It was Band Night on American Idol last night, and between them Caleb Johnson and Ricky Minor’s band blew the house down. The applause went on and on and garnered a standing O from Keith Urban and Jennifer Lopez. Caleb, who “owned the stage” certainly wasn’t dazed and confused when he rocked into Led Zeppelin’s “Dazed and Confused”. He was bad to the bone.
And between the great shoe caper and eating a giant Gummy Rabbit piece by piece, beginning with the ears, American Idol managed to entertain our socks off. Or, at least Ryan Seacrest’s socks. Here’s the deal. Keith Urban presented Harry Connick, Jr. a gift of a giant purple bunny — Gummy Rabbit style. Harry promptly opened it and attacked the ear, which resisted Carnivorous Connick’s canines. Jennifer Lopez dipped her head and joined Connick in his voracious fest, though a bit more daintily. When the taste and the texture didn’t suit her, she dumped the piece of purple rabbit ear in her coke glass. Which goes to show even Gummy purple rabbit ears go better with Coca-Cola.
Then following Alex Preston’s first-up performance, Seacrest pointed out Alex’s sockless shoes and bare ankles. “Let’s see your ankles, Seacrest,” Harry challenged. Ryan promptly complied, pulling up his pants leg and taking off a sock and shoe. Ryan didn’t miss a beat in his unflappable host mode until a fleet and shadowy figure did a snatch and grab on his shoe, running off into the hinterlands of backstage. But anyone could tell it was infamous Fleetfoot Harry, who, unable to shoulder the guilt, eventually restored the shoe back.to its impeccably styled owner. I just wish it had been the red shoes Seacrest has flashed in the past. I really like red shoes.
Meanwhile, back at the ranch, there is no doubt that Alex Preston sang “Don’t Speak” by No Doubt beautifully. My daughter-in-law, Tammy, who watched it with me last night, called it “coffeehouse music”. I knew that style and couldn’t place it till Tammy named it. Alex’s mellow tones, inflections, and style just make me feel like I’m floating on a peaceful river in the sunshine. Love his voice. Judges’ comments overall last night tended toward change. Don’t be predictable. Get a star/stage personality. Put real, heart emotion into lyrics and body language. Most of the contestants have the voice. Now they just need a little something to go with their voices..
Though all the judges love Alex’s vocals, Keith thought Alex needed to be more unpredictable, with an edge. Jennifer said that No Doubt’s vocalist Gwen Stefani “kicked butt”. Jennifer got boos when she said that Alex “sucks the life out of the song”. Harry just wanted him to move things around a little. Don’t just stand and sing. Engage the audience.
Majesty Rose, who has been in the bottom three the past couple of weeks, sang “Shake it Out” by Florence and the Machine. Jennifer gave her performance a ten even though, she said, her vocals were all over the place. Harry’s waiting for Majesty to “connect”. “You are so close,” he said. “But you are so diverse, it’s hard for people to connect.” — Apparently, Alex needs to diversify and Majesty needs to do the opposite. Keith said, “I know when you’re up there on stage, you feel the adrenaline and you feel like you gave a good performance. You feel energized. But you were kind of all over the place”. Keith cited his own experiences with just this feeling, but said when playing it back, it wasn’t as good as he thought. All the judges feel her confidence factor needs to edge up, too. — So that’s a thumb’s down for Majesty except in performance.
Alabama country boy Dexter Roberts sang “Boondocks” by Little Big Town. Roberts was great. Everybody in my circle loved his performance. The only critique Harry could give was that Dexter should bring his own stamp to the song and he didn’t hear that. Keith called the song “anthem like”. I suppose meaning a biggy that everyone knows and likes and takes good vocal power to sing. Keith felt that Dexter fell back on those big popular songs, but should branch out and show another side of his vocals and personality. Jennifer called Dexter a “modern country guy”. She liked his performance but agreed he should not do the same thing all the time. — Oops. Guess what happened to Ben Briley when he did that? My sister Katie gave her opinion loud and emphatically — “I don’t give a RIP! He HAS his own voice!” — Yay!! Preach it Katie!!!
Malaya Watson sees a long and winding road ahead of her and sang “Let it Be”, by the Beatles. “Beautiful, baby!” Keith responded. ( love how Keith says “baby”, don’t you?) He loved that Malaya “showed us her vibrato” and that her personality came through. Jennifer cited Malaya’s control and compared her sweet vibrato to Michael Jackson’s. Harry dubbed her the “most consistently improving”. “But forget stardom,” he advises. “Work on your craft.” — Malaya’s a sweet kid and they’ve got her looking and sounding better and better, but she’s not our favorite. I think this 16-year-old needs a few more years on her, and, as Harry says, improve her craft.
Sam Woolf looked slightly more relaxed as he sang “Hey there, Delilah” by the Plain White T’s. Sam has a smooth, wonderful voice you could just fall into, but, I’m like the judges — he needs to feel the song. Well, “Hey there, Delilah” should be a song any male can feel, but Sam just sang it sweetly, like to his grandmother, he said. Okay, I have a suggestion. Forget the grandmother, though sweet she may be. Get Jennifer Lopez up there BEFORE he starts singing a song like that. Get her to grab him close and plant a good, big kiss on him with those famous big lips every man slobbers over, and have her hold on for several seconds. He’ll either pass out or sing the crap out of the song. That’s just my humble advice to the boy.
Okay. Here’s what the judges said to Sam. Jennifer liked the stripped down arrangement. Harry beat that same old drum that Sam should be more self-assertive — which is true. And feel the song. Yeah. Keith said the song had very specific notes, that with Sam’s voice, he could soften the edges, be looser, glide around the words. — Sounds great. Do it, Sam.
Jessica Meuse showed off her hunting skills on the little cameos of the contestant’s lives. She said, “When the end of the world comes you’ll want a redneck on your team.” Huh. Food for thought. Maybe she’ll shoot it — the food, that is. Jessica sang a Stevie Nicks song that sounded a whole lot like Stevie Nicks, but, you know, it wasn’t. Harry said that compared to others who had tried to sing that song she did a nice job. And he liked that she showed a slightly different side. — She sang without her requisite guitar. Keith said she looked great — and she did — and that she wore the mod clothes comfortably. “You wear the clothes,” he said. “They don’t wear you.” He said that without the guitar she could have moved around a little more. Jennifer could see her confidence growing and connecting with the audience more. But taking on Nicks was big. Nicks has the big voice and the big personality. “Your voice is beautiful,” she said. “But you have to pull us in.”
C.J. Harris had it all with “If it Hadn’t Been for Love” by the bluegrass band Steel Driver. He had the expression. The soulful sound. The smooth voice. The only thing he didn’t have most of the way through was the key. It was much better than last week, and we know he CAN sing in tune. But what happens from the rehearsal to the stage? Keith called the song a clever choice. It allowed C.J. to tap into his soulful side. “But,” he said, “don’t confuse the sound of your voice with your heart sound. You’ve got to get it from here.” (heart). Jennifer agreed that the song was a good choice and that C.J. has a unique sound. She said he lost it in the middle but picked it back up toward the end. Harry compared singing and entertaining on stage to juggling. “You have to connect with the audience. You have to sing in form, you have to worry about your intonation. You’ve got to work on the pitch,” he said, and suggested he pound out the notes on the piano until he has them right.
Jennifer Lopez called Caleb Johnson’s rendering of Led Zeppelin’s “Dazed and Confused” sexy. Which thrilled the young man to no end. — He’ll probably be disgusting and obnoxious for days to come. She also told him, “You were the front man all the way,” referring to singing with the band. All the judges praised Ricky Manor and band, and very rightly so. Harry shed super praise upon him. “Caleb,” he said, “I don’t see how you could do any better, to take an iconic song like that and make it a great performance. I don’t see how anyone could follow that.” For Keith the “whole performance came at me like an air bag in slow motion. The band wasn’t afraid to play. You both took it toe to toe.”
Well, Jena Irene followed Caleb with “Bring Me to Life” by Evanescence. My Tammy said she didn’t see how Jena was going to do since even Evanescence had trouble singing it. Jena has had some good songs before and I like her back in the try-outs. But since then she’s lost me. Don’t know why. She probably does everything right. However, Harry said she followed Caleb, and “it was hard to follow that, but you did. I like the way you used the stage. You connected. Keith told her, “You deliver. You’ve got your own thing going on. Jennifer said she sounded “phenomenal”. She told Jena to “get crazy” and to make her hair more messy.– Jena did the hair flip on stage and bounced around well, but she was no follow-up to Caleb. He shakes his hair around wildly, too.
Okay. I’m out of time. My internet has been off today and I’m late. That darn internet!! I was going to email a friend, who awaits my Idol postings so she can agree or shoot ’em down,:) that it would be late because my internet was down. Okay. I finally got it that I couldn’t email without the net, either. Whew! I need a Dr. Pepper.