Wednesday, April 26, 2006

American Idol Recap: Love Songs

SPOILER at the end of this entry.

Today on American Idol, the American Idol finalists tackled Love Songs with Andrea Bocelli as celebrity guest. Here is my take on this particular week:

Katharine McPhee. I Have Nothing.
I Have Nothing
is one of those songs that should be retired from the American Idol songbook. With Vonzell Solomon, Jennifer Hudson, and Trenyce already creating their definitive versions of Houston's overused Bodyguard chestnut, Katharine McPhee was setting herself up for a fall, and it was very beauty pageant-ish. Singing by numbers simply cannot save McPhee, and she falls short of breath too many times in her performance to make it a complete winner. Save for a relatively energetic ending, there's no way McPhee could match the style and emotion of all Afro-American Idols who have performed this before her. On the bright side, her gown was spectacular - if for that alone, I could watch it, on mute.
Song Choice: D
Vocal: C+
Overall Performance: C

Elliot Yamin. Song For You.
Magical, simply magical. Once again, Elliot Yamin shows himself to be probably the most flawless male singer in the history of American Idol. This time, he takes on A Song For You, made popular most recently by the incarnation of Christina Aguilera on Herbie Hancock's latest album, and he makes this song his own. Without sounding lounge-y, Yamin sings the butt off this song with style and class, and teaches Taylor Hicks a thing or two about soul, sans the twitching. This gives Yamin the top two performances of the season, the other being his flawless Moody's Mood for Love.
Song Choice: A
Vocal: A
Overall Performance: A

Kellie Pickler. Unchained Melody.
The British love Unchained Melody, and I'm not surprised Simon took to her version with as much enthusiasm as Melanie Brown at a concert honoring Geri Halliwell (the reason for the motivation, of course, remains a mystery). Uninspired, languid, and pitchy throughout the entire performance, especially with that goshawful high note two-thirds through the song, Kellie turns in yet another horrific performance. LeAnn Rimes and Carrie Underwood have nothing to worry about.
Song Choice: C
Vocal: F
Overall Performance: D

Paris Bennett. The Way We Were.
Paris Bennett's song choices since she made the Top 12 have been rather stellar, showing off her versatility and range, as well as her fearlessness in song choices. With her selection of the Streisand signature tune, The Way We Were, Paris takes another chance and pleases, but barely. America's voting pattern has shown Paris is safer with the more contemporary songs, and she has found herself bottom-three'd with the songs of earlier generations, and I fear for her safety, despite her earnest, vocally superior, controlled performance. Shame.
Song Choice: C+
Vocal: A
Overall Performance: B

Taylor Hicks. Just Once.
I love James Ingram, and Just Once is one of the most amazing tracks in the history of love songs for its heartfelt lyric and memorable melody. Taylor Hicks, unfortunately, did not pull this track off with his usual flair. Pitchy throughout the song, Taylor was uninspired and ordinary. It was a very karaoke performance, and not the best karaoke performance. A dull performance from an otherwise reliable finalist, but still cuts above most of the other competition.
Song Choice: B
Vocal: C+
Overall Performance: B-

Chris Daughtry. Have You Ever Really Loved A Woman.
I still don't understand the mystique of Chris Daughtry, and I'm still not on his bandwagon, despite a rather stellar performance of What a Wonderful World last week that landed Daughtry his first bottom three appearance. Tsk. With the Bryan Adams smushfest Have You Ever Really Loved a Woman, Daughtry straddles the fine line between rock and pop, and delivers a performance that rises only barely above the ordinary. If I were to hear this version on the radio, I wouldn't think Daughtry, and that doesn't bode well for Daughtry's long-term future.
Song Choice: C
Vocal: B
Overall Performance: C+

Ganns' Rankings: Elliot, Paris, Taylor, Chris, Katharine, Kellie, with Kellie getting the boot
Ganns' Prediction: Elliot, Katharine, Paris, with Paris getting the boot

SPOILER UPDATE: Kellie Pickler eliminated! Kellie Pickler is voted off! Who was voted off American Idol? Kellie Pickler! I'm sorry, but... WOOHOO!

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