Look for my Mandisa post later. It was refreshing to see the judges agreeing again and again last night, since so many of the performances were AWFUL. Actually, this happens every season: so many auditions are bad that a number of performers stand out from the pack. But then you get to the final ten and watch people like Bucky and Lisa clamber around the stage and think, "How in God's name did they ever make it this far?"
Lisa -- at moments, her best, most "idol-ish" performance. And still awful. I can't believe none of the judges mentioned that screechy, final note. I don't know if three years of maturing will make a difference, but maybe.
Kellie -- also terrible. "Suds in a Bucket" is a lame song, but she also sang it terribly. Weak, indistinct vocals from beginning to end. Guys, sorry. She's bad. Watch her performance again and you can see the stiff look of panic on her face during the entire song -- she does NOT look comfortable or happy. That attempt to "wink" casually was about as robotic as it gets.
Ace -- yet another terrible performance by Ace, who has the bad habit of seeming in love with himself. He is REALLY gonna be shocked when he's eliminated. I'm just shocked he hasn't been already. He CANNOT sing. At all. The most pathetic moment tonight was when he awkwardly "revealed" his scar while singing the line about having a scar. Look! I've really got a scar! And his trembling hand gesture on the last note? Pathetic.
Taylor -- almost no annoying body tilting from Taylor was a blessed relief. His performance was also a good contrast for him -- still in the soulful vein he should stick to, but much more controlled and reserved. My favorite from him so far, and I think he can get better. Simon was right about the clothing; Taylor looked like he was trying to dress like a high school student. His entire appeal is that he's an adult.
Mandisa -- glad she picked a song of worship; sorry it was such a contemporary/r&b-ish one. Her weakest vocal in weeks, I thought, and a bit shout-y. This is the first time I haven't walked away thinking she could win it all. More on Mandisa's comments in my next post.
Daughtry -- another very strong performance, but Simon is right again -- the song was way too hard for "idol." He's proven for weeks he can be true to his rock/hard-rock genre without alienating the audience. Thanks to the moody lighting placing him in shadows, I think some kids were probably darn near frightened by him this week. What's he gonna do next time? Metallica's "One?" We don't want pop, but he should never go that hard again.
McPhee -- I don't know what the judges were thinking. I thought McPhee had been getting better and better but this week she seemed out of her league. I don't think she even did a good imitation of Aguilera. She looked uncomfortable during the entire song and her vocals were unsteady.
Bucky -- his best performance maybe yet, and still bad. I worry about this good ole boy once he's off the show and back to reality. He can barely speak, much less enunciate lyrics. I see lots of dive bars and proud claims that he was too redneck for "Idol" in Bucky's future.
Paris -- it's not a Beyonce song I like very much, but I thought Paris was a lot of fun and I was struck again by how terrifically unique her voice is. Can't wait to see her in four or five years.
Elliott -- I'm always astonished by the judges liking Elliott. At his best, he's unremarkable and unmemorable. He was typically dorky and undistinguished tonight.