Monday, March 30, 2009

Week One

It was a rather insignificant first week for the 13 Idol finalists. Only a handful of the contestants managed to really shine in the first Performance Show of the eighth season of American Idol. The stand-out performance for me was from Danny Gokey, who displayed a ton of passion amidst some awkward dance moves. Danny's refreshing, self-deprecating humor was a long way from the arrogance of Adam Lambert, who, despite a strong vocal performance, seemed to agree with Paula's emotional assertion that he was already the competition winner.

As Simon rightly pointed out, there is still a long way to go in the competition, and making comments such as the one Paula made towards Adam is not only premature, but decidedly unfair to the other contestants. It also adds to the inflation of Lambert's already bursting ego - and it is not a pleasant thing to watch. His strutting on stage during his rendition of Michael Jackson's "Black Or White" was evidence of his theatrical/stage background, but it felt more like a performance from an actor than coming from any place real.

By contrast, Danny Gokey's rendition of Jackson's "P.Y.T" was brimming with personality and a goofy sense of who Gokey really is. It was endearing, joyful, and totally 'real'. This is exactly the sort of Idol that the voting public (ie; Idol fans) crave - a common man/woman with extraordinary vocal talent that is eventually shaped into a quality performer. Some, such as Allison Iraheta, have already defined themselves and their job now is to grow that definition into a well-rounded 'act'. Lambert, though, seems to have nowhere to go except to become more of a 'rockstar' cliche - he seems to be playing the game instead of being 'in' the game (if that makes sense....?)

Lil Rounds opened the Michael Jackson-themed show with a solid version of "The Way You Make Me Feel". She looked at home on stage and gave a soulful rendition of the song - but she wasn't mind blowing. Following Rounds was Scott MacIntyre who delivered a totally limp performance of "Keep The Faith". The judges are treating Scott with kid gloves, unable to be totally honest for fear of appearing insensitive. But let's face it - Scott is a boring performer. Sure, he has musical talent, having learnt the piano piece for his performance in less than a week. But his presence on stage is void and his vocal ability is really quite dull. There, I said it...

Third for the night was the aforementioned performance by Danny - the highlight of the night, for me. Following Danny was Michael Sarver, the Texan 'roughneck' with the smooth chords. He was good and gave a pleasant version of "You Are Not Alone", but I fear the man does not have what it takes to be a recording artist. He may be more at home fronting a country band than singing solo on Idol. Jasmine took to the stage for a truly horrendous performance of "I'll Be There". Simon was correct in his assessment that she does not act her age - she is like one of those girls who takes up smoking to hopefully look older. Her tone was shrill and irritating and was rightfully booted out of the competition the following evening.

Kris Allen can sing - but did he really need the guitar to accompanying his version of "Do You Remember The Time"? However, he did provide the other highlight of the night when he revealed that he was married, prompting Simon to quip that that should have been kept under wraps for a few more weeks (to develop the female following that he could obviously acquire). When the camera cut to his wife, she was seriously pissed at this comment.

Allison Iraheta once again proved that she will go a long way in season eight. Her rockin' version of "Give In To Me" was the perfect choice for this now developed "rock chick", although she will have to progress as a performer or risk becoming a cliche of herself. One good performance was followed by perhaps the worst performance of the night - Anoop Desai's "karaoke" version of the Jackson classic "Beat It". It was a woeful experience watching "The Dogg" stumble through a song which Paula rightfully pointed out was basically "untouchable". Still, Anoop has a large following and he was saved from the axe when it came to the crunch the following night. If he doesn't improve next week, he'll be leaving the luxurious Idol mansion for good.

Jorge Nunez was the other victim of the first week of Idol finals. Jorge displayed an infectious, likeable personality throughout the initial rounds of season eight. But his rendition of "Never Can Say Goodbye" was saccharine and dull. When Jorge said he didn't want to sing Jackson's "Bad", the forever witty Simon replied "You sort of did." Alas, farewell the Pride of Puerto Rico. Following Jorge was an equally bad performance from Megan Corkrey. Her twisting and flailing and irritating voice makes me think she'd be more at home singing for a folk-rock band, doing gigs in small clubs where she could garner a small cult following. Her annoying version of the Jackson 5 hit "Rockin' Robin" was a joke. Norman Gentle had more cred than this girl.

Adam strutted on stage next followed by Matt Giraud. Matt is one to watch - he looked exceedingly comfortable behind the piano singing "Human Nature" and was in stark contrast to Scott. He struggled at the end with a broken falsetto, but all in all, this was my second favourite performance of Week One. Lastly, the cute little "Amazing Grace" Alexis Grace showed us all that she has some slut hidden deep within her maternal bones. It was a great way to end the evening, even though Simon made the comment "It wasn't as good as you thought it was".

See you next week.

by Idol Man

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