In honor of the American Idol finale this week, I’m ceding this week’s Music Monday to American Idol fever. My favorite winners, finalists, and a few of this year’s best tracks. (Sound clips from the show taken from Rickey.org)
I wrote Kelly Clarkson off for years because she came from Idol. Those were the same years, incidentally, that I was scoffing at Idol itself. But now I love her, and she remains the best Idol as well as the first (I just saw Season One on American Idol Rewind, and the only other contestant that season who even remotely competed evenly with Kelly was Tamyra Gray–Tamyra’s about to start starring on Broadway in RENT as Mimi, by the way–I bet she’ll be great in that role). On the other hand, Kelly’s immediate release after Idol (“Thankful”) was not terribly impressive from what I’ve heard of it, so skip straight to her second release “Breakaway” (I tried to pick songs that haven’t been overplayed on the radio–but since I don’t listen to the radio, I might be grossly mistaken). Hopefully her upcoming release this summer will be similarly enjoyable.
Kelly Clarkson – Gone (right-click-save to download)
Kelly Clarkson – Where is Your Heart (right-click-save to download)
(buy "Breakaway" from Amazon)
(pre-order "My December" from Amazon)
What, did I skip a few years? My bad. I started watching in Season 5, and don’t care enough for what I’ve heard of Clay, Ruben, and Fantasia to bother going back and get their albums. I do like Carrie Underwood, but not being a country fan, I also haven’t been proactive about getting any of her music. So there you have it. On to Season 5. Kat’s self-titled debut album is a bit overly pop/R&B for my tastes, but it’s actually growing on me. Which is a little disturbing when I think about it (do I like everything if I only listen to it enough?). But anyway, one review I read of the the album is that her voice sounds great, and it’s just too bad that the material often dips into the banal–especially the lyrics. I would totally agree with that assessment. If you like Kat’s voice and want to hear more, you won’t hate the album, but you might be disappointed that she didn’t hold out for better material. Here are a couple of tracks. “Dangerous” is a laid-back club number, while “Ordinary World” shows off her vocal ability better than most of the other tracks.
Katharine McPhee – Dangerous (right-click-save…you get the idea)
Katharine McPhee – Ordinary World
(buy "Katharine McPhee" from Amazon)
I have Daughtry’s album, but I’ve only heard it a time or two, not enough to pick out songs I like. In fact, most of the songs seem to run together as annoyingly similar. Just to have something of his, though, here’s “Home,” which is currently being used as the journey recap music for voted-off Idol contestants.
Daughtry – Home
(buy "Daughtry" from Amazon)
I was also disappointed in Elliott’s album. (I guess I should stop hoping for good Idol debut albums, eh? Especially since not even Kelly’s first one was good…fingers crossed for sophomore efforts?) But his voice is still incredible, even if I think they hired chimps to write a few of the lyrics.
Elliott Yamin – Find a Way
Elliott Yamin – A Song for You
(buy "Elliott Yamin" from Amazon)
Taylor is conspicuously absent for the simple reason that I don’t like him. Deal.
Best of This Year
Why should Jordin Sparks win this year? Because of these songs, among others:
Jordin Sparks – To Love Somebody
Jordin Sparks – You’ll Never Walk Alone
Jordin Sparks – I Who Have Nothing
Why do I want Blake Lewis‘s CD? Because of these performances, among several others:
Blake Lewis – Mack the Knife
Blake Lewis – When I Get You Alone
and especially Blake Lewis – You Give Love a Bad Name
Why was I surprised when Melinda Doolittle got voted off, even though I was rooting for a Jordin-Blake finale? Because she’s amazing:
Melinda Doolittle – I’m a Woman
Melinda Doolittle – My Funny Valentine
Melinda Doolittle – I Believe in You and Me
Why did I feel bad when I started hoping LaKisha Jones would get voted off? Because I felt a bit shallow choosing personality rather than talent, which she clearly has:
LaKisha Jones – And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going
LaKisha Jones – Midnight Train to Georgia
LaKisha Jones – This Ain’t a Love Song
Why did I want Chris Richardson to stay around as long as rationally possible? Well, partially because I was crushing on him. But also because I enjoyed his versions of these, among others:
Chris Richardson – Don’t Get Around Much Anymore
Chris Richardson – Don’t Let the Sun Catch You Crying
Chris Richardson – Wanted Dead or Alive
Why did I vote for Haley Scarnato even though I knew she couldn’t (and shouldn’t) win? Because I downright love her tone quality, even if I’m in a minority. And I think her voice is better suited to the recording studio than the live stage, and that hurt her.
Haley Scarnato – It’s All Coming Back to Me Now
Haley Scarnato – Ain’t Misbehavin’
Haley Scarnato – True Colors
Just to prove I’m truly obsessed, I do have audio rips of pretty much all of the performances from both Seasons 5 and 6, if there are any y’all are interested in that I didn’t post here. American Idol.com has studio-recorded versions for sale, which I hear are often worthwhile getting, too, if you’re even more obsessed than me.