Welcome to it, my friends.
I'll say it right up front, I don't vote.
In the nine seasons this show's been on the air, I've never voted for any of the singers. Not a one. Mainly because I feel that unless I'm planning on buying their album, it seems hypocritical to actually vote for them. I came close a couple times, but never pulled the trigger - with the phone or my wallet.
We all know that AI is less a talent seeking show and more a money generating factory, so, until I vote with my dolla dolla bill, y'all, I'll continue to steer clear of the phone-in vote.
Got home late and after walking the dog, checking in with my Pop and putting dinner in the oven, I missed the usual pomp and buildup that is is the AI machine. Thank heaven for small favors.
I also missed the the first three singers.
So, my first three critiques come via youtube uploads.
Paige Miles - All Right Now (Free.) An okay start to the show. Good tone to her voice and I'm a fan of the song in general. Points for stepping out of the gate by trying to R&B up a classic rock song. It almost works, but not quite. Judges hammer up the fact that trying to take a "band sound" and turn it into a solo vocal (even with backup singers) doesn't really end up doing a rock song any favors. It becomes that unhappy hybrid of Wedding Singer and Cruise Ship Lounge Act.
She also kind of just did the same thing over and over. Popping out a word here and thar in a falsetto/squeak every now and again. Example: "Maybe we can SEE things the same..." "Don't you think this LOVE can last?"
Again, points for attempting to alter from the original, but it just didn't have the musicality to...well, grab me.
At present, I dig her green eyes and positive disposition, but that blinding silver belt thingamajig has Got To Go. The way the stage lighting was set, my eyes went directly to the giant belt in every wide shot and it's all I could focus on. Undermined by fashion. Truly, there is nothing new under the AI sun.
**Question: Why do the AI Producers always underscore the ROCK with the fake flame background? It's atrocious, cliched and, oh, I don't know....hackneyed.**
Ashley Rodriguez - Happy (Leona Lewis.) Man. Where have I been? That's a hit song? That's like the 2010 equivalent to a B-side from The Smiths.* (And a poor man's version at that.) Wow. Ok. I kinda want to open my wrists after hearing that one.
Here's the thing. You only get about 90 seconds tonight to really introduce yourself to the masses....do NOT pick a somber, moody ballad, that you really can't pull off to begin with. Bad song choice, girlie. Again, I'll give it to the judges. Girl can carry a tune, but she can't carry a really big one across the stage just yet.
*OMG. It just hit me. How utterly awesome would it be for an Idol to sing Please, Please, Please Let Me Get What I Want? Perfect length and so cloyingly desperate. Hmmm. Maybe in round 4 or 5 after the audience knows your sense of humor a bit better? Hmmm...
Janell Wheeler - What About Love (Heart.) BRING ON THE HEART! Ah...oh, well...yeah. Starts pretty clean and then she's almost immediately warbly and off key. Felt like the best singer at karaoke night. Nothing different or unique or overly interesting. Bordered on boring for me.
Wait. Is she wearing leather/pleather pants? Gahf. Dude. They give you a clothing budget and that's what you buy? Hmmm. Maybe they are just really super thin/tight jeans. Agh. Top's cute and the lavender background is a big improvement over Paige's flames.
Lilly Scott - Fixing A Hole (Beatles.) I like the song choice and while she didn't make waterfalls and unicorns come shooting out of it, I think agree with Simon that 1) it's the best of the ladies thus far (of course, we're only 4 deep), and that 2) she's lacking in star quality.
I also thought Randy's comment that she's not "I love that...you don't care what everyone else is thinking, what's fashionable, what's in, whatever. "
Uh...Randy, are you for real? Maybe Lady Bowersox could give two shits about what's fashionable, but Lilly is giving off the vibe that her look, her sound is what she considers to be very in fashion. "Indie" is directly related to fashion, you idiot. The fact that she is coming from a Lilly Allen space is VERY in fashion, you dolt. Gah. Judges. Please let the sky drop bricks on your head.
Speaking of fashion...there is something about her look reminds me of Tracy Ullman in a wig doing a character. Except Tracy Ullman's affectation when she sings is a put-on for a bit.
Hmmm. I'm on the fence with Ms. Lilly.
Katelyn Epperly- Oh Darlin' (Beatles.) Feels like a nice, safe song choice choice for her vocally. I'm not sure if she's intentionally trying to lean towards the infamous Janis Joplin screech or it's nerves. It seemed to work for her overall, but it felt a wee bit pushed/forced midway through.
When I just listen to the audio, she reminds me a bit of Susan Tedeschi - with 82% less soul and grit. She's Tedeschi Light.
Another pretty girl who has a decent voice, although that leather dress wasn't doing her any favors. She looks like she has a nice, natural figure and that leather dress looked like a floor mat.
Haelely Vaughn - I Want To Hold Your Hand (Beatles.) The thing about the Beatles is that their early stuff is so simple and straight forward that 1) anyone (even me) can sing them and not sound like an asshole and 2) they are so perfectly created that trying to alter the arrangement can really backfire on you, if you don't know what you're doing.
Hate me if you will (and I kinda do), but part of me likely Ms. Vaughn. It wasn't amazing and she's far, far, far from the strongest singer, but she's very personable and did a decent job. Yeah, she smiled like an idiot throughout the song - her nerves definitely showed...but I still liked it.
I'm just not sure if I liked it because I'm always amazed by what the Beatles created, or if it's something she brought into the mix. It's the same conundrum I have when I'm making out with a guy who's a good kisser. Am I digging it because I like this fella, or do I really really really just like making out. I believe in this scenario, I'm too drunk to trust my own judgement and will have to make out with him (listen to her sing) without being a'drunk (the Beatles.)
Also, for some reason, my notes here say, "Shaddup, Kara."
Even though I don't know why I wrote it, I know it's correct.
Lacey Brown - Landslide (Fleetwood Mac.) AWFUL. One of those that I can't tell if it's the transition to the ear bud or nerves, but...oofie. Not good. Lots of hard, off notes. Very pitchy. And, is it me, or does her speaking voice sound like one of those girls who talk in a baby voice? Never trust a girl who talks in a baby voice, people.
Again this is a great song that is a poor song choice for this singer. Moreover, it was really...WHAT? Wait a minute. As the judges throw it back to Seabreeze, I hear Simon say she's got "She's got nice eyes." And Kara say, "Beautiful girl."
FUCK YOU JUDGES. That's why American should put her through? Because she "looks" the part? FUCK YOU. If she doesn't bring it, THAT'S worthy of voting her off. My god, it's night one and I already want to slap people.
WAIT...are you kidding me? I'm ready to bitch slap the judges and then Lacey does the cardinal sin of coming close to breaking Rule #4 (see side bar on the right), by standing there and trying to counter the judges' criticism by equating Simon's "you're boring" comment to "some songs are just slower" and that "you can't come out with a full on rock song every single time."
1. Slower doesn't equal boring, Lacey.
Your performance equaled boring. Math = Facts!
2. You can't "rock" every single time?
DUDE. This is your FIRST time being voted on by the masses.
And now you've opened your piehole and confirmed the fact that you're boring and an idiot.
Michelle Delamor - Fallin' (Alicia Keys.) Possibly the most gorgeous idol that I can recall...I look at her and she reminds me of every teen model that ever graced the covers of Seventeen Magazine. She looks like a cross between Mya and JLo with a splash of Janet Jackson. Her look is completely marketable.
And she can sing pretty well. Mid-song she wasn't as strong as at the top...and the ending went a little wedding singer-ish. Honestly, I think she's one of the better ladies of the night both in her vocal and her performance.
She needs to lose the constant forced pageant smile - it even seemed like she was fighting it a little, so it seems like she was aware of it. We'll see if that's nerves or a bad habit.
I agree with Simon that right now, she's a good singer, but she's too much of a copy of what's already out there - visually and vocally. She's got to take a risk. She's got to bring it.
Didi Benami - The Way I Am (Ingrid Michelson.) LOVE THIS SONG. Love it. The minute I hear the lead in, I'm like GREAT SONG CHOICE. It's short and fun and uptempo. Even if you're not familiar with the song, it's one of those catchy sweet pop tunes that you can't help but smile and feel good about.
But she fucked it up by monkeying with the arrangement just a bit too much. Here's the deal on "arrangement." You show a creative arrangement on a KNOWN song. One that will break the audience's and judges expectations. This is NOT a song that is known to the masses. Maybe 20% of the audience are familiar with Ingrid Michaelson. In this instance, you don't have to push it. Just let them love you and this song just as you are.
A good example of this would be last season, when Kris Allen performed "Falling Slowly." He didn't muss with it, just performed it as it was intended, which worked because, again, while it's one of my favorite songs OF ALL TIME - not to mention an award winner - it wasn't a Top 40 blow-out hit.
I disagree that it's a dreary song, but I will agree with Simon a bit that there was no spark. Her delivery was a tad dull. She took a really sweet, funny song and made it just a little too serious.
When you have a song that uses Rogaine as a love song lyric? Work the Fun of it.
Siobhan Magnus - Wicked Game (Chris Issac.) Since I'm not sure I'll ever spell her name right again (much less pronounce it correctly) I dub thee...Sade. I look at this name and think, will she be the Chikezie of this season? Mayhaps.
I think she's got balls to attempt this song and it almost, kinda sorta works. She started off too low in her register, but overall, I like the tone of her voice. I like the tattoo peeking out from her sleeve. I like her. But, I didn't get caught up in the song...and that's what should happen with a song that haunting.
Crap. Here we go AGAIN. Judges? STFU. They keep pining and reminding everyone how AWESOME SHE PERFORMED THE STEVIE WONDER SONG, YO. Just in case you were thinking of NOT voting for her, you TOTALLY SHOULD because Stevie is fucking hard to sing and SHE KILLED IT IN THE FINAL ROUND, YO.
Shut up, Judges. Seriously. I'm judging her on what I'm seeing tonight. And tonight, she was good, but not great. So. SHUT. IT.
Crystal Bowersox - Hand in My Pocket (Alanis Morrisette.) GAH. You don't love music because of your kid. I don't care about your kid. I don't care about your story. Gah. I am obviously hitting a wall.
Her performance was good, but....really, really, really, really, really safe song choice with very little of the "making it her own."
Her energy is nice, but, facts is facts.
It was a coffeehouse performance.
A Tuesday night coffeehouse performance. (which is open mic night, folks.)
I beg of you Lady Bowersox, please, please, please don't do the guitar-harmonica combo each week. I beg of you. On my knees. Unless you can play the harmonica like John Popper, please...Limit That Shit. Still, I like her and want her to stick around.
Katie Stevens - Feeling Good (WTF?) UGH. Let me tell you how surprised I would be to discover that Katie has been around pageants for most of her life. Zero percent. I would be zero percent surprised. And now, here is the point in the evening where my BRAIN EXPLODED.
According to Seabreeze's "teleprompter", Katie will sing, Feeling Good... FROM MICHAEL BUBLE.
WHAT. THE FUCK. God I hate this show.
Excuse me, won't you, while I speak directly to my sworn enemies, the Producers of this show.
Michael Buble did NOT INVENT this song.
He didn't even "reinvent" it.
He didn't write it, arrange it or poop it out his pooper chute.
He just covered it.
If anyone gets to take credit for this song (aside from the original Broadway musical it was actually written for in 1965) it's NINA FUCKING SIMONE.
You motherfucking soul-sucking asshats.
And if your viewing audience doesn't know who the fuck NINA SIMONE is, then hey. HEY! Let's do the world at large a favor and use this as a teaching moment to expose them to one of the greatest artists that every walked the earth. Ms. NINA "I Put a Spell On You" SIMONE.
As I step off my soapbox, you can probably tell that I love this song. Katie starts pretty strong and then it drops off a bit and then she picks it back up. And then kinda drops it again. The last note was...oofy. It was a little like watching a 12 year old sing "Cabaret." They might be able to kinda pull it off, but really, you never want to see a tweener portray Sally Bowles. Ever.
Arg. So much more snark, but I must wrap it up and get ready for Gent's Night.If I had to put money on it, Lacey Brown will be going home.