Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Idol Top 10: Surprisingly Old School

Here we are with R&B music night on American Idol. In addition to the increasingly flat competition headlined by Crystal, Siobahn (…and the rest), the theme doesn’t exactly fill me with excitement. I think I lost interest in R&B when James Brown got in a drunken car wreck for the 12th time. I’m kidding, kinda, as I do recall the 80s and 90s era of the Quincy Joneses and Anita Bakers and the like, but when every R&B song started to have a “featuring” credit, or tell a multi-part story about a closet, I just wasn’t as interested as I once was.

I wonder if I’ll know any of these songs, since most of the contestants were born after the era(s) I mentioned above?

How on earth are we spending two fucking hours with this show now that we’re in the top 10, when they each perform only one song? Didn’t they use to cram this into one hour, or at least an hour and a half up until the last couple of years? So much filler, and so incompetently directed and produced. Usher is the guest mentor tonight. I think I might recognize a few of his tunes. Has he been involved in 27 sex scandals, or is he a relatively good guy? He’s shown in clips wearing a Braves hat (your 2010 National League East Champs!), so I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt.

Fuck, Seacrest’s hair annoys me. I hate that “gel it up in front” look. I hated it on Angel, one of my favorite shows of all time. Quoth William the Bloody:
Spike: [as Angel] No, helping those in need's my job, and workin' up a load of sexual tension and prancing away like a magnificent poof is truly thanks enough.
Spike: [as Rachel] I understand. I have a nephew who's gay, so...
Spike: [as Angel] Say no more. Evil's still afoot. And I'm almost out of that nancy-boy hair-gel I like so much. Quickly, to the Angel-mobile, away.
Wow. Someone’s cranky tonight. Okay, here we go.

“Through The Fire”
Speaking of hair, I love her big glasses and loose, tousled hair in the interview packages. Why does she have to pile it up every week so it looks like those ribs they put on the side of Fred’s car during the opening of The Flintstones? The first part of her performance was unusually restrained, if off key in a couple of places. Then she gets to hit her big screamy notes in the middle, which were powerful. She finished better than she started, but I’m not sure that was a song or style particularly suited for her. 6

Quick aside: Is it just me, or is Kara giving particularly cogent and spot on criticism this year?

“Hold On, I’m Coming”
Hey, a song I love! And a great choice for Casey, that should suit his scratchy, bar band sound. Well, that was a fantastic marriage of contestant and material. He smoked that one, and gave what was one of my favorite performances of the year. I agree with Simon here, and that was a home run. 8

“Ready for Love”
When I heard the title, a part of me was hoping it was the Bad Company song. (Speaking of which, why don’t more artists choose one of their songs? Paul Rogers has one of the best voices ever, and their songs are known, but not played to death. Wouldn’t it be cool to hear someone bust out “Bad Company” or “Silver, Blue and Gold?”) Despite the fact that Mike didn’t take me back to the 70s, this was a soulful and powerful performance. R&B balladry is right in his wheelhouse, and he delivered. 8

“What Becomes of the Broken Hearted”
Thus far, I’ve seemed to like DiDi more than a lot of folks. Some have compared her to Brooke or the wacky “caw, caw” girl, but for some reason, DiDi’s quirky style has set itself apart for me. I think her performances feel more at home in the earthy, singer-songwriter or rat-packish torch song vein, but she didn’t do too bad with this one. She wasn’t bad, per se, but there wasn’t a vocal connection to a song she seemed emotional about performing. 6

I don’t know if it’s just the power of Bradley Whitford’s mustache, or the judicious use of “Slow Ride,” but I think I might tune in to The Good Guys.

“Sweet Love”
Holy shit. I wrote my opening graff before the show started, and I didn’t really think anyone would actually perform Anita Baker. Too bad it’s gonna be the fucking living emo wig, Tim. Sigh. If vanilla extract could sing, it would have probably sounded like that. Randy says “singing waiter.” I think I agree with the Dawg, dude. That was pretty awful. All the judges, in fact, echo my sentiments. 2

Damn, I can’t wait until we get a new Fringe on Thursday.

Is this that song from the crazy youtube wedding videos? I appreciate taking a chance with the song, and giving it a different arrangement and spin, but that was not very compelling. His voice got in one place, with one energy, and never really left it, and it flattened out the song. The judges love it. Snoozy for me. And we’re wasting time so his mommy can chastise Simon? Kill me now. 4

“Chain of Fools”
I’m happy with another “classic” song choice. Katie looked great, and hit most of the notes, but she didn’t quite have the edge in her voice this one needed. Still, she acquitted herself well for a BIG song by a BIG singer, even if it was a little, mature for her. 6

“Treat Her Like a Lady”
Wow. Another respectable song choice. And Wow, a great performance. He gave this R&B classic a palpable, granular intensity that really suited his voice. Just different enough to make it his own, just recognizable to connect, and hands down the best of the night so far. Lee Was On Fi-Yah. 9

I’m having a hard time with these Knight and Day commercials. Cruise and Diaz grate beyond belief, but I gotta say, this flick looks like it might be pretty damned entertaining.

“Midnight Train to Georgia”
ANOTHER classic choice. And a song about The Motherland. And a GREAT song, to boot. Crystal puts down the gee-tar and gives us a little Gladys. The first part was soulful, restrained and all her own, without a hint of karaoke or Xerox. I wasn’t crazy about her falsetto note, but other than that, she was pretty damned terrific. Again. 8

“Ain’t No Sunshine”
I guess my fears about a dearth of classic R&B songs being performed were unfounded, as Aaron chooses a stone cold classic, and one of my favorites. What the fuck is up with his hair? Is that a fin, like on the Creature From the Black Lagoon? His vocals were definitely better than last week, and fairly clean, but there was just no gravitas, no feeling and no heartache in that performance. Is that expecting too much from a chipmunky teenager? Probably. That was like a leftover cookie; not nearly as good as fresh from the oven, and full of empty calories, but not bad. 6

TNRLM Top 3: Lee, Casey, Crystal

TNRLM Bottom 3: Tim, Andrew, Siobahn

No comments:

Post a Comment