AMERICAN IDOL Season 8 — Top 5 a Classy Pack
When I first heard tonight’s theme was standards of the Rat Pack, I groaned. I thought these kids were gonna murder the songs and I didn’t feel like being a witness. But this episode was much better than I expected! Turns out the top 5 contestants knew how to sing their parents’ (grandparents’?) music. They put on some classy duds and belted out some really good tunes.
First was Kris, who sang “The Way You Look Tonight,” one of my all-time faves. You cannot hear that song and not feel sexy. Kris changed the arrangement by picking up the tempo in the middle of the song but made it all work. His vocals were strong, his rhythms were right on and his song choices continue to entertain me.
Allison followed with “Someone to Watch Over Me.” I thought it was sweet how she said in the interview she’s too young for a boyfriend at 16 (she turned 17 yesterday). I sometimes forget how young and innocent she is when she sounds like a 45-year-old woman who’s been thrice divorced and drowning her sorrows in cigs and whiskey. I thought her performance was technically perfect but she didn’t have enough life experience to communicate the emotional depth of the song. Interestingly, I liked her better during the recap at the end (which was taped during rehearsal) than during her actual performance.
Matt sang another one of my faves, “My Funny Valentine.” He started out with really nice control and made me feel like I was watching him in a smoky bar while sitting on a red leather banquette. But then he started doing his trademark runs and ruined it for me. This song should be simply sung; it’s sultry because it’s unadorned. Matt frustrates me because he can definitely sing but he needs work on his interpretation, in figuring out when less is more. Every song can’t be sung with the same runs every time.
Danny covered “Come Rain or Come Shine.” He started out singing it in a pretty traditional way but then mid-song, he changed it up, busted out and belted the rest of the song, ending in a big, sustained note. It was definitely impressive vocal work but for whatever reason, Danny doesn’t excite me anymore. On a side note, I thought Randy’s comment about not caring whether or not a singer connects with the song as long as they can sing was ridiculous. That’s like saying you don’t care if an actor connects with a character as long as they can act. How can you have one without the other?
Adam closed out the show with “Feeling Good,” replete with dramatic entrance down a long flight of stairs a la Babs or Cher. The judges had a hard time describing his performance and I do, too. His talent is not in question; it’s whether or not you like his kind of vocal styling, which inevitably ends in some shrieky high note with his mouth open so wide I always fear he’s going to come right out of the TV and swallow my whole head. I think a song called “Feeling Good” should be kinda jazzy and groovy but he turned it into the “throat Olympics,” as guest mentor Jamie Foxx would call it.
Speaking of Foxx, I enjoyed him as mentor. He always makes me laugh because I still think of his Ugly Wanda character from In Living Color every time I see him, but tonight he got to show off his considerable musical knowledge.
No one made a huge misstep tonight so it’s hard to predict who’s going home but my guess is it’ll be Matt. Then again, he’s survived so many times, I fear Allison might be in grave danger.
What did you think? Who was best? Worst? Who’d you vote for? Put on your judging hats and leave your insightful and clever comments!