Ah yes, another year of American Idol. Yeah, yeah I know, how could I guy like me (self-professed music snob) watch a show like that? Simply put, I love music, in all forms, cheesy or not. I’m not sure how much I’ll like the show once Simon Cowell is gone, but I do enjoy the show, so why not blog about it?
Tonight’s episode marks the first full episode I’ve watched this season. I don’t really get into the competition until they weed out all the b.s. and the the crazies. As a practical matter, I kinda like Ellen DeGeneres. I don’t think she’ll ever measure up with the appeal that Paula Abdul brought every week being the train wreck that she was, but she’ll do. One more thing: I really wish they would keep the best singers regardless of sex. I get why they want balance but it just seems criminal to me to keep some of the hacks they brought in just to make ratings. With all of that said, here are my thoughts on the women:
Paige Miles, 24, Naples Florida: awful first song, “All right now” classic example of going away from what worked for you before just so you can prove versatility. First couple of notes really off. My guess is she was getting used to to the acoustics, sound on stage. As usual, I agree with Randy the most. Great voice, terrible song choice. Grade: B+
Ashley Rodriguez, 22, Chelsea, MA: A bit rough IMO. Not a big fan of the song and she was all over the place vocally…next! Grade: D
Janell Wheeler, 24, Orlando, FL: Classic token-blonde. The only reason why this chick made it to the top 24 is her looks. This is the kind of crap I detest about Idol, as I think it completely undermines whatever credibility the show has as a talent show. To make things worse, the judges claim to like her voice and her performance. Grade: C
Lilly Scott, 20, Denver, CO: Without hearing her rendition of the wonder Beatles tune “Fixing a Hole” I knew it would suck….it did….she redeems herself…. a little, but its the absolute worst song for this kind of competition as it is a SINGING competition. She’s unique, but not really cut out for this type of medium. I’m beginning to think the judges all smoked some pot before the show. Grade: B-
Katelyn Epperly, 19, West Des Moines, IA: Second Beatles tune of the night. Much better. Best performance of the night. Lipstick’s a little scary, but she’s got the goods. Maybe she doesn’t win, but up to this point she was the best singer so far. Glad to see Kara agree with me on her looks. Ellen slowly losing all credibility. Grade: A-
Haeley Vaughn, 16, Fort Collins, CO: I cringed when I heard she was doing “I wanna hold your hand.” I was pleasantly surprised. I didn’t love it, but it was much better than I would have thought. She’s gotta be a little careful with the runs but she’s not bad. As usual, I disagree with Ellen, agree with the others: vocals were a little sketchy. Grade: C+
Lacey Brown, 24, Amarillo, TX: Early on, not good. I can see why she didn’t make it last year. Best part of the performance was the backing vocals. Grade: D+
Michelle Delamor, 22, Miami, FL: Looks great, great voice and range and some chops to boot. A bit “forgettable” as Simon would say, but good. Or as Simon said: no “wow” moment. Kara DiGuardio says there were some mistakes. I find that puzzling. Not that I disagree, but its always interesting to see which contestants they choose to pick on for vocal imperfections Grade: B
Didi Benami, 23, Knoxville, TN: Whats the deal with all the guitar playin’ hippie chicks? Doing an excellent Ingrid Michaelson impersonation, she was good. I just wonder which one of these ladies will prevail as the indie/hippie chick. Again, no “wow.” Simon, nails it here. These chicks are all starting to sound the same. If we were playing bingo, the word “pitchy” has made its first appearance of the night; now if I could only get an “artistry” I’d be all set. Grade: B-
Siobhan Magnus, 19, Cape Cod, MA: Ooh boy, here comes “Wicked Game,” the falsetto lines should be interesting. She looks good. So far so good…..again, no “wow” but pretty darn good: Grade: B+
Crystal Bowersox, 24, Elliston, OH: Woo hoo! Another singer with a guitar….this one has dreads and a harmonica! Aww, she even has an autograph of Melissa Etheridge on her guitar, how cute……decent voice, but the harmonica solo is indulgent and unnecessary. I like her voice, just not the performance. Again, Simon is dead on. The optics seem a bit contrived. Its like, “look at me, I’m an authentic struggling musician because I have dreads, a harmonica and guitar! I’m like Bob Dylan but Rastafarian and like twenty years younger!” Except, your on American Idol! So either play the game, or move on! Grade: C+
Katie Stevens, 17, Middlebury, CT: Michael Buble doing Nina Simone, hmmm, yeah not so much. She’s got a big voice, but she just doesn’t have the goods to do a tune like that. Too much Streisand, not enough Aretha. Simon/Ellen said the song was too old, Kara and Randy said it was “pitchy.” I didn’t think it was great either but compared to everyone else it was acceptable. Grade: B
The women were mediocre at best as a group. Again, I think the judges dropped the ball with this group. Not one person blew me away. At the end of the day I have to ask: is there a Carrie Underwood, Jennifer Hudson (yes I know she didn’t win but she’s got some serious pipes) or Kelly Clarkson in the group? Absolutely not. Considering the amount of people that audition for this show, its almost impossible not to conclude that the judges were driven more by personality than talent. To be sure, personality is always a strong factor, but it seems more so this year…… here’s to hoping the guys are better.