Vocally and style-wise, he is a misfit for Prince songs and this is a strange song choice for a deep-voiced country singer.
That was what I wrote just a few days ago in my last entry. Well, I’m gonna have to eat that one. Way to go, Caleb. I had no idea that When Doves Cry could be done as a country song. More impressively, you performed a very emotional song in a way that made it sound like you were telling your own story.
While that may have been the shocker of the night, there were two other very pleasant surprises from the Prince songs, although they came from more expected sources. Maddie’s Nothing Can Compare 2 U was, well, beyond compare. Seated at a piano with violins to accompany her, this was a tender performance that was completely fresh and original. And Gabby took complete and total ownership of a churchified rendition of How Come You Don’t Call Me Anymore that was as delightful to watch as it was to listen to. All three of them (Caleb, Maddie and Gabby) embodied the spirit of Prince who wrote so many songs for others to infuse with their particular style rather than his. And that’s what each of them did.
In terms of Maddie and Gabby, for me the two of them are head and shoulders better than the rest of the Idolists. These are the two that have a clear sense of identity and confidently present themselves visually, vocally, and in performance as artists as opposed to contestants in a glorified karaoke contest. Maddie and Gabby are the two that I can envision myself listening to their records and being at one of their shows. In other words, they are legitimate as artists who could find a place in the current pop music landscape.
While Cade shares their attributes regarding a clearly presented sense of identity, I don’t see how he competes in the real world not to mention the fact that HE CANNOT SING!!!! His 70s throwback look is, well, so 1970s. And, again, with my record label executive hat on, I don’t see a discernable talent that tells me he’s worth signing to a record deal.
As to Caleb and Michael J who survived tonight’s vote, and Jurnee and Catie who did not, they are in no way in the same league as Maddie and Gabby. I would be shocked if Caleb and Michael weren’t the next to go. Jurnee turned out to be a disappointment as she seems to lack the ability to convey emotion in her otherwise beautiful voice. And I think we’re all glad Catie is finally gone although to be fair, she does have a wonderful voice.
At this point, I’m all about Maddie and Gabby. So, yeah, I have two My Girls this season. While My Girl Maddie’s body of work this season has been the best of any Idolist to this point, when My Girl Gabby is at her best, she may be the best. She reminds me of both Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood as Idolists with her ability to cross genres, e.g. country, pop, soul and rock. While Maddie is the most versatile and talented musician, Gabby may have the greater market potential. But I’d still hate to see either one lose.
With that, here are my musings and grades for tonight’s performances.
- Jurnee Kiss No pop, no sizzle, no attitude. B-
- Michael J I Would Die 4 U I like his personality more than I like his over-stylized way of singing. B-
- Maddie Nothing Compares 2 U Superb. Like I was hearing this song for the first time. A+
- Cade Jungle Love I tried to buy-in when I realized his heavy guitar riffs could actually replace the keyboards in the original to drive the song. And then he started singing. I can’t even . . . D-
- Gabby How Come U Don’t Call Me Anymore OWNED IT!!! Totally sold out emotionally. And she clearly spent time singing in black gospel choirs! A+
- Catie Manic Monday Of all people to forget the words and right at the start, no less. She managed to turn it into something less than a train wreck but she was clearly unnerved. F
- Caleb When Doves Cry Much like Adam Lambert famously turned a country song (Ring of Fire) into something that fit him, so did Caleb in country-fying this one. A+
Songs from the Idolists’ Year of Birth
- Gabby (Lee Ann Womack I Hope You Dance) Yes, this was a predictable song choice. Nothing special but nicely delivered with controlled emotion. B+
- Cade (Jewel Who Will Save Your Soul) What is he saying?? I couldn’t understand a single word. His growling wasted what was an interesting arrangement. D-
- Catie (My Girl Britney Oops I Did It Again) At first, I was like, really? But she cleverly didn’t try to ape My Girl Britney and opted, instead, to come up with a jazz loungey version of the song. B
- Caleb (Lonestar Amazed) This was sleepy and at times, out of his comfortable vocal range. C+
- Michael J (Celine My Heart Will Go On) This was better than I expected. B+
- Jurnee (Brian McKnight Back At One) Even on her parents’ wedding song, she failed to sing with any feeling. C+
- Maddie (Sheryl Crow If It Makes You Happy) Yet another exquisite song choice as she seamlessly moved from the piano in her first performance to guitar for this one. And my first goosebumps of the season!!! A+
Next week is a visit to Nashville for songs of Carrie Underwood. My Girl Gabby should be right at home here but I’m eager to hear what My Girl Maddie comes up with.
Until the next time, I hope you get to listen to some good music. I know I will.
P.S. Props to Sheila E. for joining the Idol band!!!