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« May 22, 2006 | Main | May 25, 2006 »

May 23, 2006

The Almost Last "American Idol": Katharine McPhee vs. Taylor Hicks

By: The Dude on the Right
Normally I would do a podcast tomorrow evening before "American Idol" giving you my thoughts on the Tuesday night performances and my Paula Abdul clips of the night, but since the two hour finale starts at 7PM here in the Chicagoland area, I know I won't be able to get it posted in time and oh so want to endure about an hour and 45 minutes of uselessness to see who wins.  So I figured I would blog my recap of tonight's performance, and give my podcast rehash on Thursday night.  So, without further ado, my thoughts on Katharine McPhee's and Taylor Hick's performance, who should win, and don't be surprised if they win.

Katharine:  Black Horse and the Cherry Tree
Katharine did pretty well with this the first time around, and this time was just okay.  She looked great in the tight jeans and shirt showing her belly, but she kept singing to the two percussion dudes on stage rather than the audience.

Taylor:  Living for the City
He's being the Taylor he has become to be, working through the crowd, wearing a funky suit jacket, and still looking like he's going to take a dump on stage as he stretches for a note or two, but I think that's why we love him.

Winner of Round 1:  Taylor

Katharine:  Somewhere Over the Rainbow
Again solid song for her, but she does not work the stage, nor the audience, well.  There she was, just sort of sitting on the stage, and doing, at first, a fantastic version, totally into the feeling of the song.  I felt so good for her, she needed the perfect version, and I really wanted her to get up somewhere near the middle of the song, work the front of the stage, and finish it on the platform behind the judges belting it out for the audience, but then two things happened that lost it for me:  First, she just stayed there, kinda crumpled on the floor of the stage, and second, she lost the feeling of the song and started "mugging" for the camera every time it came near her.  What I mean by mugging is she shifted from serious mode to the "grinning ear to ear" thing that has been bugging me about her all season.  Sad song, depressing song, it doesn't seem to matter for her, once that boom camera comes near her face, she shifts from serious and sad looking to "I'm going to smile now because the camera is coming in for a close-up."

Taylor:  Levon
I will admit I am a little biased because this is one of my favorite Elton John songs of all time, and Taylor does his own great way of knocking it out of the ballpark.  The thing with Taylor is when he's not being goofy Taylor, he does show that he has a fun voice, but this isn't really the song that showcased this, that one was a few weeks ago.  He still works the stage better than Katharine and exudes a confidence she just doesn't seem to have.

Winner of Round 2:  Katharine (but barely because of the mugging.)

Katharine:  My Destiny
Singing what will be her first single, I am going to sound so incredibly mean right now, and I do apologize to all of the Katharine fans, and to Katharine herself, but here goes...

First off, and my mom has been saying it all along, but whoever has been picking her dresses is doing a horrible job.  Like most men, I would have lied to her because I knew I wouldn't get any at the end of the night by being truthful, but that dress made her look fat.  Oh, and this is going to sound worse than mean, but she looked like she was shoved in a sausage casing.  Something just fitted her totally wrong with that dress.  Randy said she looked amazing, but on TV, or at least my TV, that dress was horrible.

Next, this was a typical song for a "pop" idol, starting the singer off in a lower key and building them up to a higher register where they can take the song out of the ballpark, but she just seemed too nervous to pull that off and hit a blooper, pop-fly for an easy catch by the shortstop.  The other problem for her, and maybe she knew this, is that maybe Katharine knew people are tired of these kinds of songs from the finalists, and she also knew Taylor had the stronger song.

Lastly, from the show, and maybe I'm wrong, but it looked like Simon really wanted to just lay into her on every aspect about the performance, but knew this was the finale and if he came out blasting the song, her performance, and her look, that every aspect of marketing her would be blown off the map.  I'm sorry for being so harsh on her, but I'll try to explain more at the end of this way-to-long blog.

Taylor:  Do I Make You Proud
Sadly for the "American Idol" folks, this song has come out about a month too late.  Why?  Because high school graduation ceremonies around the country in every small town would somehow try to fit this song into the proceedings.  But Taylor doesn't have to worry about the graduates because I think he still has the wedding song market for the next six months if the bride-to-be is a Taylor fan.

Taylor didn't have to worry about an outfit, because, well, Taylor doesn't need to to look unbelievable, he just needs to look like Taylor, so his normal suit was fine.  What Taylor had going for him, that Katharine really didn't, is a perfect song for him.  It wasn't the greatest song, but so much better than Katharine's that it didn't matter, and Taylor sang it with the confidence that even if the lyrics were something like "Do I make you proud, because I was caught sleeping with a hooker that I picked up on the corner," he still would have pulled it off for his "Idol" fans who wouldn't have cared.

He knocked the song out of the ballpark for his "American Idol" fans.  And even Simon knew it.

Winner of Round 3:  Taylor

Based on Tonight, Who Should Win This Fight:  Taylor Hicks

Don't Be Surprised if This One Wins:  Katharine McPhee

The Dude on the Right's Final Analysis
Here's a little how I see this, so let's go...

With our two finalists, the marketing/public relations folks are really trying to scramble, and maybe just me, but I think Simon knows this.  Taylor is a great guy, with a great voice, and I am a fan, but where, on any radio dial, can you market him?  Somehow lots of the public loves him, and the single they have him recording has potential, but after the show is over, are you going to be clamoring out there to get any single/CD he puts out, let alone be the reason you go see him in concert?  Maybe I'm wrong, and I read this somewhere else, but he is the kind of dude who could, with his act, pull off a larger bar/club atmosphere where he sang a mixture of covers and originals, but his sound fits absolutely nowhere on the radio landscape, and that's a marketing nightmare.  His voice doesn't lend itself to adult contemporary, let alone a teen audience, and there are few rock stations that would play anything he puts out, probably mostly out of spite.

Katharine, though, almost has entire package, just not the presence of Taylor.  She's got looks, she does need a better wardrobe (and shorter hair to show off her boobs for me), but if she were to lose a little of the Celine Dion-ish posing, she could fill a huge void, sliding into a bizarre nitch between the world of Kelly Clarkson and Celine Dion.  Here's how I would have loved to see her performances go:  During "Black Horse and the Cherry Tree" work the audience with an attitude.  No big grinning, just go out there, slap hands, work the stage, and keep an attitude like "I'm a bad-ass, hear me roar!"  Then, during "Somewhere Over the Rainbow," fine, start it crouched down on the stage, but get up, sing to the crowd, all of the crowd, but don't get caught in the glamorous moment - You're trying to find your way home, to a happy place, there's no place for smiling ear to ear during this song.  Lastly, you've got a lousy last song and you probably know it.  So what, go out there and just kick whatever ass you can find.

I feel bad about bashing on Katharine, because I think she has huge star potential, but somewhere, somehow, I think her biggest problem is that she was never taught to get into the feeling of a song.  All she knows is to sing the song, she doesn't know how to, and this is going to sound pretty cheesy, but be one with the song.  That, I think, is her largest stumbling block to getting herself to the next level.

I suppose I should wrap up this way-to-long blog by just admitting that you never really know what the fans out there in TV land are going to do in regards to voting for the "American Idol," yet I still love the show.  It will be interesting to see how the voting goes, but for me, I think Taylor will win, but Katharine has more potential for stardom.

That’s it for this one! I’m The Dude on the Right!! L8R!!!

Posted by Rightdude at 10:05 PM | Comments (1)


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