American Idol’s Casey Abrams receives mixed reaction on his Nirvana cover

I totally missed last week’s first live performances on [[American Idol (2011 Series)|American Idol]], only catching a handful a couple of days ago. Whoa. Some of the most promising talent they’ve had on this show in years, and they opt to sing saccharine cliches and give their weakest vocal performances yet.

Which brings me neatly to Casey Abrams. A musician and singer with a damn fine voice, Casey’s slowly losing something of his unique charm. Now, that could be due to his various hospitalizations, affecting his performances. Or it could be a weird bunch of song choices. 

On last night’s American Idol, Casey chose to sing Nirvana’s Smells Like Teen Spirit. Vocally, it was a fine version of the song, but I can’t help wishing Casey had left the bass guitar to the backing band and just went nuts on stage. He didn’t, and though he managed to growl his way through the more damanding parts of the chorus, the performance was slightly dead-eyed for me. I can see what Christine means when she said Casey was more like Charles Manson than Kurt Cobain!

Here’s Christine’s take on what the judges said:

Steven Tyler did too, complimenting Abrams for his crazy and his talent because: “that’s the goop great stuff is made from.”

Jennifer Lopez thankfully called Casey out for his over-the-top intensity, letting him know he’d gotten a bit too screechy when he got too intense.

Randy Jackson on the other hand complimented Abrams for taking risks with his song selections. Which gave me the need to call Randy out for his inconsistencies.

Reading the Zap2It review, they don’t seem to think that Casey has it in his personality to channel Cobain’s rage and frustration. Something I’d also be inclined to agree with – Abrams is just to bloody affable.

It’s about taking all the disaffection, boredom, anger and all those other lovely early-’90s, Gen-X emotions and letting them out in one big, cathartic wail (backed by a great hook). And based on what we’ve seen of him so far, Casey just doesn’t seem that disaffected, bored or angry, so we didn’t really buy the attitude he was trying to push. It was a competent cover but not much else.

Check out the video – I think you’ll agree that if Casey’s performance intensity had matched his vocal intensity, it would have been a much better effort. Come on, Casey, we’re rooting for you, but you’ve got to raise your game for these live shows!

P.S. Note to backing band: Where the hell was all the distortion?

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