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1) using profanity or any euphemisms for profanity
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Best Night Ever for American Idol?
2008-03-11 22:06
by Jon Weisman

Though they weren't all genius, I thought this might have been the best night of American Idol in my 5 1/2 years of watching what is mostly a time sinkhole. Particularly in the first half, I was surprised I was even capable of enjoying the show that much, and even though I don't live and die with the Beatles, I do like them, and I was pleasantly surprised that for the most part, tonight's singers didn't ruin their songs.

Mark Donohue provides the definitive Toaster rundown of Idol, and Scott Long sometimes weighs in, but I wanted to sneak in some thoughts of my own.

  • Syesha Mercado has loads of personality when she's not singing that she hasn't quite been able to bring to her performances. She did well enough with "Got to Get You Into My Life," but I don't know that she's ever going to be able to make the leap.

  • Chikezie gave a performance of "She's a Woman" so downright fun that it actually made me smile. Truly memorable. And Paula even pulled a comparison to Oh Brother, Where Are Thou out of her, well, you know. Chikezie is an emotional guy who went all Cuba Gooding, Jr. after the praise he got. He may still be too mercurial to stick around for long, but tonight was a triumph and really got me into the show.

  • Ramiele Malubay was criticized too harshly. She stayed within the box, to be sure, but I thought she gave a beautiful rendition of a beautiful song, "In My Life." The unanimous condemnation of her performance as boring - and I admit, you always expect someone who looks like a spitfire to have more personality - puts her in jeopardy, but I hope she hangs in there.

  • Jason Castro, on the other hand, really was boring on "If I Fell," I thought. I like Jason, but I was too bothered by the shots Ramiele took to abide the relative praise he got. Basically, the judges just seem to like this song better than "In My Life"; I've always thought "If I Fell" was sappy.

  • Carly Smithson was strong belting out "Come Together." She doesn't move me, but she'll sail through.

  • David Cook has shown a strength that has been one of the bigger surprises for me this season. That said, I felt his take on "Eleanor Rigby" was too intense for the song. He performed it well, but I didn't feel like he really felt the song. But his energy was great and he's definitely improving week after week.

  • Brooke White struck me as uncomfortable for most of her "Let It Be" rendition, but she knows how to put a song in her strike zone. A solid base hit.

  • David Hernandez was an underdog favorite of mine early on this year, but he gave the cheesiest performance of the night with "I Saw Her Standing There." I've gotten mixed signals on what America thinks of him, but I put him squarely in the bottom three right now.

  • Amanda Overmyer kept the night's energy going. Though I didn't love her blasting of "You Can't Do That," on almost any other night of Idol it might have been one of the best performances.

  • Michael Johns has always been overrated to me - until tonight. His "Across the Universe" lacked the arrogance of his previous work; it's my favorite of his thus far.

  • Kristy Lee Cook took some good advice in a very bad way, going country with a disastrous version of "Eight Days a Week" sung at a pace The Chipmunks might have had trouble keeping up with. She's practically got the same chances of surviving this week as Oregon State's men's hoopsters.

  • David Archuleta, I tell you now, might have had the best possible outcome tonight by absolutely falling off the beam, crashing the triple lutz and crashing into a slalom gate on "We Can Work It Out." For weeks, he's been the favorite to win Idol 2008, and it's my firm belief that if you peak too soon in this competition, audience backlash and boredom will ultimately sink you. He needed desperately to be knocked back into the competition and forced to fight his way back to the top. And boy, did ever succeed.

    Best of the night: Chikezie
    Worst: Kristy Lee Cook
    Give her another chance: Ramiele Malubay

    As bad as Cook was tonight, it became clear to me for the first time this evening that Idol really has avoided having the two, or three, or four dog performers it usually has. There's no one here that I truly dislike, which is really saying something.

    It sure helps to have good songs to sing, though.

  • Comments
    2008-03-11 23:04:05
    1.   gibsonhobbs88
    I enjoyed most of the performances tonight. I thought Brooke, Chikezie, David Cook and Carly shined, Michael Johns and Amanda were on the next tier. Rumiele(played it safe but not as bad as judges said), Jason and Syesha did OK. David Archuleta struggled tonight but since he's done well before, I think he will be forgiven and will come back next week. David Hernandez and Kristy Lee Cook will spend the night packing just in case. David will probably survive because Kristy's performance was so much more of a train wreck. It was interesting to see what song choices the contestants picked from the Lennon-McCartney songbook and their takes on the songs. I really enjoyed it.
    2008-03-11 23:19:55
    2.   El Lay Dave
    I have never watched this show, but one cannot avoid knowing about it. That said, I like that someone chose "You Can't Do That", one of my favorite earlier Beatles songs, particularly Lennon's lead vocal.
    2008-03-11 23:44:37
    3.   Eric Enders
    If it's mostly a time sinkhole, why waste 5 1/2 years of your life with it?
    2008-03-12 06:43:50
    4.   Jon Weisman
    3 - I wish I knew.
    2008-03-12 08:35:55
    5.   drewjensen
    I think the show basically defines "guilty pleasure"
    2008-03-12 08:42:38
    6.   drewjensen
    I did enjoy it, though, as well. Not because of the "Lennon-McCartney" songbook that they seemed contractually obligated to mention 19 times during the show...but because everyone is really pretty good - to in some cases very good. No one performer clearly the best (in spite of their efforts to push Carly Smithson and David Archuleta out as lead dogs), and even the worst of them better than most on previous seasons.

    Parity has struck in American Idol and I think it makes for a more watchable product.

    2008-03-12 08:47:43
    7.   Inside Baseball
    I agree completely about Malubay. I thought it was the best pure vocal of the night.

    I started watching Idol three seasons ago and have enjoyed it quite a bit. I have never been into music but it's a great formula and
    a very easy watch with a dvr.

    I am anxiously awaiting Mark's post on the show. It was pretty cool to see so many of them do well.

    I'm a little worried about David Archuletta, not that he has any chance of being voted off, just for him personally. It seemed the big stage and performing in front of so many of people screaming for him threw him off. I hope he bounces back next week. I'd hate to see him develop the biggest case of the yips in television history. Plus it seems like the judges are consciously trying to state that the competition is wide open, after all the love they threw to Archuletta early on.

    2008-03-12 11:33:32
    8.   dzzrtRatt
    I am not an AI fan at all...probably I've watched a total of an hour of the show since it started, but I wanted to second El Lay Dave's endorsement of "You Can't Do That."

    That song, along with their cover versions of "Matchbox," "Long Tall Sally" and "Slow Down," were originally an EP released in England and are, to me, the best representations of the Beatles as a performing band available. They were just on fire that day, apparently. Ringo is especially hot. If anyone says they don't get why Ringo Starr is considered a great drummer, those four tracks clear up the matter. This was also the period when John was the Beatles' leader. Some of the best vocal performances of his career were delivered in the band's early years on songs like "Twist and Shout," "Rock and Roll Music," "Money (That's What I Want)," "Dizzy Miss Lizzie," and the two tracks that were on this EP, "You Can't Do That" and "Slow Down." Paul's vocal on "Long Tall Sally" is equally intense -- maybe his best rock vocal ever, even though it's all stolen from Little Richard, that would be like me picking up my violin and "stealing" Isaac Stern. If you can do it, it's really not stealing.

    All these tracks are on Past Masters, Vol. 1, which is a great document of their rock and roll phase. The later Beatles, the creative Beatles, the Paul-led Beatles, the Beatles who stood for love and peace -- great stuff. But before all that, they were the world's best four-man rock combo.

    End of completely irrelevant editorial.

    2008-03-12 12:01:40
    9.   bigcpa
    Did anyone else find it annoying that the word "Beatles" was treated the same way the word "Kershaw" is around here? That army of lawyers doesn't mess around. My company put out Across the Universe and we were forbidden to use the word Beatles in any marketing materials- even after spending Pierre dollars for the song rights.

    I thought the show was the best of the year too- for the same reason I preferred Rock Star. Songs songs songs. I get enough of Celine, Whitney, Mariah at the dentist. Eleanor Rigby rose to the elite level of the immediate Tivo replay with higher volume. My second favorite performance since Josiah did that Grace Kelly number.

    2008-03-12 12:33:02
    10.   Jon Weisman
    9 - Yeah, I thought the no-Beatles mention was a bit much.

    Grace Kelly?

    2008-03-12 20:58:36
    11.   El Lay Dave
    8 See, I can only say it's good; you can 'splain it.

    George Martin once said that John Lennon was the best rock vocalist he'd ever heard and that Paul was a close second. That seems a little hyperbolic to me, but has there ever been a band that had two front men that were that strong? Any band is very lucky to have one vocalist that good.

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