Shut up and Sing!

Find my latest American Idol article here.

I will begin this week’s response to the guy’s show with a note to the contestants.  When the show allows you time for a montage before your song, this time is critical, as important as the song you are singing.  This is time that you can use to connect with the audience and develop your fan base.  Use it well.  Do not waste the time given you by telling us things that no one cares about, and definitely do not mention anything that could be the least bit polarizing.  Those who sing well and use their offstage opportunities to connect with their fans go far in this competition.  You need that fan base to prop you up on the nights when you pick a bad song, hit a bad note or sing early in the evening.

Second note:  Don’t criticize Simon, ever.  You may think that you have some witty retort for him, but you do not.  You are too young to have developed a rapier wit, and your attempts to spare with Simon will almost always leave you looking like an ass.  The risk/reward in this is way out of whack.  In most cases, the contestant has just purchased his or her ticket home (if not this week, then soon).  People may forget that you sang some flat notes by next week, but they will not forget the fact that you are an ass, and eventually you will be sent packing.

Michael Johns- “Go Your Own Way.”  His montage was not great.  The “I’m a Jock.  I play tennis” line was kind of goofy.  If you are going to call yourself a jock, you should probably be a football player (rugby in Australia will do).  Tennis does not add to your rock cred.

The judges must really want this guy to succeed because they generally (except for Simon) liked it.  In my opinion, it was the worst performance of the night by a fair margin.  He was whiny and flat for the whole song.

The Fleetwood Mac song was a bad choice.  You are never going to sound as good alone as a group that has three professional recording artists in it.  On top of that, it was out of his range, and it was also not his style of song.

He should probably go this week for this performance alone, but he will likely get a reprieve.

Jason Castro- “For So Long.”  This was a good song for him, and he was very comfortable on stage.  However, I would really like to see him hold out just one note to prove that he can actually sing.  Simon and Randy did not like it, but he should survive another week at least.

Have you ever wondered if this guy could be the love child of John Travolta and Bob Marley?

Luke Menard-  “Killer Queen”  Here is one guy who was helped by his introduction.  He showed that he has been involved in singing group for a while.  This is a very difficult song and he sang it well.  He showed more style in his voice and in his stage presentation than we have seen so far.  Randy and Paula both liked it, but Simon said that he paled in comparison with the original, and was “theatrical and whiny.”  I do not agree with Simon.  I think a good attempt at Freddy Mercury at this point in the competition should get some props.  He was not whiny, and accusing someone of being theatrical when singing a Queen song, is ludicrous.  There are no Queen songs that are not theatrical (Rush would also fit into this category).  I for one hope that he can stay around long enough for the audience to realize that he is one of the top singers in the competition.

Robbie Carrico- “Hot Blooded”-  Here is another guy who helped himself out in his montage.  He’s a drag racer (translates- rock cred).  The problem was that Ryan set a trap for him by bating him about Simon’s criticism from last week.  Before he even sang, he copped an attitude and told Simon to “get used to it.”

The song was a good choice, and he gave a good overall performance.  Randy, however, told him that his style was not strong enough for this song.  Paula confusingly said that she disagreed with Randy, and then proceeded to make the same point that Randy had made.  And, Simon said that he liked the vocal, but for the first time in the evening (but not the last) had to explain to a contestant that he was trying to give him constructive criticism.  Robbie was just the first contestant of the evening to ruin a decent performance with his attitude, and it could really cost him as he already appears to be the third best of the rocker guys.

Danny Noriega- “Don’t You Remember You Told Me You Loved Me Baby.”  Danny was the first contestant to really flub up the intro montage.  Note to Danny,  Coming out and saying, “I was in a gay punk band” was not your best move (he didn’t actually say the word ‘gay,’ but he didn’t have to).  First of all, you were supposed to be telling the audience something that they did not know about you.  While the audience may not have known this, no one was surprised.  You need to play down the gay thing a little bit.  Choosing songs not by the Carpenters would be a good start.

I though it was a horrible song choice.  His voice sounded weak, and he was flat on the end notes.  The judges were split.  He will probably hang around a couple more weeks, but this performance did nothing for him.

David Hernandez-  “Papa Was a Rolling Stone”  Here is another guy who did not take advantage of his montage.  “I was in gymnastics.”  Why would you even say that?  Hey, I was in square dancing in seventh grade, and I don’t tell that to anyone (thank you sweet anonymity).

That being said, this was the best vocal of the night.  He does things with his voice that most of the other contestant would never attempt, and all the little extras are there.  It was also his best stage presentation.  The judges loved it, and Simon even praised him for accepting criticism in the past. 

This guy’s only problem is the off-stage stuff.  He needs to start working on a fan base, or David A. will smoke him at the end of the competition.

Jason Yeager- “Without Love”-  If you are going to come out in your montage and say, “I play multiple instruments.”  Be sure not to let them film your sucky guitar playing.

I thought the song was much better than last week.  It was a safe melody, but the verses were harder.  Unfortunately, I thought his performance could have been heard in any of a thousand bars this weekend.  It was not special or memorable.  The judges were little unduly harsh on him, but that does not mean that he does not deserve to be the next one to go.  He should not make any more Hollywood plans for next week, except to determine if he wants an isle seat for the flight home.

Chikezie- “I believe”-  This was a good version of a traditional Motown soul song.  He sang it well, and received praise from the judges.  His verbal sparing with Simon at the end of the song is the one case (maybe in the history of idol) that I thought was funny, but he needs to let that stuff go at this point.  I think he should still be around for another week.

David Cook- “All Right Now.”-  Here we have the perfect example of how you can take a perfect performance and destroy it with the off-stage stuff.  He is a better rocker than either Johns or Carico, and received straight positive marks from the judges.  However, he spent his montage time telling the audience that he was a “Word Nerd” who loves crossword puzzles.  I am sure that wrapped up the English teacher vote right there, but when Simon correctly pointed out that he had not done himself any favors in the montage, Cook proceeded to simply make an ass out of himself.  And, Simon called him out for it.  There has been enough of this already this season, and it is going to take sending a good talent home early to get these kids to realize it.  Before this outburst, I had Cook in my top three guys, after, I don’t even know if he’ll survive this week.  People will remember this, and as soon as the chaff is gone, he’ll be next.

David Archuleta- “Imagine”-  When I heard that he was singing a John Lennon song, I thought, “Surely he won’t sing ‘Imagine.’  That song is much too stylistic, the vocal is not strong enough, and he will only get compared negatively to Lennon.”  I could not have been more wrong.  It was awesome (this is not to be read in the voice of a 13 year old girl).  The judges loved it.  Randy said that it was one of the best performances ever on the show.  Simon declared him the one to beat.  They were both right.

I promised my picks this week, so here they are for the boys.  My top three boys in the competition are:  David Hernandez, David Archuleta and Luke Menard.  I had Cook in this list instead of Menard, but his personality is torpedoing his performances.  It needs to be said that the top two are way above the rest, and Menard is not that far ahead of some of the others, but I believe that he does have one of the better voices.

In the end, I did choose David H. over David A, and am picking Hernandez to win the competition.  This is going out on a limb.  I do believe that Hernandez has the better voice, but not by much, and Archuleta is miles ahead of Hernandez in all of the other stuff, but I like the best vocals, and given time, I hope Hernandez’s personality will shine through.  If not, as I said before, Archuleta will smoke him, and Hernandez will go out before his time like Chris Daughtry did a couple of years ago.

This week we should see Yeager and (choosing between Cook, Johns, Castro, Noriega and Carrico), Carrico go home.

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