A Dose of Reality: American Idol 2
by The Trades Staff
Published: April 23, 2003
Amanda writes: Mary Russell is fortunate enough to be traveling this week and thus miss parts of the carnage of this week's elimination round. She'll be back next week for the whole shebang, but we'll just try to make do without her where we must this week.
Molly writes: I have to admit, I was looking forward to tonight's theme. While I don't embrace all of
Diane Warren's oeuvre, I do like a lot of her songs. So I was surprised that tonight's
show fell as flat as it did for me.
Kimberley Locke - “If You Ask Me To”
Amanda writes: I agree with the judges that Kimberley is getting better every week. It's like she's finding her footing.
I'm trying to think back to last year to remember if we had this sort of growth in the performers between the beginning and the ending of the finals, but I don't know that we did.
Maybe the pressure was greater this year due to the huge popularity of the show last year, but it seems that people this time around have taken more time to get their bearings about them and truly sing their worth.
Molly writes: First warning sign of the evening was how terrible the music was tonight. Not that AI
has ever been seen as a leading contender in the technical emmys, but when
Kimberley started to sing, I had a very hard time even hearing her over the raucous
background music. However, by the chorus everything had settled out nicely. I
thought she did a very competent job, but I wasn't feeling a lot of emotion from her
tonight. Her final harmonic was lovely, but it also felt manipulative.
I think she actually suffered from having had the non-competitive episode of AI last
night, where her performance of "I Can't Make You Love Me" was even more
impressive than it was in the competition. Tonight seemed rather (to borrow a
Simon-ism) cabaret by contrast.
Trenyce - "Have You Ever"
Mary writes: I think she did a nice job with the song. Decent pacing. There is something about her singing style that doesn't grab me, but she's much better than Carmen so I hope she stays awhile longer. I think the theme this week did not do any of the singers any favors. I wasn't pleased with any performer particularly and I think Dianne Warren's songs aren't well-suited to any of the remaining contestants.
Amanda writes: Trenyce is a good performer. She's quite diva-esque, which worked well for Whitney Houston and Celine DIon. Trenyce's voice isn't as strong, but she has the moves down just right.
I disagree with Simon to an extent that Trenyce is wearing a mask. She does sing with emotion, which is not something we see from all of the contestants this year. I would not be disappointed to see Trenyce last another week.
Molly writes: A very strange song choice for Trenyce. Her voice is so well suited to power ballads,
I was surprised she didn't go in that direction. She didn't have a particularly
outstanding performance, and I think that this will hurt her again this week.
Clay Aiken - "I Could Not Ask for More"
Amanda writes: I wish Clay would revert to being a dork. That was his charm in auditions, that he was so unapologetically dorky.
He's not a teen idol, he's not a hunk, he's just some dude from North Carolina. I have to wonder if he'd just stop trying so hard and
just be who he is, if he wouldn't look like he's just muddling through every week. He sings with the correct facial expressions and
song. Quickly, tonight is shaping up to be a night of tough choices.
Molly writes: I like Clay. I keep liking Clay. I thought this was a very good song for him, allowing
him to showcase the big power of his voice, but also allowing for some more ethereal
lyricism. And it looked to me like Clay was really attempting to control some of the
facial and vocal mannerisms that Simon had commented on last week -- to good
effect, I thought.
I was interested that Simon's comment this week was that he'd hire Clay for a
Broadway production, but not as a recording artist. One would have thought that
Clay's non-traditional looks would have pigeonholed him for being OFF stage, not on.
But I think that Clay would be great on Broadway, and personally I'd love to see him
go in that direction, so while I was puzzled by Simon's remark I wasn't upset by it.
Joshua Gracin - "That's when I'll Stop Loving You"
Mary writes: Well, this was not a good performance. I thought his singing was barely passable and his performance took on a humorous quality because of his facial expressions. I must admit that I still don't have a problem with Clay's facial expressions, but Josh's are comical. He needs a bit more training in shaping his face while singing. The grimaces have to go.
Amanda writes: I am embarrassed for Josh. He was just atrocious. He slipped from falsetto to country to off-pitch to nasal to back again and then all of these terrible things wrapped up in one.
This is the worst, by far, I have ever heard him, and if he's not in the bottom three at least this week, it'll just show how little the American public actually cares about singing.
Ugh. Honestly, one of the worst performances I have ever seen on American Idol.
Oh my heavens. What a horrible night for Josh. After last week's surprisingly good
job on "Piano Man", I never would have predicted such an awful performance. He
was really straining to reach a lot of the notes, making the song actually
uncomfortable to listen to.
Carmen Rassmussen - "Love Will Lead You Back"
Molly writes: She was bad. Bad bad bad bad bad. Please U.S.A. Please vote her out this week. I'm pleading. I've been a good woman this year. I paid my taxes on time. I call my parents. I contribute to the economy and give money to charity. Vote her out please. Her bleating and her off-tune singing have got to go. I agree with Randy that she can't (shouldn't) win this competition. I don't agree with Simon and Dianne that last night was the best she's ever sung! Wow.
Carmen could have been worse. She wasn't as bad as Josh was, but she wasn't good enough to stay either. If there were any justice, they'd both be sent home this week.
Simon's correct that his little protege can't win this competition, but to tell her that flatly on national TV does nothing more than garner her more sympathy and thus
more votes from the public. I sort of feel like they want to keep the cute blondie on for as long as possible, and with her lack of talent, the only way they can guarantee that that'll happen is to decimate her onstage.
Well, cheer up, Josh and Trenyce. If you're feeling bad about your performances, at
least you can be comforted that you aren't Carmen. Once again, she sounded
terrible, despite the huge background vocals in her arrangement. She said she
chose that song because it offered her the chance to do high notes AND low notes;
unfortunately, they still weren't the RIGHT notes.
Ruben Studdard - "Music of the Heart"
Mary writes: He was better this week than last week when I found him hoarse, but I wasn't jumping up and down like the judges were. I hope Simon is right that Kimberley might challenge him and Ruben for the win. Kimberley's voice is really wonderful and I'd love to see her in the top 3. I'd like Ruben to step into the game a bit more next week and really wow me again. I think he can do it, but I started off thinking he was just okay, then I was wowed, and now I think he's just okay again.
Amanda writes: I remember last year hearing Kelly Clarkson sing "I surrender" and knowing that she was going to win the competition.
I felt the same way hearing Ruben sing tonight. He's just consistently good. And though he does seem to stuck in certain genres (his "Sweet Home Alabama" was the only performance where he seemed to challenge himself), he chooses his
songs well and knows his range. He sings with emotion we don't see from many of the other contestants, and seems genuinely appreciative of and surprised by the praise the judges lavish upon him. He's a great singer and seems like a
really nice guy. I hope he goes far.
Molly writes: I hate to say it, but I thought this was awful. At least half the time, Ruben was just
singing backup to those awful singers on the tape. I'm sorry, Ruben, but every week
is an auditioin to be the Lead Singer, and coming up with minutes of "You-You-You"
just is not the way to pass the audition. I was amazed the judges gave such a
positive performance, because to me it sounded lazy and not especially inspired.
However, Ruben's enormous popularity and his previous successful songs mean this
shouldn't hurt him too badly.
Mary writes: Josh and Carmen definitely should be in the bottom
three this week. I figure Trenyce or Kimberley will be the third.
Carmen absolutely should be the one to leave. It's beyond time.
Amanda writes: For the first time in a long time, my choice to go is not Carmen. It's Josh. Carmen and Trenyce round out the bottom three.
Molly writes: Bottom three: Carmen, Josh, Trenyce. Selection to go: Carmen. It's so wrong that
she's in the top half of the compeition -- surely she can't go much further!
American Idol roundtables at The Trades: 1st
Quarterfinal | 2nd
Quarterfinal | 3rd
Quarterfinal | 4th
Quarterfinal | Wild Card Quarterfinal | First
Elimination | Second
Elimination Round | Third Elimination Round | Fourth Elimination
Fifth Elimination Round
American Idol on the net: American
Idol's Official site | Sirlinksalot.net