there to see Mandisa, a fact that she openly recognized.
Most of the crowd was, in fact, there for the next performer, Ace Young.
As soon as Ace took the stage, preteens decked out in sparkly makeup
started jumping out of their chairs screaming and frantically waving
their "Marry Me Ace" signs. Ace took full advantage of being one of
American Idol's heartthrobs, making bedroom eyes at the audience
and slinking around the stage with a sexy saunter throughout his set,
all the while driving the audience wild. The pinnacle of Ace's cheesy
showiness came when he stripped off his jacket during an otherwise well
done rendition of George Michael's "Father Figure."
Next up was the American Idol Season 5's youngest performer and
tenth place finisher, Lisa Tucker. Her first song, a sweet as sugar
version of Stevie Wonder's "Signed, Sealed, Delivered," revealed her
age, however, her next two songs, versions of the Elton John classics
"Your Song" and "Someone Saved My Life Tonight," during which she
accompanied herself on keyboard, gave hints of a truly gifted young
performer who has more talent than the average Teen Pop Queen.
American Idol fifth place finisher Paris Bennett took the stage
next with a rendition of "Midnight Train to Georgia" that succeeded in
bringing the crowd to its feet. Unfortunately for her, she lost the
crowd with her next song. Her take on "Crazy in Love," complete with
plenty of fake ponytail twirling, booty shaking, and, oh yes, a chair
routine, made her out to be nothing more than a second rate Beyonce.
Paris is actually a much better singer than this performance showed. She
has a deep and soulful singing voice which is much better suited for
singing the jazz classics that she performed on American Idol,
instead of giving lackluster performances of day old R&B.
The show then shifted gears, as two of American Idol Season 5's
country singers took the stage. First up was Bucky Covington, a man who
is as unassuming as his name would imply. Bucky let loose during his
performance of Stevie Wonder's "Superstition" and, while talking to the
audience, showed some of that "aw-shucks" persona that got him so far in
the American Idol competition. He was then joined by sixth place
finisher Kellie Pickler for a cute country take on "You're the One that
I Want" from the movie Grease. During her solo songs, Kellie did
not stray from anything she had not already performed on American
Idol, which led to a set that was entertaining to watch, albeit not
very different from what Idol fans have come to expect from her.
Next up after a half hour intermission was crowd favorite Chris
Daughtry. Chris got the crowd rocking and rolling with a set that
included Styx's "Renegade" and Bon Jovi's "Wanted Dead or Alive." Chris'
voice is perfect for rock music and Saturday he was able to sound raspy
without sounding strained. He exhibited a strong stage presence,
commanding the audience as he traveled the stage, mic stand in hand.
Chris also accompanied himself on guitar for "Wanted Dead or Alive" and
for his duet with American Idol Season 5 second runner up,
Elliott Yamin, a take on Nickelback's "Savin' Me." This duet was one of
the best performances of the night. Both singers sounded amazing
together, each one's voice complementing the other's. The song also
allowed Elliott to showcase more of a rock edge to his voice, which was
previously known for a soulful jazz style.
Elliott Yamin was among the night's strongest performers. Along with his
duet with Chris Daughtry, he sang three solo songs and he nailed every
one of them. His smooth as silk voice breathed soul into the little
known "Moody's Mood for Love" and his rendition of Elvis Presley's
"Trouble" was so alluring that the King himself would have been proud.
Please somebody give this guy a record deal!
After Elliott Yamin, the male contestants, minus American Idol
Season 5 winner Taylor Hicks, performed a group song and dedicated it to
missing idol Katharine McPhee, the first and only mention of the
American Idol Season 5 runner up's absence. The girls followed
the boys with a group song of their own, but by this point the crowd was
getting impatient for Taylor to come out. And come out he did - out of
the audience to the tune of "Jailhouse Rock!"
The concert at Nassau Coliseum may have been in Uniondale, New York, but
during Taylor Hicks' set, the arena felt like it was in another Long
Island town - Hicksville. With a voice to rival that of Michael McDonald
and enough energy and personality to get away with his original funky
dance moves, 2006's American Idol was easily the most
entertaining to watch. After watching him perform, it was abundantly
clear that Taylor Hicks doesn't go on stage to mug for the cameras or
for the girls in the audience; he goes on stage because he truly enjoys
performing. He is even able to make his first single "Do I Make You
Proud," the usual inspirational drivel given to all American Idol
winners, heartfelt and listenable thanks to the nuances he puts into it
to make it uniquely, Taylor. His last solo performance, "Taking It to
the Streets" was another highlight of the evening, even featuring some
spirited harmonica playing from the American Idol champ himself.
The other eight American Idol finalists then joined Taylor for
two group songs, which felt a little anticlimactic after Taylor's
"Taking It to the Streets" spectacle. It was fun, however, to get one
last look and listen at the night's other performers; which, for some,
will be the last look America gets at them before they fade into
obscurity with four seasons of other would-be American Idols.