Friday, 30 March 2012

American Idol Top 9 Review: The One With Stevie Nicks

With the introductory tune Changes playing, I had expected a series of photos of how Tommy Hafliger had rebranded everyone but was pleasantly surprised to see one of my own idols, Stevie Nicks, sitting with Jimmy Iovine and providing mentoring this week. That sort of boosts one's hopes for performances this week too.

This was a nice production of a Lighthouse number, You're Everything , which may not be one that many know. Moody, a slow start, this suited the Colton style exactly, right through to the end where he was on his knees in some sort of plea. His voice and general demeanour suit this type of track. I'm not sure he looks right laughing or running around. This should appeal to his fans in a big, big way. He is definitely a contender now for the prize and a good start to the show. The only thing that bothered me slightly was his reference to it being a 'worship song' which it may be but I'm not so sure it needed to be emphasised. There's something not quite right in my mind when contestants make a big thing of their particular faith on stage and there's been a lot of that in this Series. If they're good, they're good and I don't really want to know what part God may or may not have played in their backing band.

I'm not too sure what the title of this crazy track was but it might have been Crazy Yet and was originally sung by Miranda Lambert, we're informed, who isn't Adam's sister. This was real country rock with plenty of style and words along the lines of some woman grabbing a shotgun and blasting her errant husband. Nice. Skylar was clearly in her element with this cheerful wordy stuff and obviously knew the track really well. The enthusiastic audience certainly seemed to appreciate her effort. With little competition in the country stakes, the voters may too. "OTT" said Steven Tyler. He was right, there. Whilst I totally approve of the idea of contestants singing what they really love, from their own idols' repertoires, there is always the risk of their then trying too hard and being over familiar with the track, thus losing some of its finer nuances. Having said that, there were no finer nuances in this one to lose anyway!

He says he ahs a new 'game plan'. I'm not sure Stevie actually 'got' Heejun but she was very polite. His track was This Is Your Song. He did a serious version, no messing around, with the husky voice prominent. I don't know what to make of this. To me it was way out opf tune and he also was trying too hard to compete and only emphasising his shortcomings as a result. Who would buy this? For some reason known only to them, the judges give him a standing ovation. seriously? Nice enough voice but very limited range and certianly not marketable. Heejun could be markrtable as an act but not a singing or dancing act.

Appearing a nice simple white dress, it was a relief that Tommy or the make-up team hadn't turned this young girl into something completely different. Taking on Carrie Underwood's Jesus Take The Wheel, though, was not a good move. Brave, but not a good idea. I'm a fan of this girl but this didn't do much for me - the production was wrong and tended to overpower her. She sensibly avoided doing the big notes this week and tried to deliver it in her way but would have done better with just a harp or guitar for accompaniment. I felt it was off market too but perhaps that was a clever move to cash in on a few of Skylar's votes with this one. She may need them.

Sometimes brought the falsetto back big time but give me the Stylistics any day of the week over this. He puts so much technique into his delivery that the whole song gets spoilt but he did seem to make a good impression on the audience again. Strangely, I can see him selling records in big numbers but not getting the votes rolling in on this type of programme. A standing ovation for him too?! So much not deserved. Nor was Jennifer's call for people to vote for him. That was out of order and, frankly, bonkers.

Sweet Dreams was brilliant. Another fabulous performance. Flawless and very, very impressive from start to finish. She clearly has edged ahead of Hollie now and, depending on how the other girls do tonight, may be on the verge of establishing herself as the female in the final. She looked good too, again, not outrageously made up or decorated. A real star. So why no standing ovation for her?! Weird.

Look Out My Window was one chunky rock track which he loved doing and, like the others, clearly knew well. This was Phillip at his best and a good night for him - if the voters do actually like this sort of performance. Stevie even says that, had he been around when she and Lindsey Buckingham were playing, he might have had an invitation to join Fleetwood Mac with them! That will have made his evening if nothing else did! I don't know how well he's going to progress in this competition as he is so different and with a particular style of his own that I can't see being readily adapted to what must be coming along in subsequent weeks. For now, though, he's safe enough. He also gets a standing ovation. That's becoming a habit and Jessica must be wondering what they've got against her.

Taking on Nilsson's Without You is quite a task. It's one of those tracks that either works or doesn't. (Annoyingly, he refers to Mariah Carey's Without You but never mind). I don't like the way he adds Uh to each s in a line but, allowing for that fault which I'm sure someone will fix before long, this was an excellent performance. He took it to a different place than anyone would have expected and opened the door to a market place for him and, I should think, a clear run through to the next week. Another standing ovation. At this rate Jessica and Hollie must be getting mad.

Hollie, Jessica and Skylar did an interesting sequence of Madonna tracks. There had been a couple of others previously in the show but, to be honest, we could have done without them, only Colton really showing any talent of note. Here, though, we had a fascinating direct comparison of the three girls. Jessica was natural, spot on vocally and comfortable on stage. Hollie was good, a little nervous for a moment but then very much the reliable performer and nice to see her performing well in a faster track which actually suited her too. Skylar was by far the most accomplished performer on the stage but her notes weren't all that they should be. Great personality but, of the three, she'd be the one to go first (if the country vote were not so vast, that is!)

Elise closes the show with Whole Lotta Love. Amazing! That must be one of the best covers of that track I've heard. Perfect in every aspect - delivery, the way she looked, and she totally rocked. You could see that this was something she was familiar with and loved doing. If she is in the bottom three after that then you do have to wonder what on Earth the American voters want from this show. My guess is that Elise may still struggle to be popular with this show's audience but I am confident she may be the first to get a decent contract from someone.