By Alyce Wilson
March 25, 2004 - No More Mr. Personality
a pretty big surprise on the results show of American
Idol, when yet another finalist was sent home.
surprised by the bottom three, but I was surprised by who actually left.
Now, with Camille I wasn't totally surprised. As I pointed out previously, Camille had a rough evening the night before. She really hasn't proven herself so far in the competition, hasn't shown much growth.
And Diana's perfect little doll performance probably left people cold, since they probably have difficult identifying with her.
But Matt Rogers surprised me by appearing in the bottom three. I thought he had enough of a following to make it through. Of course, I thought he shouldn't have made the finals to begin with. He'd been voted in on a shaky performance and last week's was only marginally better.
Right away, they send Diana back to safety. Then, after some more delays and a commercial break, they announced who would be going home.
At this point, I really thought it would be Camille, simply because I didn't think she'd connected as much with the audience. But instead, Matt was tapped to go home. I guess voters finally decided that, even with his great personality, his vocal performance just wasn't meeting the bill.
The irony is that, when he auditioned, he seemed to have a much stronger voice. When he came out into the lobby to celebrate, he sang a line or two of opera, showing off a very strong tenor. But that voice hasn't come through in competition. I can only imagine that he doesn't know how to harness that sort of vocal power when he's singing pop songs.
Perhaps voters were willing to forgive a couple shaky performances, in hopes that the raw vocal power would finally come through. But now he's up against people who can really perform under pressure, which makes him look less attractive and makes voters less patient.
To be fair, the way this competition works is that people vote for the people they want to stay. So you have to assume that perhaps the reason Matt's heading home is because allegiances have shifted and people have begun to like other singers whose personalities might not have been as striking but whose voices are: such as John Stevens.
Diana and Camille should use this opportunity to rethink their performances. Amy Adams did that last week and finally performed a song she loved, allowing the buoyant energy we'd seen offstage to come through.
Jennifer Hudson, on the other hand, didn't change much in her performance. Perhaps people simply began to realize that a good vocal performance isn't enough to get somebody through; you've got to vote for your favorites.
If she wants to continue on in the competition, Camille needs to conquer two demons. She needs to connect with the audience and get over her nerves. But I'm afraid, for her sake, that she is just naturally reserved and shy. I don't know if she has it in her to make use of her camera time to forge a better connection with the audience.
And when she gets up on the stage, she may be a good singer, but she just starts to tremble, becoming so visibly nervous that it's difficult to imagine her as the American Idol, especially when you compare her to natural performers like LaToya London and George Huff.
If you look at it that way, the pressure's off. Since there's little chance of her winning the top prize, she should relax and have fun. Her performance will no doubt improve.
For Diana to stay out of the bottom three, she's got to connect with audience members. This may sound funny, but she's simply too perfect. The voters who decide whether she moves on probably can't identify with that.
As Simon Cowell pointed out, she's been in this business since she was a child, and she's a born and bred performer. My best advice to her would be to look at other child stars who kept their careers going.
Look at Steve Wonder. He was Little Stevie Wonder when he started out. He mature and grew as an artist, changed the name, began singing more mature songs. But he was still true to himself, keeping not only his original fans but attracting a whole new generation.
Another famous family of child stars is, of course, the Jacksons. If you take a page from their family album, don't be like Mike. Be like Janet. Her recent wardrobe malfunction aside, she has come across as a strong individual, taking chances and succeeding but never losing the sense of herself.
Whether it means loosening up, or growing up, Diana has to make a change. As with Camille, though, I don't know if this problem is fixable. Maybe she is being genuine on the stage and this is who she really is. But unless the audience begins to identify with her, her days are numbered.
Now that Matt has left the competition, maybe he will concentrate on what apparently should be his career choice: singing opera.
Other Musings by Alyce on American Idol:
2004 by Alyce Wilson