I didn't say anything last week after the results show because I was satisfied with Michael Sarver going home. That sounds kinda cold...well, it is cold. Here's my problem with this season so far (as I realized last night). I think people are sticking around longer than they should based on their voices because they're likable, have gotten air time because of their likability. Let's face it. Michael's a cool guy with some kids and a tough job - incredibly likable guy. Not a great voice compared to the others. Same with Scott and, as Paula calls it, his "challenge." He's blind - he seems like a great guy, I have tons of respect for his courage for doing a show like this, especially the group numbers at the beginning of the results shows. But his voice is boring to me and ditto his performances. There was absolutely nothing special about his "Just the Way You are." It was decent, but absolutely nothing special. I don't think I would be doing him any favors if I pretended to love his music just because he's got a special challenge in life.
Alexis Grace going home pissed me off because she has a great voice. She struggled with one song, "Jolene" and went home. Folks - have you listened to "Dirty Diana" and "I Never Loved A Man"??? Don't you want to know what she'll do next? But how does a young mother with an awesome voice compete for likability against a blind guy and a roughneck daddy with okay voices? Everybody has kids this season: Lil Rounds (I cringed when Ryan picked up her daughter and handed her to Randy - but its horrific cuteness will probably save her after a wretched performance of "I Surrender"), and Megan also. Danny's a widower, which they made a big deal out of for a while, but I'm relieved they seem to have let go of a bit. It's a big deal to let us "get to know" the contestants because likability is a huge factor.
But it turns my stomach when it comes down to Allison being "the 16 year old," Scott being "the blind guy," Danny "the widower," Michael "the roughneck daddy." The contestants who've stood out to me did so because of amazing voices, incredibly strong or new performances.
I also hate that Alexis went home right after a lot of Internet speculation that the contest was rigged (as folks speculate it is every season). Maybe it is rigged and Alexis had to be sacrificed so that people would believe that it wasn't... See how my conspiracy theory mind works? Honestly, I seriously doubt that AI is rigged because that would kind of defeat the purpose. And because the judges/producers (ahem, Simon) already do so much visible maniuplation to try to save the contestants they think have what it takes. Anyway, if AI is rigged, how the hell did Taylor Hicks win?
Let's talk about last night.
1. Kris Allen - Oh my. I was about to walk out the door for a volleyball game, almost decided to skip his performance. The first thing I said to my roommate when I heard he was performing, "Ain't No Sunshine" (one of my most favorite songs ever) is, "Oh no, he could really screw this up." I have 10 versions of this song in my iTunes and no matter how great someone covers it, it's hard not to think of Bill Withers. And then Kris pulled some magic out of somewhere and presented me with an "Ain't No Sunshine" I had never heard before and really, really loved. He changed up the phrasing, delaying that first "gone," playing against expectations so beautifully to give us something new and special. Artistry, truly. Not that I didn't miss Bill Withers's rasp a little on the "I know, I know, I know, I know," but Kris made this song so new and so current that it took my breath away. Now there are 11 versions in my iTunes and Kris has gone from "oh no" to "oh my."
2. Adam Lambert - It's an interesting week when Adam is second to somebody else for an original and experimental performance. I thoroughly enjoyed his "Play That Funky Music," and think he's a fascinating performer. But he did play second fiddle to Kris this week. Nobody could touch that final performance.
3. Megan Joy (Corkrey) - Really, really liked her "Turn the Lights Down Low." She's got a weird voice (which I love) and you can always tell it's her singing. I think that's an incredibly good thing. I still think she hasn't picked one bad song. Not one. "Rockin' Robin" was good for her and so was "For Once in My Life," and if you don't believe me, go listen to the studio versions. She may have had small stumbles in performance, but so has everybody and she is learning so much about how to hold herself on stage every week. I'm getting sick of "the new judge" Kara (it works both ways) spouting out, "Adele, Duffy, blah blah blah" after every performance. Yes, their songs will be incredible with Megan's voice, but I like what she's picking. I voted for the first time this season, trying to make sure that Kara and Simon don't get her voted off.
4. Allison Iraheta - Gave me exactly what I've been asking for with the first section of "Don't Speak" and then started screaming again. She's got a great rocker rasp. I like her a lot. But I want more of the unplugged Allison singing softly. She proved to me that she can do it this week. Now I want an entire song.
5. Lil Rounds - Disappointed me with "I Surrender." I thought if anybody could make me like a Celine Dion song, it'd be Lil. Nope. This song sucked. Lil can sing, I want her to give me a performance I like again.
6. Matt Giraud - I really liked his "You Found Me." I kinda get what the judges say about his rock band songs ("Drops of Jupiter"), but then again not really. I enjoyed both of those performances and I like that he has dimensions - not just R&B and soul, but rock too. I thought it was a bit manipulative for him to play the piano in a sea of adoring girls, but that'll probably work for him.
7. Danny Gokey - Liked his "What Hurts the Most." Had no complaints, but it wasn't my favorite. I think he picks the same kind of songs every week and that bores me.
8. Anoop Desai - "Caught Up" bored me and I forgot what he sang and had to look it up. I respect him for asserting exactly what kind of career he wants to have. But I'm not likely to buy his cds, maybe just buy a download or two.
9. Scott MacIntyre - You already know how I feel about "Just the Way You Are." It's hard to top the Piano Man and I don't feel like he made it his own at all.
I'd like to see Scott or Anoop go. I'm afraid that folks will listen to the judges on folks like Megan and Matt (negatively) or Lil and Scott (positively). The judges supported both of the second two's performances and I highly disagree. I'd like Lil to stay, though, because I like seeing what she does. So, in short, I'm not quite sure what's going to happen tonight.
Know what else I'd like to see? Alexis come back. You think if the judges' don't use their save they can recall her, even weeks later? That would be lovely...
[Later 4.1.09 - I'm disgusted. Megan was voted off. Too bad it wasn't an April Fool's joke. Simon really pissed me off as well because he spoke for all of the judges without consulting them (as far as I could see) before Megan even performed. This whole judges' save things has brought out a whole new rude side in Simon. I'd like to say I'm going to stop watching now and I probably won't watch as often, but I am intrigued to see what Adam and now Kris get up to. And yes, Allison. Really liked her sweet vocals on the group number. But I don't particularly care who stays or goes any more, am not invested. You know what would be nice? Besides Alexis and Megan coming back? They should have a duets week where nobody gets voted off so we can see how the contestants sing together. Could be cool. It was nice seeing David Cook back and I liked what he said about only selling 1,000 copies of his cd in a year before AI and going platinum in 3 months after. And Lady GaGa's performance of "Poker Face" - looooved it, especially how her singing straight at the clear pink piano was a million times more demented than her regular performance.]
[Also, and I know this is random, but I noticed my last name in the AI credits tonight. Just looked it up and Laura Staat is a deko operator (whatever that is, sounds cool) on the show. Hmmm, wonder if we're related. Also random - if you Google "American Idol" and Staat, my blog pops up on the first page of search results.]