We've got Final Four Fever on Tuesday (May 9) night as "American Idol" has been winnowed to its final quartet, letting the singers celebrate with a trip to Graceland and a visit with Elvis Presley's ex and Mariah Carey's ex.
Singer: TAYLOR HICKS
Song: "Jailhouse Rock"
My Take: The "Idol" producers have offered up a nice gift to Taylor and to the entire Soul Patrol with this week's theme. For two songs, Taylor just gets to be Taylor, the nation's favorite rowdy party crasher. The only way the Powers That Be could show more love to Mr. Hicks would be if next week is Joe Cocker week and then we move on to the Best of the Doobies the following frame. Then you'll truly know that the fix is in. Except for the unfortunate spastic moment where Taylor gets preoccupied by his mic chord, he delivers a spirited performance, the type of crowd-elevating romp you'd expect to see at a bar mitzvah, wedding or snazzy corporate event. No, it's not much of a stretch for him, in terms of vocals or persona or much of anything, but the Red Sox are currently beating the Yankees and I'm feeling generous.
Fat Elvis, Skinny Elvis and Simon Say: Randy claps and tells Taylor he's in his element. Paula, unaware of the meaning of the word "original," says that Taylor was as original as ever (unless she means that he wasn't original). Simon's not so impressed, announcing, "In the real world, that was a terrible impersonation of Elvis Presley. The dancing was hideous and it was just Karaoke with a Capital K." Low Earning Man of the People accuses Simon of being out of touch with the real world.
Singer: CHRIS DAUGHTRY
Song: "Suspicious Minds"
My Take: Chris, who apparently wears boxer-briefs, is rocking big aviator glasses and a bulky jacket. On one hand, it makes him look like he's ready to hop on his motorcycle to go have sex with Kelly McGillis. On the other hand, with his eyes covered, I can't tell if he's threatening to kill me. Based on precedent, I'm just assuming that he does, indeed, want to drink my blood. It's a nice, serviceable and unremarkable rendition of the endlessly karaoked song.
Fat Elvis, Skinny Elvis and Simon Say: Randy doesn't think it was Chris' best, but calls it nice and tender. Paula had forgotten how great the song was until she heard Chris sing it. This is also how she remembers her name and phone number every morning, I suspect. Simon says that it worked.
Singer: ELLIOTT YAMIN
Song: "If I Could Dream"
My Take: This is a slightly less exhausted Elvis song, so I'm more able to hear Elliott and I really like what I'm hearing, or at least what I can hear over the brass-heavy orchestration. Every week, it seems, Elliott is drowned out by the arrangement, which may also have something to do with his vocal tone, which is smooth, but not powerful, necessarily. I just wish I was getting something more than pure earnestness out of Elliott's stage presence. They've yet to train him on using the stage or his body language and at this point in the competition, that's a bit disconcerting. He's obviously more confident than he was, but it's time to parlay that confidence into craft.
Fat Elvis, Skinny Elvis and Simon Say: Randy says it was hot and that Elliott made it his own. Paula, again on the verge of tears, calls it his best vocal of the season. "So far, that was the best performance so far," is Simon's Paula-esque critique. He must be sipping from her cup of "Coke."
Singer: KATHARINE MCPHEE
Song: "Hound Dog"
My Take: Tommy Mottola seems to have his eye on Katharine and since it's been several years since he last married an aspiring pop sensation, this may be a good pairing. Katharine and her song of choice? That's a bit less natural. I can't see Katharine. Where is she? She's dressed in gray. The house lights are low. She's not exactly dancing, because she doesn't really seem to have any moves, but she's certainly flouncing, which is what she does best. Katharine botches the lyrics in the middle, but rebounds fairly well. Simply because the song has been transposed for a female range, it ends up sounding a little different, but it's another safe, but fun turn. Does she need to do more?
Fat Elvis, Skinny Elvis and Simon Say: Randy isn't sure what happened in the middle and Katharine laughs about the kidding notes. Simon calls it a desperate, manic audition performance. He hopes she's got something better coming up next.
For the second half of the recap, check Zap2it.com. Then come back and share your opinions and join me in a moment of presumed silence for Katharine. If I were a voting man, I'd have to vote tonight. Instead, I'm a complaining man. Thus, I'll complain tomorrow...