Tonight, the Idols go acoustic. This is going to benefit some of them (Carly Rae), and be a very different experience for some others. The real question is: how the hell is Enrique Iglesias even remotely connected to this theme? Regardless, we’ve got ourselves an intimate circle setting and Ben learned that it DOES cut like a knife, so it appears to be time to go acoustic with Canadian Idol.
[Zack gets a great line in about Mulroney’s finger: “Ben is showing us what happens when a Mulroney hitchhikes.” I must admit, can’t resist a good Mulroney joke.]
We get an introduction to Enrique that makes him out to be some sort of music god. Not so much.
Martha Joy – “True Colours” (Cyndi Lauper)
Enrique thinks she was nervous, but that she didn’t show it. After a plug for Cyndi Lauper’s album (She did the show recently, after all), Martha starts into a raucously loud acoustic version of the song. On the one hand, she does some really nice vocal stuff in here, but none of it seems natural or emotional at all. This is Martha training how to sing a song emotionally, not actually tapping into the song at all. It sounds great, maybe, but it just doesn’t feel the least bit organic. Even when she goes acoustic, it just doesn’t sound right.
What the judges think: Jake agrees with me entirely, Farley says we need to accept her lack of emotion and focus on her solid interpretation, Sass thinks she did good in her style of that song (While making us aware it was the wrong one), Zack felt there was one really bad note but that she is the littler mermaid. I don’t know what means, but…I don’t think it was a compliment.
Acoustic Assistance: Not really. That song didn’t really need the entire string set, the guitars and the piano, so it was a really overly busy unplugged rendition that didn’t change her style much at all.
Dwight D’Eon – “Every Breath You Take” (The Police)
Enrique says he didn’t think of The Police during the song, and thinks that he’s lived life a little more and you can hear it in his voice. [NOTE: Ben likes to use his thumb for hand gestures, and you can really notice it now. And I find it funny]. Once again: acoustic versions are supposed to be different, not just slightly less electric walls of sound. Dwight sounds good on the song on a very basic level, and rocks out the bridge until he hits the flasetto and isn’t quite able to hit it. It worked, in a sense, but it didn’t really grab onto you and knock it home. I felt no connection to the material.
What the judges think: Farley thinks it was a good interpretation but that it wasn’t quite hot enough to call the fire department, Sass felt it was strong but not vocally perfect, Zack thinks that his vision of him winning is falling away, but Jake liked his vision.
Acoustic Advantage: He played his guitar, but it still didn’t really make much of a difference.
Jaydee Bixby – “Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)” (Green Day)
Enrique loves Johnny Cash too, but…oh dear. This is bad: I’m as glad as anyone else is that Jaydee is singing something from the past decade, but he’s turned it into a country ballad. And the crowd is clapping along like this is some sort of knee slapping extravaganza. And there’s an accordion! And he’s twanging every note on purpose, not even trying to sing any of it normally. This has stripped all of the song’s simple beauty out of it, and turned it into something I honestly hate. It’s awful. It’s dreadful. And yet the people love it. And it was certainly unpredictable, but UGH.
What the judges think: It was unpredictable, Sass thinks, but it was you. Zack hates his fake twang and felt it was awful (I agree!), Jake isn’t able to say that but thinks it wasn’t an honest performance as he didn’t feel the depressed nature of the song (Exactly). Farley agrees: don’t try to diversify with something that points out how you don’t think about what you sing. Honestly.
Acoustic Advantage: He took a simple acoustic song and added an accordion. He is dead to me.
Tara Oram – “Heaven” (Bryan Adams)
She kind of could look like Anna Kournikova, I think Enrique is smitten. As for the singing, there are some really pretty moments in her voice at certain points but it’s always the same moments: she just kind of sings it like you’d sing any old song. Unlike her more fast-paced stuff, she really seems like she’s singing. as. well. as. she. can. You can almost see the effort, which makes it somewhat distracting. I don’t think she was terrible, but she just kind of stood there and sang. The notes were never “great”, and the shakiness took over.
What the judges think: Zack thinks that it started off really well and fell apart into some sketchy moments, Jake felt it was honest but missed some notes, Farley thinks that it is a wonderful opportunity for control and she missed it, while Sass thinks there was a redeeming note, which becomes her attempt at a redeeming comment.
Acoustic Advantage: Still a little bit too loud in my view.
Brian Melo “She Talks to Angels” (The Black Crowes)
Awww, Enrique is a fan. Once again, I think there’s too much noise from the band. He’s really good on his lower register, and the song is building well (the first to really do so). His higher register kicks in really well, and his performance kicks into the same gear just in time. His voice actually breaks when he tries to hit the chorus, which adds a growl to his voice that actually helps more than hurts in some cases, especially here. Perhaps his most dynamic and strong performance yet, I’m impressed.
What the judges think: Jake felt it was the first person tonight to be intense while doing unplugged and was way better than the Black Crowes, Farley felt he supplied his own power, Sass felt it was the first one that she was happy not to have earplugs. Zack thinks that he used all of his flaws as virtues (I said that too!).
Acoustic Advantage: I liked that he used the build of the band (from soft to loud) to match the song, which is harder with plugged instruments (Still possible, of course). Still, a lot of noise.
Matt Rapley – “Ain’t No Sunshine” (Bill Withers)
Enrique wants more anger, and more emotion, which is something Matt has always struggled with. And, like Martha, it feels like he’s using vocal techniques to mimic real emotion. His physical movements don’t match the noises coming out of his mouth, and it’s honestly really distracting. And, towards the end of the song, all of that even false emotion basically melted away into a young man sitting there struggling to get to the core of the song. Last week saw a lot of grit, and this week lost it entirely.
What the judges think: Farley thinks he needs to slam it home, Sass thought it was beautiful, Zack thinks he is really gifted, perhaps the most ever, but he needs to have some guts and Zack thinks he wimped out. He did. Jake agrees with Zack 100%, and felt he should have killed some notes that he basically left sitting out. And then Zack yelled at him.
Acoustic Advantage: Eh, I’ve given up on someone just performing with an acoustic guitar, so I’m still unimpressed with their definition of unplugged.
Carly Rae Jepsen – “Torn” (As made famous by Natalie Imbruglia)
Carly literally gets lost in Enrique’s eyes, and keeps commenting how pretty he is. Carly’s hair is very straight, and she’s opening with just the piano and a few guitars. On the list of songs that showcase vulnerability, I think this this is a perfect example of that. My only issue is that she appears to be singing it with a bit too much backing music, and the result is that she seems to be yelling. Also, he heels make her way too tall, her height is part of her vulnerability. The song also never reaches a real crescendo like Brian’s did, and I think that hurts its overall impact. Mind you, she was still beautiful and pretty sounding, so it was stronger than most others.
What the judges think: Sass loves it, Zack thinks people should stop being regional robots and vote for Carly Rae instead, Jake thinks that the start of the song was awesome (It was) and finally got some goosebumps, while Farley felt she was really accurate and honest (Unlike Jaydee) and that it was raw material in a good way.
Acoustic Advantage: I think using the piano so much is kind of cheating, but it was still the most sparse and therefore best use of unplugged left.
Greg Neufeld – “I’m Ready” (Bryan Adams)
He was nervous to meet Enrique, who is jealous of his voice…really? This song was re-invented into an unplugged version, and they might as well be playing the backing track from it for this performance. Greg gets the basics of the song down, in my view: he sings the notes, he hits the high notes, but where’s the originality? It just seems like he continues to go along the path of least resistance, singing an unplugged recording exactly as the original was. It fits his voice, so it’s not terrible by any means, but there’s just nothing here to convince me that he is capable of anything different. It was too perfect, for me.
What the judges think: Zack thinks that nobody was in his league at all (Really? Not sure.), Jake felt it was fantastic, Farley likes that there was no contrivance in what he does (Really? I disagree. It’s too predictable), and Sass thinks it was the right amount of everything.
Acoustic Advantage: It wasn’t even arranged differently, so he gets no points whatsoever.
I think it was a waste of a theme, really; they might as well have just said “Sing songs with acoustic guitar in them” and it would be no different. Some people tried to embrace the formula and failed (Martha and Matt), others basically went hog wild with it (Jaydee murdering Green Day), and others did a good job of finding the right mix (Brian and Carly Rae).
And then there was those who did fine but didn’t do much new with it (Dwight and Tara), and then you have Greg. I don’t know what to think about Greg; personally, he’s just doing nothing to surprise or excite, and mimicking Bryan Adams doesn’t exactly count as genius in my books. It was too safe, too practiced, just did nothing for me.
Who’s in trouble? I’d say that Martha and Carly Rae are each in trouble thanks to their recent Bottom Three visits, and I’d say that maybe a male (Matt, Dwight) might get to feel the wrath of the Bottom Three for a change. We’ll have to wait until tomorrow night, however, to find out.