The most perplexing thing about last night’s American Idol was that song that played over the cheesy opening sequence. What …was …that …song? I want it on my iPod. Someone? Anyone? Regardless of whether I know that song or not, we have the top-6 to talk about. And we can talk about that odd stage arrangement where the band was on stage – a stage so different than the norm that I wondered if they’d changed venues and I missed the press release.
Note: spunkybean no longer receives press releases from Fox and American Idol
Note 2: spunkybean never received press releases from Fox and American Idol
Last night they filled two hours by demanding our Idols perform two songs – a song that rocked and something Country. Jena Irene kicked it off with Heart’s “Barracuda” and holy crap …if you sing something by Heart, you should win. It worked for Carrie Underwood. Put simply …Jena kicked ass. The band had better thank their stars Jena is young and not yet a diva, because she should’ve turned around and decked someone – the band was way too hot. They drowned her out a few times. Luckily, she has a voice that allows her to ramp it up and absolutely wail, so she didn’t get lost. Great way to open the show. Great showcase to show how she’s grown, coolly walking around and owning the stage like performing in front of millions of people on TV ain’t no big thang.
Note: Jena Irene is from my hometown and the mayor declared April 23rd “Jena Irene Day.” I totally live in a cool place.
Note 2: It might not have been the mayor or my town, and might’ve been my county and the county executive. Not sure if that’s better or worse than a mayor.
Jena’s second song was “So Small” (people they love Carrie Underwood), and she sang it like Paramore. OK. Fine. It worked. And did you happen to notice that Fox and American Idol put her on a pedestal. Literally. She performed while standing on a pedestal. Good lord, they want her to win. Who doesn’t want her to win, am I right? I mean, except the other five people performing, I guess. Geez, this girl is insanely good. I feel bad she didn’t show up 5 or 6 years ago when this show still mattered and was a star-maker. Well, mainly, I’m just excited I’ll get to hear her and see her for the next 5 or 6 weeks until she disappears for the entire summer and her album isn’t released for 6 months and we forget about her.
Sam Woolf went with Imagine Dragon’s “Time” and this song was “bigger than him” (the quotation marks are because I am quoting my wife …and she’s totally right). Maybe I’m wrong, because the judges loved him – even Harry. However, I think he’s not meant to be singing big, rock numbers. I guess he was forced to, which is what last night was about …to see if these kids can sing outside their comfort zone and push themselves, and for that, he did a pretty good job. I’m wishy washy. One thing I’m not wishy washy on, and will not back down from, is that he was awful sining “You’re Still the One” for his Country offering. As Keith pointed out, the song “sings itself” because it’s just a bouncy, sentimental, easy song that doesn’t stretch vocally …he needed to perform it …for the ladies who love him, instead, it was barely a step above someone who’s forced to sing that song at a karaoke night but has never seen the words. This might spell doom for Sam.
Lenny Kravitz, C.J. Harris is not. However, picking the Lenny Kravitz version of “American Woman” was a really great choice because it made C.J. seem cooler than he is. Maybe it’s because the song, as written by The Guess Who, is just so damn cool. Harry liked it because it had some big energy, and Keith gave him some pointers about performing with someone in mind. That, in a nutshell, sums up C.J. …he’s got a naturally cool way about him, and he likes cool music, but he’s not quite comfortable performing and being on stage (which goes for Jessica, too …just not comfortable on a big stage in front of a big audience and maybe their daydreams never involved performing in a stadium). It’s too bad he couldn’t pick the order in which he performed his songs, because his Country performance was very shaky. So bad, I cringed a few times. It’s too bad. C.J. is a nice kid. He’s not cocky. He doesn’t really deserve my wrath or anyone’s wicked and cruel commentary, but Country just wasn’t his thing – even Jlo didn’t like it. And that’s saying something.
“If you’re lucky enough to be here next week …” -Harry Connick Jr
Remember when Jessica was a huge trouble maker during Hollywood Week? Remember how I said she’s completely annoying and will wilt under the big, bright spot lights? And remember last week when I said she looks so disinterested and out-of-place trying to walk around stage and engaging the crowd? And even last paragraph when I said she’s too small for this big room? Well, ahem, I guess if you give her brooding, dark songs like “Somebody to Love” by Jefferson Airplane Starship Plane and “Jolene” by Dolly Parton, and she stands in the middle of the stage with her guitar and sings songs that reflect her mood and persona, she’s, um, how do I say this …she’s pretty good. I kinda didn’t recognize her. I kinda didn’t recognize myself, actually, because she was really, really good and I forgot how much I don’t like her and how incredulous I am every week about how I don’t understand how America is voting. Now, if she ends up in the bottom-2 this week or, gasp, ends up going home, this riddle that is American Idol is going to cause me some sleepless nights. So, if you’re reading, Jessica …from now on …sing “dark” and “emo” songs. Look sad rather than disinterested. Be like Kelly Clarkson, is what I’m saying. And not the Kelly Clarkson that won American Idol and starred in “From Kelly to Justin: The Original Teen Beach Movie” …be like the Kelly Clarkson that got angry at the world after Carrie Underwood became the American Idol we love better than Kelly Clarkson and then got fat and sang songs about how guys are assholes and she’s always depressed and dating sucks and pass me a donut because I don’t care if I’m fat, that’s your problem, not mine. Be like that Kelly Clarkson.
I thought Alex Preston would have a tough time with “rock”, but he hit a homerun with Neon Trees’s “Animal”, which totally rocks, but he was able to squeak by safely because this is a rather wimpy rock song. And when I say “squeak by”, I mean he was borderline awful until the final 30-seconds when he hit a big note to kinda make you forget he was out of breath halfway through the song because “singing loud” isn’t his thing. None of it mattered, of course, because his Country performance of “Always on My Mind” was so good, he could’ve just walked off the stage during his rock performance. That’s how good his second performance was. I keep using the word “wheelhouse” and nobody knows his wheelhouse better than Alex knows his own. Yes, his fake emotion was a little forced and I don’t think he’s ever had a bad break-up, so it was missing a little emotion, but dang …so good. The judges loved it. In a word? Safe. He’s totally safe.
Note: Keith Urban loved every song last night – not necessarily the performance, but the songs.
Caleb Johnson did his thing with the Black Crows “Sting Me.” Hilariously, his “big move” …sliding to the back of the stage …Fox completely missed it. They had isolated a camera on the drummer in the brief drum solo and when they went back to the main camera, Caleb was crumpled in a heap at the back of the stage like he’d just collapsed and we were like, um, what just happened. What did we miss? Man oh man, people went crazy, which means even if I say he’s predictable and unoriginal week after week, he gets votes and that’s all that matters.
Note: JLo tried to speak authoritatively on this song, but I guarantee you she’s never heard a Black Crowed song all the way through and certainly had never heard “Sting Me” before last night (or this week to debrief herself …I guarantee it).
Before his Country performance, Carried Underwood’s “Undo It”, I could’ve told you this wouldn’t be Caleb’s best moment. Um …it was supposed to be Country and he screamed it like a rock anthem, which I guess is his wheelhouse, but he missed a real opportunity to leap-frog Jena Irene. Remember when he surprised us covering Adele’s theme song from a James Bond movie? Last night could’ve been another moment like that for him. Instead, and it’s working for him so I might be wrong and he might be right, he did the same ol’ same ‘ol. What should he have sang? Well I’ll tell ya. He should’ve sang some Garth Brooks as Garth would’ve sang it. Or, how about this …”Wicked Game.” That counts as Country, right?
I liked that we got to see so many performances. Some struggled. This week, I think we’ll be saying good-bye to C.J. or Sam. Sam was already out, once …not a stretch
What did I miss? What did you think? We’ll gather back here tomorrow and talk through this and we’ll do some daily affirmations together about life without Malaya. It’s been 20 days.
Thanks for reading.