A Dose of Reality: American Idol 4: Week 9 - Country and Gamble & Huff Themes
by The Trades Staff
Published: May 11, 2005
For the first round, the contestants try to sing country songs without a drawl. The second time through, they tackle songs written by Philadelphia musicians Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff. Molly, Brian, Mary, and Dan break it down.
Molly writes: It's about time!
Brian writes: Took you long enough, America.
Mary writes: Thank goodness for small favors that Scott is no more.
Dan writes: You disappoint me, America. You may not like Scott, but he clearly was better than Anthony last week.
Carrie Underwood - "Sin Wagon"
Molly writes: You'd think that Carrie would do a great job on specifically country theme. But I think this was one of her worst performances. It was overly cutesie, the vocals weren't outstanding, and it was dull. Last season, Amy kicked butt with this song. Carrie barely kicked the pavement.
Brian writes: Now this is the Carrie I've been waiting for, and this is what I'd expect her to sing in a professional career. Some of the notes towards the end fell off a little bit, but I can't blame her much for that. At least she looked like she was having fun this time. Anyway, I have a feeling this will be her best performance for the entire competition, which won't be enough to win.
Mary writes: She did a good job. She isn't my favorite contestant left and I constantly feel that Simon is pushing her on us, but definitely competent.
Dan writes: I hate the Dixie Chicks. I hate "Sin Wagon." But I like Carrie. And I liked seeing her sing a song without being robotic about it. Good job.
Bo Bice - "It's a Great Day to Be Alive"
Molly writes: Very solid performance from Bo. I thought he slurred the opening verse a bit too much, but I really liked how he handled the bridge, and he left me smiling.
Brian writes: Bo actually did a good job with this song. It's so... not him, though, which is why I can't say that it was great. At this point, Bo could sing the phone book and make it into the finals.
Mary writes: I think he did an okay job. It wasn't a performance with a lot of energy, but it was decent.
Dan writes: Way to turn a pansy country song into a heartfelt southern rock performance. I gotta disagree with the judges, I thought it was a lot better than just OK. And Simon, it's when Bo DOESN'T tone it down that he sounds like a local jam band in a club. Tonight, he actually sounded like a real American Idol contestant.
Vonzell Solomon - "How Do I Live"
Molly writes: I have to admit, I love this song. I would have thought that Vonzell would do a spectacular job, but this was pretty weak. She seemed to have trouble finding the notes she wanted. This was a big disappointment.
Brian writes: I didn't like this performance, and not just because it barely qualified for the category. It seemed that Vonzell wasn't putting that much into it--she just wanted it to be over. Of the three non-Anthony contestants, she's in the most danger.
Mary writes: She is another one who just did an okay job. This song didn't sound country to me, but I think she probably chose the right song given this genre.
Dan writes: A little pitchy and a lot boring. Vonzell needs to give the ballads a break and get back to some upbeat performances.
Anthony Federov - "I'm Already There"
Molly writes: Uh-oh, Vonzell. After your weak performance, Anthony comes out... well, relatively strong. It was a bit draggy, but it's the type of heartfelt power ballad that is Anthony's strength.
Brian writes: Well, I think this was A-Fed's best performance so far, but I'm not sure it's enough. I still say that his voice isn't as good as those of the other three. There's something about it that widens on the big held notes that irritates me.
Mary writes: He started off this song very weak. It did get better but it is clear that Carrie was the only one helped by the country song choice this week.
Dan writes: Wow, Anthony is bringing his A-game tonight. One of his best performances of the competition.
Carrie Underwood - "If You Don't Know Me by Now"
Molly writes: It's an off night for Carrie. The vocals were maybe better than on her first song, but the performance was maybe a little more dull. She got a great response for the glory notes, but the overall arc of the song didn't seem to draw people in.
Brian writes: Firstly: I hate this song. While Carrie's performance was technically good, and she did seem into it again, it was really quite boring. I blame that as much on the song choice as anything else.
Mary writes: I liked her performance a bit better with her second song. She did a good job and she seemed to shun her robotic ways.
Dan writes: Songs need to fit the performer. Carrie has had this problem before in the competition. Her sweet persona sometimes gets in the way of a song's overall effect. I just didn't buy those words coming from Carrie. (It also didn't help that I kept picturing David Brent from "The Office" in his music video. Sadly, his version was better.)
Bo Bice - "For the Love of Money"
Molly writes: Strangely, I felt like I was having the opposite experience watching Bo's second song than I did watching his first. This time, he started off strong (and hot!), but the song foundered and lost focus halfway through.
Brian writes: Bo channelled Lenny Kravitz for this O'Jays song. It worked for him, and he did a pretty good job, but nowhere near as good as the extended applause he received afterward would suggest. I didn't like the sunglasses, and I still don't like the tattoo.
Mary writes: As with Carrie, I liked his second performance better. He seemed to actually put some energy and effort into this performance and while this was a pretty good copy of the classic version, he still did a good job.
Dan writes: Well, now we know what Bo looked like when he was on a coke binge... but seriously, who knew he could get funky? Tonight is definitely his night.
Vonzell Solomon - "Don't Leave Me This Way"
Molly writes: Vonzell pulled herself together on this song. It wasn't her best, but it was much better than her first performance tonight. She really seemed to get the crowd going.
Brian writes: A great song, and she's a great performer. Not only was it the best performance of the night, but the most fun--and that's saying a lot.
Mary writes: This definitely is a better theme for the contestants who are left because they are all doing a much better job. Vonzell busted out with a lot of energy and performed the song pretty well.
Dan writes: Vonzell is back to form! This performance probably just saved her from elimination this week.
Anthony Federov - "If You Don't Know Me by Now"
Molly writes: Wow, Anthony is really the ladykiller tonight. He overshadowed Vonzell in the first round, and this time he takes the song Carrie sang and outperforms her. He gave it a 110%, and it showed.
Brian writes: Noooooo! Not again! *sigh* This time, though, it's a good choice for Anthony and his slightly screechy voice. It's definitely been Anthony's best night.
Mary writes: I actually liked his version better than Carrie's. I think he sang it well with energy.
Dan writes: Dupes? Dupes?! You can't have two contestants singing the same song! Ugh, I didn't know there could be a rendition worse than Carrie's.
Molly writes: This is a hard week to call. By all rights, Anthony should be the one to leave. But based solely on this week's performances, both Vonzell and Carrie are vulnerable. Bo's the only one who seems out of danger... and that could lead towards complacency by his fans and his ouster! But I'll play the odds and predict that Anthony will leave.
Brian writes: Wow, great performances all around. It's hard to say who won outright, but it's easy to call the loser: Anthony.
Mary writes: Well, I have no idea who will go this week. I would say "just roll the dice." It probably won't be Bo, but that's about all I can say.
Dan writes: Hmmm, Carrie, Vonzell and Anthony all had one shaky performance, but I think it'll be Anthony leaving tonight since he started to pick up a little steam this week. America won't like him as a possible dark horse upsetting the Bo/Carrie finale.
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 | Week 2: Billboard Number Ones
Week 3: Nineties | Week 4: Show Tunes
Week 5: Birth Year | Week 6: Seventies Dance
Week 7: 2000's | Week 8: Leiber & Stoller/Current Billboard
Other sites: American Idol | Sirlinksalot.net