God Save the Queen Songs From 'Idol'
After the 'Idol' Finalists take their crack at Queen, is Freddie Mercury rolling over in his grave?
Singer: BUCKY COVINGTON
Song: "Fat Bottomed Girls"
My Take: It's tough to sing like Freddie Mercury, but Bucky at least has the sense to try one of Queen's least challenging songs. In fact, for the verses, it's pretty much the same note repeated over and over again, at least the way Bucky does it. He has a decent amount of control, thrusting his hips in a lewd manner that probably would have amused Mercury. But why can't Bucky sing the notes on the chorus? It's the only time the melody changes and yet he misses every note flat. Bucky looks like he washed his hair this week. That's bound to be good for a few votes.
Queen Elizabeth II, Mary Queen of Scots and Simon Say: Randy applauds the energy and is totally OK with the absence of notes. Paula's impressed he made the song country-rock, which it kinda always was. Simon suggests that the song was bigger than Bucky and calls it "mediocre."
Singer: ACE YOUNG
Song: "We Will Rock You"
My Take: Borrowing a shirt from "America's Next Top Model" judge Nigel Barker's striped shirt collection, Ace is attempting to "rock out." Everybody's third or fourth favorite piece of anthem rock has been given a typically bland Ace spin. Like Bucky, he mostly chooses to shout the verses without any tonal variation and then he lets the background singers do the chorus before going into his falsetto squeal at the end. What, exactly, did Ace contribute as a performance here? He basically did what thousands of fans do at sporting arenas whenever this song comes on -- he yelled along.
Queen Elizabeth II, Mary Queen of Scots and Simon Say: Randy gives it a five or a six and admits he didn't get it. Paula works really really really really hard to find something nice to say about it. I don't know what she concludes. Simon dubs it a "complete, utter mess." "It was 'We Will Rock You Gently,'" Simon says. Ace responds, "I think I rocked."
Singer: KELLIE PICKLER
Song: "Bohemian Rhapsody"
My Take: How sad and embarrassed do the surviving Queen members look? Is this their revenge on Mercury in the afterlife? I'm a bit scared by Zombie Goth Kellie, with her tight leather jacket, dark eye shadow and blown-out hair. She's decided to make the song angry and violent rather than operatic and cheesy. Does Kellie really think she can be Lita Ford or Debbie Harry? Because if she thinks that she's wrong. It's more like at the end of "Grease" when Olivia Newton-John suddenly becomes a bad girl and everybody in the audience is like, "Yeah, she's hot, but seriously?" The rendition is particularly disappointing giving the rehearsal footage where it looked like Kellie had a sultry and flirty take on the material, making the song into a cute come-on.
Queen Elizabeth II, Mary Queen of Scots and Simon Say: Randy likes the jacket and raves that she worked it out. Paula invokes the memory of Constantine, before saying that she showed the rocker chick she is. Simon tries explaining the meaning of the phrase "on paper" to Kellie, but gives up and praises her. Sigh.
Singer: CHRIS DAUGHTRY
My Take: I can honestly say that I've never heard this song before, which makes Chris the first performer of the night who doesn't sound like he's doing pathetic dive bar karaoke. Whoever did Kellie's mascara did Chris' as well, which is freaky. I'm able to recover, though, because he actually seems to be singing and performing and trying to make notes. He's not intimidated and he just plays to the crowd, even if most of the audience is, like me, a bit perplexed. After those first three, he's the first person tonight to look like he should be doing this for a living.
Queen Elizabeth II, Mary Queen of Scots and Simon Say: Randy makes it sound like he was disappointed and then announces Chris delivered. Paula incoherently raves. Simon wishes Chris had done something off the greatest hits album, but still says OK things about the individual work.
Singer: KATHARINE MCPHEE
Song: "Who Wants To Live Forever"
My Take: Wait, so Katharine was going to do a song where she flounced around the stage and teased the heck out of the audience and she decided to do a power ballad instead? That's a risky choice. Also over-mascaraed, Katharine belts like she's auditioning to do the next James Bond theme or something. That means that she strains and probably pushes several notes to places they don't want to go. She's all serious and meaningful and the tech crew milks every moment like it's Katharine's "Star Is Born" close-up. I particularly loved the backlit shot from behind Katharine as she emoted to the audience, arms wide open. I'd have rather seen her be sexy and playful.
Queen Elizabeth II, Mary Queen of Scots and Simon Say: Randy thinks Katharine was back in her element, but that despite some pitchy-ness, she worked it out. Paula's sure she made the right decision tonight. Simon calls it "almost the moment" and points out the contribution of the production team in making her look great.
Singer: ELLIOTT YAMIN
Song: "Somebody To Love"
My Take: How had Elliott never heard "Somebody To Love" before? I guess if I'd never heard it before, I would think his rendition was pretty solid. It's only if you remember the vocal acrobatics Mercury did on this one that it's a bit of a let down. The degree of difficulty has been dramatically reduced in nearly every way. It's a bit too low for him in some places and he avoids the glorious final note. It's still like a figure skater doing a double salchow when their program called for a triple.
Queen Elizabeth II, Mary Queen of Scots and Simon Say: Randy loved Elliott despite his pitch problems. Paula says it's the night's best vocal so far. Simon gives him credit for picking the hard song.
Singer: TAYLOR HICKS
Song: "Crazy Little Thing Called Love"
My Take: Now this was a smart song choice. In fact, it's a wonderfully obvious pick that lets Taylor return to the twitching and dancing that many fans feared had been smoothed out. Is it possible that his hair even looks greyer than usual this week? Favorite spastic moment? Taylor's failed attempt to kick over the microphone stand. Classic. He prowls the stage, goes into the audience and generally has a contagiously good time. This is one of those performances, though, where I'm not sure if I heard any of the actual music.
Queen Elizabeth II, Mary Queen of Scots and Simon Say: Randy's glad to see Taylor back. Paula isn't sure if he deserves a record deal or a straight jacket. Simon asks if Taylor is drunk and calls it ridiculous. He starts to explain, but the music cuts him off. Stupid Seacrest mocks him for not giving better criticism.
Singer: PARIS BENNETT
Song: "The Show Must Go On"
My Take: I'm going to ignore whatever the heck Paris was wearing. If a Naughty Maid got into a fight with a Naughty Biker Girl and they tore each other to shreds, the remaining tatters might become this outfit. Instead, I'll dwell on the vocals, which were darned near Shirley Bassey-esque in their finest moments. Many parts of the performance feel disconnected and affected because of Paris' age and her squeaky-clean image, but I like the new side she gets to display.
Queen Elizabeth II, Mary Queen of Scots and Simon Say: For all the rough patches, Randy insists she worked it out. Paula asks Paris to keep on rocking. For Simon, it was weird. He's about to continue with his comments, but the music plays over him. Then Moron Seacrest decides to make fun of Simon for not being substantive.
TONIGHT'S BEST: Tough to say, really. In truth, the night's best performances all came from Freddie Mercury singing his own songs in my head. All this show did is prove that none of this season's "Idol" contestants should ever be allowed to sing Queen songs again. Probably Chris and maybe Elliott and Taylor were the stand-outs.
IN DANGER: Are we ever going to get rid of Bucky? Please? If we can't do that, can we get rid of Ace? Please? My bottom three would be Ace, Bucky and Kellie.