Tuesday, May 16, 2006

The Real Top Three?

-Results Update-When all is said and done, Elliott Yamin will be remembered for being the tough little singer from Richmond. I will remember him (and so will Chris Daughtry) as the kid who engineered the biggest upset in Idol history with his amazing, out-of-nowhere, grand-slam performance on Elvis Week. Elliott may still become a star and make me eat my words. There's something awfully likeable about him. As I said, he doessn't strike you as a star...but then look how far he went in this competition. It would be wrong to count him out before he really gets started.

As for Taylor and Katharine, from the closeness of this week's voting, I'd say it's anybody's game to win....or lose. I'm guessing America is waiting to hear the songs next Tuesday at The Kodak.

Ace and Kellie were in the audience tonight. I'm hoping Chris is back for an encore...or some kind of recognition next week. The producers of the show should be that smart.
-In the aftermath of the AI performance show for this week, I couldn't help but think how fantastic the show might have been...had the real top three been singing. As I knew he would, Ryan Seacrest opened the show with a reference to the "national bummer" that everyone has been going through, and talking about...last week's exit of Chris Daughtry...and pleaded for everyone to vote for their favorite if they expect them to stick around. Daughtry's presence tonight could have made for one of the most exciting and enjoyable Idol shows ever. But, Chris is off making the talk-show rounds and beginning the decision process as to his future.

In case you missed it, Elliott, Katharine, and Taylor (in that order) performed three songs each. The first selected by the legendary recording industry executive Clive Davis, the second chosen for them by one of the judges, and the third of their own choosing.

Elliott seemed bent on "out-souling" Taylor...who has become known as the leader of the "soul patrol" for his smoky, soulful perfomances. Elliott's three songs were all ones that he could put some "white man soul" into and, as usual, he performed admirably but not spectacularly. While Elliott is capable of taking a song and doing it well, he didn't hit any home runs, and didn't perform at a level anywhere close to last week's Elvis show... in which he was probably responsible for sending Daughtry home as much as anything. And, as I've said before, Elliott can sing...but has zero charisma or star quality. If his future turns into one of recording contracts, hit records, and stardom, I'll be amazed, and will happily say I was wrong. But, in my estimation, he really had no business being in the final three.

Katharine, on the brink of elimination last week, made a strong comeback this week. She may have executed the finest single performance of the season with her second song of the night...Over the Rainbow...the Judy Garland classic from the Wizard of Oz selected for her by Simon Cowell. Her beauty, her voice, and... maybe for the first time...showing an ability to interpret a song and "bring it home", combined to make the song breathtaking. Of course, her daddy was shown crying in the audience again. I'm not her dad, and I was too. Overall, I'd say she was just short of spectacular. (The judges were not quite that impressed for some reason)

Taylor is still an enigma to me. He performed three songs well tonight. He didn't necessarily sing them well...he performed them well. Taylor might very well win the whole competition. But, it won't be because he's the best singer...it will be because he's the best performer. He understands how to take a song...put as much of himself into it as possible...and please an audience. Tonight Randy Jackson chose You Are So Beautiful...by Joe Cocker for him. It was perfect because Joe Cocker's gravelly, scratchy, squeaky, rendition that sold a buh-jillion copies was full of passion and soul...right up Taylor's alley. His last song was the upbeat version of Try a Little Tenderness... again a song that requires more physical and emotional interpretation than vocal command. Taylor manages to take songs, make them his own...and leave you satisfied. He was very, very good tonight.

So, who's going to show up on stage next week in the "sing-off" finale? I'm counting on Taylor and Katharine. Elliott is no match for Taylor...and Katharine has more actual singing talent than either of them. It will be the likeability and performing ability of Taylor, vs. the raw talent and beauty of Katharine.

One can only imagine what might have been without last week's unpredictable, unexpected, and unfortunate (for us) outcome.

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