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American Idol in the Stretch

As readers of Notablog know, I'm a long-time viewer of "American Idol" (see here, here, here, and here).

Well, last night was the showdown between the final three contestants. For me, Katharine McPhee earned her way into the final installment (to be aired next week) just on the strength of her rendition of "Over the Rainbow." She even sang the rarely heard introduction!

The problem, for me, is that I genuinely like the other two contestants as well: Taylor Hicks and Elliott Yamin. I think the latter has a nice soul presence, and the former is utterly fearless in his performances. If I were a betting man, I'd say it will be Hicks and McPhee in the final installment, but the voting has been known to surprise.

Tonight, we'll see who moves on! Stay tuned...

Comments welcome.


I had thought it would have been Eliot and Taylor in the final week, but I think you're right about Katharine having a strong showing last night. I think Simon was right that Eliot's songs may not appeal to the audience.

I wish I could vote but I never get through. The lines are always busy.

You guys were right... plus, she's cuter than Elliott


Heidi and I voted a total of four times for Elliott--but it wasn't enough. He was eliminated by a margin of 0.2%0.2%

Not that Katharine didn't sing well this week. I really think she dodged a bullet last week when Chris Daughtry was voted off instead of her.


Maybe I'm becoming an old crank, but I wasn't impressed with Katharine or her version of "Over the Rainbow".

Listening to all three again last night only confirms, for me, that Elliott was the superior singer.

BTW: For a wonderful version of "Over the Rainbow" might I suggest the late, great Lorez Alexandria.


I never thought I would meet another person like myself, who is both a fan of American Idol and Sonny Blount.


I beg to differ; Katherine's performance of Over the Rainbow was a real treat, and it showcased some genuine ability, as did her rendition of Black Horse and Cherry Tree (or whatever it's called). However, I agree that Elliott was the more talented of the male vocalists, but he often picked songs that weren't as popular. Having said that, though, I don't think we need to have a theory about why he got booted before Taylor, since there was less than one percent separating them. About 8 weeks ago, I predicted Katherine and Chris for the finalists; I guess I was half-right. I think Taylor is a pretty good singer, had good stage persona etc., although I had a marginal preference for Elliott to stay. I'm now pulling for Katherine, but I'm pretty sure all three of them, and Chris for that matter, will be making records.


Hmmm... Sonny Blount had broad tastes. He might have enjoyed American Idol.

I liked Katharine's version of "Over the Rainbow." I've found her somewhat erratic: she can lapse into a yippy, whiny sound that apparently fits some stereotype she has of pop singing. But none of that was in evidence on "Over the Rainbow."

Where can I find Lorez Alexandria's rendition? I like her earliest work, which I've listened to as part of my research on Chicago jazz musicians, but don't know her post-1958 recordings at all well.



I'm not a Katharine hater. In fact, she was one of my favorites after the auditions. Her inconsistency has been frustrating though. I thought her rendition of "Over the Rainbow" was ok, I know she can do better. I'm actually rooting for her in the final. Sorry Chris, Taylor may be "utterly fearless" but some of his performances have been laugh out loud bad, the Wild Cherry song?


After Lorez Alexandria's work with King, she moved to Los Angeles and recorded for Impulse! You can find her rendition of "Over the Rainbow" here.

I'm so glad this site exists and that Michael ("Mick") has had the opportunity to meet someone who's as deeply into jazz as he is (Hi, Robert!).
This is a case where the internet worked well.

Anyway. I don't understand the Katharine lovefest going on here. She did all right on SWOTR, but she missed some notes here and there. She's a lovely girl, and on occasion sings well, but she's not consistant. She's mostly boring to me.

Taylor...well. He intrigued me during the auditions, but he's disappointed me during the competition phase. He wears on my nerves, and his voice isn't all that. The endearing stage hysterics won't translate to recorded sound, either.

Elliott has a thrilling voice, and I hope someone in "the business" grabs him. In AI Board jargon: "HE WUZ ROBBED!"

Additional Katharine criticism: Her petulant and conceited attitude puts me off a bit. She strikes me as a spoiled, vapid Valley Girl whereas both Taylor and Elliott have much more winning personalities.

I know, this is a singing competition, but if you act like a diva, at least have the talent to back it up...

Or maybe it's just me.

Nice to see some familiar faces back in these parts; the blog is still being configured by NYU---but it's getting there.

Anyway, just a few additional thoughts:

I truly liked Elliott, and he was my choice based on my own tastes. And I still love his "Moody's Mood," and was very happy that he's recorded it for the Idol CD release. I'm sure he'll get some exposure on the upcoming tour; let's see if they do good by him in terms of future recordings. (I think you're right, Aeon: they are all going to be making records!)

I do think you're right, Robert: Katharine held on by a thread the previous week, and here she is... in the finals! I think she has, indeed, been very inconsistent.

Mick, I was impressed by Katharine's attempt at an original reading of "Over the Rainbow." I grew very tired of some of the judges' commentaries over the last few weeks. I mean, how many times can you berate a contestant because she doesn't sound like Whitney Houston, or doesn't sound like Ella Fitzgerald? (How many people do?) If she copies Whitney's vocals on a Whitney song, she's criticized for copying Whitney, and not being "original" or as good as the original. And if she tries to do an individualized, unique rendition, she's criticized for falling short of the actual original.

"Over the Rainbow," in my view, however, was enough removed from the classic Judy Garland rendition, and qualified as original.

This said, Katharine has not been my favorite contestant; I think she has a lot of rough patches and inconsistences, as I suggested. But some of the inconsistencies might be rooted in genres in which she's just not very strong. Some of these theme nights can be infuriating.

But Mick, I will search out Lorez Alexandria! (My own sister-in-law, Joanne Barry, did a fabulous, jazz-inflected version of "Over the Rainbow," when she did the NYC Village circuit some years ago. Sorry she never recorded it.)

I should say, though, that when I said Taylor was "fearless," I didn't mean he was "faultless." I agree: Some of his performances have been less than satisfying. But I do get the sense that he's having fun, and really passionate about the music he loves. It's going to be a very interesting finale.

BTW, I am a HUGE jazz fan too; Robert and I have spent a lot of time discussing jazz. And, nepotism aside, my brother, Carl Barry, is one helluva great jazz guitarist, and my sister-in-law is one fine jazz vocalist. Check out their site here.

Anyway, on to the finale of "AI" this week. And if you folks are into dance, check out "So You Think You Can Dance" later in the week; I really enjoyed that competition last summer.