The uncontested loser of Wednesday'sAmerican Idol
was Beyonce, who debuted the video to a single entitled "
" which has no melody, chorus, or hook. It is the closest thing to atonality I've ever heard in a pop single, and it's going to impact the charts about as profoundly asAnton Webern
's last anthology.
As to Wednesdays winners -- well, were there any? Ford, maybe? Scotty McCreery? Isn't every day a victory for those guys?
Since we're down to the Final Three, the remaining AI contestants each sang three songs: One personal selection, one selected by resident hitmaker Jimmy Iovine, and one selected by the judges. None of these people apparently grok what flies and what doesn't on American Idol, and as a result Wednesday was mostly a disaster.
personal choice, the Lonestar joint, was his best moment of the night.
Confident and tender, Scotty sounded a lot older than 17.
"Are You Gonna Kiss Me or Not," Iovine's pick, was a sweet bit of music and an absolutely virtuosic piece of branding. The dude knows his marks -- that
last look he gave to the camera, imploring America's 13-year-old girls
to lay on a wet one. would have won him the title if he'd saved it
"She Believes In Me," the judges' pick, was an attempt to get Scotty to
sing in his upper register -- a trick he'd already managed just fine on
"Amazed." He dispatched "She Believes In Me" with a little less aplomb
than the earlier number, but it was okay. Scotty's solid: He sells
his performances without pyrotechnics, relying solely on the deep, simple umber of his voice. As a result, he doesn't have to
work half as hard as the other contestants to turn in a fine
performance, and he's far more consistent.
had a rough night. "The Wild One" sounded anything but -- the
performance was clenched and timid. "If I Die Young" began better, but a
false step during the bridge (a part of the song which Randy Jackson
can't stop calling "the modulation") killed her confidence, and her
throat operated at half power for the rest of the performance.
"I Hope You Dance" is a song I sincerely hope to never hear again, but
if I must hear it, please let me hear Lauren Alaina's version. Lauren's
mouth produced this most treacly of songs like spun gold. Never in this
competition has she sung with such power, authority, and sheer beauty.
Zep joint was Haley's personal choice, and you can understand why. Like
Robert Plant, she's got a more impressive dynamic range than tonal
range, and few songs are as dynamic as "What Is....", with its
whisper-quiet verses and screaming chorus. That said, Haley's not Robert
Plant -- her great gift is in using her dynamic range to add punch and
drama to great melodies, which Zep's music lacks. So the whole thing
felt kind of formless. Still, Haley's growl is the closest thing you'll
hear to Robert Plant's primal yawp on American TV, so that's something. (Worth noting: She fell on her ass in mid-song and recovered beautifully. Also worth noting: Haley's dad accompanied her on guitar. Sweet!)
"Rhiannon" could have been great, but wasn't -- the song's climactic lines, in which Stevie Nicks sings "Take me like the wind...",
were mysteriously excised, even though the build-up to those lines was
there. ("Dreams aren't wine," etc.) So the song felt half-finished. (It
didn't help that Haley botched the lyrics in the first verse and came in
a beat too early on the second.)
And "You Oughtta Know," the judges' pick, was just outrageous. Haley can
sing those big choruses, no problem -- but the verses? Alanis spoke those
verses, and it only sounded okay because Alanis was willing to put on a
character voice and sound nasal and gritty. Has Haley ever given any
indication of wanting to speak-sing? No? Then why burden her with this
shit? Disastrous. In the first verse, anyway. Once she got the wailing bits, she was awesome.
Who should go home? All of them! Where the hell's Casey Abrams?
Who will go home? God, who knows? It almost certainly won't be
Scotty, unless his many fans have become so convinced of his
invulnerability that they declined to vote. Both Lauren and Haley have
picked up considerable momentum in recent weeks, and so far the most enthusiastic supporters seem to have been Haley's. But she made no
compelling case this week for new fans to join her cult. Lauren did.
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Haley's going home.
...unless, that is, Nashville fans are as partisan with their music as
they are in politics, in which case Lauren and Scotty will split the
country vote, in which case Lauren's doomed. Either way, we're stuck with Scotty.