Wednesday, 13 May 2009

Top 3 - One / Cryin'


I found this week's review hard to write. Last night I had mixed feelings and was left slightly subdued and despondent, and I can't tell whether this was because Adam didn't quite hit the spot which left me worried, or whether he hit it dead on and he ripped my heart out. This was one of those nights where I repeat viewings were necessary.

The confessional this week didn't reveal much we didn't know and it I think he looked as if he was just going through the motions. Perhaps the hectic schedule took quite a lot out of him. Before the show, I managed to see a spoiler that told me he was going to be singing One and Cryin' and that he had the pimp spot. I didn't think Cryin' was a great song choice to show another side of him and was mourning the loss of Wicked Game which I think would have been a showstopper.

The first time Adam walked out on to the stage, his wardrobe choice surprised me by being quite understated. He was fresh-faced and natural looking, with the make-up and hair styling being kept to a minimum. He was wearing a light faded denim shirt, blue jeans and snakeskin boots. I couldn't tell what he was going to do from this but I started feeling a little nervous. I didn't like the shirt because it was too tight around the chest with the pockets too high up, like it was meant for someone much shorter.

Danny's performance was pretty bad and Kris's was OK but his voice just wasn't up to it. Next was Adam, and I felt this was a great opportunity to completely blow the others away. The song started with a piano intro and I thought we were in for an Upright-type performance, or at least one that was understated by Adam standards. I liked the thought of a stripped arrangement where his voice could really shine. He was bathed in royal blue light from behind, slowly fading to white. The first notes were low, very pure, soft and breathtaking. He looked quite elfin because of the earpieces. The camera close-ups made him look mesmerisingly and achingly beautiful. I felt makeup-less Adam looked like he was baring his soul and looked so exposed. Those first looks into the camera emoting his vulnerability before gently closing his eyes, tugged heavily at my heart shaking me to my core. His expressions were tender and heartfelt but tinged with sadness and dejection. I thought he showed a hint of tiredness. Unusually, I felt there was a note or two that could've done with some fine tuning, but perhaps it was an intended effect to load additional emotion.

After a slightly shaky start the vocals were flawless. When it came to the the bridge, I felt it came much too soon with little build-up that was too sudden. The camera didn't engage his movements well when he walked off the stage to stand in front of the judges, and it seemed a bit too aggressive. I think it needed a close-up to show his facial expressions. I thought the vocal acrobatics were hectic and he could've done with slowing it down, mellowing it a little and holding the notes for longer because the melody was lost to emphasis on the lyrics. When he got to the glory note Hurt though, it was truly magnificent and made me gasp and my hairs stand on end. It managed to stab me in the heart. The emotion of the song really did get to me. It was one of his most impassioned performances where I felt like it was personal, he was naked and I was looking straight into his soul. He seemed to really feel and resonate with the meaning of the song, which, in addition to the pink lights seemed to make as strong a statement as possible without explicitly stating the obvious. This is me, we are one but not the same. I think perhaps that's why his mum was teary-eyed afterwards.

Adam added the light and shade that I thought was missing from the original, with the bonus massive firework on top, but I think it was too much to handle in such a short space of time. It didn't quite seem to work as I felt the song was unbalanced. It could have done with another verse at the start to build up to the massive crescendo. I thought this took up too much of the song and we overdosed on it. Perhaps he could have shortened it by bringing everything back down immediately after the glory note, or put a lull in the middle of it. Another option is that he could have played it down all the way through the song which would probably have done more for the popular vote. Personally though, I'm glad he did take a risk as this song works much better with a shot of light and shade and I'm looking forward to the longer studio version. I feel really frustrated because the performance was so close to bringing everyone to their knees with just a few simple changes. If only there'd been enough time to do it justice. Why oh why did they have to squeeze it into such a short time just so the stupid judges can wank themselves off?

I wonder what happened and why he ended up with such an arrangement. There seemed to be a suggestion that Simon was somehow involved with the mentoring, so I wondered whether Adam could have been revealing his displeasure about it when he told Paula to punch Simon. I'm probably reading way too much into it. Common sense tells me Adam's such a perfectionist and that if he was unhappy with Simon, he'd just do things his own way. How much time did Adam actually spend preparing for the song since it was only cleared on the Saturday? And is it unfair that he'd been preparing three songs in that time, when everyone else was preparing two? I'm guessing he did Cryin' because it was an easy option that he was already familiar with. I think I'm looking for excuses now because I'm in denial that Adam is human and susceptible to faltering.

I didn't feel great after the song and I've been trying to figure out why ever since. It pains me to say that I don't think it worked as well as it should have. I felt both underwhelmed because I didn't like what he did with the song and overwhelmed at the same time, because it really hit me emotionally. Did he manage to inject the sorrow of the song into me so effectively it became real? Or do I feel terrible about disliking the song where I think he really laid himself out so bare? Or maybe in doing that, he made me feel uncomfortable? This is the first time I've ever been really moved by a song I didn't care much for. How is that possible? How the hell did Adam do that? I feel challenged and it's left a strong impression on me that I'm still pondering over, which I suppose is what being a great artist is all about. Maybe it just needs more time.



After Danny and Kris's performance, I started to get more worried because it meant that Adam had to really do something amazing. It all seemed to rest on this one. For the second performance, Adam came back with eyeliner dressed all in black in casual-looking and understated rocker gear. He wore a leather jacket with a cut like the one he wore for Mad World with very long sleeves and clunky boots. I found Ryan's thinly veiled comments regarding Adam's song choices of Queen and Cher a rather silly attempt to poke fun but I'm glad Adam just dismissed him and laughed it off. We were to expect a fairly straight-up version.

I loved Adam's vocals at the start of Cryin', which were in his lower register, very resonantly rich and velvety - absolutely stunning. He started off in the centre of the stage and did some pacing about. Then the backing singer came in which really distracted from my enjoyment of the performance. It was terribly discordant and the timing was way off and annoyed me immensely. I'd also found this the case but to a much lesser extent on BTBW. Adam doesn't need them. He did a great job using his rocker wail to sing through it, not allowing it to faze him. There were definitely some technical issues because Adam ended up pulling out one of his earpieces midway through the performance. The band sounded very loud and seemed to drown out Adam's voice at points. Adam's stage presence didn't seem as commanding as usual and it seemed like a very controlled performance in terms of his movements, but the vocals were out of this world. They were pitch perfect and powerful throughout and he made brilliant use of his breath to convey the feeling of desperation. I found him to be very expressive and loved the incredible Dying to forget you as well as the final Crying, which was low, long and and perfectly unembellished. He was awesome and took my breath away. After he finished, he looked quite happy and the first thing he did was signal to the band, then shook his head to zone back in and removed his remaining earpiece. I found it a little bit strange that Simon practically begged everyone to vote for him and I hope he negated any possible backlash by complimenting the other contestants.

I still have mixed feelings about the nights performances which I thought seemed slightly jaded. It wasn't a great night for anyone and I'm left a bit worried that Adam's lost a little momentum this week. Perhaps it's just been a very hectic and tiring week. I was hoping for Adam to blow the roof off but felt that what he gave was relatively tame by his standards. I half expected Adam to give two performances that were complete polar opposites but I guess it's hard when you don't know until late on what you're allowed to sing. I still think his performances were the best of the night, beating everyone else's. He actually didn't put a foot wrong in either performance and sang his ass off - but as he himself is aware, at this point, it's not about skills or talent but a matter of taste. I'm annoyed at myself for having built up such high expectations that are unfair on Adam. I hope they'll announce him safe early on in the show because I desperately want to see him completely blow us away next week and win.

9 comments:

  1. I was checking your page desperately today...Because I needed you to formulate my confused feelings of love, sadness, hurt from many negative comments after the last perfomance. And of course you did and I know now how I feel. I may be, just like you, have been reading too much into Adam's face, body language, etc., but I think he started showing some signs of stress (which is completely normal) but also some sadness from all that negative interest that he generated along with a star status and our love. I would advise him to try to refrain from googling for the next week (that is if he goes through tonight). I hate a feeling of doubt. Thank you again!

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  2. Oh me. I too was left with a jumble of feelings - shock, sadness, FEAR - after last night. So much so I couldn't watch, and obsessively rewatch, the vids that went up immediatly afterwards as I usually do. Then I read your recap with the handy dandy imbedded clips and finally watched One again. Much better than my initial impression!! I think I'm expecting so much from Adam at this point - near perfection - that the bar was set too high. And he didn't have enough time to really sell this particular song! It all felt so rushed. Phooey on Idol for too much talking and not enough performing! I feel much better about Adam making it to the Finale now.

    Great blog you have. So many lay either the snark or the squee on heavy and go light on the substance. Thanks for your more thoughtful approach. Very satisfying for a fellow Adam obsessive. ;)
    SeanD

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  3. I cant believe you seem to sum up after each performance the exact feeling I am experiencing. I wonder if being obsessed by Adam we all have a kindred spirit? Interesting thought. I love reading your blog, its very imformative and as I said you seem to be looking straight into my heart and mind (I am British living in the US too :-) ).

    Thanks again.
    Carmella

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  4. I wish Adam had done without back-up singers entirely. That one really did a number on Adam's second song. Like you, I came away really fearing people might not appreciate either performance. I adore Adam (every color of Adam) - but that's a fan for you. Our hearts fill in whatever blanks may occur.

    I must say upon repeated viewings - both songs really hold up. The arrangements were a tad truncated - but that will no doubt be attended to in the studio versions. I must say I approached tonight with fear and trepidation. I was convinced the haters would have won out, and our beautiful Adam would be heading home. Thankfully that bullet was dodged.

    Then it hit me. Only one week more. Only one more opportunity to hear Adam sing. The show will end, he will either be crowned it’s king or relegated to second place – and those of us addicted to Adams panoply of aural emotions will be left bereft; at sea - lost. Oh – I know he will be recording music – but that’s a year or more in the future. Sad – don’t you think?

    Anyway. I’ll be on tenterhooks until we know the results of the final. Either way – I’ll miss our boy very much.

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  5. After initially not being that in love with the song choice of "ONE" I listened to it over and over and I actually ended up loving it. I have put it up there with my favorites. Adam can make any song awesome, but the vocals on "One" were outstanding. I wished he didn't use the backing singer for "Crying" she was so annoying, I think at one point he overpowered here and cut her short so she finally shut up!

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  6. I felt the same thing about One after his performance. I was left feeling confused and underwhelmed. I thought he tried too hard, too much with that song. It was beautiful the way it was with the original by U2. However, as you listen to it over and over again, it actually gets better. There is an article in the LA Times by Ann Powers regarding Adam's version of One (http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/americanidoltracker/2009/05/ann-powers-rethinking-adams-one.html). You should check it out. I guarantee you that it will inspire you and bring more appreciation to Adam's performance.

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  7. The last two words - "sisters, brothers" - will forever linger in my mind. Beyond beautiful - transporting. Pure heaven.

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  8. Interesting reading this article and comments. There was nothing wrong with this performance. I suspect you were all so invested in the show at the time - and Adam in particular - that you were seeing this in a very VERY critical way. I dont know if that is clear - but from someone who met Adam and his music nearly 2 years after this and looking at these vids with no emotional investment or worry etc, I can say this is fantastic!

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  9. Anonymous, you certainly saved yourself from a lot of high blood pressure by tuning in late! We were sooooo invested and on tenterhooks week after week, especially after the Top 5 scare. A lot of fans didn't like the arrangement and the worry grew into something massive! But thankfully none of that matters now and we can laugh at ourselves, sit back and enjoy.

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