September 25, 2009

Singapore Idol: Syltra Lee Out, Lucked Out!

Posted in Musings tagged , , , , at 7:00 am by myrlinn

So Syltra Lee was the one eliminated this week, victim of a phone voting system that seems to be eliminating some of the more talented singers. But, in Syltra’s case, I think she got lucky.

I saw her in the Top 24 show, and she exuded genuineness, style, attitude and personality. Fast forward to this week, and whoa, she’s been made over into this muppet of a pop star. The overdone lashes and those lips… that’s not make-up, that’s caricature. And she was being encouraged to change even further, to appeal to the masses! Syltra was probably fortunate to get out before they ironed all the personality out of her.

Makeovers are great when they serve to enhance or highlight the essence of who a person is. However, to encourage people to transform into something they’re not, that’s just wrong, cruel even. Ken advising Fathin to turn into Lady Gaga? Ridiculous! She doesn’t come across as someone with a natural flamboyance and love of dramatics. That makeover would be a disaster. Fathin has the vocal chops, let her shine with her voice alone.

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?).

April 16, 2009

Talent is so much more magical when it’s unexpected

Posted in Television tagged , , , , , , , at 9:20 pm by myrlinn

So this week, I was reading the message boards, and I came across this:

Susan Boyle – Britain’s Got Talent 2009 (Audition)

It’s so lovely when we stumble across something unexpected like this… when magic comes out from someone who looks as ordinary-looking at her. What a doll she is in terms of personality too.

One commentator wrote that it’s kinda like when we saw Clay Aiken on American Idol. And that’s true – it’s something special to see someone succeed when we don’t expect from them.

Clay Aiken – American Idol 2 (Audition)

Looking at these performances actually gave me some insight into why I find this year’s American Idol especially unappealing – this year, there’s no unlikely idol in sight. I actually felt relieved this week to see Anoop Desai doing well with Everything I Do.

It does the heart good to see someone who’s had quite a rough time of it finally get everything together. He looked really comfortable up there, and I thought that his voice was really nice at that key.

And since I’m posting, I guess I might as well mention my thoughts on the other idols this year:

* Adam Lambert is being way over-praised — he’s coming across too theatrical, too practised. Amazing range, though I’m not that into the tone of his voice.

* Ditto for Danny Gokey. He’s good, but as good as the judges make out? I don’t think so.

* Poor Lil and Matt, especially Lil. Trying too hard to please the judges, and twisting themselves in knots as a result.

* Allison Iraheta. I personally don’t enjoy the timbre of her voice that much, but I can see that she’s talented. I’m so glad she’s survived this far.

* Kris Allen. I’m neutral on his voice, it’s nice, not amazing. But he’s there doing his thing week after week, and he seems to be so himself. I’d like to see him find his niche in the recording industry post-Idol.

April 2, 2009

Megan Joy eliminated from American Idol – her “I don’t care” to Simon

Posted in Television tagged , , , , at 8:46 pm by myrlinn

I guess quite a few people will be very critical of Megan Joy for her “I don’t care” to Simon. I wonder though how much of it is bravado that’s a result of knowing that the judges are targetting for her to go next. And of letting the judges’ sudden “hate” get to her.

Honestly, I don’t get the judges’ excessive love for Adam Lambert and Danny Gokey. I may be alone, but Adam always makes me feel like he’s “acting” when he’s singing onstage. A genius on the same level as Mick Jagger? *rolls eyes* If you put Adam next to Mick, I think Adam comes across as a “wannabe” (what they accused Allison Iraheta of this week, just because of the rather OTT rock-chick outfit she had on).

As for Danny Gokey, he has an ease about him onstage which obviously helps him sell any song he’s singing. But to me, he’s just consistently very good, not great. I don’t think he’s done that much better than Matt Giraud or Lil Rounds, yet Matt and Lil Rounds seem to be judged much more harshly, leading them to perhaps overthink their song choices???

I’m just glad that Kris Allen is still able to just do his thing. Really enjoyed his “Ain’t No Sunshine” this week. And I remember enjoying his “Man in the Mirror” in the Top 36 stage. His main weakness, for me, is that his voice is just okay for me. But, if you believe in conventional pop-music wisdom that it’s all about the song, then I can see a situation where given a good song, he’ll improve on it, and be able to release a very good record. (Also, I’ve heard a couple of his studio recordings for Idol, and I do think he sounds better recorded than live). I see him as this season’s Blake Lewis, without the beat-boxing gimmick.

Having said all that, I must say that I find myself looking forward more to the Results week for the guests, than to the performance shows. It was great to see David Cook again this week. And I loved Joss Stone last week.

One of my main thoughts this week about Idol: I think it’s a shame that the show has missed its chance to reshape pop music. Yet, with every season, they seem to be increasingly emphasising to contestants that they have to ‘fit’ into the contemporary pop world. What a waste of an opportunity. American Idol could have striven to become the Motown of this era. But so far all we’ve seen is a massively successful factory in action.

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