A Dose of Reality: American Idol 4: Week 1 - Sixties Theme
by The Trades Staff
Published: March 16, 2005
We're down to the Final Twelve on American Idol 4. Molly, Brian, Mary, and Dan have joined forces to recap the rest of the series from here on out. This week's theme is the sixties. Let's get to it, starting with reactions to last week's eliminations and the Mario situation.
Molly writes: As far as the women are concerned, I have no complaints about Amanda and Janay leaving. Both were "red shirts" throughout the semi-finals, and if they'd made it to the top twelve, they'd still be gone before the top eight. As far as the men were concerned, I was a little sorry to see Travis Tucker leave, because I'd really loved his version of "My Cherie Amour" in the first week of men's semi-finals. But the next two weeks made me long for his departure, so I was mainly glad he was eliminated. I was surprised, however, that Scott made it through, and think it should have been Nikko.
I was actually really happy that Mario left and Nikko came back. Nikko showed a lot of improvement over the course of the three weeks of semi-finals, and became one of the performers I was the most interested in hearing from. Mario, while a good performer, failed to intrigue me, and I think it will be more fun to have Nikko in the competition.
Brian writes: I guess I'm getting pretty good at this. Janay and Amanda really were the weakest ones and I don't think they would have lasted long in the combined competition anyway. I liked Travis, but he wasn't in my top six of the men.
Mary writes: I am not sure what to say about the eliminations last week. I am not surprised that Travis and Janay were voted off. They were the worst of their groups. I was surprised that Nikko was voted off instead of Constantine though. Interesting that Mario is now out and Nikko is back. I definitely think Mario is a better singer than Nikko so I wonder how Nikko will fare.
Dan writes: Well, I would have been happy with last week's eliminations, except that they didn't stick. Instead of the talented Mario, we get stuck with the forgettable Nikko. Don't get me wrong, Nikko is a good singer, but he's not different enough like Anwar, Scott or even the subpar rockers like Constatine and Bo Bice, to make it very far in the competition. But if there is a family crisis to take care of, then Mario, you made the right choice.
Jessica Sierra (19, Tampa, FL) - "Shop Around"
Molly writes: This was an okay performance. It seemed to be lacking in punch, though. I think Jessica is heading for early departure.
Brian writes: I liked this arrangement of the song. It was different from Smokey's version, but Jessica didn't really infuse it with much life. That being said, it was good enough for now, and she should have no problem in the early rounds.
Mary writes: She did an okay job on the song, but I really didn't like the arrangement. She seemed a little low on energy and I think she did just okay. I am just not wowed by her and I hope she goes soon. I'm not sure what she has to contribute given some of the other talent in the competition.
Dan writes: Jessica continues to impress. I don't get what the judges heard, it was better than OK and it sure wasn't boring. But if I had to offer a complaint, it would be that the song wasn't bluesy enough. She turned the Motown pop and soul into a little more funk and blues, but I wish she would have pushed it a little further--given it more of the bar feel she's known for and left the vocal a little rough around the edges. But again, that's if I had to complain.
Anwar Robinson (25, East Orange, NJ) - "A House Is Not a Home"
Molly writes: I thought it was interesting that Anwar chose a song so identified with an earlier American Idol contestant (Tamyra Gray, from Season 1). That was a bit of a risk, but was the riskiest element of this song. Anwar did a good job, with a version different from Tamyra's, but he didn't "wow" on this. He has a good voice, and he's a nice guy, so he's safe for a couple of rounds now that we're in the Top 12, but he needs to stop choosing elevator music!
Brian writes: I expected a lot better from Anwar. His voice has been so dominant during the early rounds, so I wonder why he struggled with this performance. I think it may be because the song required a lot more emotional input than he gave. Even if this turns out to be the worst one of the night, he's safe until well into the late rounds.
Mary writes: I think he had a shaky start to his song. This is a very difficult song to sing and only a few who attempt it do it well. I don't think I'd put Anwar in that category. He clearly has a good voice, but I don't think this was the best song to showcase his voice. I hope this performance doesn't knock him out this week. He was okay, but one of the worst of his performances that I have seen.
Dan writes: Of all the material from the 60's, he chooses Burt Bacharach. Usually the odd song choice works well for Anwar, but I was disappointed with tonight's performance. For me, the song didn't go anywhere. He may have sung it well, but it was boring.
Mikalah Gordon (17, Las Vegas, NV) - "Son of a Preacher Man"
Molly writes: There was a weird, breathy quality to Mikalah's performance. Simon commented that he thought her confidence exceeded her ability. I don't think that's necessarily the case, but I do think that Mikalah was overconfident and gave a sloppy performance.
Brian writes: For me, Mikalah has officially jumped the shark. I like her sass, and I like her performing skills, but she just doesn't have the talent to hang in this competition. It'll be interesting to see how long she lasts, because as we well know by now, America doesn't vote based solely on talent.
Mary writes: I did not like her performance of this song. Uh-Uh. She had a lot of energy performing the song, but she didn't hit all the notes. I cannot believe I agree with Randy. I don't know what's going on this evening, but the first three performances have not been particularly good. Ack.
Dan writes: From a deep cut to the overly obvious, Mikalah is going to suffer from song choice this season. If she plans to coast by on personality alone, she's not going to last long. Mikalah pulled back the accent a bit tonight, but I still found the performance bland.
Constantine Maroulis (29, New York, NY) - "You've Made Me So Very Happy"
Molly writes: Constantine surprised me tonight--he wasn't bad! He toned down the posturing, his vocals were for the most part in tune, and he actually sounded like someone who should be in American Idol. Not like someone who should win, but at least it wasn't embarrassing watching
Brian writes: After covering the women for several weeks, I was anxious to get to this point so that I could rip Constantine to shreds when he performed. Sadly, I don't get the chance tonight. He gave a surprisingly decent performance except for the last note (you're wrong, Paula). He still has a cheesy look when he sings, but if that's the worst I can say about him, he'll stick around.
Mary writes: He is my least favorite person left in the competition so I never look forward to her performance. Believe it or not, I thought his performance was decent. It wasn't as bad as the previous three and in the weak field so far, he was a bit of a standout. Yikes. I guess I'll have to put up with him for another week. His final note was a little unfortunate, but oh well.
Dan writes: Tonight was the first time I actually was impressed by Constantine. While it did sound a bit rock musical-esque (like Hair or Jesus Christ Superstar), I do like the fact that he didn't just pick a rock song, like he could have easily done. Instead he put his own rock spin on a pop song. Nice job.
Lindsey Cardinale (20, Ponchatoula, LA) - "Knock on Wood"
Molly writes: She chose a great song, and gave it a karaoke rendition. In a field of weak female performers, Lindsay is one of the most forgettable.
Brian writes: At least Lindsey didn't put me to sleep this week. She wasn't bad, but she wasn't good either. I'd have to say that every aspect--vocals, performing, enthusiasm... everything--was exactly average. If it turns out to be forgettable, too, then she's in danger.
Mary writes: Again, I'm not wild about the arrangement of the song. I think she is one of the weakest performers left in the competition and her performance was pretty marginal. This may finally be her week to go.
Dan writes: Here's a tip for Idol performers: try to stay away from songs performed last season, especially those done by the winner. While Lindsey was decent at best (at least uptempo), her performance will get compared to Fantasia's. And when you do that, it was awful. On second thought, even if I didn't compare it, it was still awful.
Anthony Federov (19, Trevose, PA) - "Breaking Up Is Hard to Do"
Molly writes: I was surprised that the judges were so critical of Anthony. I thought his performance was safe, but nice. I'm used to hearing the song with a faster tempo, which might have served Anthony better, but I thought his voice sounded good, and he sang with sincerity. I could easily picture him as having recorded the song originally instead of just singing a cover of it.
Brian writes: Anthony was my early pick to win this season's competition. Though he's slipped in recent weeks, he's still doing well enough to survive for a few rounds. Tonight's performance was above par for this season's contestants, but it's still not Idol material. Anthony needs to pick it up, and sooner rather than later.
Mary writes: I think this was the wrong song for him to do. He came off as pretty bland while singing this song and he brought little excitement to the stage. There isn't anything particularly striking or special about him IMO and this is more noticeable (to me at least) week after week. If he didn't have the amazing health story in his background, I'm not sure he would even be on stage. It's hard to say.
Dan writes: Children, lock up your mothers. Forty-year-old women are going to be running to the phones in about 30 minutes to try and keep this kid in the competition and he doesn't deserve it after that performance.
Nadia Turner (28, Miami, FL) - "You Don't Have to Say You Love Me"
Molly writes: Wow. Nadia once again showed why she's the female front-runner in this competition. She gave a powerful, powerful performance.
Brian writes: Nadia chose to sing Sarah Mather's audition piece. She did a typically outstanding job. Every aspect was flawless. Her status as front-runner is safe.
Mary writes: Wow. Finally a really good performance in the evening. She did a really wonderful job. I really want to see her in the Top 4. Maybe even in the Top 2.
Dan writes: Slow it down? No, don't do that. Well, alright, it was still really good.
Bo Bice (29, Helena, AL) - "Spinning Wheel"
Molly writes: Bo did a great job on "Spinning Wheel", although I felt his stage presence overpowered his vocals this time. He was probably the only one who could follow Nadia and still look good this week.
Brian writes: Bo said he'd had a lot of success with this song touring with his band, but I just didn't see it. Sure, it was a great performance, but I thought the vocals were just bad. I wouldn't be surprised if everyone disagrees with me though. Maybe I was just distracted by that crazy tattoo on his chest.
Mary writes: He is one of my favorite men in the competition and while he wasn't up to a fantastic standard, he did a nice job tonight. Without a doubt he is in the top 3 performances of the evening. He brought energy and stage presence to the place. Good for him.
Dan writes: Was that little stage put in just for Bo? Who does he think he is, Paul Stanley? I still don't get what the judges like about him. Wouldn't a processed rocker be an oxymoron?
Vonzell Solomon (20, Fort Myers, FL) - "Anyone Who Had a Heart"
Molly writes: I thought that Vonzell did a very, very nice job with this song. She had lovely vocals, and really connected with the song. I was
surprised that Simon said that she always situated herself in the middle, because tonight, for the first time, I thought Vonzell did a break-out performance.
Brian writes: Wow. Vonzell had been great the past few weeks, but she vaulted into the top three contestants tonight. Her vocals were mostly spot-on, and she looked stunning. Her last few notes were my only reservations. Vonzell is truly a natural-born performer.
Mary writes: She just did an okay job. The producers shouldn't put Nadia and Bo together because after two good performances, my expectations were set a little high. Vonzell gave a decent performance. Better than the first three and Lindsey, but she sounded like she was straining her voice at times.
Dan writes: Performing Dionne Warwick? All it takes is a telephone and an open mind. Sorry, had to get that out there. Uh, Vonzell was good. I think Randy said it best, it was an ambitious song choice and I think the complexity of the song got in the way of what could have been a great performance.
Scott Savol (28, Shaker Heights, OH) - "Ain't Too Proud to Beg"
Molly writes: This was a good song choice for Scott. He sang it well, and it got the crowd going. Unfortunately, he's still lacking in showmanship.
Brian writes: This was a safe song for Scott. I expected him to do great things with it, and technically he was very good. The problem is that he just had no energy in it. It seemed that he was just going through the motions. I hope he picks up his game in the next week or two.
Mary writes: You know, I did enjoy Scott tonight. He hasn't been the best in recent weeks but I think he did a good job with the song. He really needed to feel the lyrics a bit more, but given the marginal performances tonight, he did a good job comparatively.
Dan writes: Scott's got the perfect voice for Motown, but the problem at the same time is that you've got to have some moves, too, when you perform Motown. His stiffness got in the way a bit tonight, but vocally, he was fantastic.
Carrie Underwood (21, Checotah, OK) - "When Will I Be Loved"
Molly writes: Carrie sang this song well, but all of her energy went into belting out the lyrics. She had no smile, no spark. I would have expected more from her, particularly because she had performed the song before.
Brian writes: Carrie continues to prove that any song can be made into a country song. Luckily, it works for her. While not everything clicked in her performance, she impressed me with the final long power note. There's room to improve, and I hope she gets the chance.
Mary writes: She performed with good energy, but she was about on par with Vonzell in my opinion. Her performance was decent, but not great.
Dan writes: She had all the components of the Carrie formula tonight: sweet lyrics, little country twang, exude a happy feeling. But it fell a little flat for me tonight. It was just OK.
Nikko Smith (22, Town & Country, MO) - "I Want You Back"
Molly writes: I thought Nikko gave a great performance, and was one of the few contestants not intimidated by the stage tonight. He had some pitch problems, but I thought the energy he put into his performance pushed him above some of the other performers who were more polished vocally.
Brian writes: I really liked Nikko's performance. He took a chance and went outside of the box that I had put him in, and I thought it worked. I like the uptempo Nikko, but I agree that his vocals need improvement. He may not be able to win the competition this year, but it sure will be fun watching him while he's here.
Mary writes: Not bad. I'm not a real Nikko fan, but he did a competent job on the song more or less. He wasn't nearly as bad as the first three, so I think he may last one more week at least. He was not the best by a long stretch, but I'm not sure I agree with Simon that he was "horrible." Simon needs to rewind the tape to the beginning of the show. Wow.
Dan writes: High ambitions! "I Want You Back" is in my opinion the world's greatest song. And Nikko didn't do it justice in the least. Nikko, there was a reason you were voted off last week--you're just not good enough.
Molly writes: Seeing everyone together showed how very uneven this year's competition is. I'd say the first evictee is going to be
either Jessica or Lindsey, both of whom gave unremarkable performances tonight. Between the two, my guess is Jessica.
Brian writes: The season is shaping up a lot differently than I thought it would. Only one or two of my early picks have fleshed out to be the real deal. At this point, there are five contestants that I would not be disappointed if they won. As for tonight, I thought Nadia gave the best performance, and Mikalah gave the worst. However, I'm picking Lindsey to go home.
Mary writes: I have no idea who will be voted off this week. As far as I'm concerned, Jessica, Mikalah, and Anwar had the worst performances
tonight. So any of those three may be voted out. Nikko might be voted out because he had a lack of support last week.
Dan writes: Well, it's certainly easier to say who's not going home this week: Nadia, Scott, Constatine, Jessica. But I'm going to say it's either Lindsey or Nikko this week and since Nikko was already booted once, and I don't think he found any new fans in just a week's time, he's out.
Only one contestant gets eliminated this week. The whole gang will be back next week to recap the Round of Eleven.
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Episode 4 | Episode 5 | Episode 6
Hollywood 1 | Hollywood 2 | Hollywood 3
Men's Week 1 | Women's Week 1
Men's Week 2 | Women's Week 2
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