AMERICAN IDOL IN D.C.
My husband and I gradually got hooked on the show “American Idol” this past year and as we watched the eliminations week after week we began to choose our favorites. We’d talk about their performances and I confess I even voted occasionally for the one I thought deserved to win.
When we heard the American Idol Tour was coming to the Verizon Center in Washington, DC August 14th, we got tickets to go. I was looking forward to seeing the Top Ten Idols perform. I tried not to let the crowded metro ride into the city and hour long wait to be seated for dinner dampen my enthusiasm for the evening.
The show was well worth the wait! No matter which Idol was your favorite there was something for everyone since each of the Top Ten finalists had solo time on stage.
Here’s my “take” on the show:
Chikezie Eze was a good choice to open the concert. He was upbeat and lively singing “Hey Mama” (Kanye West) and “Caught Up” (Usher). The crowd was really pumped by the time Chikezie left the stage.
Little Ramiele Malubay was the weakest link as far as performances go. Her dance number – “I Want You Back” (Jackson 5) – was perky but she just didn't seem as relaxed as the others did on stage. After singing two slow songs without much interaction with the crowd, what Chikezie had pumped up was now deflated by Miss Malubay.
Thank goodness for Michael Johns! He came onto the stage like he owned it singing “We Are the Champions” (Queen). He was quite comfortable in the spotlight, chatting with the audience, commenting how big the Verizon Center was and yet it felt very intimate to him. His soulful rendition of “It’s All Wrong But It’s All Right” (Dolly Parton) had the ladies swooning. He said Randy Jackson didn’t care for his next number - “Dream On” by Aerosmith - but he was going to sing it anyway and it brought the house down. Michael appeared to be genuinely appreciative of the crowd's response to his performance.
I prepared myself for another slow down when Kristy Lee Cook came out but she was surprisingly good! She worked the stage well, covering both sides and the center catwalk. She opened with “Tryin’ To Squeeze the Love Outta You” (Carolyn Dawn Johnson) and her version of “God Bless the U.S.A.” (Greenwood) had folks standing, hands over their hearts. Kristy shared that she and Carly (Smithson) toured the White House earlier in the day and it made quite an impression on both of them.
Carly Smithson did not fail to impress with her big vocal range and ability. “Crazy On You” (Heart) was amazing however she kept fidgeting with her mic and ear piece the entire time she was on stage. Once she turned around and mouthed something to the band. Obviously there was a sound problem but none of the other Idols seemed to experience it. I enjoyed her songs but all that fidgeting really took away from her performance.
Brooke White emerged through a trap door, center stage – barefoot and seated at a piano. She was very confident and all smiles. Everybody raves about how well Brooke sings “Let It Be” (Beatles) but I personally preferred her performance of “Yellow” (Coldplay) – it was a perfect fit for her.
Jason Castro sat on a stool with his ukulele to sing “Somewhere Over the Rainbow" (Iz Version) and walked to the mic on the catwalk to sing “What a Day for a Daydream” (Lovin’ Spoonful). His voice was nice, but not fantastic. His approach to the stage seemed very casual and laid back. “Mellow” has been a term frequently applied to Jason and it’s appropriate. He never ventured to either side of the stage to interact with the crowd and whenever he actually DID speak, it came out as a mumble, at least to my ears. I overheard the guys behind me say in disbelief “I can’t believe this guy lasted so long on the show!” Me either.
Syesha Mercado was very energetic during her set performing “Umbrella” (Rihanna). She received a standing ovation after a powerful rendition of Beyonce’s “Listen” and stood there with a look of surprised delight on her face, basking in the glow. When she finished her set, it was her responsibility to introduce the “runner-up” on American Idol…
And yes, the girls screamed for young David "aw shucks" Archuleta. He really does have an amazing voice. I was totally impressed with his performance. He, too emerged through a trap door, seated at a piano with mist swirling around him, singing “Angels”(Robbie Williams) – absolutely magical. I also enjoyed his performance of “Apologize” (Timbaland). It seems “Archie” has been working on his stage presence; he didn’t look as stiff as I thought he might.
When David Cook walked out I was surprised to see him in a suit and tie! He jokingly said he was running for president then later explained he had visited the Senate on behalf of his brother for Cancer Research. Personally I wish he’d performed in his rocker duds, I think he’d have been more comfortable since I noticed he kept tugging at his suit sleeves while playing guitar - oh well, he was incredible anyway. He’s definitely at home on stage and at one point took out a video camera and began filming the audience. I LOVED his opening number of "Hello" (Lionel Richie) and of course, his rendition of "Billie Jean" (Michael Jackson) is one of my David Cook favorites. The tribute to his brother - "My Hero" (Foo Fighters) - was a bit too rocky for my taste but there was something for everyone...
All ten finalists came out for a group performance of “Don’t Stop the Music” (Rihanna) and then, just like that, it was over. Three hours had gone by in a flash and left us all wanting more.
Published in the Star Exponent 8-21-08 - Idols Show They've Improved