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You could carp that seeing 11 fresh-faced "American Idol" contestants belt out songs by Katy Perry, Lady Gaga and Cee-Lo Green is merely, as the TV show's judges have often pointed out themselves, karaoke.
But considering that this past season's finalists are the most talented singers ever assembled in the show's 10 seasons, it is enjoyable and largely satisfying karaoke. With superior production values.
The nationwide tour began Wednesday night at Maverik Center in West Valley City. One of the best things about this year's "American Idols LIVE!" tour is that there is no Randy Jackson, no Steven Tyler and no Jennifer Lopez. Just singing, pure and simple, without the useless and inane advice those three dished out,
In past iterations of the tour, the show would usually start with the lowest finalist, then proceed in chronological order until you reached the winner, with a few medleys tossed in. This year, there were more duets and medleys, and the contestants largely traded songs with one another. The only contestant not seen until the end was winner Scotty McCreery.
Just as in the show, it is fun to pick favorites, although all are disguised behind layers of sequins, blinding lights, and uncomfortably loud sound levels. With more than 30 songs and a running time of nearly three hours, the show could use a trim.
The contestants that showed the most star power, stage presence and vocal chops were Stefano Langone, Casey Abrams, Haley Reinhart and Pia Toscano. News arrived Wednesday morning that Toscano just signed a record deal, and she debuted her new single, "This Time," in Utah. It played to her strengths: a mid-tempo song that allows her to display her flexibility and dynamics. The big surprise was Reinhart, whose smoky, soulful voice was accentuated with a sultry, come-hither playfulness.
The show tries to be all things to all people, so you heard R&B from Jacob Lusk, jazz from Abrams, country from runner-up Lauren Alaina and rock from James Durbin. Yes, it is karaoke, and considering the price, a rather expensive night of karaoke. But the show doesn't aspire to be great art, and delivers on its promise of great singing and the most family-friendly show this side of the Wiggles.
Just cut the running time, please some of us have to work the next day.
'American Idols LIVE!'
R Even Simon would say they have X-Factor
Where • Maverik Center, West Valley City
Reviewed • Wednesday, July 6