A Dose of Reality: American Idol 4: Week 2 - Billboard Number Ones
by The Trades Staff
Published: March 23, 2005
One down, ten to go. Eleven contestants remain in this fourth incarnation of American Idol, and Week Two is all about Billboard Number Ones. As always, Brian, Mary, Dan, and Molly will give you their takes on the night's proceedings.
Brian writes: America made the right decision. Lindsey had a lot of potential in the audition rounds, but she never converted it into real star power.
Mary writes: No surprise. She's been awful for weeks.
Dan writes: So long Lindsey, you won't be missed. I was surprised, however, to see Jessica in the bottom three. Don't know what that was all about it. Were people listening to Nikko?
Molly writes: Congratulations to America for a good vote in getting rid of Lindsay--here's hoping the trend continues!
Anthony Fedorov - "I Knew You Were Waiting (for Me)" (April 18, 1987 - May 1, 1987)
Brian writes: At a stage in the competition all about song choice, why did Anthony pick a cheesy 80's song? I agree with Simon: he did okay, but still nothing special. I think this is the week that I realize that Anthony just isn't going to be as good as I thought he would be.
Mary writes: This was an okay rendition of this song, but I felt his overall performance was pretty bland. He exhibited a decent singing voice, but he still lacks a little energy when he performs. He will probably last a little while but, I am just not excited by him.
Dan writes: Anthony probably sang the best he's ever done this week, but I cringe every time I hear him. Someone that young shouldn't ooze adult contemporary so easily. When he sings, I can't help but picture myself filing in some cubicle. But seriously, good job.
Molly writes: I didn't think that this was a good song for Anthony's style, but I think that he made it work. His vocals sounded good, and he gave it a spirited performance. While initially doubtful, I think Anthony did the right thing--he showed that he can sing something other than ballads.
Carrie Underwood - "Alone" (July 11, 1987 - July 31, 1987)
Brian writes: Well, what an interesting performance. First, I'm glad that Carrie chose to sing something other than country (finally!), although I could hear some drawly influence in her voice. I also liked her look, going for the late-eighties-retro thing. Carrie did very well tonight. Her presentation was good-but-not-great, and her vocal ability was good-but-not-great as well. I give Carrie a solid B. Simon said that she's his favorite to win, which is what he's said all along, but I still put her squarely in the middle of the pack.
Mary writes: Her hair is a bit too teased up and out for tonight's performance. Whew. Get a new hairdresser, Carrie! She did a nice job, but the backup singers really helped her. I would argue that the backup singer overwhelmed her during the chorus. Carrie sang the heck out of the
song, but they needed to strip that backup singer WAY down.
Dan writes: When I heard Carrie was doing Heart, I had a big speech ready about how you shouldn't break out of your shell when its been working so well for you. And then she comes out and is fabulous. And even more surprising is that the judges didn't mind her leaving out the country for a week. Amazing.
Molly writes: Carrie looked like she was having trouble walking and singing at the same time, and I thought the pacing of the song was off. But boy, she sang the heck out of that chorus. Plus, I loved her outfit. This was a great night for her.
Scott Savol - "Against All Odds" (April 21, 1984 - May 11, 1984)
Brian writes: Is it "Sing the #1 Song from the Week You Were Born" Week? Ick, that'd mean I'd have to sing "Tragedy" by the Bee Gees! Anyway, I've had enough of Scott. Yeah, he sings okay, and he's got a sad-sack story, but I can't take the swaying and the singing at the ceiling anymore. I thought that Mikalah would be the John Stevens of this season, but I have a feeling it's going to end up being Scott.
Mary writes: I hate "Against All Odds." It was great when I was 15, but now I just can't stand that song. Scott's rendition did not make me feel any more favorably toward the song. It is an interesting contrast between his song and Carrie's--Scott had to sing the song without backup singer
help at all and he really could have used it. Scott definitely isn't the strongest singer in this competition and that was a poor choice of song.
Dan writes: I was worried when he started off because it really wasn't very good, but by the end, oh man he was awesome. Simon may be right in that the vocal was a little off, but I think that's a good thing. It wasn't perfect radio bubblegum pop. It was emotional. In other words: real.
Molly writes: Scott has not impressed me vocally, but tonight, I thought he did a very nice job. I loved the section of the register he was singing in, and, while I still don't think he should be the next Idol, tonight he seemed like someone who should at least be in the competition.
Bo Bice - "Time in a Bottle" (December 29, 1973 - January 11, 1974)
Brian writes: Enh. Bo tried slowing it down this week, and I don't think it worked. He doesn't have the best voice in the competition musically, and with a song like this one that's pretty much all there is to the performance. Bo is safe if he changes it up like this early, but he shouldn't count on his momentum late into the competition. Keep rockin', Bo.
Mary writes: A more subdued performance for him this week. He did a very nice job with a softer sound. He again did a nice job. He really does belong fronting a band or with a solo album. I think regardless he will have a solid career ahead of him.
Dan writes: I love this song--Jim Croce is the man. But when Jim sang it, it was full of longing and pain. You really could feel the emotions. Bo, on the other hand, was just plain boring. Very bland, very monotone. Weak.
Molly writes: Bo has done such an amazing job rocking up the place, and tonight he did an amazing job in a change of pace. I thought that his rendition of "Time in a Bottle" was fabulous. He had a magnetic quality in his voice. And he was wise to select a song that showed he could do
more than just rock.
Nikko Smith - "Incomplete" (August 12, 2000 - August 25, 2000)
Brian writes: Yes, this was definitely Nikko's best performance of the competition so far. It was a safe song for him, but he needed one to survive for another week or two. What really impressed me was how he handled the stage. He may be no Usher, but he can hold his own.
Mary writes: I don't think I recognize this song. I liked Nikko's performance this evening. I agree with the judges' panel that this was his best performance so far. I think Nikko needed to sing well and he sure did it. He still isn't fantastic, but he was definitely better than Scott
Dan writes: Nikko comes out dressed like the Phantom of the Opera sans the mask. He sang well, but at the same time it didn't stand out. Randy says that we're finally seeing the real Nikko. How was that different than any other week? So he had a couple big notes, big deal. There have been way better performances tonight.
Molly writes: I think that Nikko has done a great job in weeks past of really working with songs to give them his own spark. But tonight, I wasn't feeling it. He did a good job, and was capable enough, but his performance just didn't work for me. I was surprised the judges were so effusive.
Vonzell Solomon - "Best of My Love" (August 20, 1977 - September 30, 1977)
Brian writes: Now I hope the rest of America sees what I saw in Vonzell a few weeks ago. Everything about this performance was great. She sang with energy and personality. How can you not love Vonzell?
Mary writes: I absolutely love this song. I sing along to it when it comes across my Ipod! She did a great job with this song. She was full of energy, she hit the notes. I am really pleased with her performance. I think Vonzell is winning me over.
Dan writes: Speaking of better performances... The judges wanted Vonzell to stand out this week. I don't think you could stand out much further. As Ryan told her, mission accomplished.
Molly writes: Last week, I thought Vonzell gave a stellar performance, but the judges were lukewarm and told her she needed to give a breakout performance. This week, I thought Vonzell was trying too hard. I could tell she loved the song, which was fun, but I felt that her energy overwhelmed her artistry.
Constantine Maroulis - "I Think I Love You" (November 21, 1970 - December 11, 1970)
Brian writes: You know, I think Dan hit it right on the head last week: Constantine is the archetype of the seventies Broadway rocker. Unfortunately, the name of the show isn't Seventies Broadway Rocker Idol.
Mary writes: Oh man. I think this song is cheesy as all heck. Constantine said it was time for this song to be redone so the song could rock. Well, he did not achieve this in tonight's performance. Constantine's style of singing made the song cheesier than it would ordinarily be. Yikes. I
still don't like Constantine and while his singing was technically okay, the performance was definitely over the top.
Dan writes: I think Constatine could have done much better. If he would have toned it down a bit more and kept the rockin' out to a minimum, it would have been more impressive. On a side note: Simon mentioned how odd it was for a rocker to perform the Partridge Family. Well, what about a rocker winning a pop competition? That would make less sense to me.
Molly writes: Oh, the horror! The horror! Constantine chose this song entirely for the theatrical potential, and he mugged it up for the camera to the max. Ryan said that Constantine would be very happy as the next David Cassidy, and I think he was entirely right, if he meant the Teeny-bopper Phenomenon. Constantine impressed me tonight... as someone who'd rather be an idol than an artist.
Nadia Turner - "Time After Time" (June 9, 1984 - June 22, 1984)
Brian writes: I like the fact that Nadia chose this song, but I was underwhelmed with the results. This is a rare case where I thought she performed with too much energy. She rushed out the lyrics and her vocals suffered. Even apart from that, the performance wasn't all that great anyway. I agree that it wasn't Nadia's least spectacular performance, but I think I'm right in saying that she's safe.
Mary writes: I love this song. Absolutely positively love "Time After Time." Nadia has a very interesting interpretation of this song. I'm not sure if I like the arrangement because I'm used to the song being slower and she definitely made it faster. I think she sang it well though even if it
isn't my favorite version of the song. I was shocked to see her faux mohawk though. I disagree with Simon that it was her weakest performance by far and that she was over the top. I'm not sure how it was materially different from other performances. I think she would have done better singing a Tina Turner song but they may not have gotten the rights to any song of hers.
Dan writes: She's been so consistently good each week that I'm willing to forget tonight's performance. Everything about it was subpar--even the mohawk.
Molly writes: I love this song, and I was thrilled that Nadia would be singing it. But she seemed off tonight vocally--maybe because of the bobble on the words at the beginning? She gave a good performance, and, in the words of Tyra Banks, "she looked fierce," but it wasn't the best we've heard from her.
Mikalah Gordon - "Love Will Lead You Back" (April 7, 1990 - April 13, 1990)
Brian writes: Despite how I feel about Mikalah, she was spot-on in her pre-performance interview when she said she needed a safe song to stay her execution a little while longer. Kudos for working the strategy, Mikalah! Hence I was hopeful for this performance, because there is no artist that Mikalah reminds me more of than Taylor Dayne. However, she couldn't even do an okay job (vocally) with a super-easy song.
Mary writes: Oh dear. She had a really rocky start to this song. She seemed to even out by the time she got to the chorus. She just doesn't have the maturity or stage presence to pull off this song. She is definitely one of the weakest performances this evening.
Dan writes: Her pep got her in trouble last week, so she went back to a ballad. It didn't help. Mikalah finished up OK, but I think she's out of her league.
Molly writes: Mikalah when she's on is annoying. Tonight she wasn't on, and she did a dull rendition of "Love Will Lead You Back." That doesn't mean I want her "on" again--I just want her gone.
Anwar Robinson - "Ain't Nobody" (1983, not according to Wikipedia)
Brian writes: Anwar did a pretty good job with what I thought was a great song choice for him. He didn't knock it out of the park. I think the main problem was that he tried to go too high with it. He would have done a much better job if they'd transposed it down for him a key or two.
Mary writes: I love this Chaka Khan song too. He did okay with the song, but this was not my favorite performance of his. I think he has an interesting style and this arrangement was closer to the original than other songs he's sung. However, he was looking a little stiff as he sung the song. It was just a mediocre performance. Nothing really special.
Dan writes: I don't think the song really showcased Anwar's vocal ability. He should have stayed away from such a heavy background-vocal song. Just OK, but like Nadia, he's been so strong that I'm willing to let him slide.
Molly writes: Like Anthony and Bo, Anwar needed to do a change of pace, and he did it well enough. I wonder if he might have had mic or earpiece problems at the beginning, because he seemed a little unsure, but I think he showed he can do upbeat, and that will be enough to get him through.
Jessica Sierra - "Total Eclipse of the Heart" (October 1, 1983 - October 28, 1983)
Brian writes: I think I should recuse myself from this one. It's hard not to be critical of an amateur performance of one of your favorite songs of all time. I just couldn't get over the fact that Jessica seemed to miss the entire point of the song, singing it more like "Girl Power!" than "I need you so bad." Otherwise, I guess she did okay, but I'm still sulking.
Mary writes: The judges really liked her version of "Total Eclipse of the Heart." Again, the backup singers really were noticeable during her song. I think it is really unfair to compare Jessica's and Carrie's performances to the others who don't have the benefit of extensive backup singer support. Jessica did very well with the song, but her voice isn't rich enough to really carry that song. She doesn't yet have the vocal power the song needs.
Dan writes: First Jessica and Carrie competed for the country crown and now tonight they went head to head to be the 80's queen. Jessica's performance was really good, but I'm missing the roughness she dropped from her voice after the semi-finals. I think a little edge would have made her performance more unique and then maybe even better than Carrie's. Oh well, small potatoes I guess, because she still was great and the judges liked her (just not as much as Carrie).
Molly writes: Jessica did an acceptable job, but didn't bring anything new to the table. The judges loved her, but I'd be shocked if she weren't bottom three again.
Brian writes: A very good night. I was particularly impressed by the contestants who chose to dress in the style of the era of the song they chose. I thought Vonzell won the night and Mikalah did the worst. I think it might finally be time for her to leave.
Mary writes: Well, I think it is between Mikalah and Scott tonight. I figure one of them will be going home. They gave some weak performances. I would love it if Constantine were finally booted, but I figure I have a few more weeks to wait.
Dan writes: Standouts included Carrie, Scott and Vonzell. A lot of fan favorites--Bo, Anwar and Nadia--had a weak night, but I think they'll be safe. So, the bottom two will be Mikalah and Nikko with Mikalah saying goodbye.
Molly writes: This was a great night for American Idol, particularly the first half of the night. Lots of people stepped up to the plate, and just about everyone brought their "A" game. My bottom three would be Jessica, Mikalah and Constantine, and, while I'd prefer Mikalah be the one to leave, I think Jessica will be the one. I just don't see her bringing anything unique to the competition to compel people to vote for her.
Episode 1 | Episode 2 | Episode 3
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
Men's Week 3 | Women's Week 3
Week 1: Sixties
Other sites: American Idol | Sirlinksalot.net