Tuesday, May 08, 2007
"American Idol" 05/08 -- It's Hard to Sing Like Barry Gibb
On Tuesday (May 8) night, this season's American Idol contestants prepare to honor the fact that although the Bee-Gees released 20 albums in their acclaimed career, we mostly think of them as being those guys who composed walking music for a young John Travolta. I threw my Saturday Night Fever soundtrack on in the gym, so I'm ready for tonight's show.
Singer: Melinda Doolittle
Song: "Love You Inside and Out"
My Take: The fact that the song was, as Barry Gibb points out, written for a falsetto, inherently means that the vocals are more about touch and less about power. As a result, it brings out a different, more 70s-appropriate tone to Melinda's voice. The question is whether, at this point in the competition, people want to see how diverse and flexible Melinda can be (because this is like nothing she's sung before) or if they just want her to show off how big she can sing. This is a song choice that Blake -- who isn't expected to deliver stand-out vocals -- could pull off better than any of the three women. Somewhat unfairly, he's competing with himself tonight, while Jordin, Melinda and LaKisha are going to be compared to each other.
Mizaru, Kikazaru and Simon Say: It was solid for Randy, but he isn't convinced she's in it to win it. Paula's at a loss to critique her, except to say that Melinda didn't make her go "Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa." Simon expected incredible, but he says it was more of a backing vocal performance.
Singer: Blake Lewis
Song: "You Should Be Dancing"
My Take: Is Blake becoming Crispin Glover before our eyes? If Glover had competed on American Idol in 1985, this is the performance he would have given. The performance is fun (funny?) and quirky (freakish?), but it's much more notable for the beatboxing than for the wafer-thin falsetto, which lacks any of the utterly searing passion that Barry Gibb's voice had. I wasn't impressed with Blake's upper register when he tried it our earlier this season and I'm still not. You just know that Clive Davis is terrified about the kind of album he'd have to record with this guy.
Mizaru, Kikazaru and Simon Say: You know what's really interesting for Randy is that the song didn't need the beatboxing. Randy is just being honest and keeping it real in saying that it made the song corny. Paula thought the song was shaky and that the beatboxing made the performance. Simon thought it was absolutely terrible and he gets booed by the crowd before finishing his comments.
Song: "Stayin' Alive"
My Take: Guess what? I love the music of the Bee-Gees, but this is just a horrid theme for these particular contestants, particularly at this phase of the show. Blake's falsetto stinks and the women are being forced to readapt songs that don't fit their voices in any way. This is how we're going to find our Top Three? Really? LaKisha mostly barks the first verse of the song, which has been rearranged so that it has almost no melody at all. It becomes a bit more vocally dynamic in its second half, but not much (at least not if people wanted the tune to be recognizable) and there's a vaguely crazed look in her eyes. How is it possible that I preferred the all-star lip-synch from Idol Give Back? I miss Hugh Laurie's eye-brows and Helen Mirren's gravitas.
Mizaru, Kikazaru and Simon Say: Randy wonders where the melody went. Paula thinks that LaKisha wrecked the tempo of the song and harshed her buzz. "Well, LaKisha, no kiss tonight," says Simon, before panning the performance.
Singer: Jordin Sparks
Song: "To Love Somebody"
My Take: Barry Gibb has a hard time imagining anybody else singing his songs, so this is a tough night for him as well. This is, simply put, the evening's first good song choice, a track that had already been previously arranged for and established by non-Gibb singers. I still don't endorse the wobble on Jordin's higher notes, but most of the song has been pitched perfectly for her. I already sense that tonight will be graded on a curve and Jordin looks and sounds good. It's a strong bounce-back after last week, too.
Mizaru, Kikazaru and Simon Say: Randy says it was the best vocal so far, which would be hard to argue with. Unlike Melinda, Jordin's in it to win it. Paula clarifies that it was night's best vocal. Simon agrees and says we're back in the competition.
For my recap of the second half of this week's show (it got better, but not much... Head on over to Zap2it.