Posts Tagged ‘Jordin Sparks’


Thoughts On American Idol Finale Part 2: The Decision

May 23, 2012

Image edited from the original by Bill McIntyre via Flickr, used under Creative Commons

Two surprisingly talented contestants have duked it out this season, but only one can win! I voted for Jessica. Let’s see if it made a difference. Buckle up!

Here’s most of this show’s padding, the musical performances in order of airing:
1. Top 10 who are out of the running – “Runaway Baby + So You Think You Can Dance Promo Breakdown” So Jermaine Jones really did get the hard boot from the cast. That said, I’m glad they reprised one of the more fun performances from this season. In a sea of bad harmonizing, Josh and Hollie’s voices stood out. The dance breakdown with the abrupt music changes was fun, but jarring. I will be watching So You Think You Can Dance tomorrow.

2. Phillip Phillips + John Fogerty – “Have You Ever Seen The Rain? + Bad Moon Rising” Fogerty has to be 2-3x Phillip’s age, but he is way more lively than the mellowed out finalist. He’s also doing a much better job at hitting the belt notes on “Rain.” Phillip can’t shake that cartoon dog singing style for this song. For the second song, Phillip woke up. He looked much happier to be up onstage and slowly began to match Fogerty’s energy as the performance went on.

3. Josh Ledet + Fantasia Barrino – “Take Me To The Pilot” Josh’s voice is in top form tonight. His vocal runs were cool, casual, and awesome. He should be one of the finalists tonight. I never saw Fantasia’s season 3 Idol run, but I thought her super high signing was unique and on point. This performance was just two talented singers jamming out, and I appreciated the relaxed tone.

4. Idol Ladies + Chaka Khan – “Ain’t Nobody + Through The Fire + I’m Every Woman” Erika and Elise have an ouch of a start, but quickly find the soul hook. Shannon sounds much more competent than I remember her. Skylar kicks ass. Hollie gets in two solid notes and Jessica gets one short ad libbed run before Chaka Khan enters the stage. She starts off buried in the mix, but she kicks out enough power notes to show that she’s doing it live. She had a few rough runs up there too, but she had more enthusiasm than at least a third of the ladies on that stage.

5. Ford Music Video – “I Was Here” At least the gimmicks were cute and silly from video to video. It’s just a shame that Phillip wasn’t in the last third.

6. Rihanna – “Where Have You Been?” This is much catchier than “We Found Love” and the bigger stage production allows for a bigger spectacle than when Ri-Ri performed this song on SNL. It still sounds like the hooks of three songs instead of one fully formed song, but I dig its driving beats and laser pyramid. Its production is emotionally devoid, but on a show like this it’s an oasis.

7. Skylar Laine + Reba McEntire – “Turn On The Radio” This rocks! Skylar and Reba sound tough and triumphant. Skylar has been my favorite country contestant this show has offered in a very long time, and that’s because of her transcendent talent and no-bullshit style. She also has way more chemistry with Reba than Lauren Alaina has during her duet with Carrie Underwood last year. That performance felt combative, whereas this performance felt like a passing of the torch. I had a lot of fun with this one.

8. Jessica Sanchez – “I Will Always Love You” This performance didn’t affect me to the same level that Jessica’s first go at the song did. There wasn’t the same emotional rawness that was there the first time, and maybe replicating that was an impossible task. Jessica’s delivery hit most of the notes but sounded a little flat. I felt like she was trying, but it just couldn’t live up to her earlier run. It’s too bad.

9. Idol Guys + Neil Diamond – “Coming To America + Rosy Child + I’m A Believer + Sweet Caroline” Colton sounds high and nasally. Heejun hits the notes but is digging way too low into his range. DeAndre actually did aim for the low end of his range and sounded good enough that the falsetto payoff was worth it. Jeremy had no memorable moments, but he didn’t choke. Josh’s vocal run 3/4ths in was a nice touch. When Neil Diamond came out for the last song, he got most of the spotlight. He didn’t exert any effort on his vocals, but like Chaka Khan he did it live. I just would have liked it if he didn’t perform like he found out he wasn’t getting paid after the show.

10. “Sing The Phone Book skit” The premise was silly enough, but the takeaway was that Shannon Magrane was a better singer than I ever gave her credit for. Where were these notes and this enthusiasm when she was actually a contestant?

11. Jennifer Lopez ft. Lil Jon, Flo Rida, and Wisin and Yandel – “Going In + Follow The Leader” I’m not a fan of the sequined pajamas that J.Lo is rocking, but “Going In” is moderately catchy. I like the ebb and flow of its bassline. Flo Rida’s bridge was abrupt and workmanlike. Then “Follow The Leader” came on and shit got real. That beat was so slinky and W&Y’s hip house flow sounded so freakin’ cool. Lopez also sounded quite on her game. I might have to seek out more from these guys.

12. Hollie Cavanagh and Jordin Sparks – “You’ll Never Walk Alone” The music is still plodding pageant fodder, but I have to hand it to Hollie for upping her emotional game. She made some subtle changes to her stage moves that she seemed to form more of a connection to the material than she would have earlier in the season. Jordin Sparks knocked her part out like it was nothing. Both ladies sounded spectacular. I just wish it was on a cooler song.

13. Idol Guys – “Robin Gibb Tribute – How Deep Is Your Love + How Can You Mend A Broken Heart + To Love Somebody” The guys (minus Phillip – where the hell has he been?) can actually harmonize together pretty well. Other than a botched falsetto run from DeAndre, they kept the vocal theatrics to a minimum. Jacob did a reprise of “To Love Somebody” and it was minimal, tasteful and classy. Given the limited amount of time the show had to prepare a tribute, I thought this was nice.

14. Jessica Sanchez + Jennifer Holliday – “And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going” When Holliday whipped out her vocal ion cannon 2/3rds of the way in, all Jessica could so is stand there and shake her head as if to say “yeah I can’t touch that.” It was actually kind of neat, because otherwise these two women matched each other pretty closely for most of the song, right down to the super-growly nightmare belt at the very end. It was like a bombastic guitar battle for singers and it was surprisingly cool.

15. Aerosmith – “Legendary Child + Walk This Way” This new song sounds like a slurry blend of “Walk This Way” and “Sweet Emotion,” two Aerosmith songs that are actually good. This song, not so much. It’s basically a “here’s our crazy life story” that name checks their albums in the lyrics. Joe Perry can still shred like whoa, but really that’s all this performance has going for it. Steven Tyler’s vocals are flat and the harmonizing by Brad Whitford and Tom Hamilton is off-key. Not an Idol-worthy performance, that’s for sure. And then when the band did perform “Walk This Way” Tyler could barely hit the notes. The little jam-out at the end was cool.

16. Jessica and Phillip – “Up Where We Belong” This syrupy ballad is in Jessica’s wheelhouse. She sounds right at home. Phillip kept up with her for most of the song, but he ultimately gave up with a string of flubs on the last chorus. Still, these two crazy kids are nice and I hope they both find some success. Jessica just deserves to win this show more.

The Winner
I think we all saw this coming. I said as much back in Top 24 Week. One low-voiced white guy with an acoustic guitar passes the trophy to another low-voiced white guy with an acoustic guitar, as Phillip Phillips is the season 11 winner. I’m not as mad as I am with last year’s results, as Phillip actually turned in some top-ranking performances this season, but for shit’s sake how much longer is this going to go on? See if I tune in next year, Idol….

Thank you all for reading these recaps. I’m happy to bring this run to an end.


Thoughts On American Idol Top 4: Elimination

May 12, 2011

Oh no! J.Lo is wearing harem pants again! Your career is back on track. Don’t push your luck with ugly, ugly pants! Also, if Randy “Status Quo” Jackson says “In It To Win It” one more time, I’m gonna scream.

There are duet performances….

Scotty & James do some country song, (“Start A Band?”) I don’t know. James gets a kiss from some woman in the audience. I hope she’s his wife. I don’t know because WE NEVER SEE HIS WIFE! Apparently her nose hit his eye. The guys can both pull of the twangy thing, but they do not sound good together at all.

After the commercial Lauren and Haley come out to sing Miranda Lambert’s “Gunpowder and Lead.” Haley is all summery and revealing while Lauren is head to toe in black like a supervillain. It was too disparate. The costuming of the show has been absolute shit this season. Luckily they continue to harmonize well. It was actually a pretty good performance and another win for the women.

Afterward we get a videoconference montage and confirmation that the woman in the audience was indeed James’s wife and it kind of makes me happy.

Lady Gaga – “You and I”

Oh man, I thought we were gonna get a live performance! This is just a clip from Gaga’s HBO concert. The clip features her performing “You and I.” She was really going for the 70s singer-songwriter vibe here. Not really my cup of tea, but I’ll still probably buy Born This Way.

Enrique Iglesias – “Dirty Dancer / I Like It”

Well this is just some out and out rave music. Not dance pop, just dance! The beat is kind of hot, but I cannot hear him over the beats. There’s a recorded clip of Usher singing a verse and the whole thing probably sounds better recorded. Things pick up a little bit when he shifts to his comeback hit “I Like It.” He gets the crowd to sing along and he sounds kind of live, or just live enough for the whole thing to feel mediocre and sloppy. Oh well at least he hasn’t aged since 2002.

Ford Music Video – “Fireflies”

Instead of Harold and the Purple Crayon, we get Harold and the Purple Glowstick.

Jordin Sparks – “I Am Woman”

The last woman and person of color to win American Idol emerges from a slick theatrical intro to knock out a well-executed uptempo R&B number that sounds like something Beyonce took a pass on. Highlights of the performance include a group of male backup dancers dressed like Justin Bieber and a moment whereSparks tries to get her trenchcoat off but just can’t seem to shake it. Eventually she has to keep singing (or lip-syncing, as it may be) with the jacket still half on. She still sings really well, though she’s not the best. I appreciate that she did an uptempo number. I hope that she continues to do well.

Steven Tyler – “It Feels So Good”

Why does he have a sloth? Kathy wants a sloth. Also, this song would not be out of place in the early 2000s performed by Vertical Horizon, Nine Days, BBMak, and/or Evan and Jaron. Really Steven? You’re bringing that back? At least with Aerosmith there was a little blues rock soul in your music (and yes, I’m counting the power ballads in there). Also, Nicole Scherzinger, don’t you have more important things to be doing right now, such as prepping for your X-Factor gig?

Bottom 2 (Announced in 2 rounds)

  1. James Durbin
  2. Scotty McCreery

The ladies are in! James is out! Bye bye, Mr. Histrionic! In a way James was a victim of expectations. The show set him up to be a successor to Adam Lambert when he wasn’t nearly as skilled or fun. He had a tendency to wail and scream at the most inappropriate times in his songs and he relied on too many gimmicks (including a marching band and a burning piano). Plus there was that scarf tail thing. To his credit, James tried to do harder and more obscure songs (at least for Idol) and his “give metal a chance” mission was refreshing. I actually kind of wish he had brought some real hardcore metal to the squeaky-clean Idol stage. Go back to your family, dude (after you finish the seemingly neverending concert tour.) It appears as after a season of absence they are still there for you.

Next week it’s Haley vs. the teen assholes. We’re in for a wild ride.