American Idol kicked off the LIVE performances last night during something they’re calling “Rush Week”, which gave us 10 out of 15 female singers doing a song of their choice and …whoa. What? All that work and effort went into selecting the top-15 girls and then, all of a sudden, we’re only getting 10 performances …in two hours? Oh …my! I guess that’s why they called it “Rush Week” because this was some major hazing. Imagine yourself sitting there for nearly two hours last night, wondering, hoping, and praying JLo, Harry, and Keith deemed you worthy of performing? And assume you thought, because you made it through Hollywood Week, that all the kids back home, and your whole family, and Mom & Dad who flew to L.A. for the show, at the very least, would see you on TV singing your heart out?
Ouch. When they finally called the tenth performer last night, if you had paused your DVR, you’d see exactly what it looks like the minute dreams are crushed. And then they paraded them out on stage just before the end of the show and lined them up like a firing line which, I think if you’d have asked the girls at that moment to put on a blindfold, they might’ve done it thinking, “what else do I have to live for.”
Did I already say, “ouch?” OK …enough of the hazing and the most cruelty I’ve ever seen on Idol, and let’s quick run-down the performances.
Majesty Rose kicked things off with Pharrel’s “Happy”, which I call the “Hey Ya” of 2014. It’s impossible not to like this song and want to sing along. Majesty Rose’s performance was subtle and understated which, as the night wore on, was a GREAT (and safe) move. She’s beautiful to look at, lovely to listen to, and hopefully the phone lines lit up for her.
Kristen O’Conner went next and I had really high hopes, and so did she, obviously, as she picked Adele’s “Turn the Tables.” Adele is becoming one of those vocal icons that very few people should be trying to duplicate. Kristen looks great. The judges love her. But this song made her look completely average. Maybe she is, but it could’ve been opening-night nerves. The judges kept pointing that out, almost to apologize to them all for thrusting them into this massive spotlight and being hazed and not knowing how to move on-camera, not totally understanding how to sing in front of a rabid crowd, and under the lights, and it’s true. Every performance should be seen as yet another audition. Once Kristen gets her “sea legs”, if she gets votes for last night, she’s going to be a front-runner.
Briana Oakley just seemed old. And then during her performance? What was she looking at off camera? She sang “Warrior”, a lesser known hit from Demi Lovato. No doubt she can sing, but would anyone buy her CD? About as many as would buy Candice Glover’s CD. Who’s Candice Glover, you ask? Exactly. Poor Briana. I’m making fun of her because she’s normal and plain. Maybe I should just point out that her singing, last night, was just so, so.
My favorite Rolling Stones song, like Chris Daughtry, is “Paint it Black”, and that’s what Jena “Don’t Call me Jenna” Irene chose for the night. Hilariously Fox picked her moment with Randy where Randy was flubbing her name as one of her preview clips, which makes me think Randy agreed to leave Idol when they begged him last year but asked for a few conditions if he was going to break his contract and quietly go back to what he was doing before American Idol came into his life which was, I assume, telling random strangers at malls that he knows famous people. So, because he said, “I’ll leave the show for the good of the show,” he made it a stipulation he could come back as a mentor from time to time. And there he was, giving absolutely useless advice in one-on-one sit-down sessions saying things like, “you gotta be in it to win it” and “you gotta feel it” which is consistent with all his post-performance critique’s over the years, but completely useless.
Luckily all the performers also had Chris Daughtry and Adam Lambert coaching them, and those two were very good. Daughtry is pretty cool – I know I’ve bashed him in the past. I hope he has a few more radio hits in him.
Anyway …Jena. Jena was the first girl whom Harry Connick Jr. asked, “tell me about that song.” Harry was really digging for the, “why?” with some of these girls, and that’s obviously a hot button for Harry – singing things, as he put it, that are “in the pocket.” Maybe it goes back to his career and his later CD failures when he tried to make “rock music” infused with big band and New Orleans jazz flavor and it sucked …he loves jazz and standards. His fans love him doing classics and standards. That’s his “pocket”. He’s best when he’s singing songs and performing and writing music he loves.
What I’m saying is, Jena was great, but if you watch her and listen, you’ll see, she’s never really thought about the lyrics to that song. I have …and I still don’t know what that songs about, but I know I’d use it in a soundtrack if I ever made a movie about the Vietnam War.
Bria Anai wants to be known as the girl with the lips and wild lipstick. But she should want to be remembered for singing. Bria is Jennifer Hudson 2.0. Bria has a voice, but she has no idea what to do with it. Her voice is like a wild stallion and during her rendition of “Wrong Side of a Love Song” I could almost see the notes bucking like wild broncos as they kept coming out of her mouth. At times, as Harry pointed out, she was just shouting.
“Black Miley Cyrus”, aka Marielle Sellars, is obviously one of the judges favorites, and you could tell they were extra disappointed in how bad her attempt at Katy Perry’s “Roar” was. This song …I’ve watched Katy Perry perform it live on a few TV shows and the song is really just a radio hit. Now, don’t get me started on Katy Perry, who can’t sing, and for those music snobs reading, Katy Perry is much more image than substance, but the point is, the song has pretty cool lyrics, a powerful backing track, but it only works on radio because they could “fix” Katy Perry’s vocals in the studio. Marielle …hell, anyone would have a tough time with that song and now Marielle is going to have to hope and pray enough of us like her from all her previous performances, and because we like Miley Cyrus, that we’ll vote for her.
The next two performers both kinda confuse me as to why the judges picked them, but Jessica “Pink Hair” Meuse and MK are judge favorites and, for now, that’s enough. On Thursday we’ll see if we vote for them or not (I think we won’t vote for them). Jessica Meuse chose “Drink a Beer” which was slow and boring. She also chose to ignore Chris Daughtry who, outside of smashing Jessica’s guitar on the ground, desperately tried to get her to leave the guitar so she’d be more vested in the performance and the lyrics and would be “performing” rather than “playing.” And then there’s MK who wasn’t horrible while singing John Legend’s current hit, “All of Me”, but is this really an American Idol? A winner? It’ll never happen, but I guess someone’s gotta help fill time during the summer tour. Again, MK wasn’t awful, but seems old-fashioned and is definitely not exciting.
I just sayin’, I don’t know where these two fit on the Mt. Rushmore of American Idol. And if there was an American Idol Mt. Rushmore, would you pack your family in the car and go see it?
Emily Piriz was the next girl to face Harry’s song-choice wrath, and to a lesser degree, Randy’s. Nobody denies she’s got a certain “cool” about her, but she’s not quite old enough to be “sexy” and Harry, uncomfortably, tried to tell her that in her initial audition, and then again last night. Emily said something in her pre-performance clips about “standing in front of the mirror for, like, 2 hours” to practice and release her “inner rock-star” and that’s the whole point. You can’t stand in front of a mirror and act like a rock-star …you gotta feel it and believe it in your soul. And sometimes, not always, rock-stars are tortured souls. It’s what makes John Lennon and Paul McCartney different. John had no father, was given up by his mother to be raised by his Aunt, and then his Aunt died when he was a teenager, and he’s basically an orphan who only wanted what the other kids had – a regular family. Sadly for him (though luckily for us) his angst and confusion produced brilliant music and lyrics. McCartney, on the other hand, and he admits it himself, never wrote songs from the same dark place that John Lennon did, because he didn’t have anything really sad or bad happen to him in his youth. His songs are much happier and melodic.
What does this have to do with Emily Piriz? Well because when she sings about “you have me down on the floor”, as Harry asks, “tell me the first two lines of that song, just say the words,” and Emily giggles embarrassingly as she repeats them, it proves the point …she’s not old enough or worldly enough to sing a song like “Ooh La La” or whatever it’s called. It’s a “hot” song, and Emily is “cute.” But even without all that, because she’s so cute, I think she’ll get voted into the Top-12.
And last but certainly not least was Malaya. Some people are going to be really annoyed by her and think she’s putting on an act and “trying to be odd”, but I really think she’s a nerd at heart, but she’s charming as all get out. Chris Daughtry called her voice “stupid” (which is a compliment, for my older readers) and even though she sang a really old Ray Charles song and we’ve spent alotta time talking about picking a song that’s “in the pocket” and is age and personality appropriate, Malaya can sing anything and I believe it. She’s nerdy enough I believe her when she says the first CD she bought was a Ray Charles CD.
Now, it’ out of their hands and into our hands. We decide. I voted for Malaya (who I’m already calling by her first-name only, and maybe someday when she releases her self-titled debut CD, “Malaya” and that’s what we all call her, maybe I’ll get credit), Emily Piriz (even though she’s “cute” and not “hot), and Jena. I’m going to predict at least one of the girls I don’t like will be voted through (Jessica Meuse or MK), and then probably Majesty Rose and Kristen O’Conner. But what do I know? I guess we’ll see Thursday night if I’m some sorta expert know-it-all, or just another idiot blogger.
Thanks for reading. Come back tomorrow and we’ll see if the guys were any good.