Wednesday, April 29, 2009

episode 8-34 (April 29): Top 5 results

"But who will get the shock... tonight?" Probably either Taylor Hicks fans or Taylor Hicks detractors. Who knows, maybe he learned to sing in the last two years.

I'm pretty much used to idea that the Ford videos will be mediocre at best. But the song choices themselves have been just dreadful lately, "Energy", an ironically energy-less piece of jangle-pop is no exception. As Jack Donaghy said to Liz Lemon, "This is not open mic night at the Bryn Mawr student union." Why bother bringing these five great singers into the studio if you're going to make them sound awful? Isn't the studio the place where you make awful singers sound great, not the other way around?

A medley of "It Don't Mean a Thing" and "I Got Rhythm" is so much better than anything we heard last night. A ton of energy in this set, and regardless of the vocal consistency (Samantha thought it sounded bad from another room), it looked like an absolutely joy on all of the competitors' parts (and the band's). The "doo-wa doo-wa doo-wa" in the refrain of "It Don't" was more interesting than the entire Ford video, and landing on a lydian chord at the end, while obviously impossible individually, was icing on the cake. What a shame they weren't this good last night.

One additional thing we're reminded of tonight: a lot of great jazz standards are usually famous for their refrains and not their verses for a reason. The verse of "It Don't" kinda rambles on in harmonic no-man's land. And the lyrics are obviously tossed off, probably because the refrain-- written by Duke Ellington and Irving Mills, no less-- is going to be the ultimate focus anyway. "It ain't the melody, it ain't the music / there's something else that makes the tune complete." Er... isn't rhythm part of the music? That's like saying "It's not the color of your shirt that I like; it's the fact that it's red." Huh?

(Samantha and I, by the way, found the mansion food-fight video in very poor taste. "What is this about? They're ruining the house with tasty food while people are starving?")

Natalie Cole's "Something's Gotta Give" is like a bad musical theater song. Nothing says class like beating the listener over the head with the irresistable force paradox. Oh, and she sounded like she was out of breath. Ryan: "You guys enjoy that?" Audience: silence... then "oh right, we should applaud now..." **applause**. More grudging kudos to the band, though, who cooked throughout.

And now, after the umpteenth promo for Glee (featuring an a-cappella arrangement of "Don't Stop Believin'" that sounds suspiciously like my band's), we come to Taylor Hicks. If you haven't guessed already, I was not a fan of his weak and scratchy voice in season 5, and his Soul-Patrol-enabled victory over the smoother (and yummier) Katherine McPhee still sticks in my craw. So, yeah, I'm looking forward to hearing this.

"Seven Mile Breakdown" seems like a nice and jaunty enough song (with some interesting and expected use of the ii chord in the choruses). His voice is... pleasant at best, and he reveals the weakness I remember him for when he reaches for high notes he doesn't have; instead of taking the easy way out and going into falsetto, he strains upward, and it ain't pretty. New Taylor, same as the old Taylor.

Taylor's advice to the Top 5: "Right now it's about song choices." Um... haven't we been talking about that since Hollywood week?

Alright. I've had enough of the live auto-tuning. If Jamie Foxx is as great of a singer as he wants us to think he is, does he need to do this? Kanye West (who is legitimately talented), T-Pain (who might be talented, it's hard to tell), and now Foxx (and many others) have fallen victim to the temptations of sounding like you're singing underwater. Why?! Why?!?!

Interestingly, Kris is sent back to the couch to join Allison (good) and Danny (even better), which leaves Matt and Adam. We suspect that Matt is going home, as Adam appears to have a more consistent following... and so it goes.

But do we have to hear this awkward pinched version of "My Funny Valentine" again. He eviscerates it all over again; sounding like Al Jarreau holding his nose. He hits a great note on "stayyyyyyy", but ruins it again with that over-the-top final note. He's going out with a bang, I suppose.

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