American Idol 4, March 22: Number 11 Ė Straight To Heavenby Sting7 -- 03/23/2005
Ryan welcomes us. We quickly learn that this weekís theme will be "Billboard Number One Hits." Specifically, Fred Bronson from Billboard Magazine says the kids will be able to choose among the 938 number one songs in Billboardís history.
The kids are appropriately excited. Intro the judges, and on with the show!
Anthony Fedorov, "I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me)"
Randy - "That song is near and dear to my heart... good choice, and good job... Anthonyís back tonight!"
Paula - "Iím so proud you came back, you came back strong... you did George and Aretha proud, way to go!"
Simon - "It was an okay performance... (boos) the only problem I have is you trying to do a kind of sexy routine (Paula asks the girls if Anthony is sexy. They seem to think so)... itís like Randy Jackson trying to do Baywatch!" (Randy challenges Simon to take his shirt off!)
Sting7 - Choosing a George Michael song was pretty smart for Anthony, because they have similar tones and phrasing. And it was definitely not a song Clay Aiken would have chosen. I mention that because Anthony needs to separate himself from that comparison as much as he can. That said, I am falling between judges here. Anthony did a better than average job, but it was not a great job.
Carrie Underwood, "Alone"
Randy - "Wow, man, wow... I think this was one of your best performances tonight, man, wow! Carrie has finally come alive! I like the hair too, man!"
Paula - "I had the honor of working with Ann and Nancy Wilson of Heart on this video... talk about taking risks, this is what Iím talking about. To take on Ann Wilson, brilliantly, my hat is off to you. Bravo!"
Simon - "You are not just the girl to beat, you are the person to beat. I not only predict you will win, but you will sell more records than any other winner weíve had on this show."
Sting7 - Whoa! Hey, Simon, take it easy, will ya? Hereís a napkin. Carrieís stock was falling faster than Paris Hiltonís skirt in a Hollywood nightclub. Here comes the rebound! Nadia, donít put on that tiara just yet! I donít even know how to tell you what an enormous risk it is to take on Ann Wilson. The amount of vocal control you need for this song is unfathomable, and Carrie nailed every galldang note! That for me was the performance of the season. Oh, and the high Ď80s hair? She rocked that too!
Scott Savol, "Against All Odds"
Randy - "Yo, dawg, you worked it out tonight! Threw off the hat, the glasses! You had it on and popping up there!"
Paula - "I feel like youíre getting better, week after week. I donít know, I think youíre in it to win it too!"
Simon - "Thank God it was only a minute song, weíd have a full striptease after three minutes! If Iím being honest, I donít think that was a fantastic vocal. (Randy and Paula disagree.)"
Sting7 - Scott chose a familiar song for this show, but chose the less familiar, angst-ridden part where Phil is fairly shrieking, and Scott was amazing with it! Simon is right in that it was not the part to show off your fancy vocal range, but Scott definitely was singing it from an emotional place that only he knows. Grandma says, "nothing rings like the truth," and Scott was ringing loud and proud. Loved this performance, it may be my favorite of his.
Bo Bice, "Time In A Bottle"
Randy - "It was a very subdued thing from you, you didnít show your range, but I still believe in you, man... it was a very sensitive kind of performance from you."
Paula - "I think that your fans will believe me when I say that you are a gift to the sixty million people who watch every week."
Simon - "The best compliment I can give you is when I see you perform in this competition, I donít think of you as someone in a competition, if that makes sense. When I see you, you like someone who has already made it. My only downside (Paula kisses Simonís cheek), and itís a bad downside, is that hairdo is the same as Paulaís!"
Sting7 - Hmmm. This was not my favorite Bo moment, but one I understand. Bo wants to show he can do more than growl the rock growl. At some point, he would have to do this. Now is a good time, his momentum is still going, he must know he has a fan base that will support a lusty belch from him, show some versatility now. Good for him. Didnít love the performance, but I definitely support the strategy. Smart.
Nikko Smith, "Incomplete"
Randy - "What Iím trippiní on is finally, finally, America is seeing the real Nikko Smith. You got Ė Paulaís got goosebumps man!"
Paula - "That was brilliant, that was the best youíve ever sang. Whatever youíre doing Ė keep choosing songs that show off your beautiful, beautiful voice."
Simon - "Give or take a few singing problems, it was your best performance so far." (Paula leaps into Simonís lap and assaults him with him kisses. What is wrong with her tonight??)
Sting7 - Wow. Where did that come from? Another risk, taking on Sisqo? Sisqo has the singing voice of a 45-year-old man, and while Nikko didnít quite match that, he sang it true. Like Scott, he plucked an emotional nugget and rode it all the way through. Nikko goes for it! Heís slowly turned me into a fan. Heís not the best singer in the competition, but there is definitely an honesty and charm about him.
Vonzell Solomon, "The Best of My Love"
Randy - "Yo, itís like everybody showed up tonight! All the Idol stars are out, in it to win it, that was great, man. You finally came out, man, Vonzellís back!"
Paula - "Your personality came out tonight, but most important your vocals came out tonight, you took a risk! And if Simon Cowell doesnít recognize what you did tonight, then I give up. Who cares anyway? You did it!"
Simon - "Vonzell, donít take this the wrong way, but for the first time in this competition, people are going to remember you. That was brilliant."
Sting7 - Something is in the air tonight! Vonzell chose a song I personally love, and she uncorked that bottled up power and gave us a helping of what she can do. I still think there is more in that bottle that she has to learn how to trust, but more than anything else, I feel proud of the kid. Good job!
Constantine Maroulis, "I Think I Love You"
Randy - "That was a very interesting song choice, but you pulled it off, in a very kind of, for me, over the top, theatrical kind of way, but it was alright."
Paula - "I think of all the Idols, you have the best sense of showmanship, and itís because youíre used to being on the stage. I think youíre an excellent entertainer, and you did the song justice, and I think you have an amazing girl fan base that idolizes you."
Simon - "I thought it was an odd fit. The rocker doing the Partridge Family. It is like ordering a guard dog for your home and delivering a poodle in a leather jacket. Itís not the real thing."
Sting7 - Here comes Simon and the rocker thing again. I was wondering when it was going to rear up. Personally, this has been my favorite Constantine performance. You all know I am not a fan of his, but giving credit where it is due, his voice does have a hint of David Cassidy that made it sonically pleasing, and Constantine is the showman of the group. Note to Constantine: a number of people have redone this song. Know the industry, please.
Nadia Turner, "Time After Time"
Randy - "You definitely are a star, I love that whole mohawk thing, you are definitely a star all the time."
Paula - "It wasnít my favorite choice of song, but you still rocked it. You are still a star to me Nadia."
Simon - "I thought it was over the top, and it reminded me of a cruise ship, when someone comes out to do a cabaret, they come out in a different outfit for every song. And it was old-fashioned Ė I thought it was your weakest performance by - a - mile so far. Sorry."
Sting7 - "Always with spircles?" No, sweetie, thatís, "caught up in circle." Not a great night for The Professional. With the rocked up cum reggae musical interpretation, and Nadiaís inability to bring it vocally tonight, Iíd have to side with Simon. Definitely her weakest so far, but sheís been Barry Bonds so far, too! On some other Idols, this would have been a pretty good performance. No worries, Nadia will be fine. Sheís even beautiful with a mohawk!
Mikalah Gordon, "Love Will Lead You Back"
Randy - "I miss the young fun energetic Mikalah. This kind of older, more subdued... the performance was kinda pitchy, you came on to it in the end, whereís that young energetic girl from Vegas dude?"
Paula - "Early on, when I first met you I said your voice reminds me of Taylor Dayne, and it did. Iím a little concerned that you are going to get caught up in not having a unique sound. But, I still love ya, Mikalah, and Iím still rooting for you."
Simon - "Let me say what Paula was trying to say. It was a complete and utter mess. (Paula says she did not say that.)"
Sting7 - Mikalah really needed to hit one over the wall this week. But she popped feebly to second base. Itís tough, because sheís clearly trying hard. Taylor Dayne was a good choice her, the song was a good choice, it gave her time to enunciate and let her slow undulating vibratto out, but somehow, someway, it just isnít working. I heard two distinct cracks in her voice, like she had a cold or something. And, whatís worse, after the critiques, her body language said sheís already defeated.
Anwar Robinson, "Ainít Nobody"
Randy - "Another ambitious song choice by one of the most stylized legendary phenoms... you brought it home in the end because you always got that big note, but it was alright for me.
Paula - "Iím really proud of you for taking on a female sensation like Chaka Khan and rising to the occasion, I think you did an incredible job."
Simon - "Itís a risky thing to do, you take on a song like that (Paula says he did it differently. Give her a pill!) Ė I thought it was inconsistent, your version, it was lazy in the beginning, you somewhat saved it with that one note, but I think you need something up-tempo, I donít think it was that good."
Sting7 - Uh-oh. LaToya London retired this song last season. Poor Anwar seemed like he was straining to be heard over the band. Again, Iím with Simon, that one note kind of tied it together, but overall not that good. Anwar is in the tough spot of trying to show some versatility, when I think he is used to singing the almost-standards that he can put his own fingerprint on. In his quiet moments, I do not know that he sings up-tempo songs! Can he pull it off?
Jessica Sierra, "Total Eclipse of the Heart"
Randy - "Iím really happy tonight. Welcome back, Jessica Sierra!"
Paula - "That was a brilliant performance. I think you closed the show right on top, and Iím very proud of you. Good job."
Simon - "Jessica, a lot of people said the girls are going to be also-rans in the competition. You and Carrie outsang everyone in the competition tonight."
Sting7 - The judges certainly seem pleased with Jessica, but I know I was hearing Bonnie Tyler in my head and I was missing the rasp that gave this song such an edge. Jessica sang it clean and pretty and pure. Is it a vote-winning performance? I am just not sure.
I guess Iíd better decide right now, eh?
Hereís how I think the votes should go:
And hereís how I think the votes will go:
My bottom three are Jessica, Anthony, and Mikalah. I think spunky Mikalah, who has tried to morph into gracious Mikalah, but is just empty Mikalah somehow, will be the exiting Mikalah. I think her voice is interesting, but I think she has made some bad choices throughout the show. When she grows into her unusual instrument and grows a bit more confident, she could be huge. Her voice was made for the stage and singing standards Ė she is not likely to ignite the Britney generation, but itís not about that. Josh Groban is making a nice living without being anywhere near MTV, isnít he?
Letís meet here tomorrow and see whoís next to wave goodbye.
Sting7 has been a respected published writer for many 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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