American Idol 2, May 6: Pulling Out All the Stops!by David Bloomberg -- 05/07/2003
It's the final four! And we have Ruben, Kimberley, Clay, and Nikki - er, Josh!
As the show begins, a number of audience members have what appear to be thundersticks - the inflatable tubes you bang together to create noise, usually reserved for sporting events. Some look like they say "Ruben" on them, though I can't tell if all of them are printed. I know the guy in the U.S. who makes thundersticks here in the U.S., so I'll have to see if I can find out if they're the real deal or imitations.
Enough about that, though. Ryan Seacrest comes out to start the show. He reminds us (as if we needed reminding) that last week we lost Trenyce. The audience boos. And Ruben was in the bottom two. The audience boos louder. It's very serious, he says. So at the end of the show, he encourages people to get off the couch and vote. Sitting there and saying, "Yeah, that was nice" doesn't do anybody any good. Thankfully, he doesn't say, "Vote for your favorite." Do you think maybe he learned a lesson? Nah, me neither.
Before he introduces the judges, he says they are predicting more drama tonight and the singers are really feeling the pressure. More drama? What, are we going to find out that Kimberley is having Clay's love child or something? And how do you predict drama on a live show? Or am I just way overanalyzing every stupid comment Ryan makes?
The songs tonight are courtesy of the BeeGees, and Robin Gibb is there to guest judge. We are treated to a history of the brothers Gibb and find out that they wrote a lot more songs than just the ones they performed themselves. Before Robin takes his seat at the judges' table, Ryan asks if he can be honest. Robin claims he can be. Yeah, we've heard that from guest judges before. OK, enough of this, let's get to the singing!
Joshua Gracin, "Jive Talkin'"
I've never heard country disco before. I'll be fine if I never hear it again. That said, the song doesn't seem to require much in the way of range the way Josh performs it, so he does a decent job. He shouts a bit at time, and he runs around through the audience through most of the song, which I think involves them more and distracts them from the fact that he's not doing a great job. Still, better than some of his recent performances.
Randy: Like you doing this song… did your thing… might be back tonight.
Robin: Love this version of the song because I love the country feel to it.
Paula: Your warmth comes through… your fans never feel gypped… awesome.
Simon: You're not going to beat me up, are you? (Referring to Josh's not-so-veiled threat from last week.) Better than last week… lucky you're doing two songs… shouted it a bit… not bad.
Clay Aiken, "To Love Somebody"
Now this is a singer. He puts Josh to shame. Clay belts the song when it needs belting, softens when it needs softening. It's simply awesome.
Randy: I gotta give you props… really trying to win… brilliant.
Robin: Fantastic version… the way the song should be sung.
Paula: The last two weeks have been my favorite Clay moments… matured as a performer… caught up with your beautiful voice.
Simon: This is the third show I've done, starting with Pop Idol, and that's probably one of the best performances I've ever heard.
Ryan makes fun of Simon for calling the show Pop Idol, which Simon didn't actually do, and Simon points out that the show started in England - with better hosts! Heh.
Kimberley Locke, "I Just Want to Be Your Everything"
It's not Kim's fault, but the background vocals seem to be drowning her out completely. I can barely hear her voice when they are on at the same time. Ugh. Producers, come on! Therefore, it's hard to determine how well she is doing on the high notes. However, what I can hear sounds great.
Randy: Turning up the game… great.
Robin: The way to sing the song… never heard it sung by a girl before… great.
Paula: Classy gal… beautiful… can't say enough.
Simon: Didn't do it for me… sweet and ordinary… nothing special… not as good as before.
Before Ruben goes on, we find out that yes, audience members do have Thundersticks and yes, they do say "Ruben" on them. OK, that's settled. I feel better, don't you?
Ruben Studdard, "Nights on Broadway"
Again the background vocals are too loud. But what I can hear of Ruben sounds great. He again shows that he can sing anything, anytime, anywhere.
Randy: So proud of you… do your thing week in and week out… sing like a true professional.
Robin: Loved it.
Paula: You rock… you make everyone feel so good.
Simon: After what happened last week - which was crazy - if you weren't in the competition, it wouldn't be the same.
OK, here are my rankings after the first song:
Hey, look, it's a plug! Ryan says all of the audience members can find a copy of the American Idol 2 love songs CD under their seats. (If you haven't already, check out my review.)
Now it's time for the second songs. Ryan says that even with all of the songs the BeeGees have done, believe it or not, Clay and Josh chose the same one. I'm thinking, "Josh is soooooo dead.
Joshua Gracin, "To Love Somebody"
Frankly, if Ryan hadn't said anything, I wouldn't have realized they were the same song! Once again, Josh has countrified it and come up with a much different version than Clay's. Clay' is better, mind you, but Josh's is not bad. In fact, I'd rate it as one of his better performances.
Randy: I gotta give you props (he's giving out a lot of props today)… best we've ever heard from you.
Robin: Absolutely great… country feel was superb… great voice.
Paula: It is so your night… great quality.
Simon: This was risky - but you pulled it off!
Ryan asks Joshua if he feels better about his relationship with Simon now that Simon has said some good things. Josh says he's always liked Simon. He doesn't always agree with him but he's a good man. Yeah, 'cus people frequently threaten to beat up people they like…
Clay Aiken, "Grease"
Clay does an interesting version of this song and has a ton of fun with it. He can sing anything. Yeah, I know, I've said that before, and also about Ruben, but hey, it's true. And if Randy can give out props to everybody, I can repeat myself too. Anyway, Clay has some good stage moves to go along with his performance as well.
Randy: I'm sitting here laughing… having a good time… I like the moves, baby.
Robin: I love your voice… love your interpretation.
Paula: You know I'm proud of you (because he danced)… you shook your thang… having fun… it's a blast.
Simon: HORRIBLE! Sorry, everything about that was horrible (the audience boos). You had a great performance and it's all thrown away. (He says all of this with a bit of a smile…)
Ryan asks Clay what he'd like to say back to Simon - after all, he was just having fun, not taking it too seriously. Clay jokes that he doesn't take Simon too seriously. Ryan makes Clay do another hip swing like he did during the song.
Kimberley Locke, "Emotions"
You can tell with this song that Kim is going for the win. She puts her heart and voice into it all the way. Not quite as good as we've seen her before, but close.
Randy: That's a great song… you did a great version of it.
Robin: I agree… wonderful voice… love your range.
Paula: Great hearing all the colors and harmonies… you owned that song.
Simon: Sort of agree… good… don't think it was your best night, still.
Ryan asks Kim about the intensity of the competition and she agrees that things have been tense. Then Ryan lapses back to his usual comment about remembering to vote for your favorite. Ugh.
Ruben Studdard, "How Can You Mend a Broken Heart"
Great, as always. But I just don't find it as exciting/fun/whatever as Clay.
Randy: You keep bringing it every night… brilliant performance.
Robin: One of the best versions I've heard… fantastic.
Paula: What a night… you make everyone feel warm and fuzzy.
Simon: What you proved tonight was consistency… both songs were sensational.
Ryan asks Ruben what he thinks about as the judges talk to him. Ruben responds that he's just paying attention because his mama told him to pay attention when people talk to him. Good answer!
With a few more minutes to kill, Ryan and the final four are in the red room. He asks some questions, the most interesting of which is if Josh was nervous. He says no, he just wanted to be himself and perform for the fans because they're what it's all about. I do think Josh had more fun tonight than in past shows, and I think that's because he expects it to be his last. Then again, he probably thought that last time, too.
Ryan leaves us on a bad note, once again telling viewers to make sure they keep their favorites in the competition. No, NO, NO! Make sure you keep the best in the competition, whether they are your favorites or not! Will he never learn?
So, what do I think of the second set of performances? This may surprise some people, who will likely put Ruben ahead of Clay, but I still liked Clay's performance more. So it looks rather similar:
Which means overall, that's my same list. So if the votes go according to performances, Joshua and Kimberley will be in the bottom two, and Joshua will go home. Frankly, for a change I do expect it to go according to that. The fans of Kimberley, Clay, and Ruben are on high alert. They won't let what happened last week happen again. Bank on it.
David Bloomberg is the Editor of RealityNewsOnline and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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