Thomas Paine once observed, "These are the times that try men's souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country." He was referring to Tuesday's (April 4) Country Night on "American Idol." He continued, "But he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman." He was referring to this recapper.
Expecting neither love nor thanks, let the shrieking begin:
Singer: TAYLOR HICKS
Song: "Take Me Home, Country Roads"
My Take: Always listen to The Gambler, Taylor. In the pre-performance clip, we hear Kenny "Not the Mercurial Tigers Ace" Rogers warning the Grey Goose that if he doesn't hook listeners with the first few notes, he's lost. Uh-oh. Taylor starts off rough, perhaps distracted by a rogue fiddler. He finds the melody, at least, but when he gets to the chorus, his voice is lost in the accompaniment and the harmony. He comes across as mild and slightly uncomfortable.
Athos, Porthos and Simon Say: Randy, wearing a blood-red vest and matching specs, liked the song choice, but wasn't excited by the vocals. Paula falls back on her stock comment for the season, which is something along the lines of, "You know I love you, but tonight I have a headache." She's going to have to start taking in the producers' laundry to earn that expensive new multi-year deal she just signed. "I thought it was safe, boring, lazy," Simon says.
Song: "Any Man of Mine"
My Take: I think that Mandisa has a better voice than Shania Twain. You wouldn't know it tonight. The song is too low for her. More problematic is the fact that the song's surplus of verbiage leaves her breathless. This is the second week in a row that I've felt the limits of her performance style -- she's all about standing in the middle of the stage and projecting. Moving isn't her thing.
Athos, Porthos and Simon Say: Randy thought the last four bars were good. Even Paula calls him on the inanity of the comment. Then she goes into, "You can sing the phone book, but tonight you decided to sing 'Gravity's Rainbow'" mode. FOX is paying Paula so much she may need to begin torturing prisoners with Jack Bauer to earn her keep. Simon calls the song "horrible."
Singer: ELLIOTT YAMIN
Song: "If Tomorrow Never Comes"
My Take: Somebody's keeping Elliott up at night. He's got Louis Vuitton bags under his eyes and Visine sparkle in his stare. He's also starting a bit too low. As the song gets higher, he gets better. And as I turn away from my TV, his blinking bothers me much less. As the Fried Chicken King warned, Elliott oversings a bit, but he still sounds really strong to me, particularly compared to the first two.
Athos, Porthos and Simon Say: Randy is eager to throw out some props. Paula's all "You're a breath of fresh air and tonight I'm huffing pure oxygen." FOX's going to sneak Paula into the "Unan1mous" house and force her to distribute some of her money. Simon thought Elliott was safe and a bit hesitant, but the best so far.
Singer: PARIS BENNETT
Song: "How Do I Live"
My Take: I like Paris' "chill" hairstyle. Previous weeks have seen her coiffure emulating a strung-out poodle and Alexis Arquette, so this is a better choice. She has no faith in the song and she's trying to bellow every note, bleating, vibratoing and throwing in superfluous runs. She's another singer whose voice doesn't go as low as the song she's supposed to be singing.
Athos, Porthos and Simon Say: Randy can tell it's a tough song for her. Paula's back to her familiar construction with something like, "You have a powerhouse voice, but tonight there was a bit of an outage." Anxious to stay in play at the network, expect Paula to show up on "House" next week experiencing mysterious seizures -- is it lupus, cancer or an obscure parasite from Guam? Only Dr. House and Simon know for sure. Simon disagrees and says Paris was very good and compares her to Dionne Warwick.
BUT WHAT DID I THINK ABOUT BUCKY AND KATHARINE AND CHRIS AND KATHARINE AND KELLIE AND KATHERINE??????
CHECK OUT MY FULL ZAP2IT RECAP HERE. BUT FEEL FREE TO COME BACK AND COMMENT HERE.