Thursday, 14 March 2013

The one where we get to see what the make-over teams have done.

Just in case you've just started following this, it's the first Live Show and the ten competing for the title American Idol 2013 are:

The GirlsAngela | Candice | Janelle | Kree | Amber

The BoysPaul | Curtis | Burnell | Lazaro | Deven

From here on it's the voting public that'll be deciding who stays in the competition, one leaving each week (unless they change the rules!).

It's Idol Week which means they choose a track by a previous winner which narrows the field a bit.

Curtis sings the song that Fantasia won with way back. He's wearing a curtain made into a jacket which actually suits him. Not a brilliant track, sort of off the shelf, written by someone for the programme, by the sound of it. Pretty boring and, although he did his best, that never went anywhere and some notes even sounded quite dodgy. I should think he's got plenty of support out there so should be safe on this first night, with several others likely to get fewer votes, whatever they sing.

It's also Makeover week and we get to see what sort of a job the teams have made of rebranding their charges. Good job with Curtis. Not that he needed much more than a polish as he looked smart and cool before.

Janelle has loads to choose from and that must be to her advantage. Add the fact that any cheerful Country stuff by this attractive blonde - even more so with an excellent makeover - will attract the same voters who put Scotty and many before him at the top. It's always a good idea to look like you're enjoying yourself when doing something cheerful and she manages that well. She is a confident performer and a natural in front of the camera. Nicky finally arrives but seems to have forgotten to take her sunglasses off which makes you wonder what she was doing to make her late. 'Traffic jam' isn't convincing. Randy didn't like the song choice. Mariah caught the experience point and reckons she's on target all right. Keith likes her anyway.

I'm glad she got through as she adds a sparkle to the show but she'll need to do something a bit special at some point after the weaker contestants have gone in a few weeks' time to avoid being vulnerable.

Deven's new portrait black and white photo makes him look decidedly odd and not like a winner at all but he can certainly sing well. He's doing Carrie Underwood and she has had some amazing writers working for her as well as being a brilliant writer herself so that ought to be a good choice. However, Temporary Home, which I think is the title, is not one of the best without some real passion and belief that she can produce but Deven fails to impart. He also tries a bit too hard to hit the right note at the end and it's all a bit obvious. That was not a good performance and Keith picks that up straightaway, saying that he hopes they get to hear him sing again. Nicky thinks the opposite which is a bit strange. She thinks that's his comfort zone. Well, if that's his comfort zone then he's not going to sell any records. It was, as Randy points out, not the sort of thing expected of someone who has made it through after so many amazingly good people have already fallen by the wayside on the road here. Mariah doesn't actually say anything at all.

Angela is doing a Celine Dionne track that Kelly Clarkson did in what I reckon must have been Idol 1. Now that's quite smart. Jimmy Iovine says she needs to avoid looking as if she's at a beauty pageant. I like that guy. Her voice is exceptional and all the notes are not only in the right place but you feel she is actually adding something to them and this is excellent. Expect Randy to announce that 'This girl's in it to win it!' because she certainly is and certainly could. Wonderful. I'd actually like to hear that again and once the video is available I'll add it here.

Keith loves her, you can tell. Nicky likes the leather dress and style. Her hair is still a bit 70s and the teeth too white but this is one fine contestant. Randy says what we expected!! Mariah has one word: 'Stellar'. Nice.

Paul is following Scotty as well, with Amazed. Jimmy Iovine tells him to cut the theatrics. That's a good point - Paul would be great on stage and may well make a great career on Broadway. I can't remember who first did this track but they had a special quality that neither Scotty nor Paul were able to bring to it. This was, how can I say it, a nice performance. Nicky says he whetted her sexual appetite! Surprised they let her get away with that. Keith was fairly non-committal and both he and Randy acknowledged he had taken good notice of Jimmy's advice. Mariah summed everything up nicely by recognising that and just telling him just to get on with it, relax and enjoy himself. He comes across as such a decent chap. He's not going to win but he doesn't deserve to be first to go.

Candice is another magnificent singer and I like the way she proposes to feel the lyrics. She does the excellent I Who Have Nothing which Jordin Sparks won over America with a while ago. This was a superb performance and must put her firmly in the running for the final. That was a 'moment', all four judges giving her a standing ovation and the crowd very enthusiastic. Great. That could have been a concert performance. I still prefer Angela's interpretation and tone but this girl would be a worthy contender. Nicky is so good with her comments, too, saying that that song should never be performed on Idol again as no-one else would be able to touch it! Actually, that's an interesting challenge and I wonder whether one of Angela, Janelle or Kree might take that up at a later stage. Apparently Mariah didn't stand up - explaining that she would have done but her skirt was too tight. Oh dear. perhaps it's not the skirt that's the problem but the expanding body in it.

Lazaro next. He's been very photogenic in the past and I'd thought he'd be possibly the one that the camera likes best of all the contestants. Strangely, though, his makeover seemed to have taken something away from him. He does Kelly Clarkson's Break Away and it's OK. Just OK. Not an Idol performance. All very average, I'm afraid. Nicky's right - he was nervous and maybe Jimmy's advice made him think a little more than he should. The thing is, though, the courage that this guy shows, as Mariah mentions in her comments, makes everyone feel for him and he may well have more fans voting out there than Paul and Deven, he really shouldn't stay but I would be surprised if he goes this week, despite that very average performance.

Kree has all the talent needed to win this. It's all down to the songs she chooses. Carrie Underwood had done Roy Orbison's Crying in 2008. Perfect. Carrie was good but still learning in those days. In some ways Kree is more experienced than she was then. It'll be an interesting comparison. The first part isn't as good, although her notes and tone are good there is something missing, Kree has a purity of tone that is nice but I'm afraid she lost out to Carrie on that one. Part of the problem is that, without Simon Cowell, that extra bit of spark and presentation can be missing. Just standing there didn't work. Carrie sat down in dim lights and brought the atmosphere. There was none of that for Kree. She's lost to Candice (of course) and also Janelle this round. She should stay but will need to try another 'perfect' song next time. Something longer, too.

The judges were quite careful in their comments - all saying how well she can sing but none actually going out f their way to promote her to the voters.

Burnell next. He needs to establish himself as the preferred alternative to Curtis as a start, as that;s his initial competition. Then he needs to blow away Paul and Deven and try and grab Lazaro's votes. He can do it if he does the kind of performances we've seen so far. What I'm noticing about the Live Rounds is how some shine and some just glimmer in these early stages. Some seem to get an extra kick from the audience and turn nerves to quality and know that they are there to entertain, inspire and roll with whatever the mood brings. Others are just remembering their moves, camera spot, words and notes first and, if we're lucky, we get included near the end. Few have grabbed us so far: three of the girls have but none of the guys. I think Burnell might. 

He's been turned into a trendy kid with the hat turned around. Oh dear, it sounds like he's doing the ruddy Flying Without Wings one. I can't recall the big fellow that did it first on Idol but an awful lot of people have done it so very well elsewhere. It's like an anthem that I wouldn't touch with a barge pole. It's also a bit boring now. The range he requires for this key is wrong for him - bringing out the tinniness in his voice. He throws in an uh-uh-h bit on one note and that weird low tone which sound odd to me. Not what I'd expected and nowhere near as good as I'd hoped.

Nicky says he's well on his way but not exactly over the Moon. The word 'nice' is used a lot. I still think he has the best chance of all the boys and will survive this first week. Needs to try harder next week.

Amber, interestingly is left to close the show. She's the unexpected Top 10 Live Show star. I like the girl but haven't yet seen anything that justifies her being there. She's got very tough competition in the girls but, at least, now doesn't have to worry about them while there are some weak performances from the boys. She'll need to distance herself big time from Candice, though, and choose a different sector to appeal to. No-one's doing anything very young - that's one chance she might try. Ballads and anthems could be dangerous territory tonight.

A Moment Like This is not what I would have given her. She messes about with the timing and that's not good. She looks good and you do get the feeling that she does appreciate the words she's singing. That was a good point and she sings pretty well. It was just a little tired. Nicky calls it the best performance of the night! Good grief. Has she just walked in? Did she miss Candice? Weird. Randy was very complimentary. Mariah too. Perhaps she's one of those acts that works better for those nearby. Hopefully she'll do something for the small screen next week as she ought to make it.

So, who will America throw out in Week 1? I would put Lazaro, Curtis and Deven in the Bottom Three but suspect it will be between Paul and Deven.