wow. You look amazing. I love the bangs. To pull off a song by such a unique icon like Tina Turner, you did it.
Simon: I thought it reminded me a bit like a drag act. Dunno why, but it did. But you made the effort.
Randy and Ryan make various comments about how Simon would know what a drag act looks like.
Joshua Gracin, "Then You Can Tell Me Goodbye"
The country accent is back again! The performance, however, is boring. Dull. Exceedingly.
Randy: Good choice of song, your version was just okay. Pitchy in spots.
Neil: Good choice, there is a shy quality about you. The more you sing the better you get.
Paula: Beautiful song, but if I have a criticism, you weren't free enough.
Simon: You really have a problem in this competition. It's lucky you're singing two songs tonight, you have one more to save yourself because that was dreary.
Ryan asks Joshua about it and Josh says Simon doesn't like country, that's his thing. Ryan says we don't know what he does like. Pause. Josh: "Drag queens?" Ryan: "I didn't say it!" No, Ryan, you didn't. Joshua did. And Joshua can be voted off tonight.
Kimberley Locke, "I Heard It Through the Grapevine" (Gladys Knight version)
She's grooving and showing that she is comfortable on the stage. Definitely getting into it. A very good performance and, indeed, this is one reason I said in my review of the new AI2 love songs CD that I wish they'd waited to put out the CD - because some of the singers have gotten much better since the tracks were recorded.
Randy: Good. About all I can say. (Audience boos.)
Neil: You are ear-delicious. Blues licks are terrific. You're wonderful!
Paula: Groove-oriented, cool. You look sexy tonight.
Simon: Very disappointing, I agree with Randy. I can hear that in any church across America. It wasn't your best.
Clay Aiken, "Build Me Up Buttercup"
Like Ruben, Clay moves away from the ballad with this very up-tempo song. He moves around the stage nicely and shows once again that he can sing anything. Very good!
Randy: You tried to change your thing up. Great job.
Neil: You sing like Andre Agassi plays tennis. I would kill to write and produce your first CD!
Simon: You made the effort, you entertained. But what is the song about? I've always wondered.
OK, after the first round of performances, I'm having a hell of a time ranking 'em. I've bounced around several times. I think I'm going to go with:
Now it's time for the second round, in which they will all sing Neil Sedaka songs.
Ruben, "Breaking Up Is Hard to Do"
Ruben is back to the ballad again, the Ruben we all know and love. However, I just am not into the whole silky smooth ballad thing right now. I may have been listening to the AI2 love songs CD too much today. Neil, however, looks like he's in heaven as Ruben is singing.
Randy: You sang that like a true professional veteran. In my eyes, you've already won.
Neil: Thank you for doing me proud. Terrific.
Paula: Stellar performance. You did it again.
Simon: The funny thing is when you're smiling you're really happy. When you stand there you look so serious (the same thing I just mentioned earlier in the article!). Absolutely sensational.
Trenyce, "Love Will Keep Us Together"
Wow! This is an impressive performance by Trenyce. She holds her notes well and powers through the song.
Randy: Y'all are really coming up with some stuff tonight. Y'all are really trying to win. Fantastic.
Neil: I wrote it in 1976, you made it today.
Paula: Classic melody. Brilliant night for you. I'm so proud of you.
Simon: It was… fabulous.
After commercial, we find Ryan talking to Hayley from Mr. Personality, in the audience. He asks her if it's difficult to make out with guys in the masks. She says it's wonderful and he should try it. Twice he blows the name of the show, calling it "Miss Personality."
Joshua Gracin, "Bad Blood"
Ugh. It's not very good at all. And Joshua seriously needs to enunciate. A couple times I couldn't tell if he blew the words or just wasn't saying them clearly enough to actually understand.
Randy: Wow. Definitely different from your last performance. A lot better.
Neil: You're a feel good singer. You made my song your own. I'd like to see you relax a little bit more.
Paula: This is the performance we've been waiting for. You were yourself. You had fun.
Simon: This is not personal, but the bar has been raised. Paula doesn't know what she is talking about. These performances are not good enough to stay in the competition.
At this point Paula just says, "Whatever." Um. OK. Paula, do you really think these performances are good enough to get him to stay in the competition? If so, who, exactly, do you think he should beat? This is what I really hate about her (and sometimes Randy's) little outbursts. She always wants to say something good, but the fact is that somebody is going to get the boot!
One again, Ryan talks to Joshua, noting it was kind of a tough night. Josh replies that Simon is just lucky "I got Marine Corps restraints on me." Oh please. Now he's threatening Simon? Joshua comes off as vindictive and not terribly witty (the drag queen line earlier was much better). I figure Josh must know his days are numbered - numbered at "one," actually - and so he figures he has nothing to lose by slamming Simon. So he might as well try to get the anti-Simon vote and hope for the best. Plus, it didn't hurt that he reminded everybody yet again that he's a Marine.
Kimberley Locke, "Where the Boys Are"
A very good performance, but again, I just don't find myself getting into it.
Randy: That was hot!
Paula: So versatile. Brilliant.
Simon: Thank you for proving my point. You've gone beyond the bar.
Before the final performance, Ryan goes into the Red Room with the four who have performed already. We find out that Trencye does a shot of olive oil before each performance to keep her vocal cords moist.
Clay Aiken, "Solitaire"
We come back to the studio in the dark - no stage lights or audience lights except the ones that focus directly on Clay in the center of the stage. He takes the song and just sings the hell out of it.
Randy: I'm loving this part of the competition. You did your thing. I'm so impressed.
Neil: I have lost my song forever to you.
Paula: One of the most vulnerable performances ever. You are the pop singer and you just are.
Simon: Congratulations to Neil on the song. Clay, you are one of the few people I've met who can take criticism like a grownup. You learn, you got rid of some of those annoying facial expressions. You gave a grown-up, fantastic performance.
After those songs, I would rank them:
So, if I combine the two performances, it is obvious that Clay is #1, Ruben is #2, and Joshua is #5. I have to give Trenyce the #3 slot because I think her two performances combined were better than those of Kimberley, which puts Kim at #4.
I'm guessing they will not do a bottom three this week, but just a bottom two. However, since Wednesday night's Results Show is a full hour, starting at 8/7 Central, who knows what they are going to do to fill up the time! In any event, I predict that Kimberley and Joshua will be the bottom two. I further predict (and really, really hope) that Joshua is finally voted out. Because then we can tell him goodbye.
David Bloomberg is the Editor of RealityNewsOnline and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Be sure to sign up for our e-mail update so you can stay informed about new articles on the site! And take a look at the rest of the site. You can find all of our recent AI2 articles at the American Idol 2 page -- and don't forget to check out The Foxes On Idol Website for more great coverage!
For more news about reality TV, be sure to check out SirLinksALot!