April 29, 2010

Random thoughts on American Idol 9 contestants

Posted in Music, Television tagged , , , , at 7:12 am by myrlinn

American Idol seems to be floundering a bit this year. Which just goes to show that it’s the quality of contestants which makes the show, not the overpaid judges and host! 

One of the things we’re missing this year is a “story” – a battle royale between  contestants who are really different from each other (Clay Aiken vs Ruben Studdard, the two Davids, Kris Allen vs Adam Lambert), amazing out-of-the-pop-box singers, compelling personalities who keep you watching, contestants who keep improving with every performance…

Still, having said that, I’ve probably watched more of this season than recent seasons. Maybe because I keep pulling for various contestants to hit their stride.

A few random thoughts on this year’s contestants:

Crystal Bowersox – Compelling performer. She’s completely at one with her music, and because of that she pulls you in too.  Where she seems to be falling back a bit, though, is that she’s not having an arc-like run on idol — improving and wowing everyone more and more each week. She started off strong, and stayed at virtually the same level.  Her looks, image and style of music point to a niche market, which is not what an idol winner is usually marketed to. Still, seems to me that she’s clearly the deserving winner of American Idol this year.

Siobhan Magnus – Loved her quirkiness at the beginning, when it seemed more like her being her.  But I get the feeling that she now takes herself, and the competition, too seriously. She’d be more appealing if she gives off more of a don’t-care-what-you-think vibe. Lots of potential in this girl though – she’s got the vocal talent (I don’t love her tone, but I appreciate that she can sing), the looks and perhaps just as important, she loves the stage  and loves creating drama. She’s probably the only one this year who could do really well post-Idol in the pop market, perhaps marketed in the Lady Gaga mold?

Lilly Scott – Wish she were still in the competition.

Tim Urban – Not the best range and stylistic maturity of the bunch, but I miss him now that he’s gone. He’s always pleasant to listen to with a nice tone to his voice, and mostly, I like his intelligence. His answer to Kara when she asked him if  he understood what she meant struck the right note.

Aaron Kelly – Lovely, rich voice. He’s someone who could have done really well with a few more years of performing experience under his belt.

Lee DeWyze – Not too sure how he can stand out post-idol, but he’s got a great tone that will work well on radio, and a certain sweetness to his personality.  He has an outside chance of challenging Crystal for top spot this year.

Casey James – may well end up being remembered for his hair 🙂  Well, at least his stylist has moved away from the Shirley Temple ringlets we saw a few weeks ago to a wavy style which is more  flattering.

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January 14, 2010

American Idol Season 9 begins…

Posted in Musings tagged , at 8:57 am by myrlinn

… and I don’t know about you, but the most riveting part of the show for me was Victoria Beckham. What did she do to her face? She looked like an “Avatar” of herself!

May 21, 2009

Idol finale thoughts…

Posted in Television tagged , , at 11:53 am by myrlinn

I tuned in to the Idol finale not expecting anything much, but it was actually a show that’s worth rewatching, with very good guest artistes, and memorable performances from the idols

David Cook was AMAZING, vocally and performance-voice. What an intense, heartfelt performance.

And in what turns out to be a foreshadowing of the results… Kris Allen more than matched vocals and paces with Keith Urban; while Adam Lambert was overshadowed by KISS.

Not a result many in the media would have expected, and I guess many people will point to excuses like:

* Adam fans pissed off Gokey fans, causing them to vote for Kris
* People who liked Adam were more complacent about voting
* Kris was the “safe” choice for middle America.

Perhaps all that contributed to Kris’ win, but I’ve been thinking for a while now that Kris has been gaining votes through his obvious affinity for catchy melodies and rhythms that people enjoy listening to, thus consolidating the popular vote week after week. His clear enjoyment of and passion for music-making is also very infectious, and endearing. He may also have been inadvertently helped by the coronation song. Sure, he didn’t sing it as perfectly as Adam, but I think Randy was absolutely right in that that song suited him better.

And Adam sure wasn’t helped by Simon Fuller’s choice of song for the final. Sure, he did really well on the song, but I think he would have had a better chance of a water-cooler moment with a more dramatic rock song which would have allowed him to give full expression to the outlandish side of his personality. Without that type of “moment”, his performances on final night only slightly edged out Chris’s, and only because he had better vocals.

I’m rather curious as to the vote difference. I’ve been speculating for a while now that Adam hasn’t been getting as many votes as the show would have liked you to think (I mean, Simon asking people to vote for him in the Top 3 show.. that’s telling, I think).  The fact that they didn’t announce the vote difference makes me think that Kris won by a decisive margin.

And, I must say I’m actually looking forward to checking out Kris’ CD. Not sure I’d be buying it, but well, with his talent for arrangements, I’d be waiting to see what original ideas he comes up with, what he does with the plate of generic-pop most Idol winners have been served with.

May 14, 2009

American Idol 8: So it’s Adam vs. Kris, a surprise and yet… not

Posted in Television tagged , , , , at 8:20 pm by myrlinn

There’s only so far the judges can go in hyping up a contestant, as proven by the exit of Danny Gokey, a judges’ early favourite. I could never see exactly what’s so great about his vocal talent, and it seems I’m not alone, judging by the reactions of people around me. My brother has been predicting Danny’s exit for weeks now. He FINALLY got it right ha ha. (I gotta say, though, I LOVED Danny’s “You Are So Beautiful” last night. If he had had more performances like that, maybe he’d have changed our minds)

Danny’s departure makes the competition more interesting for me because it makes it less clearcut who I think should win.

On the one hand, there’s Adam. No denying his vocal prowess, even though I don’t love the tone of his voice which I find a bit thin. His singing is largely effortless, though, and I appreciate that.

What I can’t really get into is his performance. I’ve said before that I think it’s theatrical, but thinking about it, that’s not really the problem. The main thing is that it all seems too choreographed, the moves coming from the head rather than from the soul. His theatre training and background showing here, I suppose I’d like to see him appear more spontaneous (even if his moves are practiced).

Also, I think his singing style has become a little too predictable, it’s all starting to sound the same to me. I haven’t really enjoyed any song since “Ring of Fire”. And the judges’ obvious championing him is not helping me to like him.

Yet… he can definitely sing. So, if we judge on vocals alone, he should hands-down be the winner.

But then there’s Kris. Vocals can be described as competent, pleasant, nothing distinctive.  But I can’t help but be drawn to his commitment to his music. He often performs like him and his music are one, like the music is pouring out him, like he’s really loving the making of the music. Personality-wise, he also seems “real” (A bit awkward, but definitely real). What strikes me also is that he seems to have a more pop-inclined musical sensibility — his song choices reflect a love for catchy melodies and rhythms. So he could actually do rather well as a pop recording artist.

With Kris relying so much on his ability to improvise on a song, it’d be fascinating to see what unfolds next week. Will it be like Blake Lewis’ year, when as I remember it, he was not allowed to change up the arrangement of the original song, thus making it glaringly obvious that he doesn’t match up vocally to his competition???  Now, that would be doing a disservice to the strengths which brought him this far.

Even if he doesn’t win, I’d like to see him wow everyone at the finals. First, because I like him, and second, because I don’t think it’s fair for the judges to “campaign” for one contestant over the others. I mean… Simon Cowell asking people not to forget to vote for Adam *rolls eyes* at the end of the top three show. Tacky, and seems a little “desperate” (hear that, Simon?).

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