Not many surprises on standards night.
The singing was generally strong tonight, and the songs were generally boring, as expected.
Singing order was Chris Daughtry, Paris Bennett, Taylor Hicks, Elliott Yamin, Kellie Pickler, Ace Young, and Katharine McPhee.
I should also take a minute to explain the scorecard and my methodology. Each singer is scored on a scale of 0-5 in five categories: vocal ability, appearance, song choice, personality, and stage presence. I score in increments of one half. The first singer sets the standard for the night, and each subsequent singer is compared – in each category – relative to all previous singers. I think this is the most fair way to score the competition. For example, I don’t think this night’s theme was a good one, so I gave scores of 3 for song choice if a song was on my list from yesterday, and 2.5 if it was not. It would take a lot for me to change my score for song choice on a night light this. If two singers end up with the same score, the tie goes to the one with the highest score for vocal ability. Despite what Simon says, it’s not just about singing. It’s about performing. In this day and age, we just don’t listen to songs on the radio. We watch live performances (including Saturday Night Live), attend concerts, watch music videos, and rip music videos from CDs (or elsewhere) for viewing on our video iPods. That’s why there are five categories and not one.
Here’s how I ranked them, from best to worst (using DJSlim’s scorecard).
1. Katharine McPhee (20.5/25). Katharine sang Someone to Watch Over Me, and it was vocally flawless. Definitely a MOMENT for Katharine. She showed vocal range and control while working the camera skillfully despite a plethora of extreme close-ups like you’d see in a Spanish soap opera. (It says something about standards night when my highest score is only 20.5.)
2. Paris Bennett (20/25). Paris sang “These Foolish Things,” which was not on my list and is not a song I suspect the majority of viewers were familiar with. It was, as I predicted yesterday, the best performance for Paris since her audition. The pre-song banter about her getting an Easter basket and going roller skating likely scored her some votes as well. A strong performance of a song in her zone.
3. Taylor Hicks (19.5/25). Ryan chats with Taylor about the parody of Taylor Hicks from this week’s episode of Saturday Night Live (without mentioning SNL by name) and Taylor takes the ribbing well. When you are parodied on SNL, you know that you have arrived. Rod Stewart disagrees with Simon about the value of dancing and performing on stage and tells Taylor that you have to “grab the audience by the balls,” which earns him a bleep from the censors. (This from the network that advertises it’s other shows featuring blood, fear, and sex during the supposedly family-friendly American Idol hour. But I digress.) Taylor sang You Send Me, which started off a bit slow but ended very strong. Another strong showing for Taylor.
4. Elliott Yamin (18.5/25). Elliot sang It Had to Be You, and for the first time in weeks, we could actually hear Elliott’s voice over the band. Jeans? On standards night? Elliott was vocally strong, as usual, but it was not a memorable performance.
5. Chris Daughtry (18/25). Chris sang What a Wonderful World, although not Joey Ramone’s version, which I would have preferred. Chris was off key in a couple of spots, which all of the judges appear to have missed. It was a good performance but not great. Not nearly as great as the judges said it was. Would you buy this record? Would you even want to hear this song again? What would a viewer tuning in for the first time think?
6. Kellie Pickler (18/25). Kellie sang “Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered,” another song not on my list. Perhaps because she felt out of her element, she was not enunciating at the start of the song. She was off key at the bridge. But it was nowhere nearly as bad as the judges said. Even Kellie said, “I butchered it,” which isn’t quite right. So give her an “A” for honestly. The banter with Rod Stewart about “lyrics” being the same as “words” was funny.
7. Ace Young (17.5/25). Ace sang “That’s All” (also not on my list). Interestingly, Ace does not get the benefit of any pre-song chat with Ryan. He sings the song competently but his voice sounds thin. His falsetto was good. I liked the suit but thought the pulled-back hair looked like an anachronism. Did anyone dress like that in the standards’ age?
The scores were all lower this week due to the mostly boring standards theme. As I predicted yesterday, Chris and Kellie seemed out of their element and struggled compared to the rest. Katharine was clearly the best of the night, with Paris and Taylor close behind. Although Kellie had a bad night, she’ll likely not hear the “had a bad day” song tomorrow because Ace’s performance was a tad worse. And I think Ace lacks the fan base that Kellie has.
Erik’s bottom three: Chris, Kellie, Ace.
Erik’s pick to go home: Ace.