Well, we’re finally here. It’s the first night of audience voting and we are about to find out who’s got it and who doesn’t. Can the girls outdo the guys? According to Web sites I’ve been reading, the searches for Katharine McPhee and Taylor Hicks are through the roof. Let’s get to it:
Mandisa emerges in a burst of flames to bring us “Never” by Heart. It’s hard to go wrong with a Heart song (as Carrie proved last year). Mandisa BRINGS IT and gives one of the most confident, mature vocals I’ve seen. Wow. If I was Kellie Pickler, I’d be shaking in my shoes to be following that performance. Mandisa, most importantly, appeared to have fun. She is exuberant. Simon: “We’ll see you in the finals.”
Kellie Pickler again plays the already-tired “mah daddy’s in prison” card. Jeez, is she milking the misfortune angle or what? It doesn’t do her much good tonight as her vocals are all over the place. Nerves are no doubt a factor – she’s never had any kind of singing experience. Kellie drops into a weird stance that is somewhat of a cross between the Balky Bartokamos “knock knock rolla rock” bowling stance and the Rumpshaker. She has the “likability factor,” the judges assert, so okay.
Becky is next with a SCARY rendition of “Because the Night,” undoubtedly one of the best songs to ever be sung by one of the worst Idol contestants. Wow, is this awful. She shows us her scary teeth and does the quasi-Stevie Nicks witch pose AND the Elvis lip curl, but it doesn’t work. It’s clear she’s getting by on sex appeal alone. Randy (predictably) hedges but calls her “great looking.” No kidding. Paula says notes were off throughout the song “but so what.” Well, no talent, that’s what.
Ayla “Optimus Prime” Brown brings us the obligatory overblown Disney song, “Reflection” by Christina Aguilera. She used to be a football player? Sounds like a Lifetime movie. Her voice noticeably cracks on the big note and the judges are so-so. Simon says she demonstrated her limits. Uh-oh.
Paris absolutely blows it out of the water (of course) with Gladys Knight’s “Midnight Train to Georgia,” bouncing everywhere and having a lot of fun. She’s a natural. Paula goes Jim Ross on her and calls her a “firecracker.” Simon points out her incredible confidence. Paris is going to be hard to beat, but will people get into her “old soul” gimmick?
Stevie comes out swinging with a nebulous version of “To Where You Are” by Josh Groban. Why is everyone singing this guy’s songs all of a sudden? They suck. Stevie delivers a thin, unimpressive vocal and nearly falls down – twice. She’s not ready for this, clearly. She looks ashamed of her own vocal. Simon tells her she “completely and utterly messed that up,” then he continues to NUKE her during the Seacrest segment. He doesn’t even let her talk. Holy cow, that was awful.
HEEL BRENNA~! She gives us “You Are the Sunshine of My Life” by Stevie Wonder and she has the biggest hooters in this competition, by far (well, there’s Mandisa, but you know). She’s really sexy in a heel Trish kind of way. Her act consists of turning her head to the right every now and then. The song’s too low and she struggles. The judges criticize her for not showing her attitude. She promises to BRRR-ing it next week, then makes a clawing motion to the judges. A lot. And it’s weird.
Just when you thought it couldn’t get worse than Stevie, Heather gives it a shot with “When You Tell Me That You Love Me.” Always a safe bet to use an American Idol standard (no). Man, enough with the slow songs. This is getting boring. Simon calls it “horrible” and yes, he’s right. She looked like she was having great difficulty there. Heather’s going home this week, methinks.
Melissa is out with “When the Lights Go Down” by Faith Hill. It’s okay, I guess, but nothing spectacular. She is off-key numerous times and seems to be overreaching. She kinda reminds me of Scott Stapp – if she would just sing normally, she’d be kinda cool. But NO, she’s all growly and jerky. Randy doesn’t like it so much but Paula’s ecstasy finally kicks in and she declares it a “shining moment” and “amazing.” What the hell? Then Melissa starts speaking in tongues. I’m not kidding.
Lisa hammers out “I Am Changing” and it’s good, but these performances are all starting to run together. Where is the energy? I think Mandisa and Paris took it all. Lisa seems really eighties to me. Maybe it’s the hair? The judges liked it. I finally notice that Seacrest is dressed like JETHRO CLAMPETT in a sportcoat. He left his rope belt in the dressing room, though.
Kinnik sings the torchy “Get Here” by Alita (sp?) Adams. Her facial expressions are channeling Grace Jones. It’s scary, but strangely boring. Paula is loving everything suddenly and tells Kinnik she “looks stunning.” Then she decides Kinnik was “sharp in places, but who cares?” There it is again – be pretty and suddenly your need to be, you know, good is meaningless. Simon: “We’ve heard this a million times.”
Finally it’s Katharine and the best has been saved for last. Her version of “Since I Fell For You” by Barbara Streisand is sweet, effortless, fun, and sexy. She appears so carefree up there, like there’s no nervousness whatsoever. She hits a note that gives me goosebumps (“bloooo-eee-oooooos”) and I am in love. She’s got the looks and the chops to win this whole thing. Paula senses “greatness” and tells Katharine she’ll go all the way. Simon declares her the best of the night and it looks like Katharine is the one to beat.
My top three: Katharine, Paris and Mandisa My bottom three: Beckie, Heather and Stevie
Who’s going home: Definitely Heather and Stevie
I appreciate feedback on this recap. The report will be late tomorrow night for the guys as I’m taping it while I’m in chizzurch. Enjoy.
Keep it up! It's nice to have a recap to look over and help finalize my own recall of the show...
My short takes:
Mandisa - nice job, did a little of her own stuff but didn't over-vocalize.
Kellie...I want to like her, but she needs to pick up the vocals or she doesn't make it past next week.
Becky - She has an outside chance of going this week just because it was so "meh"...
Ayla - I thought she did OK considering that she set herself up to be compared to Christina Aguilera...not great, but definitely not the worst. Plus she makes Seacrest look like a midget.
Paris - 'nuff said.
Stevie - ...wow...that...was...different?
Brenna - Please, please, PLEASE send her home America! Her performance was sub-par and she was an absolutely classless bitch during the others performances. If you've still got it on tape (or TiVo), go back and watch her facial expressions...next!
Heather - May be what gives Brenna another week...dammit!
Melissa - Voice reminds me of another Melissa (Etheridge), but without the good qualities.
Lisa - Excellent, but I want to see her (and Paris) do something a little more...current.
Kinnik - OK...not a big fan of her voice, but she did well enough to move on.
Katharine - My flesh started to crawl when she said she was doing a Streisand song...and I was happily surprised by her performance. I like her, great voice and she has a goofy stage presence that I think works for her. Nice eyes don't hurt the package either.
Leaving - Stevie and likely Heather (but the early gift would be sending Brenna home).
I'm well aware I'm going it alone on this, but I cannot stand Paris Bennett's singing. She's got a great personality, and her stage presence is good, but her voice has that warble that I cannot stand, and it's not even the same fluctuation that most of the contestants jam into every song to show their "vocal range" either.
Maybe I'm just not attuned to soul music or whatever, but I thought her audition was one of the worst last night, she'll make it through, and the judges can't help but fawn over her.
On another note, I can't stand the grey haired guy either. I must be missing out on something.
Katharine was fantastic, I thought. Stevie was endearing to me in a whole sort of weird way. They must have really been short on the female side, and she was juuuuuuust good enough in auditions to squeak her through. I mean, they never put the poor girl on TV at ALL during the prelims, and now she's supposed to go up there against Kellie and Lisa and Paris, about whom entire documentaries have been filmed? Like a lamb to the slaughter she was, and to her credit, she sang like one.
Also, every time Lisa Tucker is mentioned, I hear "Lisa Turtle" which makes me a horrible, horrible person.
Tonight I wanna ruin my life, I wanna throw it all away, In a spectacular way
Paris was awesome, definatly the most entertaining for me.
Katharine definatly has the voice but she looked kinda stiff up there to me.
Brenna needs to be sent home immediatly. So damn annoying and not that talented.
Pickler is not the best singer, but she's ok and I laugh every time they ask her anything cause she'll do the southern girl thing and just start rambling into a long story. It's like she has no clue this is a tv show and she needs to keep it brief. She won't win but she's fun.
Mandisa is, well she can sing but I just don't see me voting for her over the other top contenders.
Lisa was great in her first audition, then I didn't like her during the next few shows, but she really did a great job last night. Very 80's look as was mentioned, but she's got the talent for sure.
I missed the first hour and turned it on just in time to hear Brenna's horrible performance. She was an awful singer and her performance with the judge's was even worse. As mentioned earlier, her facial expressions while others were singing were classless at best. She looked like she had just stepped in dog crap most of the time. Unfortunately, she will probably be safe and we will have to endure her and her claws another week.
Glad I got to see Katharine - she sang one of my all time slow favorites (Al Jarreau/David Sanborn version) and her goofiness at the end was genuine and fun to watch.
I just may have missed something, but I don't feel the girls this year, I think that Katharine is heads above the rest, with Lisa and Paris close behind. Mandisa is there with Kellie, and the rest, pretty forgettable, but for now I'd add McGhee to make an even 6, I liked her.
Now I'm just watching this after being at a HS BBall playoff game last night, and McPhee's song at the end is sticking with me, not so much for the song, but her performance. I think Lisa edges Paris a little because she has a better look (although the GF would beg to differ).
I cast my votes for Marcus, but I'd be surprised if he won. The audience didn't get to see him do standup *at all* between the semifinals and this week's show, and then he went early in the show this time. Big disadvantages.