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"American Idol" Beatles Nights Didn't Please Please Me
March 21, 2008  | By David Bianculli
 
After six seasons, American Idolfinally got rights to the John Lennon-Paul McCartney catalog and did a theme night, then returned a week later with George Harrison's songs added to the mix as well. Given such an amazingly deep and rich resource, how could the contestants and the show fail?

Yet they did. Big time.

As part of the individual competitions, 12 songs were sung in last week's show, and another 11 this week. That's 23 songs -- and out of those 23 performances, six were good, none was great, and many were awful. The singing and arangements, for the most part, ranged from uninspired to unendurable, and the choice of songs, given the entirety of the Beatles catalog, was mystifyingly ill-advised.

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In the Lennon-McCartney show, Chikezie enlived things with a sped-up "She's a Woman," David Cook and Michael Johns did strong versions of "Eleanor Rigby" and "Across the Universe," respectively, and Brooke White played piano and delivered a passionate "Let It Be." But the next week, only Cook, with a forceful vocal on "Day Tripper," delivered a passable performance two weeks running. Brooke went all sunny-yellow and happy-goofy with "Here Comes the Sun," and the others reached too far straining to duplicate the successful elements of previous week's performances.

The only other second-week singer to do well was David Archuleta, whose lovely version of "The Long and Winding Road" made up for his butchering the lyrics of "We Can Work It Out" the week before. (He should have taken heed, especially, of the line "Think of what I'm saying.")

What was sung, for the most part, wasn't good, and the song choices were worse. Simon Cowell's dislike of "Blackbird" as a song choice was a rare display of musical ignorance, but so many selections, in this competition, truly were just dumb. "I Saw Her Standing There"? David Hernandez deserved to be booted off, and was. Kristy Lee Cook, somehow, survived two weeks' worth of poor performances of poorer song choices: "Eight Days a Week" one show, "You've Got to Hide Your Love Away" the next.

What could have been sung instead? If Kristy Lee wanted to inject a country flavor into a Beatles song, "Run for Your Life" would have been a much stronger choice. Amanda Overmyer, who just missed the Top 10 Wednesday when her "Back in the U.S.S.R." was considered the week's weakest link, should have sung the powerful, showy "Oh! Darling" instead. Certainly, somebody should have sung that song, a perfect American Idol show-stopper.

Other Beatles songs that would have worked well on Idol? "I Will" would have been a perfect choice for a ballad, and, as rockers, "Drive My Car," "Help!" and "You Can't Do That" would have been great places to start.

Maybe, next season, Idol should have another show or two devoted to the solo years of Lennon, McCartney, Harrison and Ringo Starr, and give the contestants of 2009 a chance to honor these musicians' legacies properly.

On the other hand, maybe I should be speaking words of wisdom... Let it be.

 

1 Comment

 

Floppy said:

Were I to know that Simon AND David would be judging my performance of a Beatles classic, a bellyful of wine would be the only adequate fortification. (NIce thought, Your Majesty -- David B)

Comment posted on March 21, 2008 6:56 AM

 
 
 
 
 
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