Tuesday, July 8, 2008

American Idols Shine, David Cook Commands Staples

The contestants of American Idol Season 7 are arguably the most talented and personable in AI history. So many of them are so good. During the season we all saw their individual potential. That all came to fruition last night on stage at The Staples Center in Los Angeles.

My friends and I kept asking, "where were these people week after week?" It is clear what separated David Cook from the rest of the pack: the runners-up are now "making songs their own" AFTER the finale. Cook did it every week on the show. And of course, the main reason he won is that, as fantastic as all nine other performers were last night, Cook owned it.

Let's start with our winner. David Cook started and ended with his two AI breakthrough songs, "Hello" (very appropriate) and "Billy Jean." His vocals were soaring and he pushed them further than ever before. He also does a great guitar solo during "Billy Jean." The audience in my section started singing along to his new hit single and coronation song, "The Time of My Life." He really worked the crowd during his cover of The Foo Fighters "My Hero" and some might be taken aback by this. The "I can't believe I just won, and I'm overwhelmed by your support" thing is fading. He's still humble, charming David, but he's taken his confidence to a new level; he's clearly trying to make the transformation from pop show star to rock star. If his new rock album is to succeed this is exactly what he must do. I am confident that he has the brains and the savvy to successfully navigate the tightrope he must walk to make this transformation. Some will call him smug. Most will call him a star.

On to the other nine. LA audiences always tend to more subdued than those in other US cities, but the crowd started coming on strong during Jason's phenomenal performance (again, where was that boy before the tour?!); Seyesha brought the house down, and both Davids had us at fever pitch. And let me say Kristy Lee Cook was HOT HOT HOT. MJ and Carly again had me thinking "how the hell did they go home when they did?"

Here are some highlights:

Chikezie-His stage presence was excellent and he was in good voice. For me the best moment was when this local boy (from nearby Inglewood, CA) sang a special little song, a Capella, to his parents who were seated near the front. Very touching.
Michael-the first performer to energize the audience. "We Will Rock You/We Are the Champions" is always a crowd pleaser, but I think his best performance was "It's All Wrong, But It's All Right." It was certainly all right... it was near perfect! I still need him to change things up and make songs his own, but his performance skills are superb.
Carly - "Crazy for You." She changed it up more than she did on AI and the result was a perfect performance that started out slow and then sizzled. This was my favorite number of the runners-up.
Kristy Lee - gorgeous with a commanding stage presence. She did a very nice job on all her songs and she was in great voice. Her hallmark "God Bless the USA" is not my cup of tea, but I must say she's the best artist ever to perform that song. I think she's going to challenge Carrie Underwood in the world of Country.
Brooke- I love "Let It Be" but her cover of Coldplay's "Yellow" was superb. It's a great song for her. She should do more Coldplay-like material since it's so keyboard oriented and gives her a little more of a rock vibe. She could also go the Sheryl Crow route if she wanted. She also traded the piano for the guitar on "1234" (Fiest cover) and that was a very pleasant surprise.
Jason - "Crazy" by Gnarles Barkley. This was crazy-great! I know there was no opportunity for him to do this on the theme nights. Shame. For those who think he shouldn't have made it to 4th, this performance can almost justify it!
Seyesha - she got a standing ovation tonight. Her Rhianna and Beyonce covers brought the house down. She was an early favorite of mine during Hollywood week and she didn't disappoint tonight!
David A - "Angels." Might be my favorite performance of his yet. I often say he's wonderful but ask if I'd buy his records. If he came out with a song like Angels, I would buy it. BUT... during his 4th song I got bored. It was "When You Say You Love Me" (a Josh Grobin cover) but to me it sounded very generic-Disney. I think I was hung up knowing I was moments away from Cookie's grand entrance!

I really don't have anything special to say about Ramiele. I loved her early on during AI but she just didn't own anything last night. Her vocals were strong and she She looked great, and even worked the stage, but it kind of swallowed her up.

LA is not a country music town. For years we can go without a single country format radio station. So it's no surprise that as great as Kristy Lee's set was the audience response was good, not great. In LA, the sets by both Davids, Seyesha, Carly and Michael are the ones that seemed to connect with the crowd. I'm sure things will be a little different in much of the rest of the country.

Other, less memorable moments of this highly sponsored event: guy dressed up as a pop tart trying to be funny... before the show and during intermission. Who knows what he was saying, who watched, who cared? Guitar Hero competition during intermission. Most people made a dash for the rest rooms. I did like seeing both Davids' Guitar Hero commercials on the jumbotron. Crowd got loud when they say Cook's ad! Nice to see.

So now the question is, am I looking forward to AI season 8, or is it likely that Season 7 won't be topped, or even matched? I'll give it a try. For me, 2009 will be all about seeing David Cook SOLO when he tours for his new record, due out in mid-November. I can't wait.

Note: I'm having trouble embedding video this morning. Will try later, but for a look at David Cook's encore performance of "Billy Jean," click this youtube link. It's very good quality, shot by a fan on the floor.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the "I was there" perspective, Scott! Insightful as always. NEMO Cougar

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the recap.

Your comments on Cook made me smile, esp. "...most would think he's a star". I guess you can say I'm with the majority on that one :)

amy said...

I'm impressed that you not only turned out a review so fast but that you didn't miss a beat. I would only add that in the beginning I was concerned it was sounding like a cruise ship show, like the two previous concerts. Happily, it broke the mold. I think this group was more talented and lent itself to a better production. Also, maybe the producers guessed there would be less 5-9 year olds in the audience. A fun night, however, this will be my third and last Idol concert. I'd rather end on an up note!

Lisa said...

The Flaming Nose and David Cook sitting in a tree,

We love you, and we love Scott and his wonderful post!

Jane said...

Someday we shall have to host a BBQ for David Cook and his fans. We can call it, "The Flaming Nose Cooks for David". And give out souvenir BBQ lighters in the shape of our logo, Flaming Noses. OK, I'm done...clearly Jane is under a lot of stress lately! ;)

daughtryhead said...

Hey, I was there, too! I was down in 111, frantically waving my phone during Archie's performances lol.
I'm more of an Archie fan, but still love Cook. He's an awesome performer... and about the whole smug thing? Chris Daughtry had it, too; we call it confidence. He knows he's great, but he doesn't overdo it. He's great.
And what do you mean, L.A. audiences are more subdued?? I was with my grandmother and I was on my feet and yelling and singing. I'm losing my voice now even, lol.