Against All Odds (Take A Look At Me Now)
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Against All Odds is tied with I Have Nothing as the most performed song on American Idol, but it hasn't fared nearly as well with the Idolsphere as with the contestants. It's averaged a mediocre 36.5 rating in six performances. Scott Savol scraped through AI4's Semifinals without so much as an average-rated performance, and he just barely reached that territory on the Final 12 episode. Put song and singer together for Final 11 Night and what do you get? Believe it or not, the only performance of "Odds" to rate higher than a 50 and Savol's highest-rated performance during his Idol run.
In the intro clip, Savol said that the song had special significance to him and that his father (whom he'd said at his audition "wasn't able to accomplish much") would probably be able to relate it to his life experience. He started out a bit flat on the verse, but he found the proper pitch just in time for the chorus. After the first chorus section he took off his hat and flung it to the side. He did the same with his glasses at the end of the second, at which point he began belting out the song with more intensity than America had ever seen from him. While he came close to shouting at times, his facial expressions and body language showed real conviction rather than a clunky, affected attempt at interpretation. Savol took a bow after the song was over, knowing he'd just given his best effort.
The performance earned mixed reviews from the judges. Randy and Paula loved it while Simon, who expressed gratitude that the truncated version of the song prevented a full striptease, simply said that it wasn't a fantastic vocal.
What We Thought
While we didn't think this was Savol's best performance vocally, it was his most highly-regarded for good reason. By throwing off his hat and glasses as the song's emotion heightened, he gave the impression that he was casting off layers of pretension and baring his soul to America. By telling them to "take a look at me now" it was as if he was announcing that the guy who had been dealt bad breaks his entire life was finally getting his moment to shine. Several renditions of this song on Idol have resorted to heavy melisma and/or glory notes to make an impact, but Savol chose to stick with the original melody and merely to speed up the tempo a little, allowing his passion to do the talking.
"Against All Odds" isn't an incredible song, but Savol made it into something personally meaningful to him and the Idolsphere connected with it better than anything else he did on the show. For all the criticism he received (often justifiably) for his other performances, he deserves a great deal of credit for squeezing a 59 out of this infamous Phil Collins chestnut.
(...by Ian, WNTS contributor)