As I am still on vacation, Mindy Moore has capably offered to contribute her vision for the American Idol performances. And she has done so in a very timely fashion. After watching most of the performances online, I have to say that she has nailed the pros and cons of each performance. Her evaluations mirror my thoughts.
Billy Joel’s songs are extremely difficult to sing. One only has to view his YouTube performances to see how brilliant he is as a singer-songwriter. Some singers rose to the occasion (Jessica Sanchez, DeAndre Brackensick) while others fell extremely short (Colton Dixon, Skylar Laine).
Here is what Mindy had to say:
DeAndre – “Only the Good Die Young” – I think it was a good idea to go uptempo again, but I don’t know that this was the song for him. I think that Deandre made a great entrance moving forward on the stage to engage the audience. The performance level was great. He was moving around the stage, energetic, and showing off that charisma. He showed some raspy, gritty vocals and very little of that falsetto. I love Deandre and think he has so much potential, but the thought I came away with after this performance was, is it memorable enough given that he performed first? That is my question. We will have to see what the viewers think.
Erika -”New York State of Mind”- I actually suggested this song for either Elise or Erika on MJ’s blog yesterday. It was a huge risk for her to change her look so dramatically. I didn’t recognize her when I first saw her. I hope that it will help her and not cause some confusion for the viewers. I think she looked absolutely great! I loved the beginning at the piano and then Erika moving more toward the audience. I think this young woman has a gift for interpreting a song. She can get to the heart and soul of the words and just bring so much passion and emotion in her performance. We heard the full range of her gorgeous contralto. She showed off her highest range and seamlessly transitioned back to her lower range. I loved how she started slow and allowed the song to build momentum at the end. We don’t get to hear this kind of voice and it should be heard. She took Diddy’s advice and got into that NY State of Mind! Great interpretation and heartfelt vocals. I love her!
Joshua – “She’s Got a Way” – I could feel Joshua’s doubts about this song. I have to thank Diddy for calling him out on his tendency to shout and scream. Thank you! I thought Joshua heeded his advice and there was much less of the shouting and more pure singing. He had a great opening just sitting on that stool with the mic in his hand and the piano for accompaniment. Then he stood up and moved toward the audience as he started to build the momentum. The funny thing is, just as I wrote down that I don’t think he connected emotionally as much to this song, JLo gave her comments and said exactly the same thing! I couldn’t believe it. That has happened a few times with her. I don’t always agree, but this time I felt the same way. I am hesitant to criticize Joshua because of the quality of his vocals, but when he brings the emotion to this performance it just amps up the excitement level. I think he did kind of get there near the end with the chorus behind him and that great crescendo. I think he could have the Mormon Tabernacle Choir behind him and still be heard! I still love him and think he did very well, but even he admitted this was a tough song for him.
Skylar – “Shameless” – I loved seeing her sitting on the stage at the beginning. This was visually very strong and a great way to get the audience involved. She is such a natural on stage, confident and assured when performing. However, I did notice that she had some rough spots in the beginning vocally. I noticed that once she started walking around the stage, she went off key, got breathy and lost the words. There is an old rule that you never sacrifice vocal technique for the sake of movement. Get the vocals down perfectly, feel comfortable and then incorporate movement. That would be my advice to her moving forward.
Elise – “Vienna” – Good for her for sticking to her song choice this time! She took a risk by singing an unknown song, but one that she felt worked for her. It turned out to be the right choice. I liked seeing her standing at the mic off stage center at the beginning. Then she moved onto center stage as she continued to pour emotion and heart into her interpretation of this song. Her phrasing was beautiful and every song seemed to be caressed by her husky vocals. I thought that the ending was pure genius. Those little runs that are so hard to pull off, were impeccable and highlighted the end of a great performance. Well done!
Philipp – “Movin’ Out” – I think this was a good song choice for him. I love how he stays true to himself as an artist. He made the decision to sing with his guitar this time. He has gone without it in previous weeks, but this seemed to work with the song. I loved that there was less backup! He really doesn’t need it. I think he knows who he is as an artist and brings honesty and conviction to his performances.
Hollie -”Honesty” – I have to say that MJ picked this song for her. I think that this was a challenge for Hollie. I loved how she started off more softly, restrained. I was hoping to hear her pull back a little. I always get the chills when I hear that clarity and purity of tone in her voice. However, for the first time I did hear some off key notes early on in the performance. I thought she did a great job of connecting with the meaning of the song, although I don’t know that she was entirely comfortable singing it. I thought that the ending, where she pulled back from her powerful high notes to go soft and tender, was beautiful.
Heejun – “My LIfe” – Well, he faked us all out with this song! I heard online that he had something up his sleeve. Clearly, Heejun’s confidence seemed to have taken a hit with the criticism. At least he decided to go uptempo and have some fun on stage. That was so nice to see. I thought his vocals were good until he started moving around. Then he went off key and the breathiness came back and the words were lost. The performance value was great, but sacrificing the vocals isn’t necessarily a good thing. I don’t know how the viewers will receive this performance, but I am glad to see Heejun enjoying himself.
Jessica – “Everybody Has a Dream” – First, credit to Diddy for telling Jessica the truth and calling her out on her singing. He was right. I am already hearing the word “pageant-bot” about her. So when he told her that the vibrato and the tricks won’t do it, that was a much needed honest critique. He challenged her, threw down the gauntlet and asked her to feel the song and the make him believe. I think she really needed this advice. She deserves credit for being able to take it and use it to give another outstanding performance. She has gone to another level, showing a maturity and ability to interpret the words of this great song so well. She started off softly and gradually let the drama of the song build to a crescendo. Her high notes at the end were absolutely amazing. This was a technically brilliant vocal with the depth and power of real emotion and feeling. It’s not easy to be the frontrunner, but Jessica just showed that she can handle it and be even better. Brava! Standing “O”!
Colton – “Piano Man” – I liked seeing Colton at the piano. I think he has a sense of what song appeals to him or moves him in some way. I thought his vocals were quite good, but something was missing for me in this performance. It’s hard to put my finger on it, maybe it was the lack of originality, not bringing anything new to this great classic. He has this emotion in his voice that is compelling, but I thought this came off as a kind of carbon copy of a great original. I appreciate his effort and seeing him on the piano and his effort, but I just didn’t think he did the song justice.