I lost interest in American Idol a couple of weeks before we went on vacation. I think it was the week before Kellie Pickler was voted off. Now that I think about it, it was that Chicken Little guy’s lisp that threw me over the edge. I either had to turn off the television or hit the bottle harder than Paula Abdul.

Anyways, Earl came home from a business dinner tonight and promptly turned on the TiVo to watch American Idol. I wasn’t going to watch it with him, but I didn’t want to clean the house or do anything else productive, so I sat down and prepared myself to be underwhelmed.

I must say that one performance tonight blew me completely out of the water, and that was Katharine McPhee and “Somewhere Over The Rainbow”.

Now I pride myself on the fact that I have excellent pitch recall. I can sing a known song in tune and in it’s original key without having to hear it first. If I had paid attention to my music education classes at SUNY Fredonia, I’d probably have perfect pitch in the sense that if I was told to sing a B-flat I could sing it without having to hear it first. (By the way, I can sing a B-flat without prompting, just ask me to do it someday). I feel that at the any serious performer must have at the very least pitch recall and should really have perfect pitch.

Katharine sang the beginning of “Rainbow” a cappella (without accompaniment). When the band joined her about a quarter of the way into the song, she was in perfect tune with the band. There was no indiscreet harmonica bleat at the beginning to prep her, she had taken the ear piece out so we know she wasn’t hearing anything there, no, Katharine was singing on her own musical and vocal ability. And for the first time in a long time, I was impressed with a performance on American Idol.

Katharine captured the emotion of “Rainbow”, didn’t oversing it like Sam Harris did back in the 80s when he wanted to Patti LaBelle and had the stage presence of a star by actually sitting on the floor of the stage and taking the intimate approach. It worked for her.

My instrumental teacher in high school was rarely impressed. With him it was either perfect or anything else was pretty much embarassing. I hold performances of myself and of others to that same standard. I know when I suck.

And I know when another shines. And Katharine McPhee shined tonight.

J.P. is a freelance writer on the internet. To the relief of many, he isn’t paid for a word he says. After a brilliant high school musical career, including his line stopping performance as Mr. Whitney in “Anything Goes”, he flunked out of SUNY Fredonia while pursuing a career in music education due to lack of interest on all parties involved.