Last night, I saw the American Idol concert at the Prudential Center in Newark, NJ. I just wanted to share some of my thoughts on the kids:
Casey: I still love me some Casey. The guy is a good musician and a good singer - most of the time. He performed Rob Thomas' "Smooth" where he started with his standing bass and it was really cool. But then he went over-the-top and crossed into that weird growling/screaming thing he does. Fortunately he dialed it back for his next song.
Haley: Love, love, love this girl. Her voice is amazing. Her control is amazing. There was none of that growling that people complained about during the past season. Her voice is unique in a really good way. She is so relaxed on stage and looks like she's enjoying herself. While the other girls were doing their stiff little side-step-left, side-step-right dances, Haley had a sexy swagger going on. She has such a great way of moving.
Jacob: Jacob has loosened up since the show and he's stopped oversinging everything but his performance left me kinda "meh".
Durbin: You have to admire this guy's energy and showmanship. The guy is still wearing his doo-rags, knit caps, and rat-tails, though. I hoped that they would have dressed him better for the tour.
Lauren: She looks a lot more comfortable in her singing on stage. I remember he looking so uncomfortable a lot during the season. But her awkward dance steps, her awkward hand gestures, and the ridiculous dress they had her in made her look like a country bumpkin, especially whenever she performed next to Haley.
The problem I have with Durbin & Lauren is that they're still pitchy. It annoys me that the judges never called them out on this during the show.
You see, I have two things going on that make pitchiness a huge problem for me. First, I'm a musician with relative pitch. As long as a singer sings in tune with the band as they've been tuned, it's okay for me. Second, I have a condition called tinnitus. That's the ringing you get in your ears after loud noise exposure - like going to a loud concert. Except my tinnitus is 24/7 for the last 29 years.
When someone sings and they're out of tune with the band, it causes dissonance and sets off a painful buzzing in my ears. I swear, my ears were ready to bleed when both Lauren and James were performing. Lauren is consistently just a shade flat all the time. She has this awful habit of sliding up into her notes and not quite reaching them. I don't think it's a country thing because Scotty doesn't slide his notes like Lauren. Scotty is perfectly in tune. But sometimes Lauren is just flat-out off-key. In the opening number with everyone, Lauren totally lost the key. Horrible. I love the tonal quality of her voice but I can't like her because of her pitch problems.
James is also just a shade flat most of the time. And combine that with his screaming - which also is a little flat - and my ears were in pain. And every time the little girls in the audience screamed, I experienced the same pain because no one screams in the same key.
Naima: The girl is a good singer and was voted off too soon. It's amazing how she can dance with such energy and then sing without sounding out of breath at all.
Paul: They choreographers obviously worked hard with him. He wasn't doing those weird seizure moves that he usually does. He also has a lot of energy. The music they make him do, though, doesn't suit him. I saw a video of his own stuff on YouTube - very different from American Idol fare - and he's so much better in his own style.
Pia: Great singer but still has zero personality. Stiff and boring. It was so uncomfortable to watch her perform. And she was so wooden when she introduced her newly released single and then performed this forgettable song.
Stefano: The little girls and cougars loved Stefano. This guy is a really good singer. He's obviously worked on connecting with the audience. Really good performance from him.
Thia: Thia looked and sounded great. She's really coming into her own.
Scotty: The second half of the second act was the Scotty show. He wasn't in any of the group numbers or solos in the first 3/4ths of the show. They obviously worked with Scotty, as well. No side-mic holding and no eyebrow waggling. I don't like country music but his singing wasn't bad. The girls in the audience were in a tween frenzy over him.
Haley, Thia, and Stefano were the 3 usually chosen to be backup singers when another Idol was doing a solo. I think this speaks volumes about their rankings among the singers.
Personally, I hate that they perform a lot of the songs that we saw during the season. I'd like to see new stuff. I hated when the guys sang "Animal" by Neon Trees. Durbin was really out of tune and it dragged down the whole group. But I did love that Haley did "House of the Rising Sun" again. She killed it.
My favorite performance was Haley, Thia, Naima, and Pia singing a song I'd never heard called "Tightrope" by Janelle MonŠe.
I got sliced!