Tuesday, May 22, 2007
"Idol" Recap 05/22: This Is Their Now (Or Something)
I'm not saying I'm clairvoyant, but back in mid-January, after the season's very first episode of American Idol, I made the following observation: "Through the first four hours of American Idol audition footage, I'll guarantee you that we haven't seen this season's winner. In fact, I feel prepared to say that nobody from the Minneapolis or Seattle auditions stands more than the slightest chance of making it to the Top 24, much less the Final 12."
I bring that up as Tuesday (May 22) night's American Idol finale performances pit Blake Lewis and Jordin Sparks, both products of the Seattle audition round. Oh, but I was totally right about Minneapolis.
Whoever I pick tonight, bet the farm the other way:
Singer: Blake Lewis
Song: "You Give Love a Bad Name"
My Take: Originally this performance was all about its context within the Bon Jovi Night, when it was shocking and refreshing in a sea of by-the-numbers covers. Stripped of that context (and knowing what's coming), it's impossible to get excited about it. I liked it then, so even in this slightly more orchestrated form, I have to admit that it's fun. The part where Blake spins around and plays to the audience actually diminishes its vocal effectiveness (he stops singing into the mic, creating a wind tunnel effect to the vocals), but nobody has cared before about whether or not Blake can sing. Why will they start now? Also blunting the impact slightly is the drummer, whose kit is over-micked.
Sonny, Fredo and Simon Say: Randy gives him a 10-out-of-10 for beatboxing, but says the singing was merely aight. Paula, floating in the clouds tonight, gives him a 10-plus-10-plus-10. Simon says Blake isn't their best singer, but he's the best performer, adding that the singing was a bit flat in places.
Singer: Jordin Sparks
My Take: Jordin has an OK performance earlier this season with a Christina Aguilera track, so she's trying again. This song isn't a ballad, relying more heavily on cadence. Jordin's fine on the tough rhythm, but it leads to a somewhat breathless quality to her voice. The song also forces her to wail over an aggressive band arrangement, which wasn't a good choice, if you ask me. If the night was about proving Jordin could do fine with an up-tempo contemporary song, Jordin succeeded. If it was about showcasing her talent to its best advantage, she fell short.
Sonny, Fredo and Simon Say: Randy asks her to check it out and tells her that this was an interesting night for him. He wasn't necessarily entertained, but he thought her voice was stellar. "Stellar" is a new word for Paula, so she repeats it. Simon likes that she chose a younger song, but calls the vocals shrieky. He gives Round One to Blake. Paula says nothing. Randy meaninglessly gives the performance edge to Blake and the vocal edge to Jordin.
Singer: Blake Lewis
Song: "She Will Be Loved"
My Take: After doing a more up-tempo Maroon Five song previously, Blake's going with a semi-ballad here. Again Blake gets distracted touching the people in the front row. I've never liked his falsetto and I'm not about to start here. The transitions to and from the upper register are rough and he keeps pushing notes. It's already a sleepy song, but he's going out of his way to keep it low-key. His problem here is exactly the same as Jordin's on the previous number -- he's attempting to prove his ability to do something that might not be the same thing we're used to hearing, while not necessarily showcasing whatever it is that's best and most unique about him.
Sonny, Fredo and Simon Say: Randy thought it was a great song and a very nice vocal. Paula, who really should have been given the night off tonight since she has a totally legit excuse to be swimming on painkillers, giggles, stutters and finally says that Blake sounded relaxed. Simon calls it good, safe and not as good as the first performance.
But what did I think of the show's second half? You'll have to head over to Zap2it for that info...