American Idol 2012 – Whitney/Stevie Week

What is this “Most Overused Singers on American Idol” Week? What next? Elton John & Celine Dion Week?

Joshua Ledet: Bless Joshua for visibly quaking in his boots at the prospect of meeting Mary J Blige. He may have said that it was because he respected her so much as an artist, but I think we all know that a bigger part of it is how whenever Mary and Jimmy Fraggle-Face are together on this show they basically sit there metaphorically flicking chips at all the contestants. I guess in the end Joshua got away lightly, as them repeatedly saying “PUSH IT HARDER! PUSH IT!” was at least complimentary advice even if it was…well…wrong. Who wants to hear “I Wish” sung angry? By Joshua, the White-Hat Jacob Lusk? More appropriate was their advice was to give Joshua a Special Gospel Friend to practice with, because let’s face it, who wouldn’t love having a Special Gospel Friends, especially the Joshua Ledets amongst us? Anyway, his performance on the actual show was fine, although some of the noises he was coming out with were…just funky. And not in the sense that his dancing was. On the other hand, he totally scores a bonus point for calling himself “Mantasia”. That was some total “Bore Me (Yawn!)” dancing going on on that stage. SCORE : 7/10


Elise Testone: I wish the show had let Elise Testone go with her original song-choice for this week. Elise’s demeanour all week was so surly, so resigned, and so pissy, and I can’t help but think it’s because Mary talked her out of crashing her plane directly into the side of a mountain in a ball of flame by singing “The Greatest Love Of All”, and instead let her just take the unglamorous crash-landing at sea that was her repeatedly dipping her waist to “I’m Your Baby Tonight” as quickly and as drunkenly as possible so that she could get it over with already. Really this week was never going to be her strength, given that Whitney songs are all about gleaming polished molten strength, and Elise has more grit than Glasgow City Council in December. After slaying erstwhile front-runner in Battle Adele, it doesn’t bode well for her that she’s had to be saved by the judgery only one week later, although on the other hand, we’re already (one week into lives shows) down to only 6 contestants (Colton, Heejun, Hollie, Jessica, Phillip, Skylar) who haven’t been either eliminated or told that America hates them. Nice cutting to the chase there, show. SCORE : 2/10

(Switching from ‘The Greatest Love Of All’ was probably a wise idea, but I’m buggered if I can think of any Whitney song that would’ve worked for her. SCORE: 3/10)

Jermaine Jones: I can’t help feeling that Ryan’s trademark messing with the contestants on results day is not going to get him very far with Jermaine. I give it another three weeks tops before we see Jermaine holding Ryan above his head with one arm screaming “JUST TELL ME I’M SAFE, LITTLE MAN!” Anyway, let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Stevie Wonder should’ve been a solid theme for him, vocal-fit-wise, but something about this performance didn’t really work for me. I don’t know if it was the fact that he’d been taking stagecraft lessons from Reed Grimm (seriously, enough with the sex-pest tippy-toes now, it’s really disturbing), or the fact that ‘Knocks Me Off My Feet’ needs a subtlety that Jermaine’s big, booming voice can’t always muster, but the whole thing didn’t quite hang together as it should’ve. Also, why was he dressed for the Thriller video? SCORE: 4/10

(I spent quite a bit of the Hollywood/Vegas/Wisconsin Weeks thinking Heejun might need Cowboy Douche stood next to him in order to look a relatable sane human being. Turns out I was right but…with a different guy. SCORE : 4/10)

Erika van Pelt: I love that Erika managed to transform Mary calling her a “meat and potatoes” singer into her saying that her voice was so filling and rich (MMM, LOVELY RICH POTATOES!). I mean don’t get me wrong, it was definitely a compliment just…maybe not THAT much of one? Maybe it’s just me pasting me own indifference to Erika (and indeed to “I Believe In You And Me”) onto Mary. Maybe Mary loved her spooky stylings, and her “half Kelly Clarkson/half Kat Slater” looks and the fact that, sponsor-approved, she came dressed as a bottle of cool refreshing Coca Cola? Whatever it is, for me this was fine and nothing much more. Still, at least she has the honour of being dubbed “EVP” by Ryan Seacrest, which would be enough to make anyone feel warm and fuzzy. Brielle von Hugel must be kicking herself even harder than she already was. And Kelly Clarkson feeling glad that nobody revealed to him that her middle name is Olivia. SCORE : 6/10

(It was a bit crushingly earnest, but then I don’t know what else you’d do with this song. SCORE: 6/10)

Colton Dixon: Okay, so he was singing ‘Lately’, and I’m going to try to get the whole way through this without a “hope my recognition nishes” joke. DAMMIT. I’m sure that getting Colton to perform an original track for Jimmy Fraggleface and Mary J so they could get a sense of his natural performance style was a good idea on paper, but a) his original song SUCKED and b) that agonised yelping emo technique really, really does not work for ‘Lately’, no matter how much anyone involved with this show might try to convince you or me otherwise. As a result, Colton delivered this as though he was suffering from a particularly potent combination of the flu and a hangover, while styled like a drag queen dressed as Adam Lambert for Hallowe’en. Though the scariest thing about all of this was his diction. It was even worse than Melissa McGhee’s, and Colton actually remembered the lyrics. SCORE: 4/10

(You can’t just turn a pop song into a stalker ballad by squinting at me and yomping. This didn’t even make any sense. SCORE : 3/10)

Shannon Migraine: I remember being quite surprised when I was comparing Whitney Houston songs on and I discovered that ‘I Have Nothing’ is her most-performed song on this show by far. But it makes a sort of sense – it doesn’t have the “don’t even try to take this on”-ness of ‘I Will Always Love You’, while sharing a lot of that song’s more attractive qualities: raw naked emotion and an excellent belting showcase. Unfortunately, that also means it contains a lot of the same potholes, and Shannon fell headfirst into most of them. The whole thing felt really underpowered, an impression that was only increased by watching Shannon bobbing up and down on the stage as though she were physically trying to force the notes out. She biffed the transition into the key change, which is pretty much the biggest no-no around when performing this song, and if it weren’t for the fact that she actually started out quite well for the first 15 seconds or so, we’d be looking at the lowest grade of the night by a mile here. SCORE: 3/10

(Whitney 1, Shannon 0 SCORE : 3/10)

Deandre Brackensick: The rollercoaster ride that is Deandre Brackensick rolls giddily onwards. After last week’s mumbly farce, Deandre hit a quadruple whammy. Firstly he carried off making fun of his own ugly crying face (and make no mistake of it, that is one UGLY crying face) with aplomb. Secondly he got Mary J Blige to tell him to stop singing so pretty. Thirdly he sang my favourite Stevie Wonder song, Master Blaster, yes he did, and made a decent job of it (outside of those usual Deandre bits where he gasped around individual notes like a dying fish). Then finally, and most importantly of all, he received universal plaudits from the judges via a favourable comparison to one of the most iconic (*drink*) Idol contestants of all time : Naima “BOOM FIYAH!” Adedapo. Forget being told you’re so country that it makes Carrie Underwood proud. Forget being told you made a song your own in ways that David Cook could only dream of. Forget being told your hair is even more lustrous than that of Jordin Sparks. Truly the real aim is to sing everything in a fake Jamaican accent so that Randy can remember that someone else was a bit Carribbean on this show once, one time. SCORE : 7/10

(I enjoyed the song choice and the performance. I’m still making my mind up about the actual singing. SCORE: 6/10)

Skylar Laine : I can’t believe that truly there is a human being alive that has never before sung a Whitney Houston song. (I mean obviously she sang one on the show this week so even if she weren’t a LYING LIAR WHO LIES the balance of the Universe would have been restored anyway, but still). In the shower? At karaoke? On the way home at 3am utterly shit-faced bellowing “One Moment In Time” to nobody in particular? Can Skylar Laine really be a person who exists? Anyway, she made a decent fist of her first ever ever ever in the recorded history of her life ever performance of Whitney, although “Where Do Broken Hearts Go?” is a fairly minor foothill, Whitney wise. As with last week, she was mostly carried forwards by confidence and chutzpah rather than anything particularly exciting about her performance, but I’ll happily take that at this stage. SCORE : 7/10

(I almost feel that she took the “rein it in” advice a bit too far, but she made up for it in the second half. SCORE: 7/10)

Heejun Han: At first I thought he looked pretty terrified of Mary J Blige in rehearsals, but then I realised he looks like that pretty much all of the time. It’s getting quite hard to tell. And on that general note where Heejun’s concerned, I’m a little worried that I’m reaching the point in the competition where all of the personality quirks that I used to find quite endearing are starting to get on my nerves. The fact that he spent half the song nodding like the Churchill dog, for example. There’s only so much ironic sincerity I can stand, even on this show. I might be able to tolerate it if he were delivering a flawless vocal, but well, he wasn’t. SCORE: 5/10

(As a singer he’s basically Lee DeWyze : really good, interesting tone 15% of the time, solid meat and potatoes stuff 35% of the time, out-of-tune bilge the other 50% of the time. Still love his personality though. Well, more than Jimmy’s. SCORE : 4/10)

Hollie Cavanagh: This girl is really going places. Well, her accent is, anyway. I started to get why people think she sounds Australian during this week’s VT, though there were points where her inflection went very strange and started to wander off in the general direction of Maryland or Massachusetts. I found her performance of ‘All The Man That I Need’ quite stirring – there’s something about her voice that just moves me on a weird, primal level. There were one or two shaky moments – I think she second-guessed herself going into the key change, which threw her off momentarily, but GOOD LORD THIS GIRL CAN BELT. SCORE: 8/10

(And that ladies and gentlemen, is how we do Whitney. SCORE : 9/10)

Jeremy Risotto: I suppose it’s full credit to Jeremy that he actually bothered to get up on stage and try to sing this song, rather than just walking straight up to J-Lo and directly caressing her ovaries. I mean, you couldn’t really blame him for trying, could you? Still, he made an attempt to win over the general public with a song I wasn’t really familiar with, and didn’t really do that great a job of it, and consequently was sent home. And during his VT I was reminded that he seems like a really sweet guy, but that he’d never impressed me with any of his performances, so…fair enough, I guess. SCORE: 3/10

(Amateurish, even by his erratic standards SCORE : 2/10)

Jessica Sanchez: I just…am I missing something, somewhere? Because that’s twice in a row now the internet’s gone absolutely mad for this girl and I’ve come to watch the performance and just been left unmoved. It’s not that I dislike her or anything, I just find her performances rather lifeless and emotionally one-note, even though I can appreciate she’s a good singer. There were moments tonight where she was acting like a parody of a Shirley Bassey impersonator, with all the vocal snaps at the end of phrases – she was even doing the pointing and everything. Still, any girl who can make Mary J Blige squeal with delight and then clamp her hand over her mouth like she just swore in church must be doing something right, so good luck to her. SCORE: 7/10

(Did they buy that arrangement or just rip it out of the service elevator in a Taco Bell? She’s got chops, but she’s basically the show re-running Pia as farce. SCORE : 8/10)

Phillip Phillips: Whilst watching this I had a very strong feeling of deja-vu. I haven’t been back and checked, but I’m fairly sure that either he’s sung this on the show already (which, for Week 1 of the Live Shows, if pretty tragic) or this was just a note-for-note replica of what he did to Thriller, just with a different song. They haven’t even given him the Sexy-Boy-Makeover I was hoping for, in that he still looks a bit moudly, and I’m sorry, but gallstones are totally not sexy. Anyway, I enjoyed this performance. Mostly for the other two guitarists and the horn section and the scratchy yowliness of it all, but I’m not sure how much longer I’m going to be even mildly enchanted by him doing the same performance over and over and over and over again. For now though, I remain a cheap date. SCORE : 7/10


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