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American Idol Fodder

American Idol: Talent Blooms During '50s Night

Elliott Yamin • The connection between Barry Manilow and '50s music was weak. You see, Barry's latest album is a collection of '50s standards -- get it? Barry, '50s, Barry doing the '50s. What I wanted was a "Barry" night, not a "Barry '50s Night." I can only imagine what Chris Daughtry would have done -- "Mandy" goes electric?

• "Idol" in HD? Awesome. Barry in HD? Not so awesome. I could see every single hair on that mullet.

• Barry is a freakshow, but I gotta give him credit for working with the contestants. He played an integral role in their arrangements and he seems to be a real fan of the show.

Mandisa opened the show with a knock-out punch, which is a nice change since many of the recent episodes have started slow. Simon put it best: "Mandisa you're blossoming." He was dead-on; this was her best performance.

Bucky should have stuck with the Jessica Simpson hair. It would have diverted attention from his soulless performance. Seriously, how is this guy still on the show?

Paris and '50s night are a match made in heaven. She was born to sing jazzy standards and she didn't disappoint with a great rendition of "Fever."

• Completely unrelated sidenote: When Paris was talking to Ryan after her performance, her squeaky speaking voice freaked out my dog. I'm not kidding.

Chris deserves a special award for song selection. Never before has a contestant chosen songs so perfectly tailored for his or her voice. My only fear is that Chris' Fuel-Nickleback-Live routine might get repetitious by the end of the season.

Incidentally, Chris' retooled version of "Walk the Line" reminded me of a performance from last summer's "Rock Star: INXS" (yeah, I watched it). Contestant Marty Casey -- a guy best suited for Radiohead and Pink Floyd songs -- whipped out a stunning version of "... Baby One More Time." Yeah, the Britney song. You wouldn't have recognized it.

• I need to disclose an obvious bias. When male contestants do that "smoldering look" nonsense I want to chuck my remote at the TV (I'm looking at you, Constantine). But when the female contestants do it, I'm totally sold. Case in point: Katharine worked it tonight -- long looks, pointing, the whole nine yards -- and I was hooked the whole time.

• Barry described Taylor's voice as a "whiskey tenor." I don't know crap about music so I have no clue if that's an established term, but it's a perfect description for Taylor's raspy pipes. Whiskey tenor soul patrol, baby!

• Taylor's set was more of an exercise routine than a vocal performance (he ran his ass off), but the guy's enthusiasm transcends everything -- even a somewhat dull song. On top of that, he wore a blue leisure suit and white shoes. Who else could pull that off?

• With her jean shorts and short-sleeve top, it would appear that Lisa landed an Old Navy endorsement.

• Did Kevin get trendy new glasses? Too bad the stylists couldn't do anything about his stage presence (Hand in the pocket? What the hell?). He's a good kid, but it's time for him to go.

• Speaking of style, Elliott also got a makeover, although I can't really figure out what they did (new haircut maybe?). New look aside, Elliott did a fine job handling a tough song -- he deserves to stick around for a while.

• Here's the weird thing about Kellie: In her interviews she comes across as effervescent and sweet, but when she's singing she has a vacant look. I don't get it at all. To me, she often seems distant and I think that's why I don't really connect with her songs.

• If Color Me Badd ever gets back together, they should tap Ace to be their new lead singer. That's not a compliment. His "jazz" version of "In the Still of the Night" was painful to listen to -- he can hit the strong notes, but his quiet voice is pretty shaky. Of course, he's got millions of adoring fans and I'm writing an "Idol" blog ...

• And finally, something needs to be done with Paula. Once again, she was pie-eyed and incoherent. -- Mac Slocum

Rachel has a few things to add to that...

I'm not going to get too crazy, since Mac did a great (and thorough) job of highlighting this episode. However!

Paris Bennett -- you have it honey! The song, the hair, the moves! I don't know where you've been over the past few weeks, but you are so back. Thanks for coming. We've missed you.

I am surprised Mac didn't mention the shot of Constantine in the audience. Don't get me started!

It's almost comical how people are quick to quip about Chris finding not just the song -- but the version -- that is right for him. Maybe I am biased since I happen to like the guy, but I think that is a great quality in an Idol contestant. That said, I am a huge Johnny Cash fan, but didn't care for this version all that much. However, there's no denying that the guy has got pipes.

Barry seems like a Taylor Hicks fan. Get in line, Barry. I was very distracted by Taylor's blinding-white shoes, but it may be because they were all over the place. That man sure likes to dance!

It's kind of sad that Elliot doesn't get the credit he deserves. The guy is really good. I wish he'd get a little funky! and maybe even take some dance lessons from Taylor.

When Kellie's mic went out, it was a good thing. Nothing against her singing, but I really wish I could vote for that to happen more.

Is it possible to vote off Paula? If not, my vote for the bottom three: Bucky, Lisa and Kevin. I have been saying that Kevin will be getting voted off for weeks now, so I will go with Bucky. -- Rachel Cericola

Posted by Mac Slocum on March 21, 2006 10:27 PM
Permalink |

katharine mcphee, if i liked girls, you'd be my numba one pick.

elliot, i like you, but no - that goatee did not hide the teeth.

taylor hicks, marry me.

ace, you make me feel afraid inside.

-- 1. Posted by: Amy Maloof at March 21, 2006 11:20 PM

In case you don't know, the version that Chris did tonight was in no way an original. This "retooled" version with his "new" arrangement is the exact version that is on the band Live's greatest hits album "Awake". As soon as the music started, I looked at my wife and said "This is a Live song!" Seems a bit fraudulent to take credit himself for their arrangement.

-- 2. Posted by: Adam Norman at March 22, 2006 12:23 AM

Just wanted to clarify that the song of Britney's that Marty Casey performed and blew away the audience with was Hit Me Baby One More Time and not Oops. His band, Lovehammers, has a new album out called Marty Casey & Lovehammers and has Trees, his original song performance from Rockstar:INXS. Check out for album and tour info.

-- 3. Posted by: Rachel at March 22, 2006 7:55 AM

Bottom three: Bucky, Lisa, and Ace.

How was there not a single Barry Manilow-Clay Aiken mention all last night? The guy could be his father.

-- 4. Posted by: junger at March 22, 2006 8:01 AM

Rachel -- You are so right. My apologies for screwing that one up. It's an awesome cover that's completely worth checking out.

-- 5. Posted by: mac at March 22, 2006 8:57 AM

I completely disagree with the notion that Chris 'took credit' for the version of 'Walk The Line' that he sang. He never said he constructed the arrangement - just that he wanted it to sound different. Now, Barry Manilow said, 'I had never heard Chris' version of the song....' so maybe that's where it came from, but Chris never said anything of the sort. Was he supposed to stop the judges and say, 'Oh, by the way - I was basing my song off of the Live cover'? IMO, no. I don't need to know whose cover he's covering, for Pete's sake - that's extremely nitpicky. And I've heard Live's version and still thought Chris was excellent, personally.

-- 6. Posted by: Sher at March 22, 2006 12:43 PM

Mac, thanks for the correction. It really is an excellent cover of a song that I once despised! lol I really do encourage everyone to check out Marty's band...Lovehammers don't disappoint. I have seen them live 6 times since Rockstar:INXS ended. They truly do ROCK!

-- 7. Posted by: Rachel at March 22, 2006 1:32 PM

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