Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Disappearing the Sixties (American Idol Men Round of 24)

Andy Williams singing Moon River is of course most people's symbol of the music of the sixties.

How’s this list? The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Who, Cream, Jimi Hendrix, Van Morrison, Marvin Gaye, The Temptations, Bob Dylan, The Beach Boys, Pink Floyd, Johnny Cash, The Band, Crosby Stills Nash and Young, Joni Mitchell, Simon and Garfunkel… What’s it got to do with American Idol last night? Well, nothing. The twelve males in the alleged most talented cast ever responded with songs by the Turtles, Three Dog Night, Harry Nilsson, and Henry Mancini/Andy Williams. Yikes! You have maybe the most iconic music and musicians of the last century and you do the equivalent of going out to dinner in New York City and settle on Pizza Hut. Is the list of “permitted” songs that restrictive or are these “artistes” that bland? For one, everything about the sixties is about being edgy and being socially relevant. It was if everyone involved in Last Night’s first male semi-final had no clue. In the meantime, most of the night consisted of Paula vs. Simon making like bickering brother and sister.

David Hernandez: He seemed a little stiff and nervous. He has a nice voice, a little bit of presence, but there’s a difference between taking on Stephen Stills instead of Wilson Pickett. Was there any connection with either the camera or the audience?

Chikezie Ezie: Paula and the producers were trying to sell him as this year’s hard working journeyman. He lost weight and he kept trying. Losing weight appears to be the modern equivalent of moral virtue. He sounded okay, but it was like listening to a singer on Quaaludes. You also have more of a personality to start talking back to the judges this early. This guy might survive tonight, but I don’t see him making it to the final 12.

David Cook: He turned Happy Together into something more rock. And this is good, because? Maybe next week, he’ll do Led Zeppelin to a Latin beat.

Jason Yeager: Moon River? Muzak night, yes. Chris Richardson did Geek in the Pink for his grandmother last year. I’m the next pop star? Actually, Anwar Robinson did a very nice version of Moon River a couple years ago but he completely transformed the song. You know what, Anwar actually compares very well to this so called “most talented” group ever.

Robbie Carrico: I really don’t care if you’re a real rocker or not. American wants to know if you ever got it on with Britney or if you ever saw her snort anything. Get with it guy. No, I don’t think his version of “One is the Loneliest Number” could be a hit today unless you consider number 121 on the charts a not so lonely number.

David Archulata: Wasn’t “how old are you again?” last year’s tagline for Jordin Sparks. He sounded good doing Motown, but he hardly sounded original. He has a nice enough voice, though he does have this oddly giddy laugh. The judges have been so over the top with their praise of this guy though that I’m thinking “agenda”.

Danny Noriega: This might be Sanjaya’s successor. He was goofy and entertaining. He has more performance confidence than Sanjaya in that he was able to sing out. He also seemed quite comfortable with being “out”. You want original. This guy is definitely memorable and new. For some reason, Danny Noriega made me think of the sort of act that gets hugely popular in some place like Japan then gets sprung on the American market with totally unpredictable consequences. Yes, his channeling of Elvis as a slightly mincing androgynous teenager was weird, but that’s also what was great about it.

Luke Menard: The irony is that I suspect hardly anyone is talking about the guy. Midnight Cowboy was a great movie though. I wonder if Luke has a clue what the movie was about (actually Moon River was the theme for Breakfast at Tiffany’s which is about the same theme just a few rungs up the class ladder). I think if Ryan wants a second career he’d make a great Ratso Rizzo in the remake. If only, everybody was talking about the guy, they'd be saying "Wow, that Luke guy sure looked comfortable doing whatever he was doing last night!"

Colton Berry: He really did sort of look like Ellen Degeneres. Why would you smile while singing Suspicious Minds? Ellen Degeneres doing Elvis? What’s wrong with this picture? Yes, Elvis did this song in the sixties, but for whatever reason he belongs to fifties night. Again, how did so many of these guys wind up so unclear on the concept?

Garrett Haley: My first thought was Rex Smith. The guy really looks like a teen idol from the late sixties early seventies. Neil Sedaka? First, didn’t the guy first make the song a hit as a doo wop thing in the fifties? Second, I agree with Simon. Who’s going to buy this record in 2008? You can do the Beatles, David Crosby, Santana and you decide to do Neil Sedaka? He might just as easily have done "Me and you and a dog named Boo". I’m for bringing back the death penalty for 17 year old singing teenagers. Also, can any of these guys move at all?

Jason Castro: His dad finally left his job as El Presidente of Cuba and the show doesn’t mention it. I liked the guitar, the Lovin’ Spoonful song choice, and the very different presentation of light, goofy (a touch of Tiny Tim), yet slightly sexy (at least to girls that age). I’m not sure how much range he has for later rounds, but he was actually memorable.

Michael Johns: He sings well. He looks good. The judges clearly like him. I hate the guy. My take- the parts are more than the whole with this guy. He sort of does all the things you’re supposed to do with a performance except that there’s no clear identity coming off of him as “the performer”. He looks like, sounds like, does everything right, but I’m not sure where the iconic identity is with this guy. I figure he goes at minimum deep into the final twelve though, but he might be this year’s Melinda Doolittle, consummate professional except for the actual star quality part. Melinda didn’t pretend that she had charisma. This guy seems to think he has it and doesn’t know that he might not.

My big worry. As much as Randy tried to play up how great the guys did, they didn’t. I’m not sitting here going, I can’t wait to hear what xxxx does next week. If like 7 of them disappeared instead of 2, I’m not sure I’d even notice. Michael Johns ended the show with “Light My Fire”, well I hate to tell you this Nigel, “I think the mix still needs some kindling, lighter fluid, or even something like sirens and a Dalmatian.” You’ve got a show full of Chris Richardsons and Ace Youngs. As much fun as you made of Clay Aiken during the auditions, I’m not sure any of these guys breaks out at the level of Clay.

Other Chancelucky Idol Reviews

Sir Linksalot American Idol articles



At 2/20/2008 01:16:00 PM, Blogger Gifted Typist said...

I agree. It was a cruise-ship schmaltz-fest. I wondered if it wasn't voice coaches AI hired to file down the rough bits.

At 2/20/2008 01:39:00 PM, Blogger Chancelucky said...

Cruise ship might be a rung up for some of these guys. I do think song rights might have played a role, but there definitely were no hints that the sixties were a different sort of decade both musically and socially.

It was a little scary to think that all these folk born 1978 or later don't seem to have any feel for the period at all.

At 2/21/2008 12:17:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The contestants were limited to a list of 50 songs. Blame the producers, although they've always had a hard time getting clearance to use some artists' music, such as The Beatles. I wish they had the entire catalog of 60's music to choose from, but that was not the case.

At 2/21/2008 01:19:00 PM, Blogger Chancelucky said...

James, thanks for the clarification. I did wonder why songs like Love you more than yesterday and happy together wound up getting sung by two different contestants.
I do think if the selection was that limited, the producers should have tried some other theme or no theme at all.

It might be interesting to see them do a theme night devoted to songs done by other Idols.

At 2/21/2008 08:28:00 PM, Blogger BeckEye said...

Hey, lay off my new, hot Aussie boyfriend! :)

As for the song choices, these young kids haven't heard of 95% of the songs from any decades beyond the '90s, so the songs are usually picked for them. I'm guessing that the vocal coaches or whoever just lob softballs at them. The same softballs that have been pitched by AI contestants over and over and over.

At 2/22/2008 10:27:00 AM, Blogger Chancelucky said...

I hope you and Michael Johns will be happy....It probably explains why Simon's been so contrary lately and said that mean thing to Colton Berry.

At 2/23/2008 08:57:00 AM, Blogger Dale said...

I wish there were no theme nights, let the kids pick any old song they want each time and vote them off according to lowest vote getting rather than an even number of boys and girls. I look forward to your take on the show Chancelucky.

At 2/23/2008 10:45:00 AM, Blogger Chancelucky said...

yeah, I wonder about the boy-girl thing too and I wasn't big on these kinds of theme nights where you could still basically sing anything. I still remember Melinda Doolittle doing a song from Oliver for British Invasion night last year (beginning of the end for her in some ways)

For some reason, I have this image of their version of the sixties. "Please don't drink the bad Coca Cola....There's a batch of new Coke going around and it can be a real bummer man."

Bo Bice doing the national anthem....Jimi, Janis, and Ten Years After doing a Ford Commercial together.,,,,would all be very cool.

At 3/07/2008 07:50:00 PM, Blogger Dale said...

Hahahaha, Chancelucky for president!

At 1/11/2009 04:08:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

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