"Round of 12: The 60s"
- March 15-16
After what seemed like an eternity... the series has landed. "You built your
top 12. Now let's see what they can do."
Ryan joins us pre-taped on the live set, and if I must say... Best... live
set... ever. The game has changed as we prepare to begin the countdown to the
showdown at the Kodown.. err, Kodak Theatre on May 24. We're intro'd to the
platform, the band, the audience, and the one thing that separates this from
Star Search... the panel of three, Randy the dawgfather, Paula the poodle, and
Simon the... ahem.
First up, Ryan acknowledges what we knew from Sunday, that as of last Friday,
Mario Vazquez is no longer in the competition. After wishing him well, we are
treated to his replacement, Nikko Smith, who outpolled Travis Tucker last week.
He'll take the stage later.
But back to the competition. As you know, each week of the finals is about a
given theme. This week, we're going back to before I was born (the 80s), before
Gordon was born (the 70s), and before Simon was... okay, round about the time
Simon was born. That's right, we're going to the 60s this week. The good news:
the Idols are introduced to music that has been sold as moldy oldies. The bad
news... see good news.
After Constantine twists with Bo, we go to Jessica Sierra, who shops herself
with Aretha's "Shop Around", which she says has a bluesy feel.
What they say: Randy called it okay, wanting something more from the
performance. Paula thinks she had a cool vibe, and thought she did a cool job.
Simon called it boring and uninspired.
What we say: Well, it was okay to start, but then something went wrong. She
got caught up in the emotion of the song that she just lost course pitchwise.
And the last verse was a bit much. Good enough for the opener, but this is the
big stage. BIG stage. Think BIG! BIG, dammit! You need to step out or ship out.
But it did show off her range.
Next, Anwar Robinson, a favorite to win now that Mario is gone. He takes the
Burt Bacharach-come-Luther "A House Is Not a Home" route. But will America phone
home? He's known for risks.
What they say: Randy wanted Anwar to come out... and he didn't. "A
really safe performance. Wasn't great for me, dude." Paula called it strange to
hear Anwar's flawless voice. Simon echoed both concerns. "You've proven what
you're all about. Now we want to see a more fun side. There is a risk that you
are going to become a bit boring."
What we say: This is a classic Anwar performance. Which is a blessing and a
curse. The good side: it's Anwar. We've seen it. The bad side: It's Anwar. We've
seen it. This is no time for feeling out the waters. It's time to dive in head
first. And it's only in the last few seconds where he does so. All in all,
it was good, but I've seen better.
Remember, voting commences at the end of the show. Meanwhile, Fran Dres...
err, Mikalah Gordon tries out Dusty Springfield's "Son of a Preacher Man",
hoping for the votes of, that's right, preacher men's sons everywhere.
What they say: Randy doesn't know what's going on, but that was rough. Paula
didn't know if she was singing on mic (for non-singing types, very bad times),
but it wasn't her favorite performance. Simon thinks her confidence exceeded her
What we say: The pitch is off. The breathing's off. The attitude's on. But
then again, it's Mikalah, so that's to be expected. And attitude, while a key
component, can only get you so far. You need to have a voice that can withstand
that. And Mikalah.... thinking of a way to put this... DOESN'T.
And she gets no outro music. Hoo boy. This is going to be one hell of a
night. Up on the stage next is Constantine Maroulis with one of those songs that
you don't admit to singing along with, but we all do... "You've Made Me So Very
Happy" by Blood, Sweat & Tears, which Constantine calls "Motown." I actually did
research on this, and the Brenda Holloway version is what he's referring to, now
the BST version referred to by the Idol chyron.
What they say: Randy calls it his best. Paula says, "Great job." Simon says,
"If this were Smoldering Idol, you'd win hands down." He calls him a great
performer who will attract the female demographic.
What we say: Constantine did what he should've done three weeks ago, take a
familiar song and make it his own. A little shaky a first, but when he hits the
bridge, that's when he finally starts to come around. Best ... whoa, note that
shook the heavens... Anyway, best Constantine performance, but then again, not
Next on deck at the biggest show in the US (according to adults age 18-49),
the pride of Ponchatoula, Lindsey Cardinale. Eddy Floyd gets the treatment as
Lindsey covers "Knock on Wood".
What they say: Randy is still dumbfounded about the performers tonight. Are
they nervous? Paula asks how she thought she did. "You can always do better."
Simon: "I think 13 million TV sets had their volume turned down simultaneously."
What we say: She's not really selling it. She really should've gone last
week, and this performance, everything about it, really - the pitch, the song
choice, the delivery - really hammers the point home. I honestly think that,
like Mikalah, she's just a pretty face and a pretty body who is not long for
this competition. The good news... Did you see the set? I mean... Wow. Heh.
Anthony Fedorov is next with Neil Sedaka's "Breaking Up Is Hard To Do", which
is fitting because after making the final 24, he's been doing a lot of breaking,
and not in a good way. We'll see if this is more of a match. Probably is for
this season's Clay Aiken. He goes for the slow version.
What they say: Brace yourself. It ain't pretty. Randy said, "That sounded
like it was in a bad hotel with a really bad performance. I don't know what that
was." Paula doesn't think it was up to par with Anthony. Simon, seeing that
Randy just stole his thunder, put things in perspective, comparing Anthony with
an entertainer at an office Christmas party who fails miserably at his attempt.
What we say: Starts out kinda nice, kinda safe, actually. Then comes the
second verse when he does his thing and that's where it falls apart. Actually,
tail end of the bridge. It was all over the place pitchwise, but the tone was
there. If you can connect the two, then we have something. As is it right now,
though, *raspberries* Next?!
Nadia Turner, another favorite, certainly tops among the fairer sex, sings
Dusty Springfield's "You Don't Have to Say You Love Me".
What they say: Randy gives her props. Nadia starts the show off. Paula says
that she's in it to win. Simon gives the line of the night: "In a competition
full of hamburgers, you are a steak."
What we say: F Mikalah's version from earlier this season, THIS is how we
do... Best performance so far. Perfect delivery, perfect choice, steps out, does
her thing. She is a contender. My only beef... those funky facial gyrations. I
guess she was really really feeling it. Or she was hungry. Or something. Oh, and
she also stopped prematurely.
Bo Bice is next with another BST tune, "Spinning Wheel", which he used to do
in a band before Idol. This fact is relevant.
What they say: Randy called it fearless. Paula says that he's a superstar.
Simon says, "You look like you've been doing it for 20 years."
What we say: What Simon said. Exactly. And excellent use of the catwalk.
Right up there with Nadia (hate to compare, but this is, after all, a
competition). Work the stage, man.
Next on the beautifully rendered stage is Vonzell Solomon, who does Dionne
Warwick with "Anyone Who Had a Heart".
What they say: Randy called Vonzell on an ambitious song choice and a big
voice, but says that she needs to control her very good instrument. Paula says
she looked beautiful and had superb showmanship. Simon says that she's still in
the middle, and unless she wants to be one of those fluke eliminations in the
round of 7, she needs to step it up.
What we say: The tone is definitely there, but the performance was lacking...
well, something. And the pitch is a little shaky here and there. Vonzell gets me
there, but she needs to push a little further to really get me there. And the
last note was... I couldn't put my finger on it, but something was wrong. I'd
give it a B+, though. But B+ don't bring it here, baby.
Scott Savol delivers with one of my favorite Motown songs, The Temptations' "Ain't
Too Proud to Beg".
What they say: Randy enjoyed his confidence. Paula also enjoyed it. Simon is
What we say: Good stage presence. Would've liked to see Scott do some more,
because you know he loves this song. And I was waiting for him to hi-five the
audience members he was walking past. A performer, but needs to do some more.
Engage me, dude... Engage me. Otherwise, good show for the round mound of sound.
Two more, and then we go to Roundtable. First up, Carrie Underwood. The
country chica takes to the stage with the Everly Brothers' "When Will I Be
What they say: Randy has high hopes, but the performance was very okay. Paula
called it "very safe and boring". Simon takes the opposite road. "There are
three people who know who they are musically, and you are one of them."
What we say: Gosh. One of the few times where I disagree with Simon. The
three words that no Idol wants to hear ME say... One... Trick... Pony. You have
a niche, but you will never be the Pop Idol unless you expand your horizon. Be
something you never thought you could be. Now is the time to take a risk, and
Finally, we're down to the man that wouldn't be Mario... Nikko Smith, who
fittingly chooses "I Want You Back" by the Jackson 5ive.
What they say: Randy is glad that he's back, because he brought the funk.
Paula says, "You did your own thing." Simon thought he sounded horrible.
What we say: Good stage presence, but dude... Breath control... Pitch
control... You got what most people in this competition would never get,
especially this year... a second chance. Don't blow it.
Well, we have the performances, and in 24 hours and 30 minutes, one will have
an early flight to catch back home. Let's Fast Forward to the Roundtable!
CONTINUE TO THE ROUNDTABLE