Wednesday, March 4, 2009

American Idol - Recap & Review - Top 36: Group 3

American Idol
Top 36: Group 3

Original Air Date: March 3, 2009

Patricia Morris Buckley — Associate Staff Writer

Whoa — finally a night where the women outshone the men. The last two semifinals ended with two men and one woman advancing to the finals. Doubt that’s going to happen with this batch of 12 semi-finalists. And it’s about time, isn’t it?

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  1. Whoa — finally a night where the women outshone the men. The last two semifinals ended with two men and one woman advancing to the finals. Doubt that’s going to happen with this batch of 12 semi-finalists. And it’s about time, isn’t it?

    However, I have to say that the producers’ preferences have never seen so obviously pushed in our faces. Why else would the judges go so gaa-gaa over the wobbly performance of Scott MacIntyre (AKA The Blind Guy)? Or practically miss that Kristen McNamara hit every note in her song with confidence (Simon mostly commented on her fashion choices)? And, as everyone predicted, Lil Rounds got the “pimp spot,” the last performance of the night and the judges couldn’t come up with enough superlatives.

    But it was also a night of surprises — good and bad. Several performers that I really looked forward to just didn’t bring the heat. I’m talking about Taylor Vaifanua, Alex Wagner-Trugman, Arianna Afsar and Kendall Beard. And after declaring my distaste for Nathaniel Marshall’s Tatiana Jr. hysterics, I really liked his performance. I mean liked enough to actually vote for him. That—that was a real surprise!

    I was mildly surprised that I did enjoy Lil Rounds’ performance. She’s got a serious voice and nice stage presence. While it’s a given that she’ll be sitting at the silver stools tonight, I think she earned it.

    Then there’s Jorge Nuñez. OK, this may be taken the wrong way, but I just wouldn’t download a song where I couldn’t understand any of the words. I know the words to Elton Johns’ “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me” and I still couldn’t make out what he was saying. I think I would far more enjoy his voice, which seems a bit thin to me, if he sang in Spanish.

    Then there’s Von “I Shout Everything” Smith, who admitted in his interview that he’s been reading comments on the internet and knows that people don’t like his bombastic style. So he promises to turn it down. Trouble is, while he didn’t scream as much, he’s still hitting many notes full throttle. Makes my throat sore just to listen to him. Von started off the night.

    VON SMITH: You’re All I Need to Get By
    Still a little shouty. It’s a fun song, but doesn’t require much range. Overall, not bad.

    Randy: Dude, this is the way to kick off. That was a hot performance, better for you tonight than in Hollywood. You’re finding yourself.

    Kara: You’re coming into your own. You took Simon’s note and it’s a good thing you did.

    Paula: It’s hard being first and this was a memorable first. You’re quite the showman. You’re seasoned. I loved your performance.

    Simon: You remind me of Clay Aikens. You’ve got the same dress sense. But (being compared to Clay) could be a good thing for you. You sang quite well. Well, very well.

    TAYLOR VAIFANUA: If Ain’t Got You
    So obvious that she’s nervous. We hear her take breaths and use too much vibrato. She’s stronger in chorus, but the high notes are too high for her.

    Kara: It’s obvious you have a voice. You hit those notes, but you had some issues, I want more of your personality to come through. I have no insight into you as person, which is why the performance left me cold. What are like to go shopping with?

    Paula: You have a beautiful instrument. I’m perplexed why you chose a song you sang in Hollywood Week. I wanted to hear something new.

    Simon: I genuinely couldn’t remember you from an earlier round. Now I understand why — you’re generic.

    Randy: You’ve got a great voice. You’re problem is you didn’t tell us anything special about you.

    ALEX WAGNER-TRUGMAN: I Guess That’s Why They Call it the Blues
    He’s mixing it up a little, which is good. Some notes are off and he’s sliding into others. The mike stand falls over, which distracts everyone. More distracting are his little tiger-wanna-be growls.

    Paula: You’re certainly are the showman. You gave us our money’s worth. I just don’t know how much we spent. I had fun watching you. I’m glad you got to channel your inner rock star.

    Simon: It’s fun watching you, but that ridiculous growling. It’s like you’re a hamster trying to be a tiger. It didn’t work

    Randy: I half agree with Simon, in crazy and wild way. But the vocals, dude, weren’t there. You kind of screamed the song.

    Kara: You should do you. You’re Alex. A fun guy. You can’t pay for that kind of choreography. If you do come back, ditch the arrrggghh.

    ARIANNA AFSAR: The Winner Takes it All
    She tells the audience she didn’t want to be put through “because I look like a button.”

    She’s obviously nervous. Her voice cracks and she isn’t making the highest and lowest notes. The last couple of lines are good and she holds the money note really well.

    Simon: That was terrible in parts. I think you made a huge mistake. That song is too big for you. Not right choice for you. (She tells him she tried to make it contemporary.)You didn’t.

    Randy: You want to show people you’re young. That’s not song I would have ever chosen for you. It wasn’t good.

    Kara: At your audition, you were a beam of sunshine. Cute as button is a compliment girl. Tonight, you’re dark and depressing. That’s not who you are as a person. Tonight it went too serious.

    Paula: You had some bright moments in the song, but it was too old fashioned. I appreciate that you changed the melody. Sometimes it’s best to stick to the melody.

    JU’NOT JOYNER: Hey There Deliah
    He shows good restraint and slowly builds the song. He’s wobbly on some notes and hits the money notes, but is still a little dull.

    Randy: That’s cool what you just did. You took a plain song and switched it up and pulled back, which I appreciate. I like you.

    Kara: Liked your spin on it. It felt like holding back. We know you have ridiculous voice.

    Paula: What’s great about performance is that you changed it up. Those liberties took paid off. Great job.

    Simon: That was better than I thought it was going to be. I wish you’d stripped the whole song down— you could have had a moment. It was a bit safe.

    KRISTEN MCNAMARA: Give Me One Reason
    She’s got a good voice and can sell a song. It’s the right song for her, but the wrong dress. It’s as if she’s a waitress at Coco’s.

    Kara: I’m liking the hair more. You are a great singer and can hit those notes. I see you as more of a Pink than a Kelly Clarkson. You have a rock edge. Maybe not right song for you.

    Paula: When in Hollywood Week, you sang Kelly Clarkson, you showed you have a hell of a range.

    Simon: I’m puzzling out who you are. Your fashion is terrible. It’s an odd song choice, but you have a good voice.

    Randy: I agree with Simon. I didn’t like the song and you tried to do too much with it.

    NATHANIEL MARSHALL: I Would Do Anything for Love (But I Won't Do That)
    He obviously has a theater background, seen in the way he commands the stage. The headbands are driving me crazy. But he has a stronger voice than I remember.

    Simon: I think you would (do anything). Kidding. Some people will quite like it, but the majority of people like me will think it’s verging on excruciating. What’s with the awful Olivia Newton John headband? It was an uncomfortable performance. People will remember you. You actually are fun and I like you.

    Randy: Of all the songs to choose. You definitely can sing. It’s hard to imagine what kind of recording you’d do.

    Kara: You do have good voice. If want to be taken seriously, pick song that show more serious side of you. Right now, you’re the guy I want to go to karaoke with.

    Paula: In Hollywood Week, you sang Disturbia. It was so cool, a bold choice. It made you relevant. This song was more of a Boy George version of this song. It takes the coolness factor away.

    It’s kind of boring song. She has good money notes. It’s a solid, but not great performance.

    Paula: Funny how universe works (about Felicia being cut in Hollywood, but brought back after another singer was disqualified). You’re gorgeous outside. Your voice is unbelievable. I’m so glad we brought you back. I hope American will bring you back next week.

    Simon: The first part was better than second. It’s a bit copycat. I’m not as enthusiastic as Paula.

    Randy: I’m happy you’re back. You’ve got an amazing voice. You’ve got a little something different than Alicia Keyes has. Use that.

    Kara: You’ve got the best look and presence. You had trouble with a few notes, but I noticed you tonight for the first time.

    SCOTT MACINTYRE: Mandolin Rain
    He’s wobbly on the notes, but it’s a good performance. He’s hair is more styled, which is good.

    Randy: This wasn’t the most perfect vocal. Parts were great. I can hear the passion pouring out of you.

    Kara: You move mountains when you step on the stage. I want America to see you play piano and sing. I hope they give you the chance.

    Paula: I’m happy and proud you’ve made blessed us with your gift. You are one of our finest.

    Simon: I wasn’t crazy about the song, partly because of the lyrics. Scott, you’re growing on me. You’re starting to believe in yourself. I’m going to be amazed if you don’t sail through to the next round.

    KENDALL BEARD: This One’s for the Girls
    She’s got a strong sound, but also real pitch problems. She’s very pretty.

    Kara: You got big personality, which comes through. You picked right lane, but you had issues with notes. You’ve got that personality that we liked.

    Paula: You take the prize for the best outfit. I think you did a good job. You’re adorable.

    Simon: You did the right thing tonight. You’re cute, you like Country music. But halfway through, I couldn’t wait for it to end. You should have chosen song that better suited your voice. We’ll see. Not my cup of tea

    Randy: I love Country music. Your outfit is right. The real issue is that it wasn’t best vocal performance. But it told us who you were.

    JORGE NUÑEZ: Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me
    The words are lost. He’s soulful, good looking and connects with the song. He cries throughout the judges comments, which will endear him to the voters.

    Paula: I am so proud of you. People have no idea how hard you worked fulfilling your dream. I want to squeeze you.

    Simon: I was wrong to say you should sing without an accent. Be who you are. You have a good voice.

    Randy: Accent or not, it’s the vocals that matter. It wasn’t perfect, but it was really, really good. You vindicated yourself from Hollywood Week.

    Kara: You’re a singer. You have the gift of touching people when you sing. You believe it.

    LIL ROUNDS: Be Without You
    She has a sophisticated look and polished voice. I liked how she’s switched the lyrics from “call the radio if you just can't be without your baby” to “call this show if you just can't be without me baby.”

    Simon: Brilliant. My favorite performance by a mile. I wouldn’t have chosen the song, you sound too much like the original. I think you have great prospects. One of best we’ve ever had.

    Randy: Hands down one of the best. You kept your swagger on. You have unbelievable vocals and know who you are.

    Kara: You were a powerhouse the day we met you. You’re a steady, steady boat. I can’t wait to see what you do next week and the week after that.

    Paula: Have a snaking suspicion you’ll be “lil rounds” for a while.

    My prediction: Lil Rounds and Kristen McNamara, with Jorge Nuñez and Scott MacIntyre neck-in-neck for the men’s spot.

    What did you think? Is Lil Rounds as good as the judges think? Is there a clear winner for the men’s category? Who do want to see advance? Will the judges tell us tonight who will be in the Wild Card round? And, if so, are you one of those who won’t watch if that list doesn’t include Anoop Desai?

  2. I liked Von and wish He had not tried so hard. I still tink He could have been a good contestant.


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