We got back from spring break last night, but I just got around to watching last week’s American Idol tonight. And let me just say, I’ve been clammering for a Beatles-themed night for the past two years (i.e., all the years I’ve been watching), and I WAS NOT WRONG. I didn’t love everyone’s performance, but by and large, the quality of the show was high. Did anyone else think it was interesting that they refused to call it Beatles night, but instead called it Lennon-McCartney Songbook night? I mean, yes, that gave the contestants the option to choose songs they wrote for other bands, but who’s gonna do that? I bet it had something to do with the rights, again. Sheesh. They apparently already have the rights to George Harrison-penned songs, since Taylor did “Something” in Season Five, so I guess maybe they wanted to make a big deal about having the OTHER, MORE FAMOUS Beatles songs now? I dunno. It was strange. Relatedly, I wonder if they have the rights so that contestants can choose Beatles songs on other nights, or if it was just this one time?
Anyway, the performances. Brooke’s “Let It Be” was easily my favorite by a mile. I would absolutely go see her live right this very minute. She and Jason should team up and tour all the little intimate venues around. Using the piano? Genius. Keeping it simple? Genius. Infusing it with more sincerity than I thought Idol could ever manage? Genius. When I say Idol is better with instruments because it attracts better artists, that performance is EXACTLY what I’m talking about.
Carly came a close second with her killer take on “Come Together,” which has always been a Beatles song that I respect but don’t really like that much; I don’t know that she made me like it better, but her performance definitely made me like her better. I’ve been feeling like the judges are over-promoting her for the past several weeks, but this time she deserved the praise, and I’m on the Carly train. And Chikezie did the best job of mixing up an arrangement and coming out with something very cool; it might’ve helped that I didn’t know the song very well, but I enjoyed his version. Jason, of course, with “If I Fell”. I actually liked him better this week than last, but I wish he had gone for more of the high notes instead of swallowing them…that style works for him, but I think it would work better if he didn’t do it all the time.
Amanda scared me to death when she seemed not to know the Beatles at all in her interview (and picked a song she didn’t know before?!), but she pulled out a performance that was both definitively her and recognizably the Beatles. I didn’t love it, but I liked it. And as far as Simon’s criticism that it wasn’t as good as last week, that’s definitely true, but last week she was incredible–so that’s not a particularly harsh critique. David Cook, I’m not sure what I thought. I think he did a fine job singing it, and I really like him (very glad he eschewed the guitar this week; he smartly knew it would be too much). I think I just disagreed with his interpretation; I don’t feel like “Eleanor Rigby” is that angry of a song, but his rendition was definitely angry.
Michael and Syesha were both adequate, but not outstanding; Ramiele has one of the purest, prettiest voices, but she has got to stop singing so boringly. I’ve defending her for a few weeks when the judges have called her boring, but at this point she really does need to step it up. David Archuleta. Oh, David, David, David. I love you, and the judges love you, and we all love you, but you don’t know the Beatles? Really? And so you decide to cover a Stevie Wonder cover of a Beatles song? Not a great idea, even if you can remember all the lyrics. And “We Can Work It Out” is one of my absolute favorite Beatles songs, and I was so disappointed. Bring it back next week, David. Bring it back.
And the definite bottom two. Kristy, stop listening to the judges when their advice makes you do things that are crazy. Sticking to a country vibe does not mean taking a classic rock song and turning it into THAT. Whatever THAT was. I mean, in all fairness, “Eight Days a Week” is a great song and I could actually see putting a country twist on it, but you took it WAAAAAAY too far. Gutsy move, but ultimately dumb. On Australian Idol last year (sorry, tried to make it without a reference, but couldn’t), one of the judges, Dicko, said “You’ve got to stop being a contestant and start being an artist.” That’s exactly what Kristy needs to do. Saying “I turned this song into a country song because the judges said I needed to stick to county” is not being an artist, it’s being a contestant; it’s making choices based on what you THINK the judges want, which you THINK is what the country wants, which you THINK will make you win. That kind of decision-making doesn’t really work, because what the judges and the country really want is for you to become a self-confident artist who knows who she is and what she wants (and BTW, what you want is not to win American Idol; American Idol is, or should be, a means to the end of becoming a recording artist, not an end in itself), something you will never become if you spend all your energy trying to out-psychologize the judges.
And David Hernandez. Way to define “karaoke performance.” Thank you for that at any rate. I liked you before, man, but you lost me completely here, and apparently I’m not the only one. Well done, America, for getting at least two of the bottom three spot on. I wouldn’t have put Syesha in the bottom personally; my guess is her forgettably mediocre performance coupled with her going first put here there.
At first I was thrown off by having all the bottom three sing their songs again on the elimination show (and I’m still not completely sure it’s not just waste-of-time filler), but at least it did make it so that they didn’t have to sing AFTER being eliminated. It’s really hard to sing when you’re completely crushed, and I usually just feel bad for them. And KAT! Kat Kat Kat! Yep, I still love her to death. In fact, she almost sounded better than she did two years ago; partially due to her over-straining her voice so badly near the end of her season, though. Anyway, she’s working on a new album apparently, and my fingers are crossed that it won’t be quite so hip-hop/dance-centric and overproduced as the first one. Please? For me?