American Idol

I can’t believe I’m finally doing this. I’m finally writing my American Idol post (and finally finished it, I've been writing this for days now). You see, I’m somewhat addicted to the show. Austin and I have watched every episode this season since Hollywood week. (We missed the audition stages.) I first got hooked to the show during season five, which Austin and I watched almost every episode of. Last year was ”eh” so I only watched some of it. But this year I’m back and into it. I’ve been meaning to write about AI for several weeks now but haven’t because I knew it would take a fair amount of time to write this as I wanted to take the time to fully present my opinions. Anyway, I know the show is up to the “Top 7” now, but I am going to include some opinions of people who already left, some missed, some not. I’m not going to present them in any order really but just how they pop into my head.
First up: David Archuletta. Yes, I know his talking voice and his penchant for choosing songs with “great messages” is a bit annoying. And yes I know that he licks his lips, is breathy in the microphone, and grins like a little school boy. But there’s something about him that captivates me. When I hear him sing, I’m drawn to the TV screen. He just has “it.” I don’t know if he’s the most talented or the most likely to make millions selling records, but I know there is something that makes me stop and listen. His voice is hypnotic and I can tell that he really gets music (even though his song choices are not always the best). He connects, causing me to almost want to burst into tears sometimes. I don’t think he needs to win American Idol to be a star. Whatever happens, he will be a star. He may need a few years to grow up and gain some life experience, but whatever it is that he has, he already has it in spades. By the way, I do think he can sing more than cheesy ballads. Though it may not happen on this show, it will happen sometime. And who cares if he never sings uptempo numbers? That never stopped Josh Groban.
Advice: He needs to choose more familiar songs and try to do something that isn’t adult contemporary Christian rock. He needs to make people think that he’ll make a good modern album and show that he has more sides than just “Made for Disney/High School Musical.”
Favorite performance so far: “Imagine
Artists I’d Like Him to Cover: Josh Groban, Jason Mraz, John Mayer
Brooke White: Yay! A Mormon girl on the show! Though Brooke has recently been losing some favor with me lately, I still love her. I love her modesty, and I think she’s really pretty. She’s not your Hollywood stereotypical blonde. I know she has limited range, but that doesn’t bother me. An artist doesn’t have to have the “best” voice or amazing range to be a great singer. Nor do they need those qualities for me to buy their album. I love Brooke’s folksy, unplugged sound. She’s so different from all the other Mariah/Whitney/Christina wannabe girls they’ve had on the show in the past. I’m not a huge fan of pop, and so I support her sound. Plus, she can play the guitar and piano. I think she has the capacity to write, sing, and perform songs that are all her own. I also don’t think she needs to win this show. However, I do really hope she gets a record contract regardless because she’ll give me a reason to buy my first AI-alumnus album.
Advice: She needs to quit making her painful puppy dog expression in front of the judges and learn to be quiet when they speak. She also needs to not cry as much. Both of these things are hurting her popularity with fans. Also, please pay attention to the lyrics: Don’t smile during an angry, sad song (i.e. “Jolene”) and don’t make a depressed, weepy face when singing about friends.
Favorite performance so far: “You’re So Vain” or “Let It Be”
Artists I’d Like Her to Cover: Jewel, Sheryl Crow
David Cook: I so have mixed feelings on David C. I’ve gone back and forth on him. (For the record, he stunk it up this week. I know Our Lady Peace is his favorite band, but sometimes your favorite doesn’t make for your best. It totally sounded karaoke to me since I actually know (and love) that song.) When the competition first began I thought he was meh until I heard his “Hello.” I totally loved it. He took a song that I absolutely hated for its incredible cheesiness and boringness and made it shockingly creepy/vulnerable. However, after a while, he began to get on my nerves. I absolutely hated his “Eleanor Rigby.” He so did not get that song. I found it obnoxious, overbearing, and way over-the-top. In fact, I thought he screamed most of it. He did do a little bit better on “Day Tripper,” but I refused to reconsider him until I heard his “Billie Jean” which redeemed him I thought, though I still am not the biggest supporter. The reason why I don’t like him is because there are too many other guys out there that are similar to him (e.g. Nickelback). However, after reviewing his past performances I must say that he has more range and variety in his voice than the lead singer of Nickelback. He does sound a lot like the mainstream rock that is permeating the radio waves, but I think he may be able to stand out on his own and bring a tenderness that the Nickelback-ish other guys can’t. My other problem with him is that I think he comes across as smug and overconfident to me. Though lately he has seemed to be a little more humble, I would like to see more humility/vulnerability from him. He shouldn’t worry though as I don’t think he needs to win this to get a contract. I think he’s getting one regardless. I’m also not worried about his popularity. I predict a David vs. David finale. (I must admit that I find him more attractive since he is no longer sporting the comb-forward greasy thing he was before.)
Advice: I’d love to see him tackle a ballad or do something more acoustic to show that he is more than just a Nickelback clone.
Favorite performances so far: “Hello,” “Billie Jean”
Artists I’d Like Him to Cover: I actually can’t think of anyone.
Carly Smithson: Carly is an interesting bag for me. For some reason I can’t really like her anymore. I did like her somewhat in the beginning as I thought she had an amazing voice. I still think she does have a really great voice. Unfortunately, I just don’t think that’s enough anymore. Though she does have a great voice, she has a tendency to come across as too desperate and/or threatening. She tends to always go for the glory note, even when it’s not needed. It’s like she’s trying to prove to all us, “I can sing! I can sing!” And I think we all understand that. She just doesn’t have any charisma really. She is not charming or endearing. Her personality isn’t really likeable. The thing that stands out the most to viewers are the glaringly ugly tattoos pasted on her arm. Though I’m not a fan of tattoos I don’t make it a habit to harp on other people for having them. However, Carly prominently displays them ever chance she gets. She wears tank tops at every. single. performance. And her tattoo is not pretty. And I don’t think she’s fat, but her arms are not toned, which makes the tattoo look even worse. And she has broad shoulders. She has definitely never watched “What Not to Wear.” For every body type there are types of clothes that flatter and some that do not. Carly does not have the body type for tank tops to look flattering, even if she didn’t have the tattoo. Thus she is not appealing to the audience on a “total package” level. She’s got the pipes, but she lacks charisma, charm, and the “look” needed to sway voters to vote for her. Though originally forced onto viewers as a top contender, I fear the end cometh soon for Carly. (Which is a shame since she really does have a great voice.)
Advice: Show some vulnerability in your singing. Don’t shout and don’t always go for the glory note. You don’t always need it. Smile more. And, please for the love of all that is holy, wear a shirt with sleeves.
Favorite performances so far: “Crazy on You,” “Come Together,” “Here You Come Again”
Artists I’d Like Her to Cover: Amy Lee
Jason Castro: How can you not like Jason? Before I get too far I must say that I don’t think Jason has a very good voice. He’s got a limited range and he goes off-pitch somewhat frequently. What he does have going for him though is loads of charm and charisma. He smiles, and you like him. He’s genuine and has a nice tone of voice, albeit he tends to do the same thing over and over and none of his song choices are all that challenging. However, I don’t love his performance-self. He tends to make these really goofy smiles or look somewhat stoned. And I’m not a huge fan of the dreads. But I can get past that. I don’t think he’s going to last too much longer, but that’s okay for him I think. I enjoy his presence on the show, and I’ll probably buy his acoustic/folk record if he gets a contract.
Advice: Try to do something different, stay on key, and stop making those weird faces.
Favorite performances so far: “Daydream,” “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” “Travelin’ Thru”
Artist I’d Like Him to Cover: Jack Johnson, Dave Matthews, Howie Day
Syesha Mercado: Syesha has a great voice. She stays in tune most of the time, has awesome range, and can belt like the dickens. Why then do I not like her? I felt for her when I saw her first in Hollywood week where she lost her voice and overcame to make it through the rounds with an awesome performance. However, since then she has lost favor with me. Her biggest problem is she is not genuine. Her performances, her interview packages, her very presence comes across as calculated and fake. She’s always performing. She doesn’t seem to show (or know) who she really is. She also comes across as divaish and conceited. There is no diva that Syesha won’t cover. She keeps trying to convince us that she can out-sing Whitney. And maybe she can, but that’s not how to win votes. Also, she seems very stuck in her mold. She has a whole “I cover black female R&B artists and/or pop divas only thankyouverymuch” thing going on. So while Syesha has just as good or perhaps better voice than others on AI, she will not make it much further.
Advice: Quit covering the divas. Quit picking songs that force others to compare you to them. Show us who Syesha is, showing us you can sing is not enough anymore. Try to show that you are a real person and show that you can connect emotionally to a song. Also, like Carly, don’t feel you have to do all the glory notes and runs.
Favorite performance so far: song she did during Hollywood week, “I Will Always Love You,” “I Believe” (I actually thought she sang this way better than Fantasia.)
Notes: Though I have admitted Syesha has a good voice, I can’t help but wish that Alexandrea Lushington had made it through instead of Syesha. Alexandrea’s father sadly died during the audition rounds and she was strong despite it. During her time on the show, she showed showmanship and a strong presence. Her poor song choice in the second round resulted in her outing. It’s too bad she didn’t have more of a chance to show her originality and prove her ability to provide engaging performances.
Kristy Lee Cook: Oh Kristy, though you share your name with my mother, I don’t think I can like you. Kristy is this year’s Sanjaya, in my opinion. I’ll admit she has more talent and singing ability than Sanjaya, there’s just not much there. I did like Kristy Lee way more than I liked that robotic manly Kady Malloy though. The problem is Kristy’s not different than all the other somewhat attractive blonde chicks that can sing country. She doesn’t stand out to me. She’s nothing special. Though the last few weeks she’ve proved that yes, she can actually somewhat sing, she still doesn’t do it for me. I don’t know how she’s getting through week after week. Does anybody remember how truly awful “Eight Days a Week” was? I shudder at the memory. And though her voice may be improving, her performances aren’t really. She had her eyes closed during almost her whole performance last week. Other times she’s wooden and choppy with her crazy eyes and her wide buck-kneed stance. She is smart, however. She appeals to her fan base and makes good song choices that have been saying her by the skin of her teeth. This shrewdness may keep her in a few weeks more. If she makes final four, then I think something may be wrong with America. Do we really need another blond country chick?
Advice: I have none since I want her outta there.
Favorite performance so far: Absolutely nothing. Hated them all. There were a few I tolerated.
Notes: Am I the only one who wishes it were Alaina Whitaker that had made it through instead? Sure, Alaina had the gap-toothed smile and the weird OCD food compulsion, but she was young and cute and charming. She is the blond country chick I wish I had made it through. Alaina had more range and presence than Kristy ever will. Alaina’s “More Today Than Yesterday” was simply superb. She was sweet and a little part of my heart broke when she got voted off.

Those That Have Departed:
Michael Johns: Oh, Michael, I hardly knew ye! I, like many, were sad to hear of Michael’s departure. Though many voted for him because of his Australian good looks, he really did have a great voice and charisma. I, along with others, fell in love with him during Hollywood Week. I absolutely loved his performance of “Bohemian Rhapsody,” the performance that labeled him a top contender for the season. However, once actually on the show, Michael kept showing week after week of mediocrity. My heart sank and I wrote him off. However, a few weeks ago he regained some momentum that in retrospect seemed to be too little too late. I shall miss Michael. I hope he gets a chance to make a record. He’ll make a great frontman for a band.
Favorite performances: “Bohemian Rhapsody,” “We Are the Champions/We Will Rock You,” “It’s All Wrong, But It’s All Right”
David Hernandez: I was angry when David got voted off. I could care less about the whole “stripper” scandal-thing. David was a really, really good singer. Despite the gay rumors, I found him sexy and a compelling performer. I loved listening and watching him. I thought he definitely had “it.” I really hope he gets to make some music because I’d buy anything his sexy, soulful, sultry voice produces.
Favorite performances: “Papa Was a Rolling Stone,” “It’s All Coming Back to Me”
Chikezie: I still miss Chikezie. Granted, he wasn’t the most talented singer of the bunch, but I thought he showed a lot of potential. He could be tender and full of energy, and he showed lots of range and versatility. Plus, I just kept seeing him get better than better. (Unlike Kristy Lee who has shown improvement, but I think we’ve seen just about all she can do.) I also thought he had an infectious energy that he brought to the stage. I hope he finds what he’s looking for.
Favorite performances: “She’s a Woman,” “I Believe to My Soul”
Amanda Overmyer: Well, what can I say about Amanda? The rock ’n’ roll nurse played her part well on American Idol. I liked her against my will. Yes, I know she could be a little grating and annoying and half of the time you couldn’t understand what she was saying, but she was very different and a welcome change to the cookie-cutter types that are usually on AI. I think Amanda was one of the most original and most true to herself contestants to be on AI. I think she left when she was supposed to, but while she was there, I enjoyed her energy and rockin’ attitude.
Favorite performance: “Baby, Please Don’t Go”
Danny Noriega: Danny was fun, sassy, and a decent singer. Oh yeah, and he was flaming. I didn’t think he was a great singer, but he was a pretty good performer. I didn’t shed tears when he left (as I knew he would/should never win), but he brought something to the show while he was there.
Contestants I was most glad to see voted off: Luke Menard, Jason Yeager, Kady Malloy
While Luke was whiny and overly peppy (I still can’t get his horrid version of “Killer Queen” out of my head), Jason was just made to be a cruise singer with his cheesy smiles and showmanship. Kady was just a mediocre to awful (and IMO, unattractive) singer with the personality of stale cheese. Everyone else in the Top 24 wasn’t good or awful enough to deserve a write-up.


Austin said…
Wow! That's a LONG post, sweetie.

You're such a great reviewer and very smart. I'm impressed at your analyses, and I think it's so cool how similar our tastes are! I love you.
Charity said…
Ha ha, very nice write-up. I've been keeping up with idol through youtube, since my mom is into it and I want to be able to discuss it with her. I can't really figure out who I like--I actually really liked Michael Johns so I'm sad he's out. I think next best I probably like Jason Castro--loved when he did Hallelujah. Shrug. It'll probably be little Davie Archuleta--I really don't like David Cook. I think his singing is quite often quite off, and people just ignore it. There's something about his voice that's not full enough for me. Whatever... they're all way better singers than me!
Heather said…
It's official, you need to join the newspaper as as critique writer!

You are really good!

I am not into AI, but your post made up for it, and I actually got into the mood of it.
Charlo said…
Your a.i. post was longer than your dating austin post. Poor austin.
Kris said…
Quite the analysis Tracie. I don't think that I have ever made an opinion about something so trivial as American Idol or anything else for that matter, but I do find myself into "it" because of you.

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