Ben Mulroney mugging for the camera, the band guy from Mike Bullard, and 11 too short performances: Canadian Idol has officially returned. The episode started with a dud of a joke from Ben Mulroney, so it is clear that things aren’t changing much. Will the contestants be similarly stuck in that rut? We’ve never really seen these people performing in a setting like this one, so how will they fare? Cultural Learnings is along for the ride, and has the full recap of all of the Top 11 performances. Stick with Cultural Learnings throughout the summer for even more coverage of Canada’s biggest reality show.
Jaydee Bixby – “Johnny B. Goode” (Chuck Berry)
This was right in Bixby’s wheelwell, if you will; performing in bars since 11, it is clear that Bixby is a confident performer. The only problem that I had personally was that his voice never felt overly strong within the song: it was distinctive, it was different, but it didn’t feel like a star performance. I also felt that his backing band kind of overpowered him, and he felt almost a little bit out of place without his guitar…actually, a lot out of place.
What did the Judges think: Zack felt he needs to learn how to dance, Sass (And Zack) felt he was retro as opposed to old-fashioned, Farley was fairly positive, and Jake felt it was a bit too familiar and old.
What will Canada think: He’s had so much airtime, and is so different from most of the other contestants, that he’s coasting into the Top 10 on being different alone.
Clifton Murray – “I’ll Be” (Edwin McCain)
I was totally unaware that Clifton Murray did guest spots on Boston Legal and Smallville, and starred alongside Amanda Bynes in the Shakespeare reimagining She’s The Man. As for his singing, I find it a little bit nasally, and really quite boring. He hit one really long note, and acted like it was all impressive…but it really wasn’t that high, so he basically just had to make a continuous sound. He was shaky on the whole, and he did seem to be returning Idol to its completely unorganic pop star roots.
What did the Judges think: Farley and Sass dug it, but Jake and Zack agree with me and feel that it was pre-packaged nonsense…in other words, he was acting. Because he’s an actor. This isn’t too surprising.
What will Canada think: I don’t really know, to be honest. On one hand, he’s attracted and was in shows and movies they like. So, because of that fact, he is likely interesting enough to stand out. Still, that was a nondescript performance.
Derek Hoffman: “Move Along” (All-American Rejects)
Move Along is a good song, and seems like a decent choice for a self-professed Indie artist…but his voice doesn’t really work with it. It actually sounds like he’s murdering the song at certain points. It sounds like a garage band rendition of Move Along, with that song’s highest notes and without much of its interesting backup vocals. And yet, still, I find him far more interesting than say Cliffton, even when he isn’t as technically sound.
What the judges think: Sass wasn’t impressed, but thinks he has something special. Zack thinks he is a rock star for the future, but he sucked tonight. Jake wants him with the guitar, and he seemed out of place. Farley feels that Derek is relevant, which is a good step forward for the show.
What will Canada think: I really, really don’t know. On the one hand, he’s young and could drag in the hipster crowd. On the other hand, he didn’t sing well, and there’s many other young and pretty-haired male candidates to draw in the teen girls. He might get lost in the shuffle.
Justyn Wesley – “Some Kind of Wonderful” (Grand Funk Railroad)
Okay, so I just realized that his duet partner (Scarlett) is the person who got picked for the Top 11 girls. And she looks completely and totally different. It is ludicrous; I swear she had plastic surgery of something. As for the performance, I find him to be less of a smarmy bastard than he seemed in the Toronto auditions, which is at least something good to be said. It was a decent rendition of the song, and it was…I guess a little soulful? I don’t know soul very well.
What the judges think: Zack and Jake felt that it was too much of a wedding song and didn’t show his true potential, Sass felt he is funky, and Farley thinks that his soul shone through.
What will Canada think: I don’t know…he’s a bizarre performer in some ways, and it might be a bit offputting to certain viewers.
Dwight D’eon – “Hurts to Love You” (The Philosopher Kings)
I believe Rob James, he of McMaster and James, performed this song last season. It felt natural on him…it doesn’t feel natural on Dwight. I know that he said he was going to branch out, but the Nova Scotia native doesn’t really get to go into his rock voice on the song and it’s a problem. There was no edge, none of what they probably put him through for. I felt that it was good, but just uneventful. Still, apparently it was originally a Godley & Crème song…although that was totally the Philosopher Kings version.
What the judges think: Sass kind of agrees, feeling he pushed a bit too far. Zack felt he tried to play the game, and he did well in the process and wants to see him around. Jake and Farley ostensibly agree, so it’s only Sass who felt it was a bit off.
What will Canada think: There’s already a Facebook group of local Nova Scotians in support of him, and he sang well enough to be able to ride that into next week at the very least.
Greg Neufeld – “This Love” (Maroon 5)
Having reached this stage last year, he is clearly at an advantage (Even though he says he needed to prove more). After exiting on Elton John’s Rocket Man last year (I think it was Rocket Man), he’s picking something more contemporary this time around with a rather good song that he sings well. He doesn’t have a great deal of rhythm (Do any of these people have the moves?). That being said, he absolutely destroys the song’s bridge and his “moves” were at least distinctive and interesting.
What the judges think: Farley thought he found his groove, Sass felt he’s invented a new dance move ‘The Greg Hop, Zack reminds us of Rocket Man dragging him down (And felt it was the bomb), and Jake says there’s no need to bring up last year: this year he better move on.
What will Canada think: Although Canada could react poorly to having him pushed down our throats as the person we didn’t vote enough for last year, he was both really quite good and was subtlely introduced/focused on during the audition period (Where he was also very good). So I think he’s safe…unless there’s another Rocket Man in his future.
Tyler Mullendore – “Brown Sugar” (The Rolling Stones)
He’s here to give’er…and he does so on a mumbled and bizarre version of the Rolling Stones classic. And then we get to see his eyes, which makes him look like a completely different person. It is certainly a distinctive performance, but Mick Jagger he is not. He’s certainly into it, and he’s certainly givin ‘er but…I think it might just be too weird for me. It’s certainly something very interesting, which is at least one thing…but outside of a sideshow, I didn’t really enjoy myself.
What the judges think: Sass thinks he brings new meaning to the word authentic, Zack thinks that no one has played this game quite this way and that it’s kind of charming, Jake confirms that they only picked him because he’s weird and he like that about him, and Farley felt it was an unchained melody.
What will Canada think: Not only is he from a province big on voting people in based almost entirely on regionality, he’s also incredibly distinctive and stands out. He’ll be through without much difficulty.
Andrew Austin – “Freedom ‘90” (George Michael)
Andrew has gotten a haircut in the recent break, and he wants us to know that he’s a musician first and foremost. Well, here he is without his guitar and doing a decently engaging job with this George Michael song. It was just a little bit bland, and it just felt…unimpressive. The song is engaging, but Austin did nothing to make it stand out compared to any of the other songs being performed. I think he might have found his Rocket Man.
What the judges think: Zack thought it was completely and totally clunky, but I think everyone else liked it (I missed Sass/Farley).
What will Canada think: He’s too old, too singer/songwriter, and is likely to have a tough time surviving this week. He was overshadowed during Toronto Week by Neufeld and others, and he just hasn’t gotten enough attention to overcome this.
Matt Radley – “Isn’t She Lovely” (Stevie Wonder)
I’m sorry, but this just screams high school talent competition. Radley doesn’t seem comfortably on the stage, and outside of having a really strong and impressive voice he doesn’t have any other star qualities. If he is seriously out to “shock and awe” us he needs to pull together a good performance (And his voice suffered as he tried to perform more by heading into the Girls’ area). Just a tough go around on the whole, and it seemed like a performance below his potential as opposed to a lack thereof.
What the judges think: Jake felt that there wasn’t much in the way of charisma but sees promise, Farley compares him to his shy son who rocks on the basketball court, Sass thinks the singing was rocking, but Zack isn’t a fan of the bravado while otherwise having nothing but positive things to say about his future.
What will Canada think: I don’t know…his lack of charisma, however, is going to hurt him.
Brian Melo – “Stereo” (The Watchmen)
See, this is what Hoffman tried to do earlier, and Melo knocks it out of the park in comparison for a sense of control and poise that he lacked. It was a strong vocal performance, good stage movement, and a song choice that really fit his voice. He’s by far the best thus far simply for being very controlled and just plain good: nothing ridiculous, just some solid rock singing.
What the judges think: Farley thinks it was great, Sass says ‘Yes’, Zack thinks he is clearly Top 10, and Jake (despite being The Watchmen’s manager when they recorded the song) loved it and thinks he is also Top 10 material.
What will Canada think: He wears hats, which always sets him apart, and coming late in the show will assist him. Still, he could be this year’s Neufeld if he isn’t careful, since he doesn’t have a built in fan base.
Liam Styles Chang – “This Magic Moment” (The Drifters)
His parents are hair stylists, so his haircut makes sense now. And his middle name, too. And, well, the performance is a very unique rendition of the oft-covered hit, and his only concern is getting overplayed by the band being as soft-spoken as he is. However, I think his energy more than made up for it: his voice didn’t drop when he went into the Girls for his performance, and his smooth tone kept going the entire time. Combined with the original arrangement of the song, the night ends on a high note.
What the judges think: Sass felt he made that moment magic, Zack says that he managed to cut through just singing as opposed to yelling, which is a good thing, Jake feels that he took a retro song and completely rearranged it into a contemporary punk rock song with a smooth voice, and Farley feels that he brought some life to the performance and calls it flawless. There’s some “best performance of the night” thrown around.
What will Canada think: His personality finally shone through, and the performance was highly lauded by the judges: he better damn well get through.
Best Performance of the Night: Liam Style Chang
It was the best overall vocal, and didn’t drop when he went to perform the song. The judges got it right: the show closer was strong.
Runner-up: Brian Melo
Worst Performance of the Night: Cliffton Murray
He’s the most generic competitor in the competition, which places him at a distinct disadvantage amongst more diverse competition.
Runners-Up: Andrew Austin, Derek Hoffman
In Jeopardy: AndrewAustin, Derek Hoffman, Justyn Wesley, Brian Melo
Andrew for being generic, Hoffman didn’t perform well, Wesley is uneventful and Melo doesn’t fit in with the fanbase of the show despite being quite great.
Find out Wednesday who goes home: the girls perform tomorrow evening.