Ultimately, there are two things a contestant needs to succeed on “American Idol”: The ability to own songs and “It.”
Both are a bit hard to define but you don’t need Randy, Kara, Paula and Simon to tell you when you see them. You know those qualities when you see them. That’s obvious from the various comments that readers have made on startribune.com.
Casey Carlson, our homegirl from Eden Prairie, struck out on both counts. There was nothing original about her rendition of the Police’s “Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic.” She didn’t make the song her own. She didn’t inject her personality into it. It was pretty much karaoke. Never mind that she had some pitch issues, as well.
Then there’s the “It” factor. Call it star quality, charmisa, magic. Or more often than not, Idol settles for a strong, definable personality. Being cute, as Casey was, is one-dimensional. It’s not personality. She projected theatricality (winking, smiling, etc.) more than personality.
Tatiana, Idol’s drama queen, has oodles of personality but it wasn’t necessarily likable personality. She got bounced, too, on Wednesday night.
Of the 12 singers who performed this week, Danny Gokey seemed the closest to having the American Idol goods. He took a Mariah Carey song, Hero, (probably the only Mariah song worth covering) and made it his own, taking a woman’s song and doing it from a male point of view with vocal flair. It helps if you know his back story as a recent widower — and all that kind of stuff factors into personality and the voting.
He sold the song as his own, he established himself as a memorable personality and he’s the guy with cooler-than-Randy’s glasses, a piece of identity that sets him apart from the two other kinda husky dudes who also sang on Tuesday.
Next week, our other homegirl, Jesse Langseth (or Jesse Lang as she’s been known in local clubs), gets her turn.