It’s the final week of the pre-Top 10 portion of Canadian Idol, and looking at tonight’s performers…I don’t know if there is a worthy Top 5 here. But, I can be proven wrong: here’s their opportunity to prove, once and for all, that they belong here. On a non-musical note, Idol is working with Ronald McDonald House to build a vacation home for families with sick children. Details on the auction being organized to raise funds can be found at Idol.ctv.ca.
Matt Rapley – “I’ll Be There” (The Jackson Five)
Matt is incredibly honest in telling us that he basically just stands around when he performs. So, this time, he sits around and performs while playing the piano. His voice sounds pretty damn impressive considering that he is also playing the piano, but sitting down is the last thing he needed to show more energy in his stage performing. It was interesting to see it, and it does prove him as a real musician, but I don’t think it allowed him to showcase anything we didn’t already know. Still his best performance thus far.
What the judges think: Jake felt he was too close to the mic but was glad to see the piano, Farley felt that he needed more energy, Sass thinks that it was smooth and beautiful, but Zack believes that he hasn’t demonstrated enough maturity or standing for something enough to make a record. Zack doesn’t think he’s at that level.
Worthy of Top 5? No. I’m with Zack, he just doesn’t have enough energy or artistry involved. He’s just a completely and utterly bland performer, even behind his piano. He’s not terrible, he’s just nothing. And that’s almost as bad.
Greg Neufeld – “Daughters” (John Mayer)
Greg wants an intimate moment on stage, and we get to see a lot more rehearsals this week. This is good, because it makes more sense when Greg is sitting on the stage. He performs the song from there, and it’s good…but as the Elder points out: “Greg Neufeld is to John Mayer as Mika is to Queen.” I didn’t feel it was all that intimate, but it was the opposite of Rapley. In sitting down, he actually grounded his annoying dancing and allowed the energy to flow through vocal dynamics and singing, of all things. It’s an engaging performance of a song that worked for his voice, even if even John Mayer hates its popularity.
What the judges think: Farley felt it was great, Sass felt he nailed it, Zack feels that he might have some issues with being too perfect for the public but thinks he is very, very good, and Jake thinks that you can never be too perfect and that Greg is, in himself, a show.
Worthy of Top 5? Yes. No matter how much we bring up “Rocket Man” (Which went unmentioned tonight), I think that Greg is a seasoned performer that could be a strong addition to the Top 5…especially considering the other options.
Tyler Mullendore – “Keep On Rocking Me Baby” (Steve Miller Band)
Tyler is finally breaking out the guitar, and apparently he basically runs his own rehearsals like a rock star. As for his performance of this Steve Miller Band standard, it was certainly his most rock star performance to date. Breaking out the guitar, he seems even more comfortable than he did before. I also found his screaming actually made sense in this situation, compared to the last few weeks. It still isn’t my favourite vocal style, but he is certainly coming into his own
What the judges think: Sass channels Paula Abdul, Zack channels Macho Man Randy Savage, Jake channels someone who likes his musical style, and Farley thinks he is unique and cool.
Worthy of Top 5? Yes. I might not be a huge fan, but he has shown enough musicianship and abused Ben enough to gain my support.
Liam Styles Chang – “Over My Head (Cable Car)” (The Fray)
Liam wants to stay true to himself, which is what Zack has been telling these people. And again, he is true to his past performance: silky smooth vocals and solid performance skills. I think, though, that it was a bit dreary in terms of song selection; but that’s more my personal taste than that of the kids these days. It’s a relevant song that the voting public will know, it was a good vocal performance, and certainly makes a compelling case for him to stay.
What the judges think: Zack starts with a Jake diss/fashion mention, and feels he has a great vibe, Jake wants more explosiveness but loves the vocals and thinks he’s Top 10, Farley think explosiveness is in his intelligence as a performer, and Sass has nothing else to add other than that he is a genuine performer.
Worthy of Top 5? Yes. While I certainly feel he has some room to grow, his song selection has been very strong and his vocals consistent. And, I’ll admit it, I think his “ludicrously named dance” phone number gimmick isn’t old yet.
Dwight D’eon – “Bright Lights” (Matchbox 20)
After screaming out I Mother Earth last week, Dwight perhaps has the most to prove. He decides to bring his guitar out to play this week, which should assist him greatly (Less moving = Less screaming, I hope). And sure enough, he sounds actually kind of decent and connected to the music for the first time in the competition. In fact, he sounds a lot like an edgier version of Greg Neufeld. Which is, I guess, not the worst thing in the world. Definitely his best performance thus far, though.
What the judges think: Jake thinks it was a rock star moment, Farley thinks he was the most improved player thus far and showed strong dynamics, Sass thinks he lacks the voice despite having the vibe, and Zack agrees and also thinks he lacks a little charisma, but thinks it was as good as he could do.
Worthy of Top 5? I’m going to say Maybe. This episode showed a lot of promise, but I think it might be finite promise, which isn’t as good for the Top 10 portion. And risking him into the Top 10 would allow the Nova Scotia factor to come into effect.
Jaydee Bixby – “Sold (The Grundy County Auction)” (John Michael Montgomery)
Jaydee thinks that this song is more current since it is a country song, but it’s a ludicrously old country song. I know he has a niche, but I just happen to absolutely despise it. It isn’t entertaining, it isn’t good singing, and other than his youth nothing about it is the least bit impressive. It’s a complete bar singer performance, and you can entirely tell.
What the judges think: Farley thinks he’s gone into the Top 10 easily, Sass turned into Ellie May, Zack felt it was as far away as possible from everything he likes, and Jake likes how he works the room.
Worthy of Top 5? No. Getting the Beverly Hillbillies’ reference is only another indication that he is far too old for this competition musically. He’s going to make it, and it bothers me, but I won’t give in yet.
Brian Melo – “Drive” (Incubus)
Brian Melo is claiming that Hamilton has a lot of posters for him, but they couldn’t have been voting last week. Will they be voting this week? I’m doubting it. I think his lack of regional support won’t be overcome by what was a rather mediocre performance of a song that is just barely too old for the show’s target audience. He certainly gave the performance a strong vocal quality, and his actual performance was fairly good, but it just didn’t have any sort of star power to it.
What the judges think: Sass thinks it has a good quality to it, Zack felt it was surprisingly funked up and thinks that it could have been better, Jake thinks it was a bit screechy but a better song selection and hopes he is around, and Farley thinks he was always a bit of a middle-level rock performer, but the comfort and vibe fought against a merely “ok” performance.
Worthy of Top 5? Yes, because I like his voice. He needs help (Hope that army of in studio fans vote. A lot), but he really does need some assistance from other areas as well. So it’s a mixed bag.
Best of the Night: Greg Neufeld
The best combination of performance and vocal quality on the evening, if still more than a little clichéd.
Runner-Up: This is a tough one…Liam, maybe? Dwight and Tyler each did well, too.
Worst of the Night: Matt Rapley
I don’t want to really drag down Matt, but yet another boring and clinical song selection overcomes any of his piano playing in the end. The energy and musicianship just isn’t there, sorry.
Runner-Up: Jaydee Bixby, mostly because of my intense dislike of his musical stylings.
Who’s Worthy of the Top Five?
For me, Liam, Greg, Tyler and Brian have proven themselves. Meanwhile, Matt, Jaydee and Dwight are the least deserving. However, I think that Dwight and Brian might be the most in danger at this stage of the competition, and “deservedness” might not really factor into things.