Filed under: Recaps & Reviews
It's a groundbreaking mixed-gender Top 24! How will the show split them up? Will the eliminations be the bottom two from each show, or the bottom four combined? Will they torture me by leaving both Piggots for Tuesday, thereby dooming Sebastian to disappear in the shadow of his more talented but less hot brother? Will this highly-touted Best Top 24 Ever live up to the hype?
Maybe these questions will be answered tonight. Or maybe more will be raised, kind of like on that show Lost. Questions like, When did Ben get engaged? And to whom? Why will the contestants not shut up? Why is the sound mix so consistently terrible? Will Farley and his newly shaved pate start shilling for Mr. Clean?
So, the biggest surprises and best performances of the night come from Tetiana, Paul and Earl, with both Lisa and Katherine putting in very respectable vocal performances. The rest run the gamut from decent but predictable to unpredictable and strange, with our lone Pigott of the night headlining the Unpredictable and Strange nationwide tour.
Tetiana sings "Feelings," which is one of those songs that's just, you know, a song. Does anyone really know who originally recorded it? (Well, I do, but only because I looked it up specifically for this purpose.) It's such a strange choice, but she's determined to put her own spin on it, and that's exactly what she does. It's surprising and believable and carries a ton of power. I just want to point out for the record that my notes, which I wrote long before the judges opened their mouths on this, totally say, "Bad pants again ... Believable." So I didn't steal that from them, even though they agreed with me. Except they didn't say the pants part. But you know they were thinking it.
Paul Clifford comes out of nowhere with a heart-wrenchingly emotional version of "Broken" (Seether/Amy Lee) that I cannot even believe. Normally I find him boring at best and grating at worst, but this completely sucked me in. His raspy vocals worked, and he made it sound not exactly like the original – and that can only be a good thing. I think his desperation may be working in his favour. It turns out he was sick this week, which I think also worked for him somehow.
(It's during Paul's judging that Zack asks what's up with the Brooke White-ing the singers are all pulling tonight, and Jake tells him it's because the performers this year are more seasoned and unflappable. Sure. I still think they should shut up when other people are talking. Nod, smile, wave your fingers in the air with your phone number, move on.)
Earl does, as Jake points out, a cover of the Dave Matthews Band version of the Hendrix version of the Dylan song, "All Along the Watchtower," and does he ever do it up right, people. He sits on a stool and plays his guitar, so there's no awkward "dancing," and he's so unique and has such a great natural ease when he's singing that even his off notes are cool. Also, his hair is looking much better, and I find his stoner Alberta-boy act both hilarious and adorable.
These were the best of the night; now let me tell you about the rest.
Lindsay Barr opens the show with Elvis's "Burning Love," and it is not awesome. She's trying way too damn hard, and her vocals are weak – although some of that could be attributed to the aforementioned extremely poor mix. Martin does Blue Rodeo's "Lost Together," and it's fine if you like Martin's thin voice, which I don't, but I do like Mitch's thin voice, so I won't judge. Martin, by the way, does a fantastic Canadian accent, heh. And speaking of Mitch, he sings "Follow Through," one of Gavin DeGraw's less detestable songs, and it's very Mitch, but disappointingly not that memorable in the grand scheme of things. Except for his jeans. I... what? They fit him well!
Gary, aka "Cyber Boy" (let it go, Zack), picks, for some unknown reason, "Good Golly, Miss Molly." As cute as he may be, he definitely thinks he's more hardcore than he is. Nevertheless, it's a strong performance, but his "rocker" affectations are already tiresome to me, and I mean, I like the guy. The boy's got MAD guns, though, so 10 points for that.
Someone else I would really like to see pick songs from this century is Mookie. Tonight he's chosen "Twist and Shout," and I mean, he's seriously cool and awesome and can pretty much do whatever he wants and still be cool and awesome, but I'm sorely disappointed in the song choice and the boring arrangement, because something else could've been so much more explosive. But oh, he's so adorable I don't even care. There's just something about this kid, and the judges are right there with me.
Lisa does a really cool version of the Doobie Brothers' "Long Train Running" that starts out with a straight-up blues verse – not as in blues-rock, but blues – and it is so damn cool. She really rocks it out in the chorus too. I'm sold. Rounding out the girls for the night is Katherine, who missed her prom to sing for us tonight – and I'm glad, too. She sings "Total Eclipse of the Heart," and though she begins shakily, it doesn't take too many phrases in before she shows us exactly why she's made it this far (and I was wondering before, if I'm being honest). She sounds way older than her 17 years, and she's got the cool Bonnie Tyler rasp to her voice that really sells this song. Her big notes are totally perfect, and the judges love it – especially those big notes. Ben brings her flowers in lieu of her prom. Aw, that's nice.
Drew sings "Under Pressure" by Queen/David Bowie sans his guitar, and I really need a second viewing to judge exactly how I feel about it. I think, overall, it's solid and comes across as quite effortless, but there's something off about it – maybe it's the big falsetto notes, but again, the mix is clouding my judgment. The judges are split on it, though it's hard to say whether that comes down to song choice or performance; I can't really tell based on their comments. At any rate, Drew looked hot doing it – a little JT in his vest and tie and big blue eyes, you could say.
Last, and maybe least (BELIEVE IT OR NOT), we have Oliver, who growls and gyrates his way through "I Hear You Knocking" (by everybody and his dog, though I couldn't wager a guess as to whom Oliver is imitating here), even keeping the hood of his hoodie up for the first bit. It's not like anything I imagined he would do, and I can't figure out the logic behind it. I don't really feel equipped to judge it, but Farley and Sass liked it, and Oliver seems pleased with himself, while Jake and Zack don't care for it (Jake thinks it was too over-the-top, and I think I agree the most with this comment), so make of all that what you will. I just can't figure it out: Is it a ploy to get votes for Sebastian? Is it some attempt to show Oliver's fun side? Were any of us really worried about whether he had one? One thing I can say for it is that the vocal is not poor – he's definitely got chops – but you know, it just doesn't make sense, all the growling and the snarling.
So there you have it. I have to go vote more for Mitch now, because I need that around if I've got to recap this nonsense all summer long. BRING ON SEBASTIAN TOMORROW. But if he does more classic country, I'm throwing in the towel on those Pigotts... until next week, anyway.
I'm shocked that you didn't know Ben got engaged. Though I suppose you don't watch etalk as frequently as I do (which, for the record, is once per week, right before Degrassi).
I've said most everything I have to say about the episode to you already, so I'll leave it at this: I heart Drew. And Martin, but mostly Drew, because he can sing well AND he's cute.