Friday, 22 February 2013

Spanish, Gospel, Mexican-Chinese, Nice Guy and Charlie Askew.

It has just occurred to me that one of the reasons X Factor USA Steve was so bad might have been his height. He was a tall guy. The two real presenter stars of this type of programme have to be Ryan Seacrest and Dermot O'Leary who are both comparatively short. Memories of Dermot standing next to Rylan Clark spring to mind. The dreadful Khloe was also huge now I think about it. Ryan slightly overdoes the This is... bit tonight, perhaps attempting to make up for the dull background and steel-like set design views we get at the start.

This was a grey start visually to the first instalment of deciding the Top 10 guys, 5 tonight and another 5 in a week's time. Yet another reminder about how good the girls are and when asked for some advice for the boys waiting to perform all Mariah can say is effectively 'don't bother - the girls have got you beat already'. This is getting silly.

Paul Jolley wants it so bad and says he's worked so hard. I don't recall sob stories for the girls but I guess some will come next time. Nice gentle start to what I thought was going to be Hero (but was Keith Urban's Tonight I Wanna Cry) but maybe just a bit too heavy on the pretend emotion. Good ending and his voice has a good timbre. Keith won't be voting for him as he started with If you go through.... Paul's a good, almost too innocent-looking guy and immensely likeable. Nicky gives him a one sentence - neither one thing nor the other - so she's not on his side either. Randy goes on and I have no idea what he really said or where he was going. Mariah similarly totally confuses us all. My guess is that they're not seeing him as the next Idol winner. No enthusiasm at all which is a bit of a shame but understandable I suppose.

Johnny Keyser may well be seeing this as his last chance but thankfully doesn't bank on about it. This is another lovely fellow who can certainly sing and, actually, he could entertain too. Vocally, Paul has the edge but Johnny comes over as reliably professional and relaxed. However I Won't Give Up was a tedious track that didn't do a great deal to show his talent or ability. Keith was short and sweet. Nicki wants to know if he has a girlfriend. He hasn't. No-one asks the obvious next question. She likes him and may vote for him or maybe she's just being nice. Randy is spot on with his comments and I reckon he's not sure he should be in the final 20 anyway. Mariah tells him to 'be around'. Whatever that means. Basically, I have no idea what anyone really thought of that. I reckon he's reached as far as he's going to get.

JDA is something else completely. Think Marc Almond and Divine. He's been kep off our screens pretty much which is a pity as he's entertaining and visually impressive. Rumour Has It starts strangely but once he gets into it he does a cool job of the track. He's wearing a dress and won't get the Texas vote and I'm not sure how far he's going to go. Original and another likeable guy/guyess. Keith's not impressed. Nicky criticises the voice and is really so accurate in spotting all the things that he did well and she 'gets' him. She's an excellent judge. Randy and Mariah focus on the lack of vocal talent and they're right. He is the third that won't make it through so that's got to be good news for the next 7, with 5 spaces still available.

Kevin Harris gets interviewed - cue kiddy photos then gets into a very confident but rather tinny version of Everything I Do which would even have put Bryan Adams to sleep. This is a good singer but way up high in a register no-one really wants to hear that song in. The song is a classic but that interpretation wasn't. Slow, slow vocal with no real feeling or impact. Keith's not bothered. Nicky's impressed and, quite surprisingly, he's the first boy that she's voting for. Randy was bored and I can see where he's coming from with that. "Not blown out at all." I think he meant 'blown away' but this is America so who knows whether he'd been out to a large lunch or not. Kevin really shouldn't be through either so, in my predictions, I'll be in big trouble trying to decide should the next 6 not have the Top 5 amongst them.

One thing for sure - had the producers mixed the girls and boys then, from what I've seen so far, even the best boy would just be at No 11.

Chris Watson is the one with a bandanna. Another we saw little of in the audition rounds. Now that's different - Otis Redding's Sitting On The Dock Of The Bay. But, that is not a cheery rock track, Chris! He treats it as just an excuse to perform. Now he certainly can perform but wrecking that track ought to be unforgivable. That was not good. Heavens, if he's out then the last 5 have it in the bag. Keith didn't like the voice, nor the interpretation but credits the performance and the guy has character. Nicky is way over the top and wants to marry his vibrato and says she loves him and he's the most beautiful guy she's seen. I think she was serious too so he's got her vote. Randy hated the whole thing but, again, recognises his charisma but that's all. Mariah was critical too - wrong song choice. I don't know - there is something about him that, given a better track and production, could work. He has a screen presence that I think Nicky has spotted and I may, like her, be prepared to forgive tonight and give him another chance. Odd. His fate depends totally on what the next 5 do, as does each of theirs as the door to the Top 20 public vote is wide, wide open still.

Devin Velez next. Straight in. No intro. This is a serious, slightly stiff, act and he runs into Spanish, Polish or whatever that was. Possibly the best vocal so far but still not stunning. Keith likes him and that's one vote. Nicky is polite and reckons he made a smart choice of song. In reality she's not a big fan. Randy liked it a lot. Once again, Mariah follows Randy and she'll vote his way. That's the first one I can be sure of.

Elijah Liu also goes straight in. Now, Asian contenders usually feature as joke acts like Heejun but this fellow is young and sweet and, despite a dodgy few notes, is different enough to make it further. Talking To The Moon suited him. As Keith points out, that was a shaky performance but it was a current and relevant performance. Nicky wants his babies. She says she'd sign him today and that's fair comment. I would too as he can be marketed easily and will soon have one big fan club. Randy can't really follow that, nor can Mariah but both recognise, in between the lines, his market value and want in on the act if he starts selling records. Nice guy - yet again - and No 2 through. This fellow could also steal some places in the Top 20 from the girls too once the public gets voting.

Charlie Askew is a cool guy. Yet another very decent guy too. Elton's Rocket Man and that suits him so well - in many ways. This is a highly intelligent contestant who has a near perfect pitch. He takes this track into places even Elton didn't take it and that was great. Standing ovation from Nicky and well-deserved too. This is not the way an Idol should look but everyone seems to love him and I'm so pleased that he'll make No 3 through. Most interesting, smartest song choice, agrees Nicky. All the adjectives are right. Love this girl's commentary. Randy has no idea. "Good. I like it!" returns Charlie. He likes him and that's about as far as Randy gets. Mariah lives for his song choice. Eh? Never mind, he's through anyway.

Jimmy Smith is another nice guy. He's the young Country singer that we haven't had yet. Pray That It's Raining On Sunday or whatever it's called is a boring track but who cares? He's got the fourth slot and will look good on TV with that great smile, tan and ripped blue jeans. The makeover team will love him. That was also another Keith Urban song so you know he'll vote for him. Nicky was bored. Randy wasn't so sure about him. Mariah, again, must be sharing Randy's notes at the start of her comments but she adds that he has something that America will want to see more of so he's number 4.

Curtis Finch probably has the best voice of the guys this week and shows off a lot in his version of The Carpenters track. In places, great. In other places, a bit weird. He's the only gospel type in this bunch, incidentally - normally we have a few more. Curtis will be through, despite all the 'see what I can do' stuff we see this week. I'd prefer he just sings straight and that he could do well. He may not necessarily give us anything that different but he deserves his place and everyone loves each other afterwards. Praise the Lord.
He gets the fifth slot.

So that's my prediction. Quite easy: Curtis, Jimmy, Charlie, Elijah, Devin.

Oh, wrong about Jimmy. So who gets his place? Paul, thanks to Jimmy Iovine's casting vote.