~March 3, 2009~
The competition heats up as the final group of twelve vies for the remaining openings. Solid performances and better song choices mean this is a tough week. It's the first time in all of the Top 36 that America may actually have a problem deciding between several contestants.
- Photos: American Idol Season 8
Von Smith, 22 - This young man started out the night and started it out well. He sang Marvin Gaye's "You're All I Need to Get By" and, though I wasn't a fan of the song choice, Von nailed some really intricate vocals. Better yet, he listened to the judges when they told him he was screaming way too much during Hollywood Week. It's tough to be the first because some will forget you by the end of the show. But Von has a chance to be remembered.
People I'm Not Too Happy With
These two singers did the same song they had performed during Hollywood Week. It's safe, it's easy and it's disappointing. If you want to show you can cut it as an Idol, keeping up with the rigors of a professional singer's life, never take the easy way out.
Taylor Vaifanua, 17 - She sang "If I Ain't Got You" by Alicia Keyes. She did a decent job but the song was boring. Her song choice could sink her, simply because the verses were uninteresting and the song didn't get to the chorus fast enough. Once I heard she'd done this song before, I was done. To have all of that time to practice the same song, she should have wowed us. She was far from that.
Ju'Not Joyner,26 - I recognized Ju' Not's song choice of "Hey There Delilah" immediately. You may remember my not being wild about this song for a competition piece during Hollywood week. But you may also remember I loved Ju'Not's version of it. He changed it up again tonight. It's better than the original version but, for a competition song, I was bored...and disappointed that he chose the same song. Judges were okay with the choice because he changed it. For me, the change was not for the better and it left me asking why he stayed with the same song.
And under the "Don't Try to Be Something You're Not" Category...
Alex Wagner Trugman, 19 - Alex made a big mistake. Not only did he read what others say about him on the Internet, but then he drastically changed his singing style to try to accommodate it. People on the Internet thought he was a little dorky. But tonight's performance was horrible - it was affected and growly. Alex forgot that dorkiness is not necessarily a bad thing (look at Clay!) and, if he made it this far, there had to be something that endeared him to America. Alex moved oddly, he accidentally knocked over the mike stand while trying to do a certain move and, the worst of it, he changed his singing. Simon said he was like a little hamster trying to be a tiger. He's not far off the mark. I really liked Alex when he originally auditioned. After tonight's performance, he's done.
Two songs never done before... and perhaps never again
Nathaniel Marshall - The male equivalent of drama queen Tatiana Del Toro decided to tackle Meatloaf last night. Meatloaf is epic. His voice is beefy and his songs are productions. Nathaniel performed well but he did not have enough oomph to match Meatloaf, an unfortunate comparison that is going to happen anytime you try to do someone big. Paula said that his performance was more the Boy George version of the song. I have to agree. It was a little light and fluffy and, though Nathaniel is full of fun personality, I don't think it was enough to get him through.
The strangest song of the night goes to Arianna Afsar, 17. She chose Abba's "The Winner Takes It All". The song kept its syncopated verses even though Arianna was trying to turn it into a ballad. The end result? She was pitchy and flat on the chorus and the performance itself was weir d and discombobulated. The judges found the song dark and depressing and Randy said he would never have chosen that song for her. This mistake cost her. She's not going anywhere.
Simon's Fickle Pronunciation
Simon corrected Paula's pronunciation of ABBA saying it was "a" as in apple, not "aw" as in "awful". But Simon has steadfastly refused to say Kara's name correctly (which is Care-uh) and continues to call her Kara (Car-uh). Now that we know his British sensibilities are not offended by saying a short vowel, he really needs to make the effort to stop being such a snob and say Kara's name correctly.
Major Love Fest
Felicia Barton,26 - She's the one who replaced Joanna Pacitti. She decided to sing Alicia Keyes, "No One". I don't know what the deal is with singing Ms. Keyes tonight but I would not do her stuff for a competition, ever. Hard to discern how the judges really felt about her though because they were being ultra -complimentary since the show decided to bring Barton back. Kara said Felicia had attitude and presence and that she noticed her for the first time. I'll give her that. But I wasn't wowed here and song choice was a big part of it.
Country-fied...but not sure about cruising on
Kendall Beard, 24 - This blond-haired girl tried out in Puerto Rico. She chose Martina McBride's "This Ones for the Girls". It's not a great song but it was a good fit for her voice. Kendall is definitely country singer material. I don't think she'll go through but she could definitely be singing regularly.
Ones to Watch
Kristin McNamara,23 - She gave a surprising rendition of Tracy Chapman's "Give Me One Reason to Stay Here". I would never choose this song for a competition. But she sang it in a bluesy style and had some really good scatting. I like what she did with this. The judges said they're still not sure who she is and they questioned her outfit choice. Kristin is one that I am not sure on - from this performance, she could possibly go through.
Scott MacIntyre, 23 - Everyone's been waiting to hear more from this gifted singer/songwriter with impaired vision since his auditions. His place of comfort is behind the piano which he showed during Hollywood Week. But tonight's performance was him doing "Mandolin Rain". This is a massively weak competition piece. But Scott is a really likeable guy with decent vocals. Judges admit his vocals were not spot on, but they like him and they like his passion. Simon said he'd be surprised if Scott doesn't sail through to the next round. I am not that confident, but I think he has a very good shot.
Most Memorable Performances
Jorge Nunez, 21 - He was so moved during the performance that he was in tears by the end. Paula gave him a standing ovation for his rendition of "Don't Let the Sun Go Down On Me" and he endeared himself even more to the judges when he couldn't even think in English. This was a really solid performance with really good vocals. He's likely to be on the other side.
Lil Rounds, 24 - If Lil doesn't go through, there will be protests. The song choice was sub-par but that couldn't stop Lil from shining on it, nailing the vocals and getting the audience involved. She is massively talented. Judges called her brilliant, first class and a powerhouse. I'm looking forward to much more from her.
These twelve learn their fate tonight at 8:00. And don't forget, a favorite singer or two (actually three!) will be back in the game again if they're chosen as a wildcard. That's revealed Thursday night. Don't miss it!