By Alyce Wilson
February 28, 2007 - Dedicated Performance
Chris Sligh and Sundance Head
In their second night of competition, the male American Idol semifinalists on American Idol got to dedicate a song of their choice to somebody important in their life.
As a group, they seemed more comfortable on stage, having shaken their first night nerves.
Judge Randy Jackson said that last week he was the best and this week he was still hot. Nice judge Paula Abdul complimented his "great tone" and said she could hear him on the radio. Tough judge Simon Cowell said he wasn't jumping out of his chair, that Phil was a "very nice guy" but that he has an unoriginal voice.
Jared Cotter stepped it up a little with Marvin Gaye's "Let's Get It On", which he, for some reason, dedicated to his parents (ew!). He had a nice tone, but he sang it so subdued at some points that he didn't create much of a wow factor.
Randy called it a little pitchy and said he kind of liked it, but mostly liked one of his gestures, where he'd covered, then exposed his face. Paula said he's a good looking guy and doesn't have to push his performance too hard. Simon said he was glad that Jared made the attempt at the song but that this version reminded him of a corny performance on The Love Boat.
Next up, A.J. Tabaldo performed "Feelin' Good", a song that was simply too big for him, although he made a noble effort. I just didn't feel it.
Randy said it was better than next week. Paula called it very nice. Even Simon said it was very good and said he saw some personality coming through.
Sanjaya Malakar dedicated the Irving Berlin standard "Steppin' Out With My Baby" to his grandfather. While his sweet nature and equally sweet voice are no doubt winning his teenage fans, he was rough in the middle and gave a toned down show performance, as if he was afraid to really let loose.
Randy called him a nice kid but said the performance was like a bad high school talent show. Paula said he sang on pitch and called him an old soul, urging him to choose songs that celebrate his youth. Simon said it was like a ghastly lunch where parents ask the children to dress up and sing. He called it weak and a little weird.
Proving he's got the talent people have been raving about, Chris Sligh dedicated Ray LaMontagne's "Trouble" to his wife. Although that might sound like a bad idea, the lyrics are about being saved by a woman. He did much better than last week, and his vocals reminded me of Roy Orbison.
Randy said it was good to see him return and complimented his "big voice." Paula said she liked it, too, but told him to watch his pitch and getting ahead of the music. Simon said that they chose him because they thought he was a very good singer, and tonight he proved it.
Following Chris, Nick Pedro made a potentially career-ending song choice, dedicating Peggy Lee's "Fever" to his girlfriend. Hasn't he watched any American Idol? I thought everybody knew that crooning, loungey songs were the kiss of death. I guess he feels his sultry delivery will be enough to balance it out. He would have been better to choose a more contemporary song.
Randy called his voice smoky but said he was pitchy in spots. Paula said she loves the tone of his voice and urged him to "just go for it". Simon said it was good but that he lacks charisma and should have dressed up more to suit the song, calling his outfit more like a business suit (I agree).
Returning to form, Blake Lewis performed Jamiroquai's "Virtual Insanity", dedicated to his parents. The upbeat song was perfect for his voice, which reminded me a little of Stevie Wonder. He threw some beat box into the middle of it, as sort of a vocal riff. Lots of fun!
Randy said it was good to see him return and complimented his falsetto and his scatting. "I like you, man," he said. Paula said that he's smart with his song choice and noted that he's unique. Simon said he likes him but that the first part of the song wasn't that original, and that the middle was the only part that was. He also said he went out of tune at the end.
With a strange song choice, Brandon Rogers dedicated Cyndi Lauper's "Time After Time" to his grandmother. The performance was very slow and lackluster, and though he had nice tone, I'm afraid it was forgettable.
Randy said he liked the sentiment of the song but found the performance boring. Brandon defended his choice, saying that he was "feeling the song" with his heart. Paula agreed that you should pick songs you can feel but cautioned him not to over sing. Simon said that you've got to make a wow impact and that, while he's a good singer, he hadn't done that.
Chris Richardson dedicated the Jason Mraz song "Geek in the Pink" to his grandmother. It's a fun, contemporary song, and this week he matched it with a more contemporary look. However, at times he was drowned out by the background musicians, and I can't figure out why he dedicated this song to his grandma.
Randy said Chris is in it to win it and said his version was hotter than the original. Paula agreed. Simon said it was the best tonight by a mile.
Finishing off the night, Sundance Head performed the Wilson Pickett classic, "Mustang Sally", dedicating it to his son. He finally showed that he's got potential, although I have to admit, the repetitive lyrics took away from what should have been an exciting performance.
Randy said "what a difference a week makes" and said, "you jump dropped a bomb on them." I'm certain he meant that in a good way. Paula said he's got to bring it like that every week and called it the best vocal they've ever heard. Simon said he was glad they got the Sundance back that they really liked but that he still thinks he can do better.
Kudos this week go to Sundance, Chris Sligh and Blake, all of whom should be safe this week. Chris Richardson has demonstrated that he's got a lot of potential, and he's also likable, so he should return for at least another week. While Sanjaya turned in one of the weaker performances, the preteen vote is likely to pull him out of the fire for now.
In the most
danger are A.J. Tabaldo and Nick Pedro, who gave forgettable performances.
While Brandon Rogers and Phil Stacey were weaker this week, viewers who
saw last week's show are likely to give them a pass. Likewise, Jared Cotter
has sex appeal and a decent voice, so while he's not likely to win (barring
surprises), he'll probably be this season's Ace Young, garnering votes
based on his looks and personality, even on his weaker weeks.
2006 by Alyce Wilson