April 18, 2007

American Idol - 7- Country Music

Nothing slows down the momentum of well-liked and well performing contestants like Country Music week on American Idol. With the exception of Melinda and Jordin who could sing the contents of their dresser drawers with meaning, everyone did poorly last night. One might argue that Phil Stacey did well last night, but as I've mentioned time and time again, I don't like him.

Country music is always challenging for the contestants because usually the songs are boring unless they are sung by the incredible personalities for whom they were written. Martina McBride was the guest mentor and she'll perform on tonight's show. Like Jennifer Lopez, she took a break from her busy touring schedule to work with the contestants. It must have been a real hardship. She was lovely with the contestants like all the mentors. I'd be amazed if any of the mentors actually said what they thought truly about anybody they have helped.

Phil Stacey sang "Where the Blacktop Ends" by Keith Urban. I'm not a country music fan and as a result, unless the song is exceptional, all the songs sound the same to me. I couldn't tell you one thing about that song except that the lyrics were . . . oh no, I can't tell you anything about those either. Never mind. Apparently, the judges felt he was in his element, that he's most comfortable singing country music. I have to admit, his performance last night had more personality than previous performances combined but I still don't like him as a solo performer, maybe as part of a Naval singing group or something. Oh yeah. That is what he does when he's not on American Idol. I almost forgot. I still can't believe Gina Glocksen went home before this guy.

Jordin Sparks sang Broken Wing by Martina McBride. In her little segment with Martina McBride, McBride was blown away by Jordin Sparks. And after she performed the song, the audience and the judges were very impressed. Simon even told her that with that song, he finally sees Jordin as the American Idol. Again, I couldn't tell you what the song is about. But I can tell you that Jordin is more enjoyable to watch than most of the remaining contestants. And listening to her sing is an absolute joy.

Sanjaya really disappointed me last night. He picked the absolute worst song anyone could have picked for a singing competition. Bonnie Raitt wrote Something To Talk About and sings it like no one else can because she wrote it for herself. I've already explained my theory that when a song writer writes a song for him or herself, only that artist can perform it well. You know already that I am a fan of Sanjaya and before last night I believed him to be a fairly decent singer. If I'd only seen last night's performance, I wouldn't have understood at all why he was on the show. He didn't do anything to make the song his own. He moved around awkwardly in a bad outfit which made him hard to watch. And he forgot to apply any technique or music theory he's learned over the years to anything he was singing, which made him hard to listen to. Add the fact that he repeated "Let's Give Them Something to Talk About" about 50 times in two minutes and you've got an equation for the most boring performance of the evening.

Lakisha sang the corniest song of the evening, Jesus Takes the Wheel by Carrie Underwood. Lakisha was really out of her element on this one. She was connected to the song emotionally but her voice was not a good match for the arrangement. But I can't blame her for having trouble. Country music isn't that interesting and it's very, very hard to make it interesting. Especially if you have no real technique or music theory to lean on which is what I suspect is the contributing to factor to all of Lakisha's weak performances. If only she had more technique to rely on maybe she could have made that incredibly corny song work.

Chris Richardson proved last night how much he truly does suck. He's been hiding behind pop songs which don't require much from singers in terms of range and personality. Last night, he sang out of key and entirely through his nose. He chose the song Mayberry by Rascal Flatts, a sentimental song about how simple life used to be for the singer when he lived in Mayberry. This was a bad choice for Chris, not just because he couldn't sing the song, but because he's too young to sing a song a like this. This is a good song for someone 40 and older to sing, someone whose lived a little bit. He's too young to make any connections at all with a song like this.

Melinda Doolittle chose a great song. Up until Melinda all the song choices were ballads or as boring as ballads. "Trouble is a Woman" by Julie Reeves was upbeat and fun - more like a square dancing song than a corny ballad. The song allowed Melinda yet another opportunity to show off all of her fantastic singing qualities - including phrasing, lyric interpretation and good technique. (And by technique I mean tools in her singing arsenal that contribute to how she sounds when she sings.) It was the best performance of the evening.

Blake Lewis sang "When the Stars Go Blue" by Tim McGraw. Boring. It was boring. To me it sounded like he was singing out of key for the whole song. He looked uncomfortable to me. There wasn't much he could do to that song to make it his own and I don't really know why he chose it.

That's my round up. Who do I think will be going home tonight? I have no idea. I just hope it's not Melinda or Jordin.

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