Thursday, April 10, 2014

American Idol 13: Top 8 Do It Again

Well, since the judges decided to save Sam last week, we have another installment of the Top 8 performances this week. This time the theme is The 80's.

Although none the these kids were even born in the 1980's, some interesting music was born in that decade. I hope the coaches have helped the kids chose some appropriate music for tonight.

We have a guest mentor this week. Season 7 champion David Cook is in the house to help the kids prepare. I hope they listen to Cookie. Of all of the Idol champs, Cook would be the one with the most 80's knowledge. And he has actual musical training, so he should know what he's talking about. "If you're not taking the chance and putting yourself out there, one of the other contestants is."

Keith comes in with extensions in his hair to look like a very long 80's mullet.

Jena - "I Love Rock and Roll" - Joan Jett and The Blackhearts
Cook wan't too sure of the drastic change in the beginning but grew to like it.
Intro was ok, even with the tempo change, but the softer part is too low and not supported. Other parts seemed to be shouted. I didn't like it.
Keith - Cool to start at the piano, middle the key was too low, you sailed at the end. I love the originality you always bring to your performance.
Jennifer - For me, it languished in the middle. I wanted you to amp it up and it was a little low, but you put your stamp on it.
Harry - I wasn't a fan of the arrangement, but I did love that you are trying and manipulating these arrangements. I suggest make it less choreographed.

Dexter - "Keep Your Hands To Yourself"  - Georgia Satellites
Cook tells him to enunciate and work on moving on the stage.
Playing electric guitar.  The guy playing the electric accompanying him is totally jamming and upstaging Dexter. He does sound better and clearer on the words, but still awkward on moving around the stage.
Jennifer - It really felt good today.
Harry - I'm still thinking about last week which was really good. Nice job.
Keith - You seemed stiff at times. Thinking about too much stuff.  Always do something unexpected.

Sam and Alex Duet - "The Girl Is Mine" - Michael Jackson
Both on acoustic guitars.  Sounds good. I don't know the song. (Sorry. I was never a big MJ fan.)
Harry - Asks Sam about what he has changed since last weeks almost elimination: practice and connecting.

Malaya - "Through The Fire" - Chaka Khan
Cook calls her a firecracker and gives her input on not hitting the power spot too suddenly.
Another song I've never heard of, but I was listening to country and folk in the 80's.
I may not know this song, but I do know that this performance is not good. No support on lower register. Can't even tell what she is singing at times. Malaya keeps winking at the camera. Weird.
Keith - No doubting your vocal ability. Try to lay back into it more. Chill out.
Jennifer - Your the baby of the group. You need to relax.
Harry - Not a lot of people can hit that Chaka note, however, it sounded like the entire performance was geared up for that moment. You sacrificed some of the early song thinking about that note.

Harry goes into the "mosh pit" for the next duet. Has a young girl on his shoulders for the song.
Caleb and Jena Duet - "It's Only Love" - Bryan Adams and Tina Turner
It's ok.  More scream than I like on that type of song.
Harry returns to the judges table with a girl on his shoulders. Very odd.
Jennifer - I fell that the duets are working and they'll are loosening up.

Jessica - "Call Me" - Blondie
Jessica saw Cook perform in Birmingham. He is impressed. Cook tells Jessica that her vocals are spot on, but he doesn't think she is enjoying it at all. Smile. Acknowledge the camera.
Looks like she listened. Looking a little more animated and happy. Movement around stage looks more natural than before.
Harry - You need to feel the grove.
Keith - I'm still waiting for you to release into it fully.
Jennifer -  When you sing a song like that its "Call ME" don't call any other girl "call ME." Blondie is the epitome of sexy cool. If you can't tap into that, then that isn't the right song for you.

Sam - "Time After Time" - Cydni Lauper
Cook tells Sam to use the cameras. "You're in the top 8 of American Idol. Own the stage, don't waste it. You've got too much talent."
Sounds really good seated in pit playing acoustic, but he seems to be staring at the camera, and ignoring all the girls standing around him.
Keith - I loved that you did that with the acoustic, solo. Your vocal is all there, you just need to loosen up.
Jennifer - I thought you did a great job tonight. I saw you trying to feel the words.
Harry - You looked into the camera almost the whole time.  Go on youtube tonight and watch Ricky Nelson. He was similar to you.

CJ and Malaya Duet - "I Knew You Were Waiting" - Aretha Franklin and George Michael
Yuck. I don't have much to say about that.
Jennifer - You two are cute.

Alex - "Every Breath You Take" - The Police
Cook listens and then asks Alex if he is nervous because of the tempo. Cook gives Alex lots of technical advise and tells him to emote the song, not be perfect.
I don't like this performance. He lost the melody, which I happen to like a lot.
Harry - It sounded like a new tune, but there is a difference between a performer and an entertainer. At some point the coffeehouse treatment is going to catch up with you in this competition. Be more of an entertainer.
Keith - I know exactly what Harry is talking about and David Cook touched on it too. I commend you for taking that much work on. If you were on tour and performing that night after night, that would be just sweet as.
Jennifer - I disagree with you guys. I missed the melody of that. To change it that much, just lost the soul of the song.

Dexter and Jessica Duet - "Islands In The Stream" - Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers
One of my favorite songs from the 80s. They butcher it up. YUCK.

CJ - "Free Fallin'" - Tom Petty
Cook says CJ really impressed him and made him excited about hearing the song again. Cook gave him pointers about the arrangement of the song.
I agree with Cook, I like the arrangement. CJ has to do something to stay in tune. Better but still off at times. Odd how he hits the big notes and falls off the normal stuff.
Jennifer - There has never been a contestant I have rooted for note by note, like I do for you. It started off a little shaky, but by the end, you hit the chorus, you touched people's hearts.
Harry - There is a connection you have, virtually every time you get up there. When you hit the high notes, you were much more in tune.
Keith - That was a great rendition of that song. The great thing about your voice, you have a survivor tone in it. You may to this to me, you may do that to me, I am going to prevail and rise up. I'm gonna survive. That's the part I love.
CJ praised Cook for his expert help to himself and all of the others, saying he is an awesome dude.

Ryan tells us that Randy wore spandex when he was part of Journey back in the 80's.

Caleb - "Faithfully" - Journey
Cook has an odd connection with Caleb, wearing similar shirts to rehearsal. (Cook looks much better in his version.) Cook says give the song a little more reverence. Cook tells Caleb about connecting to the audience at home too. "Pull your heart out and put it on the table."
Caleb sounds good. The piano is too loud for me. Keith is so silly. He has the "lighter" app on his phone up for the performance.
Harry - Exciting watching you walk out because everybody was anticipating two things. One, a really strong consistent vocal, and the fact we have wanted to hear something with more subtlety. I wanted to know if you could do it, and you did. Nice work.
Keith - It was killer. It was a perfect song for you. I got my lighter up there. It was a lighter moment, an eighties flashback. It was all function.
Jennifer - It's no small task to take on Steve Perry. Its like one of the gods. I could tell you couldn't wait to get to the power part.

So there it is another mediocre week. Caleb was pretty good on solo but I hated the duet with Jena. I didn't like Jena's solo much either. CJ was better, but not good, on the solo, but I hated the duet with Malaya. I also hated Malaya's solo. Alex and Sam were good on the duet, but I hated Alex's solo and Sam is still so awkward, even though he sounds good.  Dexter sounded good on his solo, but is awkward on stage. His duet with Jessica was awful to me. Jessica's solo was one of the better ones, in my opinion. What a terrible mixed bag of nothing we were presented this week. And it seemed like Cookie was really trying to help them. Maybe they are beyond help at this point.

I think bottom 3 are Malaya, CJ and Alex. (The older audience will not tolerate the butchering of The Police classic.) Might be time for Malaya to exit, but then again, anyone could leave at this point and I won't shed any tears. Sorry.

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