Rudi Gutierrez & Matt Ranaudo, “Shallow” by Lady Gaga & Bradley Cooper
Vocal Performance: A+
Yes, I indeed have a favorite child. Rudi, my G.I.R.L. I’m proud to boast my consistent stanning of Rudi as the season’s dark horse – with that said, I can no longer apply that term appropriately. Rudi is the true star of this Listen To Your Heart, and it’s about time. This performance was set up to either obliterate the competition or come crashing down in flames with Matt subsequently going into Witness Protection. The edit they got this episode was so in-your-face; if any of you watch reality competition shows, there’s usually a “winner” edit and an often blatant “elimination” edit that are cornerstones of that show type. Quite frankly, it was stressful that this duo was exuding both edits simultaneously up until their routine. This was emphasized further by their performance slot going from consistent opener to the closing act.
People will be raving about Rudi all week, but I’m here to give Matt the credit he rightfully deserves. It’s obvious that (with Bri and Chris as the exception) the ladies are leading Listen To Your Heart, with the men doing a great job as supporting cast. Matt has bided his time each week patiently and has consistently matched Rudi – which is harder than it looks when you consider another duo like, oh I don’t know, Natascha and Ryan – without trying to share or steal the spotlight. But his voice is GOOD and it finally got its proper airtime in the opening verse it deserves. Naturally, I’m blanking on every well-known musician while writing this, but Matt actually sounded like a professional singer with a complex and interesting tone. While he hasn’t had much attention paid to his vocals with Rudi’s insane prowess, think back to all their performances. Has Matt been an anchor in a single one? The answer to that rhetorical would be a quiet no – he’s matched Rudi without being obvious or showy about it, but finally got his criminally overdue credit last night.
Here’s why this duo will win: they sound like they are meant to be singing together. It’s much rarer than you’d think – comparatively, not a single other couple on Listen to Your Heart (barring maaaybe Julia and Sheridan but…well, we all know the problems there) has actually sounded better or equally good singing together than apart. Just because you can harmonize well doesn’t mean you should be a performative duo. Rudi and Matt are the clearest exceptions.
Interpretive Routine: A-
It was nothing to write home about, but (Bri and Chris, pls take notes) even when they’re not animatedly moving about on stage, they still have a stage presence and are just fun to watch. This seemed purposefully demure to allow the vocals to be the centerpiece, and it was fitting for the song choice – it’s not like they were singing Bop to the Top. Rudi, per usual, just looks like she knows what she’s doing without doing too much – undeniably the paramount approach.
~Romance~ Level: A
I’m willing to throw the entirety of the rest of the episode out the window in light of what transpired during their performance. I’m like, 99% sure they just fell in love on stage. To be fair, that could be chalked up to a healthy dose of adrenaline and newfound frontrunner status to win this series by a landslide, but there’s no denying what took place between them on stage. They were never a Bri and Chris; they were destined to be a hot mess – the question was whether they would get it together or go down in flames. Based on last night’s final performance, I’m leaning toward the latter.
Overall Grade: 97/100
When I was saying the winner was in our face all along, and that the story has been there the entire series, hi, the new power duo that is Mudi is who I am referring to. The series winner was never going to be in-our-face powerhouses Natasha and Ryan, and it’s absolutely not going to be snoozefest Bri and Chris (again, this is a reality television show – there’s simply a necessary entertainment aspect). Who better than the two somewhat hot heads, who have always had eyes for really only each other since Night One, who’ve gone through a series of ups and downs slowly leading up to last night’s climax tipping point – fueled largely in part by the romantic rollercoaster that lasted 90% of the episode. It’s not as if this is going to be a competition judged solely on vocal ability – missed opportunity there, there’s a huge gap in the market for singing competition shows!
The winning duo is undeniably going to come down to a combination of romantic and vocal growth, and that giant red arrow is now blatantly hovering atop Rudi and Matt. It was frankly shortsighted of me not to catch onto this sooner. Alas, I’m still calling it a week early: Rudi and Matt are your series winners of Listen To Your Heart.
Were you blindsided by Natascha and Ryan’s shocking downfall on this week’s Listen to Your Heart, or did you see it coming the entire time? Think any couple has a shot of catching Rudi and Matt? Don’t care, and just want this ride to end? Let us know your thoughts!