Two hours and only nine songs so we have extended intros explaining who each contestant is thankful for.
Surprisingly, this wasn’t as schmaltzy and eye-rolling as it could have been. Acts generally avoided cliched songs, sometimes picking relatively unknown ones that mean a lot to them. The theme gave the acts a chance to truly emote and connect. Most did so.
This was in fact the best night to date now that more chafe is gone (not missing Stacy Francis!). Even Lakoda Rayne was tolerable.
So it’s double elimination time tomorrow, with the lowest vote getter gone and the second and third lowest having to sing for their lives. Who do I think will be the bottom three? Lakoda Rayne, Astro and Leroy Hill. Who will go home? Astro and Lakoda Rayne.
My favorite of the night was Melanie. She was better connected with the lyrics this time around and looked amazing, too. Here’s my rankings:
1. Melanie 2. Josh 3. Chris 4. Rachel 5. Astro 6. Drew 7. Leroy 8. Lakoda Rayne 9. Marcus
Robo-host introduces us to the thematic: songs to thank people for. Back story alert! (Robo-host seems to love the word “fabulous” no matter what happens. “Are you happy?” was the wittiest question he could come up with Chris Rene.)
Performances in order:
Rachel Crow (Simon’s team, “I Believe” Yolanda Adams, dedicated to her adoptive parents) – I am not familiar with this song. But it fits her well, with a gospel/R&B feel. She sings it with youthful exuberance. That outfit, the split pants/dress set? Hideous. “You made a believer out of me,” Nicole said. Grade: A-minus
Marcus Canty (L.A.’s team, “A Song For Mama” by Boyz II Men, dedicated to his single mom) – A mama’s boy! Her mom appears to be on the verge of fainting as he pours on the vibrato. Vocally, it’s a bit messy, with off-pitch notes and too much melisma. Not really my taste but it was heartfelt. “You’ve had a yo yo ride,” Simon said. “For the first time, I actually felt a connection with you.” Grade: B
Melanie Amaro (Simon’s team, “The World’s Greatest,” R. Kelly, dedicated to God) – Taking an R. Kelly song about how great HE is and making it a dedication to Him. Well, that’s pretty gutsy. Still, Melanie sang the song with true passion and grace and looks amazing, best she has to date. As L.A. said, it’s hard to criticize that performance. Then Nicole ruins it by going all pathos on us and hugging her. Grade: A
Chris Rene (L.A.’s team, “Let it Be” by the Beatles/”Young Homie” by Chris, dedicated to Tim Fry, the counselor who saved his life at rehab addicted to crystal meth) – He almost died in a car accident and that was the wake-up call to get him clean and sober seven months ago. A slightly hip-hop version of a classic Beatles song? He actually gives the song respect and doesn’t mess with it. His little rap break is actually sweet. This was his most effective performance to date. No frontin’! Grade: A-minus
Lakoda Rayne (Paula’s team, “You Belong With Me” by Taylor Swift, dedicated to the various important people in their lives) – The opening line by blond gal #1 is horrid. Blond girl #2 is only slightly better. The brunette sounds much better and is getting the weight of the solo. Oh, and there’s that other blond. I’m so confused. The harmonies? They’re no Dixie Chicks. And why the heck do they need backup singers??? They do end relatively strong. And gosh, they are pretty. Right? Grade: B
Leroy Bell (Nicole’s team, “Angel” by Sarah McLachlan, dedicated to his late mom Janet) - He opts for the ballad now better known as that song you hear on sick dog/cat commercials late at night. As usual, he sings it competently. I liked it, didn’t bowl me over. The gospel choir is more a distraction in this case. “It was heartfelt for sure but not your very best,” L.A. said. Grade: B-plus
Astro (L.A.’s team, an original rap song, dedicated to his fans) – His parents tried to justify his immature behavior last week and showed him positive comments. Whatever. He’s seeing his “astro-nauts” and shouts out all the places where his fans are. “I do this for y’all!” he raps. It’s entertaining, whether you like him or not. He then apologizes again. “I’ll never let you down again,” he said. Simon said: “I admire you. I do… I think you find it hard to express yourself. You knew you did wrong. The music business needs unpredictability.” Grade: B-plus
Drew (Simon’s team, “Skyscraper” by Demi Lovato, dedicated to her best friend Shelby) – Showing how I don’t pay attention to music geared to tweens, I have never heard this song. She is a bit uneven. Some strong moments, one really bad note. Not her best but probably enough to keep her around. Grade: B
Josh Krajcik (Nicole’s team, “Wild Horses” Rolling Stones, dedicated to his 13-year-old daughter Rowan) – He has an impressively expressive voice. This song works for him though I think the arrangement is a wee bit too slow and spare. But the simplicity is unusual for this show though the lighting as usual is needlessly portentous. “You have everything it takes to win this competition,” L.A. said. “You are larger than life,” Paula said. Grade: A-minus
By Rodney Ho, Radio & TV Talk