There were few clear front-runners in the American Idol guys competition last night, and I vacillated between snoozing and feeling like I was under the drill at the dentist’s office. My big question is — why can’t anybody just SING anymore? My daughter called from North Carolina to let me know she wouldn’t be discussing the show. She was going to bed. “There’s nobody there I care about,” she said. “They HAD some good ones, but they let them go.”
I know the judges were looking to give some variety, but, come on. It was obvious from the first that Zoanette had singing problems that could not be overcome in a couple of sessions with a vocal coach. So someone good had to give place to her — not once — but several times. And dear little mixed up Charlie, though a “better” singer, had the same problems with consistency. Both have cute, quirky personalities, but both also fly close to the edge of beyond.
Charlie’s meltdown was case in point. He didn’t want to stay as Nicki’s babe in arms and was continuously reinventing himself, hoping one incarnation would click with a broad fan base. And who can blame him. He obviously wants to be the COOL, quirky guy with a capital K, not the socially challenged young man people have always made fun of. Nicki was disappointed and said she felt like somebody stole her kid. “I don’t want to see your bare arms, or your earring, or your ponytail,” she said. “I just want my kid back. I’ve gone from obsessed to upset.” Everybody felt sorry for his problems, but to parade them upon a national stage is probably not doing him any favors. The exposure could go either way – it can make him or break him – depending upon who wants the exploitation rights.
Nothing gelled for almost the entire first hour last night, the show plodding through the first four singers, their interviews, their judging, etc. I think even the judges were bored and the audience was nice and polite. Rather than singing for their lives, Elijah, Cortez, and Nick played it nice and safe. Charlie was indefinable. Elijah Liu made off with the same old, same old about how “marketable” he is – like another boy band group or the Beiber. Cortez Shaw just fell off the Idol edge with wrong song choice, wrong key, wrong clothes, wrong look, even with a much-needed up-tempo song. Nick Boddington came out ahead of the other three, but didn’t pull into the mainstream. He sang “sweet” and “pretty” at his piano, giving a “solid performance”. The same could be said for a high school musical. This is American Idol for Pete’s sake. Oh, my gosh! I’m beginning to sound like Simon Cowell. Quick, somebody! Find me an exorcist!
Burnell Taylor, who has a “never-say-die” spirit and background, was the first to bring some semblance of consciousness to his viewers, though he sang his original audition song. That would have been great, but it was not quite the same and not quite as good. Nicki obviously felt the same, but pulled back before voicing it, probably not wanting to jeopardize Burnell’s chances, who is one of her heroes of the competition. And with good reason. I want him to come back and go far, too.
Paul Jolley is another one who wants to go with whoever the audience and judges want him to be. Last night he insisted that he saw himself as pop-country. And I can’t be sure because I didn’t quite catch it, but I think he muttered “If that’s who people want me to be”, or something like that. He has been accused of being too theatrical, and not believable, and last night Randy observed that he even changed horses in mid-stream (changing his tone in the same song). One of the judges questioned him on his “pop-country” style announcement, commenting he/she had never noticed that before.
Candyman Lazaro Arbos, ice cream parlor employee, stuck with the luscious look that suits him best and doesn’t apologize for it. He connected with the crowd, and Nicki, though feeling it was a bit slow, liked the fact that he “put some attitude on it”. I liked his singing, but kept waiting for him to let go and just soar with it. I know he can. I know a lot of these singers can. But they’re scared to death to take a chance. Which brings them to a Catch-22 – take a chance and maybe go home — or play it safe and probably go home. I want these singers to get my blood up and my heart beating before Mike has to call 911 for a transfusion and a jump-start. I can see the obit now. “Died of boredom during American Idol.” Come on, guys! I feel like the Phantom of the Opera as his voice rang out and echoed through his subterranean world, “SING FOR MEEE!”
Then there is the guy with The Voice that I wouldn’t vote for if he stood on his head and sang the Star Spangled Banner a cappella in perfect pitch. Curtis Finch, Jr., a self-proclaimed church music director, was worshiped by the judges as the new messiah, bringing them hope and praising God after his powerful rendition of “I Believe I Can Fly”. Isn’t this the same jerk who said he would “walk all over” some poor schmuck (was it Charlie Askew?) in his group round to get a position on American Idol? He later somewhat “explained” or something. Said he didn’t mean it like that. How else can you mean “walk all over” somebody to get ahead? It was a moment of “True Colors”. I go to church, and I praise God. But Curtis Finch, Jr. is no brother of mine. He’s the toothy wolf in choir robes of American Idol 2013. Finch has a perfect pitch, alright, and the judges bought it. I hope the voting public have longer memories.
Now Devin Velez — he’s the real deal. He may not have the pipes or the range of Mr. Finch, but he has the heart and the soul. The quality and definition of his voice grabs from the beginning and carries you all the way through and you know you’ve heard something beautiful and it touches your heart. There’s a lusciousness to his tone like sweet ripe fruit, and there’s a realness to it you can almost touch. And he doesn’t have to strain for it. It’s just there. He’s the kind of American boy you would be proud to see confetti falling around as the crowds cheer and the band plays as he accepts the title of American Idol. If a guy has any chance at all of winning it this year, it should be him.
Vincent Powell raised the roof in his last performance, but it kind of fell in on him this week. Trying to top his all-time best, he announced he was through with the “emotion” part of singing and putting it all behind him. He was now pumped and just ready to get up and sing it. I guess he meant emptying a song of its beating heart and replacing it with an echoing tin can. Where does he think a song comes from and why does he think people listen to them? EMOTION, for heaven’s sake. I love you Vincent Powell, but for the love a Mike, get a stinkin’ clue.
Okay. Those are my humble opinions and I’m stickin’ to ’em.