Before I begin, I would like to preface this by saying that this was my favourite Idol experience of all time. Considering the majority of you know that Idol is one of my favourite shows, this is obviously saying something.
Let’s get started.
I once again arrived at the Masonic Temple early. I have to stop doing that because waiting outside in the heat that has just destroyed Toronto recently is overpowering.
In any event, it was more of the same old waiting game before CTV’s PR people arrived to escort me inside the studio.
I found out about an hour before the show, that I would be sitting in the front row. Beside me would be Matt Kennedy’s family. The reason this is interesting is because they usually have the names of all the contestants attached to most of the seats so that their family members know where to sit. The chair beside me said “Matt Kennedy” but it also had a cartoon face drawn on it. Later, I heard some of CTV’s people talking and they said that Matt Kennedy’s wife would be sitting there and it was at this point that I realized the chances of me being on TV would be quite high.
Anyway, with about 15 minutes to go before showtime, somebody noticed that there was a stain on the Canadian Idol logo on-stage. Things became quite frantic as they tried unsuccessfully to remove the mark, but luckily it did not show up on TV.
I was a little more excited this time around, since this was my first performance show. Usually the performance shows are taped on Saturdays and then aired on Tuesdays, but because of the Live 8 stuff over the weekend, this was the first live performance show that media were allowed to attend.
Right before the show got started, I started telling all of the CTV people that I know who will win this edition of the show. For the past few weeks, I have been telling anyone who will listen that Suzi Rawn has this thing wrapped up. I told them that I staked my “reality reputation” on it, and they said that they will buy me dinner if I am right. So if for no other reason, start voting for Suzi!
The point that I must make here is that while I believe that Suzi has this competition locked up, the thing that bothers me is that she will always be remembered as the girl who received the most time on TV, at the expense of her overwhelming talent. I sincerely hope that this is not the case.
I noticed that the audience this time around was much older and there was a pervasive calm around them. This was surprising, considering the usual exuberence of the young audience members.
Sue came out to warm up the crowd again, but I did my best to tune her out. Yes Sue, we know where the fire exits are. Yes Sue, we know to cheer when Ben Mulroney comes out. Yes Sue, you are incredibly annoying.
Luckily we did not have to sit through singing happy birthday for any of the kids in attendance because I really think that can be the world’s foremost cause of cranial suicide.
For those of you that have seen any of the Idol competitions, you know that the contestants usually sit on a white couch before singing. The kids around me were quite mesmerized by the fact that the couch could change colors depending on what light the CTV guys decided to shine on it.
Vince Benanti arrived, and sat right behind me with the rest of the Matt Kennedy contingent. I introduced myself and told him that we went to the same college.
The judges were introduced and then it was time for Group 8 to perform.
Keely Hutton, 20, St. John’s, NL – Student
Matt Kennedy, 21, Coquitlam, BC – Student / Guitar Teacher
Melissa O’Neil, 16, Calgary, AB – High School Student
Luke O’Reilly, 17, Caledonia, ON – High School Student
Genevieve Nadeau, 24, St-Bruno-De-Montarville, QC – Financial Consultant / Singer
Suzi Rawn, 22, Kamloops, BC – Singer / Songwriter
Danian Vickers, 23, Toronto, ON – Customer Service Rep
Aaron Walpole, 26, St. Thomas, ON – Singer / Actor
Genevieve was up first and she sang “Some Kind Of Wonderful.” After the performance, I found that I agreed with judge Sass Jordan’s assessment. While Genevieve did her best and “moved” well, I don’t think it was enough to vault her into the top 10. Farley said that she sounded nasal-y, and I agreed. The only way that Genevieve will move on is if there is a “reverse Barrett effect.” Translation: If young boys vote for the hot chick. Personally, I don’t think they are as committed as the all of the girls who voted for Daryl.
Luke took the stage next. He sang “God Bless The Broken Road.” I thought he sounded good live, but when I rewatched the performance at home, I thought that he was playing up to the cameras too much. While he sounded good and showed shades of an incredible voice, he just didn’t take it to the next level as the judges said. It was an honest and safe performance, so I will congratulate him for that because choosing a safe song for the group portion of Canadian Idol is definitely the way to go. I think that he is a contender for the top 3 because of the Barrett effect that I outlined above.
It was at this point in the show, that I realized that I was agreeing with all of the judges on this night.
Keely went next and she sang “Don’t Cry Outloud.” I thought it was a really bad song selection since Emily Vinette sang the same song and carried it all the way to a Top 10 berth. I thought that Keely totally oversang it (again, just like the judges said), but at one point in the song, she pointed directly at yours truly in the front row so she gets points from me for that.
The big man, Aaron Walpole or “Whopper” as his friends call him took the stage next. He sang “Try” by Blue Rodeo. It was definitely a crowd-pleaser and I enjoyed the performance, although I still tended to agree with Zack Werner’s thoughts when he said that Aaron’s stage backgrounded tended to adversely influence his performance as he used too many theatrics. I think that Aaron is a strong, Ruben-like singer who can be overly schmaltzy. I think he is also a top three contender.
After a commercial break, Dainian was up next. My thoughts on this one? Blah. Once again, the judges summed up my feelings on the performance quite adequately. There was a wall between her and the audience. Her problem definitely is one of connectivity. I didn’t care too much for her song choice, (not sure what it was and Kevin Wong is still looking to check out the episode so I can’t grab the title off of him). Zach said that Dainian was “great.” I said “I hate it.” When I watched it on TV, it was better, but there’s no way Dainian is moving forward.
Finally it was time for Suzi. While I could go on and on, I will just say that beside Rex, she is the best singer in this competition.
Finally it was time for the main event. Matt Kennedy. He sang “I’ll Be” and I thought he sounded great. But enough about that. Let me tell you what happened. Matt came down to the audience to serenade his wife. And as I mentioned before, I was sitting right beside her. I was on TV! Inside Pulse’s Rob Purchase talked to me after the show and he said that I looked disgusted, but this wasn’t the case. I was just shocked that the guy was literally singing a centimetre away from me. It was very funny. I think that the problem Matt will face is that the judges were harsh on him and he was placed in a really good group. He desperately needs the girl vote, but I think he will score with the parents for singing so sweetly to his wife.
At this point, and with one singer left, I saw the top three being Suzi, Luke, and Aaron.
That was before Melissa.
She came out and in her intro clip, she discussed how she liked to “emote” her songs. Singing Concrete Angel, she tore the house down and Zach repeatedly said that he will see her in the Top 10.
Will Canada agree?
I am honestly not sure.
Time for my prediction. I will go with Suzi and Melissa moving on, but Luke, Aaron, and Matt are all serious contenders.
I will be at the results show on Wednesday and will have the inside pulse for you on Thursday.