Ok, it’s time to take a look at the post-Pia Idol. I mentioned to Colleen that I would take some time and try and figure out what “tricks” these kids have in their bags, and what they have to work on if they are going to take a step forward before they get knocked off. I’ll give each of them a Dr. Frankenstein styled comp, and then list their “tricks” and what they might reasonably be able to pull out to move forward. I’ll skip the “to me” and the “in my opinion”. All of what I have to say is “to me” and “in my opinion”.
Comps: I dunno… Doctor Nick crossed with Side Show Mel? Give him some helium and it might work. I don’t watch Glee, but I imagine there is a “Stefano” type on the show. He has a Glee vibe to him, or a boy band tenor vibe. He might have missed his moment when the boy band craze died out.
Tricks: Well, EW’s reviewer (Annie Barrett) calls him her “chocolate chunk cookie”. Stef is a vocal gymnast. His best vocal attribute is his sweet and powerful tenor voice, and some ability to trill.
Weaknesses: Fake one orgasm and nobody will ever believe you again. Intonation was my first worry, but now his largest problem is that he is too worried about his intonation. Because he worries about the technical aspects, he is never free to feel anything but more fear about his intonation. His reputation is that of someone that is faking emotion. It ain’t gonna be easy to overcome that.
Needs: Stef needs to say damn the intonation torpedos, and full speed ahead. It wouldn’t hurt to sing something crazily uptempo, and at least TRY to milk some excitement from the crowd.
Comps: The moronic love-child of Luther Vandross and Ru Paul. Go ahead. Get the visual of those two hooking up out of your head. I can’t. Dammit.
Tricks: Range, power, church trained emotion. Jacob’s voice is a rubbery thing that he can bend into some ridiculous shapes, and his tone comes from a place so deep inside him that it almost seems like he is pulling air up from his toes.
Weaknesses: Denial. Denial of his intonation problems, denial of his lack of variety, denial of his dated style, denial of his place in the Idol universe, and eventually his denial of his place in the music business. Look in the mirror, my butt. One huge performance inHollywood, and nothing since but caterwauling and a bunch of excuses and prideful boasts about how he is better than everyone else.
Needs: A personality transplant, or a bus ticket.
Comps: Not too many curly blonde Eskimos out there…. She doesn’t have the kind of voice that compares to actual star performers. She sounds more like a young Carol Channing than anyone else I can think of. I love her competitiveness, and I think that it’s her most defining feature. How about this? She is the love child of Shirley Temple and Louis Armstrong, but raised by Bret Favre.
Tricks: The growl, the scratch, good intonation, good high range, competitiveness, fearlessness, and the underdog reputation. She is the little blonde engine that could.
Weaknesses: Less low range than a piccolo, and no idea what to do with her body on the stage. She is no more emotionally believable than Stefano, and she never really takes control of her performances. She always seems to be riding on the back of them.
Needs: Polish, polish, polish. Well, that and some idea how to sing a low note.
Comps: Kenny Loggins’ body, Rod Stewart’s voice, Clay Aiken’s hair.
Tricks: Scratchy-cool voice and the cool dude vibe. Lots of stage experience, and really white teeth.
Weaknesses: No range, and he dances like a chicken.
Needs: Paul already got what he needed from Idol. All he needs to do now is keep doing what he does until he gets tossed, and then go work on his album. He’s most likely going to get a contract from Jimmy I, no matter where he finishes.
Comps: I did Casey before. Vocally he’s fairly unique, and visually he is fairly pedestrian. I always get the Weird Al vibe from him. Weird Al by way of Harpo Marx?
Tricks: A strong instrumental background, a charismatically dominating (and sometimes beautifully twisted) sense of moment, some scratchy vocal blues chops, and the best stage presence on the show this year. Casey has imagination.
Weaknesses: Too much imagination, not enough preparation. Casey’s imagination tends to write checks that his good but limited voice can’t cash. He sings the “eeee” words in a way that is almost painful, and his high range is wildly inconsistent. He can sound amazing for a few notes and then sound like a cat that got stepped on. He never finishes an arrangement, even in a minute and a half.
Needs: A vocal coach; and I don’t mean some glad hander. He needs someone like that lady on Glee, who will scare the hell out of him when he screws up. A bull whip with a spike on the end might help.
Comps: Her voice is remarkably similar to Carrie Underwood’s voice right now, but for some reason I expect her to grow into someone more like Wynonna Judd, with the bluesy phrasing. I don’t feel comfortable talking about her looks, since she is so young. She ain’t ugly.
Tricks: Her intonation and her tone quality are both among the best on the show. She can sing country styled arrangements effortlessly, and she eats melodies like candy. She has some ability to hit more ambitious notes, but she also has the restraint to not overdo them.
Weaknesses: She doesn’t have the huge voice of a Pia, or the ridiculous range of a Jacob, or the crazy manic energy of a Casey, or the signature vocal trick like Scotty’s low notes. She lacks that one big standout skill that she can use as her hook. This causes endless drama, because the media (and Idol) can’t talk about her amazing…. Anything, so they talk about side issues. No contestant this season has had to deal with as many side issues as Lauren has. Too young, too “old”, too flirty, too much crying, too clumsy, too pagaenty, too many Steven moments, too overrated, too overexposed, not enough crying, too overly shilled….. Who can overcome that much negativity?
Needs: Lauren needs that one shining moment; that one song that makes everyone sit back and say, “that was amazing”. I hammered on her early for her breathing (Pia had the same problem, by the way), but she has been better lately. She is ready to blow something up. She needs to, if she is going to overcome the voter bias and make it to the finale.
Comp: JD is easy. He is Adam Lambert’s trailer park doppelganger.
Tricks: Um, the voice? He also has some ability to work a crowd, and he is naturally emotional. He has sort of a big, exuberant kid persona on the show, and it seems to fit him perfectly.
Weaknesses: Intonation sometimes, phrasing, bla bla bla lets just say that he lacks experience. I was worried that his emotional stability would be a problem, but he’s been a rock so far.
Needs: Crap out 16 years of musical theater experience in a couple of months? Seriously, JD just needs to avoid the train wrecks for a month or so (and not be boring), and keep working on putting a full song together. When they get down to the last three or four, he will need to put together that one huge song, that one huge arrangement that sets him apart. It’s in him, but it’s up to him to get it out before it’s too late.
Comps: Easy, easy, easy. A teenaged Evan Longoria lookalike with Josh Turner’s voice.
Tricks: The low notes, pretty good intonation (outstanding for his age), and a signature style that is current and easily marketable.
Weaknesses: I’ve struggled with Scotty from the get-go, because he isn’t a rounded performer like Idol generally looks for. At this point, though, it all goes out the window. Am I going to dun him because he doesn’t have the strongest voice? That would be like dunning him for not having the largest chest. He is what he is, and he has few weaknesses in his wheelhouse. He’s young, so it almost feels like he has training wheels on, but he’s also the golden goose for the show this year. He is the one who can sell millions of records without a huge makeover; the one who will restore Idol to relevance in the recording industry. He is the one. The One. THE ONE.
Needs: Keep improving, and keep developing new vocal chops. Work on your stage presence, and pick up some new stage tricks. Scotty is in a luxurious position now, with his expected main competition gone. He can experiment and grow, because he has the license to experiment without worrying about getting knocked off.
Of course, after last week nobody is going to feel like they are safe. I’ll do one more for fun, before I send this out:
Comps: Pia always reminded me of Salma Hayek physically (if Salma was put on the rack and stretched from 5-1 to 5-7), and she sings like Celine Dion but with a fuller, richer voice.
Tricks: Rich, thick voice, the ability to hit sweet falsetto notes well below her natural range, and then hit the higher notes in full voice, and almost never miss the tuning fork.
Weaknesses: Shy, stoic, vanilla personality. She is, if anything, too nice. She has 10 times the vocal talent Casey does, but a tenth of his stage presence.
Needs: A better voting system? Seriously, Pia is going to get her shot at making an album, and she has Jimmy I not only backing her, but putting his own reputation on the line. In a vacuum I would not expect an interesting album from Pia, because her style is dated and she isn’t really ready to make a serious album, but Jimmy I has me intrigued. Her album might be something good, and maybe something special. Idol itself might be invested in this one
(Added April 2012): Jimmy held her album back to run her through performer boot camp. She has over 40 songs recorded and mixed down, so when Jimmy feels she is ready, the album should come out quickly. Her first single was musically slick and Pia sounded terrific, but the lyrics were just godawful. I imagine they’ll do better with a full year to work on it.