Thursday, March 6, 2008

Idol Top 16 Performances

When recapping this week’s Top 16 performances on American Idol, the judges’ comments continue to sound alarmingly old and repetitive. Paula can’t help but mimic lingo from Randy and Simon, throwing in talk of vocal textures and colors along the way (her usual rambling). Randy has subdued his constant use of dawg, though now he’s resorted to calling the ladies ‘dudes.’ As for Simon, he continues to predictably surprise us. However, audiences love knowing that they’ll never truly know what’s beneath Simon’s scowl. He’s the one judge that we still tune in for.

As for the singing, as Simon concluded very correctly on Wednesday night, the guys are faring better than the females. Whether it’s based on vocal ability or song selection is yet to be seen.

(Above: David Cook performing his "emo" version of "Hello." I didn't say it, Randy Jackson did.)
Last week, Jason Yeager and Robbie Carrico were sent home. Unfortunately, America sent home two of the more promising female contestants, the talented Alaina Whitaker and Alexandrea Lushington.

The Guys
First off, this is the first time that these early stages have been confined by themes. It’s great because they give the show and performances more structure, and they provide a challenge right away for the contestants. The bad thing is, we end up sitting through mediocre routines stuck in the past instead of enjoying fresh, contemporary performances.

The worst: Because the guys are collectively a really good bunch, the weaker singers stand out like sore thumbs. The weakest, and sure to head home, is the beautiful Luke Menard. Honestly, his voice is decent, but he sucks at picking songs. That’s pretty much what it all comes down to. Danny Noriega, his obscene views on Christmas and your mother not withstanding, continues to be one of the more ‘charismatic’ (aka annoying) personalities on the show. Problem is he uses his big voice on cheesy, mediocre performances. Though they weren’t bad, the soulful Chikezie and recently outed male stripper David Hernandez weren’t as strong as last week, which could put them in danger.

The Best: The guys have proven to be an innovative group with David Cook’s rock version of Lionel Richie’s “Hello” and a stripped down performance by Jason Castro. Michael Johns was consistent, though Simon says he has yet to connect with the perfect song. David Archuleta’s voice was spot on, but his “Paradise” song choice was weaker than previous weeks. However, he should still be safe as both the judges’ and America’s favorite so far.

The Girls

The Worst: I hate to say it, but Kady Malloy is still one of the consistently weak contestants. However, she definitely improved from last week, singing Queen’s “Who Wants to Live Forever.” Ramiele Maluby is an adorably beautiful and talented female contestant; but she seems to miss the big notes and hasn’t truly shined. As for the improving and likable Kristy Lee Cook, she put an interesting country spin on Journey’s “Faithfully,” but as Simon says, she is becoming forgettable in contrast to the other contestants. Asia’h Epperson’s version of “I Want to Dance With Somebody” was better than last week, but she still comes off as lackluster when compared to the show’s other female vocalists.

The Best: I don’t like her, but Amanda Overmeyer performed well, returning to her original, more bluesy-rock roots. I wonder when audiences will grow tired of this, though, as I already have. Once again, Carly Smithson and Brooke White stood out as the best, singing “I Drove All Night” and “Love is a Battlefield,” respectively. Syesha Mercardo sang “Saving All My Love for You” very well, but her song selections are becoming predictable. She’ll make it into the Top 12, but she’ll need to change things up when she gets there.


Every season the judges rave about how this group of singers is the best they’ve ever had. To be honest, this hasn’t been true since Season 2, the only season that wasn’t predictable. However, this year’s group is more creative and original than past seasons, perhaps inspired by Season 6’s risk-taker Blake Lewis. As long as they continue on this route, the Top 12 may live up to the judges’ praises.

Tonight the last four contestants are eliminated to create Season 7’s Top 12.
Tune in at 8pm for the results on FOX.

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