Oh, how I miss Casey Abrams. Without him,American Idol
is five kids with nice voices doing middling karaoke.
It could have been so much more! Back when Jacob Lusk was an androgyne dynamo; back when Haley Reinhart was a stock-still shrapnel-voiced song stylist, these kids had personality! Style! Confidence! They've still got confidence, maybe, but it's a different kind of confidence. Confidence in the power of their celebrity, but profound misgivings about their vocal abilities and musicality -- misgivings nurtured by the judges' seemingly random and reliably off-base critiques, and by the meaningless votes of 13-year-old girls.
Goddamn. Last night, the contestants each did two songs; one contemporary, one from the 60's. Here's the breakdown.
a damn, and concluded with a bunch of off-key yelling. His voice
sounded weak, almost on the verge of collapse, but the judges loved it
anyway. He was better on "Without You," but got all weepy because he
misses his family. His emotionalism was charming a few weeks ago, but
now he's almost certainly faking it -- he has learned that nothing quite
so charms America as the well-timed deployment of waterworks. Totally
manipulative. Again, the judges loved it.
former was marred by pitchy, badly-controlled warbling. The latter was
quite lovely, but far from perfect. Seriously: When did Lusk lose the
ability to find and remain on key, or even to sustain a note? Listen to
that horrible effeminate squawking during the coda, when he screams "It
hurts!" over and over again. No seasoned singer would willingly emit
such a noise, and even a few months ago Jacob wouldn't have, either. Idol has taught him some atrocious vocal habits, and the sooner he leaves the program, the better for his throat.
salvaged the useless Underwood ditty with a smart, sassy, full-throated
performance. She ruined the "Unchained Melody" with pointless, showy
melisma, and gracelessly dodged the high note. The judges loved both,
natch. What's the point of those guys, anyway?
former was a brave step out of the box for Mr. McCreery, who showed
heretofore unexpected rock'n'roll panache and a surprising supple upper
register, suggesting he'd be almost as effective a blues shouter as a
country crooner. The Elvis Presley joint was an abortion; Scotty's
weak-throated treatment highlighted the songs' tossed-off construction,
which Presley's larger voice obscured.
Reinhart needs to stop gesticulating. She inevitable accompanies the
word "you" with a finger pointed at the audience; "blue jeans" is
accompanied by a finger-point to the legs; "gambling man" is accompanied
by a mimed roll of the dice. Inappropriate and pointless. Her
ungraceful movements were almost certainly responsible for the savaging
she received after the Gaga number -- it sure as hell wasn't the singing,
which was pitch-perfect and full of shrapnel. Vocally, no one on the
show comes within a light year of Haley's characterization, richness of
tone, agility, melodic invention, power, or sense of pitch. The judges
seemed to wake up to this fact by the time Haley tackled The Animals.
Inappropriate gesticulations aside, the singing was overwhelming. Randy
declared it the "best performance of the night," and he was right. See
Who should go home: Jacob Lusk. He's
completely unreliable, has terrible taste in music, is sexophobic, and
displays a total lack of self-awareness. He has the most astounding
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throat in current popular music, and it's going to waste. Pity.
Who will go home: Jacob Lusk. Please Jeebus, let it be Jacob Lusk instead of Haley Reinhart. Though it might be Haley,
'cuz she's got no fanbase, is consistently savaged by the judges, and looks ungraceful onstage. If she
leaves, the show will become almost unwatchable. Again I say: Goddamn.