Posted by: dcmjlive | April 28, 2009

Top 5 In-Depth Analysis

This is actually the new home for my idol blogs. If you’ve noticed, all the previous entries have dates to them because I just transported them from multiply to here. I think, here, it would be a better way to broadcast it to the world instead of in multiply which is more secluded and private. I still update that with the same blog but here’s the public one.

Anyway, back to the blog, I’ve been trying to soak up as many different opinions about each contestant so that I won’t sound like a broken record with what I’m about to say. Everyone has their opinions and I’d like to voice out mine with an ongoing perspective from other idol viewers. To make it more structured, I will play on aspects such as VOCALS, PERFORMANCE, MARKETABILITY and OTHERS (if any). We’ll do this alphabetically by first name:

Adam Lambert

VOCALS: It’s undeniable that this person has had talent that was honed professionally by his many years through theater. He has developed a definitely big range that helps him sing notes far beyond the reach of our normal capabilities. If I’m not mistaken, he has a 4-octave range. His vocal ability is what sets him apart from all contestants because I haven’t encountered one pitch problem with him. Even his finishing “note” consists of pretty much all notes in a scale. The notes are well-thought-out with no pitch deficiency at all. If Idol were purely a singing competition, he is the definite winner, no matter how bad his performances are. And if you’ve heard him singing “The Prayer,” your jaw will just drop at how good his vocals are. He does have a Cher-like voice to him but long have been the days that I was annoyed by it.

PERFORMANCE: Like I’ve said, Adam has a predictability pattern where he does his manic rocker thing then after an emotion-filled ballad. Being versed with theater, his stage presence also is a big factor to his success. Adam is actually an acting genius. But then again, I look upon a fact that has been discarded so early in the competition and it’s the fact that he sometimes seems too theatrical. It’s good in a sense that it gives you the feel of an “Adam Lambert Show” but bad also that it sort of pulls off as too dramatic. And the thing about his performances is that Mad World has set the bar too high for him in that when we see him perform under that level, we simply think that he did an OK performance. He’s basically competing against himself nowadays because after a peak performance, one wonders if he could top that and anything below that is mediocre for his standards. It’s also that predictability in performance that is somewhat hurting his chances in winning, but not so much as I see. It is sort of annoying to the extent that he does become too flamboyant at times and sometimes can’t restrain a screech.

MARKETABILITY: Despite my hatred for his version of Ring of Fire and low web reviews for it, Adam has garnered high sales from not only that song but most of his songs on idol. Even though there’s a snowball’s chance that I am going to buy an album of his, he has proven that he is marketable. His being gay has been a no-effect issue because I don’t think anyone cares if he is gay or not. He also has the looks that has captured tons of hearts. And about his pattern, people have noticed that his ballads are stronger than his rocker performances. I guess, in a sense, the market finds the sensitive Adam more in-groove with the people than his over-the-top performances. The question now is what kind of record will Adam pull-off post idol.

Allison Iraheta

VOCALS: Where do I begin? Allison actually has outstanding vocal ability for someone her age. It’s always the someone her age. But she really has that undefined maturity to her vocals that really bring out something to the table. As Paula would like to say it, it’s her special sauce. This has been proven in songs like “Alone” and “I Can’t Make You Love Me.” However, Allison eats up a lot of words and comes off as mumbling. A big downside if you ask me is that fact because sometimes, you couldn’t connect to what Allison is singing. Although, the rasp does give her some edge, you can’t put off the fact that it does seem like a gibberish-fest of sorts.

PERFORMANCE: Despite the great vocals, Allison has been in the bottom three thrice (hahaha at the coincidence) now. Is it her stage presence, I shouldn’t say so. She commands the stage like a true rocker. She has a definitive way of telling, “I’m a rocker chick! Hear me roar!” So what is the girl’s problem? I think I’m crossing over too much to marketability but I’ll talk about that later. It has been for me the controversy of her outfit choice. I mean, it’s weird that everytime she is in the bottom three, there’s some sort of controversy with what she’s wearing. I don’t remember what she was wearing in Blame it on Your Heart but in Don’t Speak and Hot Stuff, she wore things that got the web buzzing about how she passed off like this and that and it was just wrong for her to wear and all that jazz. I actually don’t care what the girl is wearing, which is what muddles me because I sometimes think it’s really because of the arrangement of the song and stuff. Maybe she’s just too standout being the only girl left with the outrageous fashion sense and hispanic background with the blazing red hair. But yeah, maybe she needs to perform wearing something Kelly Clarkson like and just deliver a great vocal.

MARKETABILITY: That being said about marketability in the performance, we definitely know her demographic. She pretty much caters to the rock chicks out there who like listening to Kelly Clarkson and Pink. But the problem is, are the people watching American Idol rocker chicks? She seems to have a very low fanbase in Idol, which is why she keeps sinking into the bottom three despite good vocals. And she’s been praised lately by the judges and yet she falls to the bottom three. And we all know David Cook is a rocker but he still got his way to win. Maybe, we’re all just confused by Allison because she’s not such a beauty and chooses outrageous clothes and all that. Well, in my case, I think Allison is doing pretty well but she’s definitely in danger this week. Also, I would like to point out that in my radar, she’s slowly falling and I’m seeming to forget her.

Danny Gokey

VOCALS: What Danny has going for him is the rasp of his voice. I know why Paula finds the rasp sexy because there have been good singers at her time who just has raspy sexy voices. And definitely, among all the guy singers, he’s distinct in that he does have a raspy voice. Also, it’s sometimes a rarity to have someone with that kind of roughness in the voice and be good at singing as well. Unlike Adam, Danny does have a lot of pitch problems and I can’t stand how Kara said his pitch is perfect…ALWAYS. I mean, listen to “Jesus, Take The Wheel,” “Endless Love,” and even “September” and he had shrill notes that I couldn’t stand. The only thing is, it’s actually somewhat masked by the rasp of his voice. At best, he’s just a competent singer like a lot of singers in the industry. He’s not Adam good or Allison good but he does have a pretty good range. I’m also glad that he knows that he doesn’t have a decent falsetto and avoids it to all his measure.

PERFORMANCE: Danny says he has meditated on what clumsy means. But seriously, he does these gimmicks that do make him clumsy. The way he commands the stage is like a clown act where he does the pelvis bumps and the background dancing and pretty much his dancing is all clumsy. It’s all about being all showy and sparkly to him. And for me, it’s easier for Adam to get away with that than Danny is. Adam has that certain control and correct timing for it while Danny can’t resist to just do that in all performances. The other problems with Danny’s performances are highlighted in another blog, and I don’t want to delve it on here.

MARKETABILITY: One thing he has is the sympathy vote. Because of his loved ones dying, people see him as a case to pity. It really is an outstanding feat to be able to perform like that despite such losses in the family. But I have to take note that his market is becoming more obvious to be Christian music. Despite Sarver and Allen having similar backgrounds to him, only he has (forgive the term) exploited the background to get more popularity. Even he was the only idol contestant to get some air time in a Christian-music special featuring other idol alums. But voice-wise, Danny has a similar voice to Taylor Hicks and his route after idol went to theater. It might be inevitable that Danny does fall to that industry instead of pop music.

Kris Allen

VOCALS: Unlike the early frontrunners of the competition, Kris does not have the traditional belter voice that has moved mountains in the early pop scene where artists such as Mariah Carey, Whitney Houston and Celine Dion have become famous for. This is also why Simon couldn’t get to compliment him on how he could actually win the competition, but more on that later. His vocals are more understated in the fact that he has a more cool vibe to him. He has enough vocal ability to pull-off melisma and riffs but not be too showy like Adam and Danny about it. It’s more of a balance in him. Kris has the genius ability to tell whether a song should be sung at the same melody or totally rearranged from the original, unlike Adam who has done changing up of arrangements in any way he can. But whether Kris does stick to the melody or not, he still gives off a distinct voice to him that is not as distinguishable as Danny’s rasp, Allison’s mumble and Adam’s cher but a vibe that carries on through his vocals. It’s also that understated beauty that has taken the pop scene by storm. Taylor Swift and Jason Mraz also have that understated beauty to their voices and it’s what’s been carrying them. Even Mariah Carey refuses to do all those long melismas that she was known for and sings pretty understated in her emancipation albums. Sure, he has pitch problems though but they’re not as unbearable as when Danny or Matt have them.

PERFORMANCE: Kris has pulled off two opposites: interesting and forgettable in his performances. Many bloggers say that he’s amazing when he performs but forgettable right after. The reason, because you have out of this world Adam and bombastic Danny to steal the limelight. But he has performed amazingly but yet again understatedly these past two nights. He has delivered to my opinion, the best performance in the last two weeks with “Falling Slowly” and “She Works Hard for the Money” because he wasn’t over the top, he took risks, he was original and he delivered it with such smoothness that despite his pitch problems, was able to deliver it with the right emotion. For Kris, it’s not all about the performance but about telling a story. Adam goes to some length about telling a story during his ballad weeks but not to an extent that Kris has every single performance. And in this line of thinking, it becomes a no brainer as to why Kris chose both “Falling Slowly” and “She Works Hard for the Money” because it tells of good stories. It has genuine written all over it. It’s as simple as that and that’s why that’s all Kris could say when he chose the song.

MARKETABILITY: I think when I said that he is doing what Taylor Swift and Jason Mraz has been becoming famous for that I told about how marketable he is. He is where the music scene is at. Pop music has definitely become more relaxed and more about the music than pulling off such high notes and amazing performances that have gotten Susan Boyle, Shaheen Jafargholi and Hollie Steel famous on the internet, not to mention also Charice Pempengco and Sarah Geronimo here in the Philippines. He definitely has a shot of making it big in the industry and really, that originality of his makes it undeniable that I am going to get whatever album he makes. And don’t forget that he does have that genuine personality and good looks that is easy to market. Kara’s package artist could actually be seen in both Adam, Allison and Kris more than anyone on the show. And look at it this way, he’s the second top-selling idol contestant on iTunes, he has the 2nd highest performance ratings with “Ain’t No Sunshine” and “She Works Hard for the Money” tying with Adam’s “Tracks of My Tears,” he is also 2nd in terms of google search results and traffic. He is definitely marketable.

Matt Giraud

VOCALS: Matt, being a duel pianist, really has that soul vibe down with his vocals. He actually has decent vocals when he sings and this could be definitely seen in his groundbreaking performance of “So Small” where he was automatically placed as a frontrunner of the competition. Despite that, he has current problems with two things. First, it seems so hard for him to try to inject soul into alternative rock. With that being said, it really is about Matt not being sensitive to the fact that melodies of alternative rock are driven in such a way that you shouldn’t inject soul to it. This highlights his first problem that he needs to learn that not all songs need to be changed up and that he tries too hard to pull off an Adam or a David Cook in trying to rearrange a song. The second problem is that he uses vocal acrobatics at the wrong time. At least he gives an effort but you don’t give A+ to a person just for effort alone. His falsettos are the worst lately because his pitch goes from hero to zero. This is the same case with Danny and his screams that just are unbearable. I first noticed this problem with “Have You Really Ever Loved A Woman” but noticed it again in “Staying Alive.” In any case, it goes back to his big problem, not noticing when to stay true to the melody or to change it up.

PERFORMANCE: There is some competition between Matt’s and Danny’s vocals because they do have their similarities and once or twice in the competition, Simon has compared the two and Matt has outsung Danny a few times. But performance wise, where Danny is over-the-top, Matt knows how to balance. He is in my opinion a much better dancer than Danny and yet he doesn’t bust out a pelvic groove like Gokey does. He keeps it smooth in either just commanding the stage or playing the piano, which Kris also does with his guitar. But there have been some similarities that Danny, Adam and Matt have gone to their back-up singers and did something with them (Danny in “Get Ready” and “September”, Adam in “Born to be Wild” and Matt in “Staying Alive”) but he does it with much more refinement than clumsy Gokey. Basically, Matt is for me the better half.

MARKETABILITY: Matt’s problem in marketability is the fact that he is inconsistent with his performances. His only top hitting song is So Small. Others fail into comparison because of his earlier mentioned problem, which drives him to be consistent. Like Allison, he’s in danger because the voting public doesn’t seem to be in the same wavelength as he is. Also, Simon has long forgotten that Matt is a frontrunner in the competition and says that he has a snowball’s chance of winning Idol. But if you go back to his albums, he has that funk, hiphop feel that actually is the other side of pop industry nowadays. R&B is now pop with singers like Ne-Yo, Chris Brown, Alicia Keys, Leona Lewis and Rihanna dominating last years’ charts. But with idol winners like Fantasia, Ruben, Taylor and Jordin not really at their top of their game as compared to non-R&B/Soul idol winners Kelly, Carrie and David, it could be said that R&B sometimes slips if not done right.

So I think I gave a broader perspective with each contestant with good and bad points highlighted. I hope it gave some insight to how each idol stands in the competion.

Thanks to Andrew Pro for the cartoon depictions of the contestants!

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