Disagreeing with a lot of folks tonight. You tell me what you think!
Rank #4 Phillip Phillips: Super trooper
Folk-country-rock troubadour never really goes out of style. After the pageantry, we all run back to Jazon Mraz, right? I do.
Phillip has Scotty’s aw-shucks-am-just-a-country-boy charm down pat, He also seems to be the real thing. How many guys can flash that much wattage on the way to a kidney stone operation? More apropos, how many can resist the temptation to ham it up?
He comes out a bit spiffed up in a polo shirt with the right touch of brown-bronze shade; it warms up his skin. He ditches the guitar for “Hard to Handle”, which is a good move. Shows us those hips can move. The rasp will always be there but it’s natural, not an affectation, and he certainly rocks better than Scotty. He’s a happy young man who can give a helluva lot of clean fun – just the guy who can pull in both moms and their screaming tweens. (And he won’t make screaming moms feel a tad dirty because he’s serving us what we all want to remember – vibrant youth, innocent excitement.) Plus, he’s got a smile no amount of money can buy.
All around a very good performance. I gotta feeling he’s serving up “great” soon. And I gotta feeling this one goes all the way to top 4. It’s a good thing the girls are so good this year or else we could have a another white boy with a guitar winning Idol.
#Rank 5 Jessica Sanchez: One stumble can make you stronger
Orly Cajegas,who knows all about entertainment, suggested Mariah Carey’s “Fantasy” , which a few American bloggers also pushed. With a lot of hits to choose from Jessica, sigh, picks Gloria Estefan’s “Turn the Beat Around” (an old song re-issued in 1995).
What can I say? Asians have as much grace as Latinos do. But it’s a different grace. We’re like bamboo, we sway with the wind. The Latinos have a rhythm best shown off to syncopation. We just don’t shake our booties the same way. And frankly, there’s precious little flesh to shake on Jessica’s slim frame.
The voice is strong and controlled as ever. But for magic to strike, the song must match the singer, must draw out the inner self for us to vicariously experience. Because entertainment is a buyer’s market and, let’s admit it, we’re all voyeurs. We wait for the joy, the angst and pain, the rage or the swooning romantic heart to sidle out and grab us. It is never just about one’s pipes.
The outfit is gorgeous. But even combined with Jessica’s vocals, this really skirts close to the dreaded wedding-singer category. Sorry, but Ms Swaggernaut got lost in cosmic space. Supremely competent just ain’t enough. You need to be memorable.
I’d rather have an awesome ballad than a dance tune that won’t get me on my feet. If she wanted out of birit zone, she could have done Michael Jackson’s “Childhood” and make us all cry all over again.
She’s still safe (I think) but needs to watch out as there are a bevy of hungry gals waiting for her light to wane. A bit worrisome that “dialidol.com places Sanchez in fifth place with a score of 4.966”l , warning that the votes seem too close to call. She could still be voted off. Here’s a chance for the social-media crazy Fil-Ams and their Hispanic compatriots to show their mettle!
Rank#10 Heejun Han: There’s a thin line between funny guy and perv
If this New Yorker sings Jessica’s breakout song, it would sound like, “and haaaaaayayay will always love you”. Idol vocal coaches should help the kid lick this bad habit, though that’s not probably going to matter to the gazillion of videoke-loving Asian-Americans (and videoke-loving Pinoy-Pinoys) who do the same.
Ballads are Heejun’s forte and his performance of Richard Marx’s “Right Here Waiting For You” is earnest but not hokey. It’s a contrast with his non-singing self, which could be a developing problem. Someone, maybe best buddy Phillip Phillips, should sit down Heejun and explain that overt mooning is funny the first time but becomes irksome as a trademark. We like flirting. We don’t like dirty old men. Besides, Heejun’s at least three decades too young to audition for that role, even in a comedy. Sure, American humor of very bad taste rakes in millions at the box office. Off-screen, however, pervs do not win the girl. Heejun’s strongest point is sardonic humor. He has the intelligence for two seasons of quips; he should stay away from slapstick and jerk territory.
Heejun’s singing IS pitchy tonight. It is excessively breathy in the lower registers, something he should correct. He wobbles slightly on some lines in the higher range (“I’ll take the chance” and “it’s going crazy”). And what’s with that unmoving hand on chest? He should make some gestures or else alternate with arm at rest. Looks like he’s singing the national anthem or suffering from heartburn, which would be a really screwy interpretation of a love song.
Light-hearted funny is sexy, Heejun. Stalker leers are not. Ditch those suits and go back to loose and cool. You’re from New York, for god’s sake. Bring back the knitted cap and give us some really good wisecracks. Swim to build up those chest tones. Focus on your greatest strength – your passion – and choose songs that can bring this out, like “New York State of Mind.”
Rank#8 Elise Testone: Almost but not quite
We’ll see if that “making babies” crack will win or lose Elise valuable points. The Idol audience invested in the-making-of syndrome and don’t usually like contestants to be too cocky. (I do, under certain conditions.)
Obviously, I’d give an arm and a leg to have a command performance of Barack crooning “Let’s Stay Together”, especially if it comes with that display of lip-biting – hey, Mr. Cool does have warm blood running in his veins, probably thanks to Michelle! I’m not too sure it helped the contestant. Does Elise plumb this song’s truth? She comes close. Powerful voice tonight and she’s thoroughly believable in the pleading parts. But she lacks the playfulness needed for a song that’s essential a lover’s flirty serenade.
I had to review the clip twice to spot the missing link. Gown, check. Really shows off those lovely gams. Moves, check, just enough sensuousness there without veering to tacky. It’s the smile that does her in. Middle or end of song, it’s too tentative, too… needy. That’s never good for romance (unless you’re co-dependents, and not for long). Woman, you’re looking for a roll, not a comforting hug. Where’d the spunky girl go?
Won’t be quite sexy for the men. Not vulnerable enough or foxy enough to rouse the sisterhood. Plus, she threw down the gauntlet and didn’t deliver. Ayayay. Bottom line: I’d watch her lounge act anytime. But Idol? Nah.
Rank# 11 DeAndre Brackensick: Missing his soul
Okay, no beating around the bush. “Endless Love” is a pet peeve, second only to the Titanic theme song. It is brainless. It is pure corn. It produces a reaction similar to one elicited by a cola tin cap scraping a blackboard. It was simply criminal to give this song to a man already carrying the burden of preciousness. It tilts dangerously to caricature, those novelty acts doing male/female parts. You just do not win Idol this way.
Baby, you’re beautiful. Truly, truly. But it’s a beauty that leaves me cold. And this song can’t even start the tiniest fire. Nuff said. Ditto for JLo’s mumbo jumbo.
Rank #9 Shannon Magrane: Sacharine
What’s with these godawful song choices? (And why didn’t will Will iAm and Jimmy Iovine give Heejun the same advice on breathing?)
“One Sweet Day” could win Shannon some votes but not much. (Hollie has the soccer mom vote.) Randy can wave pompoms and do summersaults the whole night through; I don’t think many people are buying this song.
The thing is, Shannon’s pretty one-dimensional. There are no shades to her singing. Going soft on some notes doesn’t automatically give nuance to lyrics. Phrasing does that and she’s doing this by rote.
Shannon means “when I know you’re shining down on me from heaven” to be a highlight. I burst out laughing. What in god’s name does the shouting and the growl and the pounding arm have anything to do with heaven’s light? I cannot fathom why a sweet sixteener in shorts emits the aura of a Rotary Club wife. And Shannon, never ever point a finger while singing a love song.
The last time Colton performed, Jimmy Iovine praised his emo-rock mojo but doubted if the young man had arrived at his truth. With “Broken Heart” he does. Or, at least, he gives a passable version of it.
A huge crowd of screaming daisies and cougars will want to believe Colton’s promise that “there is life after a broken heart” – preferably if they get the privilege of breaking his.
Does anyone notice more than a passing resemblance to Jim Carrey on a non-manic day? Colton vies with Phillip in the eye-candy department but emits a different, darker vibe.
Angst and Colton go together; those dark eyes can pierce through cynicism. It’s a good, effortless run all the way to “I know” and then he coasts with cool moves to rock the younger girls.
He gets a standing ovation from the audience, if not the judges who, Steven especially, probably wouldn’t recognize truth if it hit them right between the eyes.
I’m going to be catty and explain Tyler’s pique: you’re growing old, buddy mine, and scared of young turks. You can patronize Joshua but this young man here is real competition for the ladies’ loins. I can see that, even if young pups aren’t my kind of thing. (And Colton gets props for taking the criticism with grace.)
It’s not a masterclass in vocal technique but I’lll pick Colton’s brand of truth any time ahead of Joshua’s. This is a rare example of how an unknown song could serve you better than a Top 40 hit. He’s easily safe and probably in a better position now. He reminds me of Kris Allen’s slow run to the top.
Rank#6 Erika Van Pelt: Heaven’s Loss
Erika’s my kind of gal. She doesn’t carry Elise’s emotional garbage. She has a face the camera loves. And in the right get-up like tonight’s georgette (?) cape and pants, she really rocks.
It’s a pity she won’t win over the female voters. She’s way better than Hollie, just behind Jessica and Skylar on voice. Tonight, she delivers crisp vocals but over sings at points. But the others occupy clear niches and are seen as precocious young talents. Erika’s aplomb will scare off some women, which is sad because she’d be one heck of a great buddy.
Also, she should just have barreled through the last stanza of “Heaven”. The pause is awkward and dampens the energy needed for a big finish. It would have worked better if instead of “when you’re lying here in my arms”, she just sang “when you’re here in my arms”. That compensates for the lost beat.
Erike might get the adult male viewers’ vote with her cool, rocker ‘tude. That slight grin and mischievous eyes are what any guy would want to accompany “keep me coming back for more.” Problem is, do male viewers actually vote or do they just groan into their beer mugs?
Bottom line: In danger and it’s a pity.
And tonight, that will make her zoom past Jessica. That’s what our Pinay lacks – a clear knowledge of self and the fierce will to defend one’s identity. It’s even more impressive that Skylar does the latter without sliding into truculence. Let’s hear it for the southern gals.
She takes command of “Love Sneaking Up On You” from the get go, as she strides to “ Rainy Night, I’m All Alone/ Sittin’ Here Waitin’ For Your Voice on the Phone/ Fever Turns to Cold, Cold Sweat / Thinkin’ About the Things We Ain’t Done yet”
It’s almost too bold a song for an 18-year old: “You might as well try to Stop the Rain/ Or stand in the tracks of a Runaway Train/ You just can’t fight it when a thing’s meant to be/ So come on let’s finish what you started with me” But most eighteeners aren’t Skylar and for all the cloying, simpering displays of Lauren Alaina, the Mississippi is a place where people grow up early.
This is true grit and Skylar owns the night.
Rank#7 Joshua Ledet: Love can’t conquer all
Except me. Sorry, my musical taste runs to more roughage than Joshua will ever have. Also, I abhor histrionics and just don’t understand why shrieks should accompany “When a man loves a woman/ Can’t keep his mind on nothing else/ He’ll trade the world/ For the good thing he’s found/ If she’s bad he can’t see it/ She can do no wrong/ Turn his back on his best friend/ If he put her down…When a man loves a woman/ Spend his very last dime/ Tryin’ to hold on to what he needs/ He’d give up all his comfort/Sleep out in the rain/ If she said that’s the way it ought to be.”
Growls, yes. Howls of pain, maybe, but not shrieks. What’s wrong with a good ‘ol primal scream?
I don’t know what the live audience hears. (Jimmy Iovine said he believed every second of Joshua, “felt I was in his house”.) From across the TV screen it feels more like a woman having a nervous breakdown. Or threatening to serve up devilled men’s eggs. That run after “please, don’t treat me bad” is enough to prompt any man or woman to get the hell out of Joahua’s house.
This song is all about what Hercule Poirot calls “calamitous attraction” in one Agatha Christie novel. Or, in more graphic terms, the kind of love that causes Tom Jones to butcher Delilah: “I could see, that girl was no good for me/ But I was lost like a slave that no man could free… She stood there laughing/ I felt the knife in my hand and she laughed no more”. No Idol contestant should ever sing it, but it’s actually the better song in terms of show, don’t preach.
The main problem with Joshua and his song: There’s no showing, it’s all preaching. Human love, unfortunately, rarely makes us want to stomp on the floors of heaven.
I think viewers will surprise the judges (again) on this one.
Tinker Bell goes to the prom. Okay, so much for Hollie’s fashion sense. Now, to song choice and performance.
I do not like Celine Dion. And I do not like the “Power of Love”. Personal taste notwithstanding, I have to give the little princess big points for finally choosing a song that matches her voice and personality.
Basically, it’s a love song of little subtlety. That’s why I hate it. But that’s why it’s perfect for Hollie. It showcases her greatest asset, that powerful voice, without calling attention to her greatest weakness – the lack of emotional depth. It’s loud and louder and high and higher. And she slays it. I may not like her style but understand why a lot of people do. Hollie is like the angel atop your Christmas tree. She’s about glitter and dazzle and she should stick to that. Song difficulty is a big enough risk factor. She skates past that, she’s home free. She’s definitely bringing it home tonight.
*A word of caution to Fil-Ams. I’ve seen a lot of very ungracious comments on youtube –targets are Skylar and Hollie. Understandable; they represent the greatest threats to Jessica. But the vitriol doesn’t do Jessica any justice, just as the attacks against
Miss Algeria didn’t do Shamcey any favors. Let’s not be known as a bitter, petty people. That could backfire on our gal. Give credit where it’s due. We’re proud of Jessica but she must make it on her own merits, not because of her color or place of origin. — Update (and apologies). I made a factual boo-boo. It was Miss Angola, Leila Lopes, who won the Miss Universe title the year Shamcey competed. Thank you, Bombet Cabrera for the correction. Silly me; I’d written a blog about that contest.
Forecast: Skylar, Hollie, Jessica still safe, with Colton and Phillip. A maybe for Joshua, Erika and Elise. Shannon, also a maybe but could be hurt by the fact that Hollie has the moms. Heejun and Deandre in danger. I think Heejun will stay on a bit. Deandre in real jeopardy… but Elise and Shannon, too. (Yeah, despite Randy loving them.)