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American Idol: God bless Billie Jean
by
 Mollee_Francisco
Mar 25, 2008 | 975 views | 20 20 comments | 13 13 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink

The good old "birth year" theme night. This year, that means a second chance at 80s night -which you'll remember was a pleasant surprise the first time around.

Well tonight (like Beatles redux night) was not as good as the original, but it did afford one interestingly cheap song choice and one tantalizingly delicious song choice. (Read on to see who did which ones.)

I never thought I'd say this, but can we please have Mariah Carey night next week? These poor kids need a good dose of new(ish) songs to sing (even if they are courtesy of Mariah Carey or her peers). Haven't these contestants waded through the Classic Pop Songbook long enough? If you don't let them sing something from this century soon, I'm afraid they'll start worrying about Y2K.

(Side note: Did anyone else think Paula Abdul looked like she was coming home late from a rowdy New Year's party circa 1987? Yowza!)

What did you think? Who did you love? Who did you hate? Who surprised you the most?

Here are my thoughts:


Singer: Ramiele Malubay (Birth year: 1987)

Song: Alone

Rants & raves: In the dreaded kickoff spot, Malubay will suffer tonight with this performance. For me, Carrie Underwood did the best cover of this song (see my Top 10 all-time best performances blog entry) and this one pales in comparison to that. She didn't hit the power notes on the chorus and screeched her way through some improvised big notes at the end. It shouldn't be good enough for next week, but we'll see how the night plays out


Jason Castro (1987)

Fragile



I'm not familar with this song, but it certainly sounds like a

Sting number. Happy to see Jason back on guitar. I thought he did a good job with the song though it wasn't terribly exciting. Because it's so mellow, it ends up sounding more like background music or a B-side than a single. Jason does need to work to find more "Hallelujah" type blockbuster numbers if he wants to stay in the game (though something tells me we're never going to see him jumping around the stage like Chikizie- and that's ok with me.)


Syesha Mercado (1987)

If I Were Your Woman



Great vocal for her and it's easy to agree that this is her best performance yet. It didn't whip me into a frenzy though. I can appreciate that she found a great song for her style, but I still don't feel a strong connection between her and the audience. (And that stupid baby cry thing she does isn't helping.)


Chikezie (1985)

If Only For One Night



Lovely tone on this song. Chikizie totally has a Luther Vandross vibe going and it works for him. I still like the bluegrass crazy man from the last two weeks, but this is a good softer side for him to display. He's overcome his early mistakes and shows a lot of promise. Here's hoping he gets to show us more.


Brooke White (1983)

Every Breath You Take



Total agreement with the judges on Brooke's performance (the judges that count that is). The opening with just the piano had my complete attention. As soon as the band came in (honestly, are they really necessary ALL the time???) I crinkled my nose at how cheesy it started to sound. She still has a talent for morphing songs to fit her and I'm willing to keep tuning in to see that.


Michael Johns (1978)

We Will Rock You/We Are the Champions



Yes, Michael Johns can sing. And yes, he sounded good during this medley. But I'm still not buying it. To me, he sounded like someone singing Queen. He didn't do anything different with the songs. I don't feel a connection with him either when he sings.  I want to. I feel like the potential is there, but for me, he still hasn't picked the song that encompasses who he would be as an artist.


Carly Smithson (1983)

Total Eclipse of the Heart



Big Bonnie Tyler song for the girl with the big voice. She was paired with Michael Johns in this segment appropriately because I have the same complaints for her that I had for him. There was something not quite right in the performance - a disconnect with the song or something. Sigh.


David Archuleta (1990)

You're the Voice



For a minute, I thought I was watching that "Songs of Worship" commercial and I was frightened at where American Idol was going. I didn't like this song, but David A. still gives a pretty good performance. For his young age, he is full of feeling when he performs and that will take him far.


Kristy Lee Cook (1984)

God Bless the U.S.A.



Can you hear the patter of red states running to the phone right now? Am I the only one that got visions of post-9/11 patriotism as KLC sang? I'm going to have to cry foul here. By all accounts, she should have been going home this week, but I have no doubt that this stirring song of national love will not only keep her in the game, but well out of the bottom three. Good (if not cheap) song choice indeed.


David Cook (1982)

Billie Jean



And the Hobbit makes it three weeks in a row! No contest, David C. is the hands down winner yet again for a good, interesting, entertaining performance. I loved it. Absolutely loved it. When I snuck a peak and saw he was singing "Billie Jean," I was ecstatic. When I saw the actual performance, I was even more thrilled. David C. is a smart contestant and (unlike KLC) makes clever song choices that don't patronize the audience. Bravo!


Top performances: David Cook, Syesha Mercado

Most likely to go home: Ramiele Malubay


TELL US: Do you have a favorite performance from last night? Who's going home?

JOIN UP: Chat about American Idol in our Idol Watch group.

Comments
(20)
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Ruth Anne Maddox
|
April 01, 2008
We may see "Coat of Many Colors," "Here You Come Again" or "9 to 5" from the girls -- and maybe KLC will do Dolly's rendition of "Amazing Grace."

She also did "Great Balls of Fire," which one of the guys might do.

Any chance anyone will tackle "Islands in the Stream" as a solo?

Mollee Francisco
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April 01, 2008
I've read a few bloggers predicting the same White Stripes "Jolene" cover for David C., but I wonder if this is a good week for him to throw a curveball and sing a straight ballad.

Chris Daughtry did a great job in showing his "softer" side during country music week. His rendition of Keith Urban's "Making Memories of Us" is one of my favorite Idol performances (and I am not a country music fan). Maybe David C. will look to his model for inspiration on Dolly Parton week.

(Mollee Francisco is a staff writer for the Chaska Herald. She can be reached at mfrancisco@swpub.com.)
jennyjean4
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April 01, 2008
Good ole Davey Cook will probably do The White Stripes or the Me First and the Gimme Gimmes cover version of "Jolene". No way that guy is making his own version of a Dolly song. I bet he was frantically googling Dolly Parton covers when he heard about this weeks mentor.
Mollee Francisco
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April 01, 2008
Any bets on who drags out "I Will Always Love You" - made popular by Whitney Houston but originally written and performed by Dolly? I don't think we can get through Dolly Parton night without hearing it. I have my logical choice (Syesha) but would prefer anyone else really (well maybe not KLC so much).

Any DP songs you are hoping to hear tonight? I'm rooting for something from that holiday classic, "A Smokey Mountain Christmas."

(Mollee Francisco is a staff writer for the Chaska Herald. She can be reached at mfrancisco@swpub.com.)
Ruth Anne Maddox
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March 27, 2008
For the love of Chikizie!

I fell asleep during the show knowing that Chikizie and Syesha were on the stools, so I figured Ramiele would be No. 3 (and the one to go home). I woke up to find out that Jason?! was the third in the bottom three and Chikizie went home?!

I thought my husband was lying to me and he'd deleted the DVR recording so I couldn't double check. It was too late to call my sister and I wasn't motivated to fire up the computer so I figured I find out the truth today. My sister called before 8 a.m. and confirmed. I, too, am saddened.

Mollee Francisco
|
March 26, 2008
So sad. Chikizie never built up enough of a fan base to keep him around for long. A real shame considering how fun he could be to watch. Well, at least he'll go on the tour. I hate to see him go before KLC and Ramiele though :(

(Mollee Francisco is a staff writer for the Chaska Herald. She can be reached at mfrancisco@swpub.com.)
Mollee Francisco
|
March 26, 2008
Dolly Parton to mentor next week's show.

(Mollee Francisco is a staff writer for the Chaska Herald. She can be reached at mfrancisco@swpub.com.)
writers bloc
|
March 26, 2008
Good point. Cornell may get an uptick in downloads from this. I just hope he also gets a publishing kickback, as should Michael J. obviously, for any downloads sold of David's performance. I'm very glad to hear that Gary Busey's best buddy from the red carpet, "Seacrest!!", acknowledged the arrangement's origin beforehand. That only leaves me with two gripes, and they are simply my own subjective opinion: a) I wish the judges were more clued in so they wouldn't fawn over contestants for the wrong reasons, and b) There's still something chappy to me about a guy constantly rehashing a rehash. I think covering a song is an opportunity to break new ground by turning an old idea on its head; I realize that AI is all about people covering others' songs to showcase their vocal/performance talents, but Cook just keeps on using other people's versions of an original song -- it's a copy of a copy. I wonder if he'd be as successful trying to do a faithful cover of an original song like many of the other contestants. I guess I'm saying that covering covers has really has turned into a shtick for Cook.
Mollee Francisco
|
March 26, 2008
I'll agree with the judges going nutzo with their misdirected praise. They would have been better off patting him on the back for choosing an interesting version of the song.

When they get all gung-ho over a performance like they did on a few last night, I have to remind myself that they've got a show to hype and having two stinker nights in a row could turn people off. If they give the illusion that people are giving amazing performances (even when they're just average) there are plenty of people out there who will believe it. Mob mentality strikes again and isn't that what this show is all about???

I looked at the video for "Eleanor Rigby" and no, David C. did not acknowledge he was doing Doxology's version of the song. You can hear it here or here. But then again, Godhead did a similar rock version of Eleanor Rigby and so did The Zoot. The latter dates back to 1970 so it's been around for awhile. My guess is that with so many similar rock versions out there, there's no need to go through a chain of command.



(Mollee Francisco is a staff writer for the Chaska Herald. She can be reached at mfrancisco@swpub.com.)
jennyjean4
|
March 26, 2008
I usually get up and do something during the intros. I think last night I was tucking my son into bed during that particular intro and missed it entirely.
ChicChick
|
March 26, 2008
I tune out everything Ryan says, so maybe that's not the best way for the AI people to acknowledge things. I had the same issue with his intro to Michael Johns's performance. I didn't get the "medley" until it was pointed out to me that Ryan said we'd get two classics for the price of one.

But, I'm glad it was acknowledged somehow. The whole Chris Daughtry incident is exactly what I was thinking of, that they didn't learn their lesson.
jennyjean4
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March 26, 2008
Then I guess it's just a matter of the "Idol" judges not knowing what the word original means. To me it means doing something that no one else has done before - making the song your own by doing an arrangement that is brand new. It is neither "Brave" nor "Original" to use Chris Cornell's version of the song. He did a nice job of it, but I would not call it original.

Also, as far as I know, he did not acknowledge "Doxology" when he used their cover of "Eleanor Rigby". Although I could be wrong about that.
ChicChick
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March 26, 2008
I think the bottom three will be Ramiele, Carly, and a guy. Maybe Chikezie. I like him, and Carly, but I don't think they have a strong fan base. It could also be Michael Johns. I wasn't fond of the performance last night, but the judges were, so that may pull him through. I want him to be good at something other than Queen songs.

I really think KLC made a mistake by performing that song without a red, white, and blue spangled leotard and top hat. Much disappointment here. I was getting so excited to hear Simon say something about it being a county-fair-with-deep-fried-Snickers performance, but he liked it. What show am I watching???
Mollee Francisco
|
March 26, 2008
If you watch the playback, Ryan announces that David C. is doing Chris Cornell's version of Billie Jean. (See YouTube clip below, scroll to 1:04)

I'm not going to fault him for choosing lesser known versions of well-known songs as long as it's acknowledged which it was last night. (I think they learned an important lesson when Chris Daughtry did Live's cover of "I Walk the Line" as if it were his own - remember that fall out???)

If nothing else, it draws attention to the alternate version. As we were looking up the Chris Cornell number last night, so were a billion other people on YouTube. Chris Cornell can't be mad about that.



(Mollee Francisco is a staff writer for the Chaska Herald. She can be reached at mfrancisco@swpub.com.)
jennyjean4
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March 26, 2008
I agree with writers bloc. David Cook should not stand on that stage and take credit for the arrangement of the song, when it was Chris Cornell who did the arranging. He needs to own up to the fact that he is not the "creative genius" the judges (who are way out of touch) are making him out to be. If anything he's a rip off artist with a great voice. I still like his vocals better than most on the show, but come on and own up to the fact that these are not your original ideas. I cannot respect an artist (and I use this term loosely) who cannot come up with his own ideas and therefore tries to pass someone elses for his own.
ChicChick
|
March 26, 2008
My husband said the same thing about David C. last night, regarding giving credit where it's due. Although we didn't know who's version this was, we were pretty sure it wasn't a Hobbit original. A little disappointed he didn't acknowledge Mr. Cornell. But, he definitely adds variety to the show, and I usually enjoy his performances. At least he knows what he's good at.
writers bloc
|
March 26, 2008
I think David Cook is a fraud, although admittedly one with gold-plated pipes. He seems incapable of doing much more than offering moody rock reinterpretations of classic pop songs and then failing to give credit to the artists who blazed the retread trail before him. Last night he basked in the adulation of the judges, who could stand to tune in to anything that's happened in the pop/rock world in the last 15 years, as they called him things like "courageous" and "original" for offering up Chris Cornell's version of "Billie Jean," which wasn't that astounding of a move when Cornell started working it into his live shows a couple of years ago. Yeah, Cook did a great job of covering a rock singer's somber cover of a pop classic, but to consider this courageous or original doesn't compute, especially when the sham rocker doesn't even tip his hat to the horses he rides in on. If Cook were to win "Idol," could we expect him to release an album of grunge and hard-rock cover songs that were cover songs to begin with? The sad part is, people would probably buy it. I know Paula, Randy and apparently even Simon would. Here's Cornell's version.
Ruth Anne Maddox
|
March 26, 2008
I thought the overall performances were good enough that I couldn't come up with a bottom three. I texted my sister: Ramiele, Brooke, ???

She agreed with the first two and added Chikezie.

On a side note, my husband pointed out that only one of the contestants was born before we graduated high school...

Mollee Francisco
|
March 26, 2008
I should say that David C. is on his fourth successful performance in a row - starting with his cover of Lionel Richie's "Hello" during 80s night, continuing through the Beatles nights and onto last night. I looked back at those four performances via YouTube and have to say that this was his best to date. Even listening to Chris Cornell's version (which he modeled his performance after), I have to say I liked David C's more melodic version better. Way to go!
webMonkey
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March 25, 2008
First, a quick question - how many horses are there in this contest, and how many are dark? Listening to Paula, I think we're up to at least three.

David Cook again! I'm very pleased with this streak he's on, though I'm dreading an almost guaranteed trip-up down the road (hey, even Melinda had one). I'll keep my fingers crossed it doesn't happen and he continues to rock the stage.

I'll admit I'm not very invested in the show this year - and I think he's the only one that keeps me watching.
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