Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Episode 8-29 (April 14): Top 7 performances

"And this"... is a little disturbing. Quentin Tarantino lords over the introduction like he's about to take Ryan Seacrest hostage. Man, is he tall.

Rickey Minor is now on the stage. I'd pay $20 to see Stevie Van Zandt slap him after we're subjected to another performer singing at the very bottom of his or her range.

Allison Iraheta, the most consistently killer performer on this show, lost me this week. "I Don't Want To Miss a Thing" (from Armageddon) is an unfortunate choice, because it involves those low notes at the beginning ("I could stay awake..." etc.) that are a twelfth(!) below the eventual high notes, and since Allison is more known for alto belting than actual high notes, that's a recipe for disaster. I could tell it from when she started singing in the setup video, and again when she started live. Good thing she's built up some good will already this season, or I'd seriously fear for her. I don't quite follow Paula's and Simon's gushingness; again, we're getting a different show on TV.

Anoop Desai, inevitably it would seem, chooses "Everything I Do (I Do It For You)" (Bryan Adams' monster milquetoast hit from Robin Hood). Tarantino makes a great point about maintaining intensity... and then Anoop starts with the breathiest note imaginable. Fortunately, the rest of sits really really well in his money zone.

Two things, though:

1) The whole song ran 1:51, and that's from the first piano chord to Rickey's cutoff, thanks to cutting off a verse and the entire bridge. If the producers are that concerned about running on time, and they think that the remedy is to eviscerate the structure of songs and make them as short as possible, and make the judges' role smaller and smaller every week, then... um, what's the point of this show? (Oh, and making Ryan's say his post-song disclaimers at lightning speed makes it even more odd.)

2) "Look into my eyes / and you will see / what you mean to me." Is that even English? If a song doesn't make any logical sense and is in fact bad out of artistic negligence, does it really deserve a position in the pantheon of great movie songs, where you'd expect to find songs that further the plot or set a scene well with lyrics that aren't distractingly bad?

Adam Lambert appears to get no real advice from Tarantino on "Born To Be Wild" (from Easy Rider), which seems a shame seeing as how cinematic Adam's performances tend to be. For once, I do dig the unexpected switch to IV in the chorus to accommodate the harmony in fourths (I wonder which came first).

I listened to this show through headphones for the first time tonight, and noticed that the audio of one particular chunk of he audience appear to be isolated and panned hard left. Interestingly, It's most obvious when they're booing. Hmmmmmm. Did Fox learn to do this from NFL stadiums that pump crowd noises through their PA systems?

("Fortune rewards the brave." Or the bold, Paula.)

Matt Giraud gets some decent advice from Tarantino on "Have You Ever Really Loved a Woman": don't lose the lyrics! Also in the setup video, Matt insist that he's going to try to "have an emotional connection"; alas, he chooses to be behind the piano this time, so... way to sabotage yourself there. He lost some control in the bridge (Randy noted that too), and it was rather odd of him to go off on melodic tangents, after he talked in the video about his admiration for how well-written the song is. All-around a solid vocal performance though; killer falsetto at the end.

Danny Gokey makes a killer call with "Endless Love". The harp was a regrettable choice for an instrument on stage, but his voice cut through the cheese and, as Paula said, he slayed it. These arrangements may be short this season (this one was just 1:43!), but this is first time I've actually wished the song was longer. Wow, was this heartbreaking.

Kris Allen chooses "Falling Slowly" from Once, which is quite a bold choice considering the relative obscurity of the movie (Academy Award notwithstanding). A gorgeous song, to be sure, but another slow song and an unfamiliar one to boot? And with such an inconclusive ending? Hate to say it, but having a guitar on stage actually would've made it more exciting. "Exciting" being relative in this case, of course.

Lil Rounds is singing... "The Rose"? Seriously? Is this a ballad competition? I must say, Tarantino has been making some killer comments. Unfortunately, it doesn't help Lil that this arrangement omits sections to the point where the structure starts to feel off. She (and Ricky Minor) makes it feel even more off by not transposing up a bit, and so she has to sit in that awkward low part of her range again, where she sounds hoarse (in a bad way, not in a Gokey way) and uncontrolled. Ricky makes up for it a bit with some killer gospel chord changes, though.

This was overall a very dull show, and the fact that they still ran a minute late-- even after all of the changes they made-- underscores that there are fundamental issues with the way the show is being run. I shudder to think that they may pare down the structure of the songs even more than they already do.

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