Wednesday, March 19, 2008

My Three Least Favorite “American Idol” Contestants

By Evan Rytlewski
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I’ve caught enough episodes of this season’s contest that I feel comfortable weighing in a bit.

My three least favorite “American Idol” hopefuls:

Jason Castro – Guys always reserve a special kind of distain for non-conventionally handsome men that girls swoon over anyway. GQ men like George Clooney or Jude Law? We can understand why women find them attractive. But a boldly featured, dreadlocked guy like Jason Castro? That’s a frustrating mystery, and Castro’s lecherous performances make men uneasy. Paula Adbul, of all people, described his problem last night with one perfectly chosen word: he makes people “uncomfortable.” His voice swings all over the place, his sexuality is creepy and his overconfidence is off-putting. (And, not to dwell too much on physicality, but a few weeks ago, “Idol” filmed an outdoor interview with him, during which flies swarmed around his dreadlocks. Now every time I see him I still picture those flies circling his head.)

Amanda Overmyer – Save for her personality, which seems genuine, there’s very little about the willfully uncouth Amanda Overmyer that I don’t find objectionable. I get it, she likes Janis Joplin.

Ramiele Malubay – It’s speaks to the talent this season that there are really only two contestants that make me cringe (Castro and Overmyer), so I won’t feign some sort of exaggerated hatred for Ramiele Malubay, but I will call her out as a weak link. A little woman with a deceptively huge (and very seasoned) voice, she’s the dullest and least engaging of all the contestants. She has no real character—unless you define “crying under pressure” as character—and it shows on stage. The voice is great, but the package is bland.

My Three Favorite “American Idol” Hopefuls:

Syesha Mercado – Every season I root for the contestants that profess the most fondness for traditional soul music, so when Syesha Mercado trumpeted her love of Aretha Franklin, I was immediately smitten. Mercado is likeable, has a great voice and puts a lot of passion into her (admittedly sometimes sloppy, overly earnest) performances—she’s like a more grounded Lauryn Hill. I’d actually look forward to an album from her.

Brooke White – She’s always smiling, so it’s difficult to dislike her.

In Defense of the Ringer:

Each week, Carly Smithson proves that she owes her placement among the finalists not just to industry nepotism but also to raw talent. Hers is the strongest voice in the competition, and although I wouldn’t want to hear an album from her—like so many, I resent her for already having her well-financed shot at stardom—I’ve got to give credit where credit it due.

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