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American Idol, Top 8: Tuesday Night Fever
There is no overdone opening to tonight's show, as Dramatic Voiceover Man is apparently on vacation once again. Instead, Ryan opens the show at center stage surrounded by the remaining finalists. Two things I notice right off the bat: Corey is not in the group, and Rickey looks like the Chia Pet from Hell. Anyway, Ryan asks, "Who's funked up tonight?" and it almost sounded like something else instead of "funked". Anyway, he continues by saying, "Get your groove on, everybody…It's disco!" The opening music plays and then we come back to a shot of the audience. Wait…is that Jewel in the audience? Jewel? Jagged teeth, quivering-voiced Jewel? At a disco show? Oh well, stranger things have happened (though I can't think of any right now…but I digress…). We come back to Ryan, and he tells us, "Some call me the King of Clubs…Some call me the Disco Queen", and it's all I can do to keep from spitting my drink all over the coffee table at that one. We then meet the eight remaining finalists, and I see that some things never change. Clay is still wearing the long-sleeved shirt buttoned all the way up (albeit a shiny one this time), but Ruben has come out in a pea-green leisure suit, complete with print polyester shirt! Ha ha…April Fools! Do you think Ruben would ever wear anything other than his beloved "205" jersey?
Before we go any further, Ryan addresses the whole Corey Clark situation. He says, "If you'll notice, Corey Clark is not with us tonight…He is no longer a participant in the competition because of charges that are pending against him…The charges were news to us." Ryan then talks about how thorough background checks are done on the contestants, but that "background checks are compromised when the contestants aren't truthful with us." If the background checks were thorough, though, wouldn't the charges against Corey have been discovered whether he revealed them or not? Anyway, Ryan tells us that Corey has been given a chance to address the situation "in his own words." We go to a video clip of Corey talking about the situation and saying, "I am not guilty of the charges. I am guilty of not telling the producers." He says that he was "scared" of what might happen if the producers found out, and he then apologizes to the finalists that were voted off before him and the people who did not make it as far as the finals who might have had his spot. He concludes by saying, "I will definitely keep going, because this is who I am. This is me."
We next meet the judges. Blah blah blah…same judges, same attempt at witty repartee between Ryan and the judges. Now, it is time to meet tonight's special Celebrity Judge! It's disco night, so it has to be Gloria Gaynor! Well, Ryan immediately shoots that one down when he refers to tonight's Celebrity Judge as "he". Hmm…a male celebrity from the disco era? Oooh, I know…Harry Casey (of KC and the Sunshine Band)! That would be cool. But, no, it's not him either. Tonight's Celebrity Judge is Verdine White from the group Earth, Wind, and Fire. Verdine walks out on stage, and I swear he looks like Helen Willis from "The Jeffersons", but with a moustache. Anyway, Ryan talks to Verdine a bit, and then we see a brief montage about Verdine and the rest of EWF. Once that is done, it's time to start the competition. So, let's shake our booty, get down tonight, take a trip to Funkytown, and start the show!
Tonight's first contestant is Rickey Smith. Rickey has chosen to sing "Let's Groove". If you ask me, that's a bold thing to do when a member of the group that made the song famous is the Celebrity Judge. That being said, I think the song could be a good fit for Rickey, given his upper register (Oh, God, Paula and Randy have me saying that now…). It could be a good song for Rickey's voice, but he does a bad job with the song. His performance sounds very flat to me, and I find myself cringing a couple of times while he is singing. He just does not sound convincing to me tonight. What do the judges think? Randy says, "I don't know if I was so thrilled with that, dawg." Paula says, "That was the perfect song for your register. Good job." Verdine says, "You held your own. Hang in there." Simon says, "I saw someone who should be performing at a children's party." Well, if that afro wig of his had been multi-colored, I suppose he could have passed himself off as a clown, but I don't know. Rickey then commits a cardinal sin and talks back to Simon. Time will tell if that helped him or hurt him.
Next up tonight is Carmen Rasmusen. Her song choice is "Turn The Beat Around". Carmen comes out on stage, and I cannot help but notice how increasingly comfortable she seems with each passing performance. I also notice that her hair is suddenly a good bit longer this week as well. Personally, I think Carmen does a good job, but she gets more mixed reviews from the judges. Randy says, "It was alright for me, dawg." Paula says Carmen did a "good rendition" of the song. Verdine tells Carmen, "Your greatest strength is in your performance." Simon says, "You are the most commercial of the females left in the competition, and I think that was one of your better performances." When she's done singing, Ryan asks her about her new look, and Carmen tells him she got hair extensions this week. Ryan replies with, "I got an extension once, but it didn't work out." OK, Ryan. First the "disco queen" remark and now this? You are making it too easy for me tonight…
Our third competitor of the evening is Kimberly Caldwell, and she has decided to sing "Knock On Wood." Rather than try to imitate the original, Kimberly tries to "make it her own" by singing it in her usual "rock" tone. I don't think she does all that bad of a job, but the judges were less than impressed. Randy tells Kimberly, "I hated the arrangement of the song, but I liked the way you sang it." Paula says, "I heard you off pitch tonight. You're consistent week in and week out, and I'm worried that consistency will equal complacency." What's this…Paula actually having something negative to say about one of the finalists? Verdine says, "I loved your stage performance, but you need to check your pitch", and Simon says, "It was a 6.5 out of 10…whoopee."
The fourth finalist to perform tonight is Clay Aiken, and he has chosen to sing "Everlasting Love." Clay comes out, and his voice does not disappoint. However, it is an up-tempo song, Clay; you need to loosen up a bit! When he's done, he receives almost unanimous praise from the judges. Randy says, "Yeah, yeah, yeah, dawg. That's how you do it. Brilliant." Paula adds, "Your voice is golden. Great job." Verdine says, "You can sing, man. You can sing." Finally, it is Simon's turn. He tells Clay, "Within the context of this competition, I thought that was terrible." Wait…what? Simon, this is the person you said was "the one to beat" just two weeks ago, and now he's "terrible". What gives?
Next up is Trenyce, and she has chosen "I'm Every Woman" for her performance tonight. Now, I don't know if it will matter, but this is the second Whitney Houston song she has chosen (though Chaka Khan originally did the song); I hope she does not end up turning into a Whitney wannabe, because I really like Trenyce. Anyway, I think she does an excellent job on the song, and the judges agree…well, for the most part they do, anyway. Randy says, "That was good. After you and Clay, the show has just started for me." Paula says, "That was great. You rose from adversity, and you shined." Verdine tells Trenyce, "You have a lot of star quality. You've got the whole package." Simon says, "I'm still not blown away. It was alright."
Following Trenyce tonight is Ruben Studdard, and he has decided to sing "Can't Get Enough Of Your Love". I will probably be tarred and feathered for this, but, while he did a good job, I definitely do not think it was his best performance. I am apparently alone in this thinking, though, because the judges all loved it. Randy tells Ruben, "That was great, man. You do it every week, dawg." Paula adds a polite "good for you". Verdine calls Ruben's performance "inspiring", and Simon tells Ruben, "I think you should win this competition." Hold the phone, Simon. Again, just two weeks ago, you said Clay was "the one to beat". Oh well, I guess you are allowed to change your mind.
Kimberley Locke is up next tonight, and she has decided to sing "It's Raining Men". She must have been in a hurry, though, because it looks like she's half-dressed, wearing only a camisole on top and a scarf or something wrapped around her waist. Anyway, though I think Kimberley does not start out all that well, she quickly redeems herself and does a good job with a tough song. When she's done, Randy tells Kimberly, "That was brilliant…brilliant…absolutely brilliant." Um, Randy, how do you really feel? Paula tells Kimberley she is "beautifully consistent". Verdine takes notes from both Randy and Paula and tells Kimberley, "That was brilliant. You were consistent throughout the song, and that's a hard song to sing." Simon concludes things by saying, "You did Ryan's favorite song justice." Ouch! What is this…Pick On Ryan Day? Between Simon and myself, Ryan's not getting a break this evening…
The final performer of the night is Joshua Gracin, and he has chosen to sing "Celebration". I figured the disco theme would be a tough one for Joshua, and it appears that it is. He sings the song better than I probably could, but I don't think his performance is one of the night's better ones. As he is singing, he's constantly waving his finger as if he is trying to summons someone from the audience to join him up on stage. I also notice that the volume of his voice seems to fluctuate throughout the song. What did the judges think? Randy tells him, "That wasn't your best." Paula says, "You gave disco an infusion of Joshism". Whatever, Paula. Verdine tells Joshua to "keep doin' what you're doin', man", and Simon says, "If you had sung like that in your audition, you wouldn't have made it out of the first round. That was absolutely dreadful." I'm afraid my opinion lies somewhere between Randy's and Simon's on this one. It definitely was not Joshua's best.
Well, that's it for tonight. After tomorrow's one-hour Results Show (another one-hour one?), one more person will be sent home. Stay tuned to find out who is voted out!
Best performance of the evening: Trenyce
Worst performance of the evening: Rickey
Three lowest vote getters: Joshua, Kim C, Rickey
Voted off: Rickey
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