Hey, it’s “Top Downloads” night on Idol. What the hell will this mean? Top downloads this week? This month? Year to date? Of all time? (I just did a quick perusal of the Top 100, and thank Zeus there were songs I’d actually heard before. And that were recorded before January of this year. And that don’t have a “featuring” in their credits. Because y’all know I hate the “featurings.”).
We’re 5 minutes in, and I still don’t have a clear expectation of what the hell the catalog is from which the Idolettes will be choosing. Kara thinks there was no “artistry” in that explanation, Ryan. I guess we’ll see. On with the show.
Anoop bats lead off with an Usher song. I’m not that familiar with the song, but there is some annoying percussion going on, like someone dropped a box of forks from a third story building into an industrial mixer. He sings it passably and moves around, but that didn’t show any vocal prowess to me. Meh. 5 He also gets pissy with the judges' feedback, which certainly won’t help.
Lady Caw Caw will be singing something from Bob Marley, so I’m still in the dark about the parameters of the theme. (based on two songs, could it be “Top Downloads from Part Owners of the Cleveland Cavaliers and Famous Rastafarians?” Maybe too soon to tell). Oh, wait, Lauryn Hill did a cover of it. Anyhoo, Megan Juggsalot realizes she stank up the joint last week, and is happy to be doing a song she loves. (Did Bob Marley, or Lauryn Hill, make any bird noises in their songs? Just askin’). As TNRLM readers know, I don’t start watching until we get to the Top 12 (or 13, this year). So for those of you who did watch all the prelims, other than being cute and quirky, how the hell did Megan get this far? Cause really. That didn’t make me want to join the Fugees. Or smoke a joint. Or would that have helped? I would call Megan’s performance a trainwreck, but that would do a disservice to trains. And wrecks. Rightfully, the judges KILL her. 1
Oh BOY. A movie with Beyonce AND Ali Larter? Wonder who Kate Winslet will be handing a statue to next year?
Danny will be doing a Rascal Flatts country song (as opposed to something from their gangster rap oeuvre). He turns down the Taylor Hicks dancing, and delivers a very restrained performance; very heartfelt and moving and on key. The song isn’t particularly in my “must have” zone, but that was well done. 8
Allison will bring us No Doubt’s “Don’t Speak,” one of my favorite songs. She looks like a demented bargain basement ballerina, who has had a wet, painted balloon rubbed on her head too much. It’s not an arrangement that fits the song particularly well, but she certainly shows some passion for the tune, and has that great raspy quality to her vocal. She’s a little too quick with some of the lyrics, and needs to watch her tendency to power shout through the majority of the song. Overall, not bad, though, as long as I’m not looking at what she’s wearing. 6
Scott will be doing what should be a do or die song for him, and he chooses one that might showcase him at his best, Billy Joel’s “Just The Way You Are.” (And as for the theme? Is it getting to be just “Any Song, Ever Downloaded, On Any Computer, Anywhere?”) Despite someone giving him Greg Brady hair, I think this is my favorite performance of his (I know, probably not saying a great deal). That was definitely his best and most authentic vocal, though strangely, I thought his piano playing was a little out of sorts. If he can operate in this niche of whiskey tinged, earnest piano man, he might hang around. 7
Now we have Matt, doing a song for “him,” which is something by The Fray. Wasn’t this a promo for Lost at some point? Which only serves to make me think I’d rather be watching Lost right now, or even working out time travel mechanics on a whiteboard, than listening to this. He hits some of the falsetto notes well, but the whole thing is rather sloppy and all over the place. 4
Here comes Lil, who complains about the judges’ criticism of her previous song choices. So naturally, she picks Celine Dion. Which shouldn’t conflict at all with her tendency toward shouty bombast, should it? Sigh. What’s up the usually on point band tonight? They’re awful here, as they’ve been for most of the evening. There’s no doubt Lil has some serious pipes, but I feel like I should be heading down to the Lido Deck for the Captain’s Buffet. Let’s go play shuffleboard! Oh Christ, Ryan is interviewing her kids, reminding me again that this season should have been performed in an orphanage. Or at least added Trojan to the list of sponsors with Coke and Ford. Yoiks. 5
What kind of world are we living in, where the contestants get to choose from basically any song ever written, and SCOTT is one of the best performers so far? Maybe it is better when there’s a tight theme.
Next is Adam, who was the showstopper last week. Okay, with all the songs in the world, Adam is going with white boy frat party anthem “Play that Funky Music?” Holy shit, he does it again. He chooses an interesting and unexpected arrangement, adds some personality, and basically blows the roof off the auditorium. His vocals at every step of the spectrum are outstanding. Damn, I think he’s making me a fan. 9
Praise be, Fringe is finally coming back next week.
Finally, we have Kris in the pimp spot. He’ll be doing one of my absolute favorite songs, Bill Withers “Ain’t No Sunshine” (which of course, there isn’t). This is a really good choice for him, and he does a great job with it. For probably the first time, I’ve felt something for him, and don’t see him as a low rent coffee house crooner. Hard to take a song so indelibly performed by the original artist and perform it with authenticity and confidence, but he did it. 8.5
TNRLM Top 3: Adam, Kris, Danny
TNRLM Bottom 3: Goodbye Megan, Matt, Anoop