American Idol: Some Buckling Under Pressure, Others Show A Glint of Steel

It was Beatles night on American Idol and Keith Urban was like a kid in a candy store. He couldn’t make up his mind which song was his favorite. Nicki Minaj just wanted Jimmy Iovine to cool it or get lost, whichever came first, but just quit messin’ with her fav’s heads. She thinks it’s Jimmy’s fault that Lazaro Arbos has lost confidence in his singing and his stage presence, putting too much pressure on him and confusing him. Randy Jackson pointed out that contestants not only need to prove they can sing just about anything, but do it under pressure. Lazaro bombed with “In My Life”, and tried desperately to hide his tears after the judges’ comments. I like Lazaro and would like to hear him sing in the right range for his voice. But he is not American Idol material. I believe he could sing great with a few voice lessons, but that needed to happen before he got on the show.

Candice Glover once again put the pedal to the metal and zoomed out ahead of the competition, though the judges must have put the brakes on standing ovations. Not a one jumped up the entire evening, though daughter-in-law Tammy and I were nearly standing on our heads by the end of Candice’s rousing performance of “Come Together”. It put some fire into an otherwise lukewarm evening. Solid performances are fine, but it’s not what viewers tune in to see. Both judges and audiences want to be wowed. And that ain’t happenin’ at a very brisk pace this season.

Amber Holcomb, an early-on favorite, has the voice to get the blood flowing, but not only did not do justice to “She’s Leaving Home”, it was unrecognizable. In fact, my own viewing trio must have missed the introduction with the title of the song because I had to call out for that information. Still didn’t get it because sister Kate and her Randy, big Beatles fans — as who is not?– didn’t catch the title and didn’t recognize the tune or the song. I had to Google it and still don’t recognize it. So, if a contestant is not going to do a really breakout performance of a relatively obscure song, it might be a good idea not to do it at all and pick something more familiar to themselves and their audience.

Angie Miller did a heart-warming version of “Yesterday”, which was good up to the point where she ended with that unanticipated and jarring trill at the end. It seemed to stop the beautiful and haunting flow of the song so she could suddenly and unexpectedly vaunt her voice. It’s like she was saying, Okay, I’ve shown enough heart and emotion here, let’s get back to what really matters. My extraordinary voice. And even though Randy gave her props for it, I don’t think he really liked it, either. It was more like he was implying that she had suddenly abandoned a great performance, and in one awkward flip, made it merely commercial. Great and lasting music becomes a commercial success because, first of all,  it touches people. Not the other way around.

In the same vein, Devin Velez nearly ruined an otherwise fine performance of “The Long and Winding Road” by nearly drowning it in trills and frills. Randy Jackson did warn this singer about going down that long and winding road. It can bore people to the point of being voted off and having to take the long road back home.

On the other hand, Janelle Arthur was the step-up vocalist of the evening by doing a Goldilocks — not too much, not too little, but a JUUUST right performance of “I Will”. It touched, it pleased, it conquered. She was a hit with the judges, the audience, and definitely the viewers in my circle. She’s a contender.

Kree Harrison kicked off the show with her usual impeccable performance, this time choosing “I’ll Get By With A Little Help From My Friends”. Burnell Taylor was a standout performer with his smooth to raspy R&B blend in “Let It Be”. Among the men, he may be the last one left standing before the girls take flight for the top. Paul Jolley trashed Eleanor Rigby because he still can’t find where his vocals belong in pitch or in genre. I believe it’s a toss-up between him and Lazaro on which gets voted off tonight.

On a lighter note, I liked Angie Miller’s hair a lot better than the high school prom queen curls. I think Jimmy Iovine made a comment recently about offsetting her beauty contest style with a more current look. And she got it. She’s always beautiful, but now she looks more like a singer on her way up to a star.

However, Candice needs to downplay her overabundance of big caboose and legs (as does Kree). And tight and patterned is definitely the wrong end of the spectrum from “downplay”. Otherwise, she is gorgeous. A standout in wardrobe, however, was Burnell Taylor. That jacket was to die for. Loved it. He looked FAB-ulous, dahling. But Devin, in case he doesn’t go home, should lose that dorky hairstyle.

Oh yeah. And Aubrey Cleland got the nod for the American Idol Live Tour over Charlie Askew. All I can say is, she’ll blend.

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26 thoughts on “American Idol: Some Buckling Under Pressure, Others Show A Glint of Steel

  1. I know this isn’t going to make me popular here, but I don’t care for The Beatles and never have. The SOUND of The Beatles is OK, but they WROTE only two or three songs that I could even stand to listen to over the years. So right off the mark, that made last night’s show a downer for me.

    ~Kree – Very nice, I liked it. Wish she wouldn’t always wear black.
    ~Burnell – Boring. He didn’t go anywhere with “Let It Be.” It all sounded the same. Interesting that he was totally unfamiliar with The Beatles and most of the other contestants could hardly be said to be on intimate terms with their music either. That makes me feel VERY old.
    ~Amber – I thought this was fantastic. I’d never heard this song before. She’s has such a lovely voice that she could sing ANYTHING and I’d listen.
    ~Lazaro – Maybe I should save my breath because I think he’ll be gone tonight. Again, the low notes got tossed away, he was not only pitchy, but flat. He needs to work on his diction. He loses the ends of words, i.e., when he sang “my eyes” it sound like “my eye” because the S wasn’t there. I think, like Charlie Askew, Lazaro doesn’t have the emotional stamina to last the entire season.
    ~Candice (with an I) – I loved her singing, but I’m REALLY tired of looking at her generous bottom and thighs in tight black pants. Move on, girl! Doesn’t Idol employ stylists anymore?
    ~Paul – I want sooo much to love him, but he’s just not getting better. I think he should decide what kind of singer HE wants to be instead of trying to do what everyone tells him, especially when they each tell him something different.
    ~Angie – Loved every minute of this from the first note to the last.
    ~Devlin – Mehh. And I agree about getting rid of that hairstyle. He looks like the cartoon character Tin Tin.

    ~Janelle – She stole the night, IMO. It was just lovely.

    Incidentally, it’s Jimmy IOVINE, not LOVINE
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jimmy_Iovine

    Over and out……

    • THANK you for that heads up. It IS Iovine and I’ve read it wrong and heard it wrong all this time. I check behind myself for spelling by Googling the names and STILL screw up. Will edit that.

      You had the same reaction I did with the kids’ unfamiliarity with the Beatles, That makes me feel older than dirt. Sorry you and the Beatles didn’t see musically eye to eye. Would you believe I didn’t like them at first? I think was about 15 when they “invaded” and a big red-headed girl in my gym class (I hated gym class), couldn’t talk, dream, or sigh, about anything else. I kept thinking, What’s it all about, Alfie? But, over the years they grew on me and I started hearing and feeling more from their songs. There’s just something about them. Mike could describe it better than me.

      I’ll have to check back on how I spelled Candice. Can’t remember that far back. What, like 10 minutes ago? Boy, I’m getting worse.

      Yes. Amber was one of my early favorites and still has the wonderful voice. But that song did nothing for me. But didn’t she look great. And I loved the behind the scenes family story. I hope she goes big.

      • “You had the same reaction I did with the kids’ unfamiliarity with the Beatles, That makes me feel older than dirt.”

        Yep.

        It’s time for a bit of true confession. As I’ve said before, I grew up in a house where classical music prevailed and the only exception was my mother’s love of the big bands. I never listened to any pop music in college. When I moved to NYC and started working for RCA Records, I was exposed to pop and country for the first time, but I continued to CHOOSE to listen to classical, go to the opera and concerts.

        We moved to NH in 1990 and spent six months restoring and renovating our house. The construction workers blasted pop-rock all day while they were working outside and hubby and I considered it a dreadful noise. Then I had an epiphany.

        In 1999, I heard “Kashmir” by Led Zeppelin and was fascinated by the guitar work of Jimmy Page (didn’t know who it was though) and the strong rhythm. I looked for other songs by them and soon discovered a ton of “oldies” by lots of other artists and couldn’t believe I’d never liked this music.

        So the upshot is from 1999 through today, I’ve discovered a lifetime of pop music in only 14 years. I totally immersed myself in it and love it now every bit as much as classical. For some reason I just wasn’t “grabbed” by The Beatles, but I adore bands like The Bee Gees, The Who, The Rolling Stones, The Kinks, The Doors, The Yardbirds, Aerosmith….I could go on and on. I like tamer groups like Boston, Journey, Foreigner, too, and thanks to singers like Carrie Underwood and Keith Urban, I’ve decided country music has something going for it too.

        It’s been like a 14-year cram course in pop music, but what a great trip it’s been..

      • Wow! Love that story. And you have run the list of all our favorites. I have a “music” header on my blog, because Mike and I were going to collaborate on posting songs that really grab us and tell why they do so. As I said, Mike is better at describing the intricacies of music than me and we were excited about it. Unfortunately, time constrains and it’s never really gotten off the ground. There’s a song by Poison that I really wanted to do, and “The House of the Rising Sun”. We like Guns N’ Roses, but I can’t tell you why. Maybe it’s the rawness as well as a certain vulnerability. Sometimes it’s hard to know why something appeals to one person and not another.

        Did you catch what Jimmy said last night to Candice about the crazy words to “Come Together”? He essentially said something about “now was not the time” to go messing around in the heads of the Beatles for the psych behind those strange lyrics. Just learn the words and how it should be sung. I thought that was good advice.

  2. P.S. It was to Jimmy Iovine that Tony Renis and Humberto Gatica pitched Il Volo in 2009 and that’s how Il Volo ended up on Jimmy’s label, Interscope Records / Universal Music.

  3. There’s no reply button to click for your comment about my journey through pop music so I’ll write it as a new comment.

    I love Poison. Which song did you want to post and whose version of “House of the Rising Sun,” The Animals or an earlier version? I also really like Guns N’ Roses.

    I recently read the autobiography of Duff McKagan, their bass player, and he talked A LOT about everyone in the band. Keith Richards also has a good autobiography titled “My Life,” Steven Tyler’s autobiography is absolutely fascinating, but you have to dodge all the rough language. But the best autobiography I’ve read by anyone in the music business is “Clapton.” I’ve read it three times and I almost never re-read books. I plan to start “The Soundtrack of My Life” by Clive Davis soon.

    “Did you catch what Jimmy said last night to Candice about the crazy words to “Come Together”?”

    Yes, I caught that. I think Jimmy was right. Some people believe The Beatles were high as kites on “funny” mushrooms, or something, when they came up with many of their song lyrics. Eric Clapton talked about it in his book. He and George Harrison were good friends. Well, that is until Pattie Boyd divorced George to marry Eric. Her autobiography, “Wonderful Tonight,” is terrific, too.

    • Poison — Something to Believe In
      House of the Rising Sun — The Animals

      I didn’t know about the biographies. Thanks. I’ll see if the library has them. I love biographies if they are written well. So few are. Or maybe there’s just not enough material. But that last statement can’t be the case with the biographies you mentioned. There’s probably more material than can be managed in one book unless they wanted to do a tome, which people will not go for these days.

      I am about to jump on my blog for last night’s insights. Hope I can continue with them, but will be having surgery in a couple of weeks and will be down and out for a week or more, and 4-6 weeks before getting around well. Also have a rotater cuff injury. Got an MRI coming up for that and don’t know what the result will be. I feel like there’s a knife stuck in my shoulder. Have to budget my typing time and have had to move from the office to the living room with the keyboard so my right arm will be in a lower position. But I hate the idea of going without my computer fix. LOL. Weather knocked out power here for three days this week. I got a lot of reading done. Will be blogging about that probably.

      • The books I mentioned are all autobiographies, not biographies. I suspect most autobiographies have help from a professional writer unless the author writes VERY well. These are all very interesting and well written.

        Wow! That must have been some storm if you lost power for three days. We lose our power pretty regularly, which is why we have a generator. Most of the time it’s out for only a few hours. It happens year ’round and is mostly caused by the wind blowing trees down on the lines. We have A LOT of trees around here. :>)

        I’m so sorry to hear about your surgeries. I guess the surgery in a couple of weeks will be pretty major if it will keep you out of commission for so long. I’ve known people who required rotator cuff surgery. I hope you won’t need that, but from what you say, it sounds as if you will. It will mean another vacation from the computer, but at least you won’t feel like there’s a knife in your shoulder after the surgery. Best of luck with both. I will definitely miss you. And I’ll miss your write-ups for “American Idol” (and “The Voice”.) Maybe you can dictate them and Mike can type them for you.

        I have my notes ready to go as soon as you post your entry about last night’s results show. I’ll be watching for it.

        Off topic, but on one of the entertainment shows I watch daily, “Entertainment Tonight,” they were talking about how three extremely popular shows will all air at the same time Sunday night: The History Channel’s mini-series “The Bible,” the return of HBO’s “Game of Thrones,” and AMC’s “The Walking Dead.” I really don’t see why this is a problem now that so many people have DVRs or TiVos. I don’t know if History Channel does many repeats, but each episode of “The Walking Dead” is repeated over and over all week and HBO has at least 10 repeats the week after an initial airing. I never have a problem when shows I watch are on at the same time. And if all else fails, practically every show on TV these days can be watched on line either at the station’s web site, Hulu.com or (if you’r willing to pay) on iTunes. Next week “The Voice” will be back. That, plus “American Idol,” means I’m going to be watching other shows as repeats or on line.

      • LOL Well, I certainly wouldn’t want to put a strain on your nerves so what about your sister or daughter? I don’t know how far from you they live, but I had the impression they were faily close.

      • Daughter-in-law is close. Daughter in NC. Sister works five days a week in a sressful environment (shipping for a big company) and collapses just after she gets in the door. That’s why we telephone during commercials on Idol. Nope. I’m isolated here. Next door neighbor is 82 and almost illiterate. Friends who might be able to type are about 30 miles away. Poor pitiful me. I feel another country song coming on,.

      • Gosh. That sounds a bit like my situation and is why I’m so dependent on the Internet. My nearest family is 600 miles away in Ohio. My longest standing real life friends are in in New York, Ohio and Vermont. I have one very good friend here in my town, but she works full time, gets home from work exhausted and has three grown sons and grandchildren to keep her busy. We go to movies together, but that’s really all she has time for.

        It may sound weird, but I feel much closer to many people I know on line than people I’ve known personally over the years and consider friends. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting many of them in person, but we’re too scattered to spend actual physical time together. The beauty of the Internet is that the entire world population is there from which to choose friends. You can’t help but meet people who think and feel in ways that are compatible.

      • So true. I’m glad for the net. It keeps people in touch, and as you said, you make new friends who have meeting of the minds, like you and me. It’s second best. Rather have eye to eye and face to face, but still we’re blessed to have it. Katie and my Tammy are about the only “movie” buds I have, and our times to get together for that are few and far between. We do get together here at home for movie dates, but that is second best, also. I absolutely adore the big screen. I love big movies at the movies. There is just a different aura.

      • Oh, I love eye-to-eye contact, too, but since that’s not usually possible, I’m ever so grateful for the Internet. I have Skype so at least I can see the people I’m chatting with if they have it, too.

        I agree that some movies demand to be seen on the big screen. For me, that’s films like the Lord of the Rings trilogy, the Harry Potter movies, The Hobbit, Les Miserables, etc. The cinematography is fantastic for films like those on the big screen. However, having said that, I have a gorgeous 25″ monitor and a Blu-ray drive in my computer and I now like that as much as seeing films on the big screen. I’m much more aware of details than I am when looking at a giant screen.

        As for the “aura”…..there’s nothing quite like movie theater popcorn. LOL

      • Agree on all of the above. We have a big flat screen and blue ray and love the movies I’ve missed at the theater. Mike and I are movie trailer addicts and pick which ones should be seen on the big screen and which will wait for DVD. We hardly ever make it to the big stuff anymore, but it’s a real treat when we do.

      • We have three TV sets and they’re all pretty old so when one needs to be replaced, we’ll get a 42″ flat screen. I want plasma because I watch a lot of figure skating and tennis and plasma handles fast action the best. They also have better sound according to “Consumer Reports.”

        My friend and I don’t go to the movies much either. That’s mostly because the nearest theatre is very “family” oriented and rarely has movies we want to see. “Kung Foo Panda” and “Alvin and the Chipmunks” are not my idea of entertainment. But they do have the popular blockbuster movies like the “Twilight” films, “Harry Potter,” etc. about a month or so after release. The nearest first-run theater is an hour away.

        We’ve been in NH 22 years and my husband, Frank, hasn’t been to a movie once. He got spoiled when we lived in NYC because we went to so many movie screenings in movie company screening rooms with plush reclining seats, good food and drinks. One of the perks of working in the entertainment business was being invited to movie screenings, concerts and Broadway shows. He’d rather watch DVDs than go out to a movie now.

      • Do you mean pictures of us at screenings? No. The screenings we attended were for the media and no celebrities were there or anyone else who was important enough to photograph. We weren’t “media,” but I was invited through record company connections. I’d reciprocate by getting free records for whoever had made sure I was invited. Nice trade off. .

      • Yes indeed. I loved my job, as you can well imagine.

        Are you working on your results show entry? I’m signing off for a bit, but I’ll look for it when I come back. .

    • Thank you so much for your encouraging comment. I hate to think I’m just talking to myself sometimes. LOL. Please feel free to comment at any time. I have made a good friend and a few followers through their agreements and disagreements. Dialogue is improved by differing opinions. My husband and I have been following a lot of Texas blogs lately from oil field gate guard workers.
      Thanks again.
      LInda

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