Sunday, March 08, 2009

…reacts to American Idol Top 36 Wildcard Round

Oh, for God's sake, GET UP!! YOU ARE ON TV! We'll get to Tatiana del Loco in just a minute...

America has chosen nine finalists, including some obvious choices and some not so obvious choices, but all of them acceptable and perfectly predictable. So now it’s up to the judges to fill out the final three spots. Last night, they pulled eight of the rejects out of America’s pile of leftovers, including some obvious choices and some not so obvious choices, but all acceptable and perfectly predictable. They are: Ricky, Jasmine, Von, Megan, Matt G., Jesse, Anoop, and freaking Tatiana del Toro. This... is American Idol, and this… will probably be excruciating.

Jesse Langseth is up first, singing Tell Me Something Good, a song that always reminds me of that episode of Will and Grace in which Karen discovers Stan cheating on her with the cafeteria worker from his white-collar prison, played by the inimitable Minnie Driver. Aaaanyway, I expect to see some changes from their previous performances, because this time they aren’t after the approval of America, but rather, the approval of the judges, so any attempt NOT to be the exact shape of the pigeon hole in which the judges have placed them is not only suicidal but also a waste of our time. These judges play by the rules of TV ratings and marketing, so uniqueness and artistry will be rewarded with disdain and a dismissive wave, and GOD I hope we’re ready for it because this could get hard to watch. Like I said, Jesse is up first and she is fantastic. Her performance is sultry and utterly natural; it seems easy for her which is what I like to see. The judges are complimentary, but I get the feeling they can’t place her in one of those molds they cling to so fiercely, so honestly I don’t have a whole lot of hope.

Matt Giraud is not playing around anymore ya’ll. Tonight, he will sing a song I don’t know, but it’s bluesy and soulful, which is exactly what the judges want. He is clearly a good singer, both technically and artistically, so the judges can’t take that away from him, but they may have qualms about his wardrobe. What’s with that scarf? It’s wrapped so tightly, it’s almost like he came prepared with a noose with which to off himself should things not work out in his favor.

Megan Corkrey would like us to meet her black horse and her cherry tree, and as a result, be bored out of our minds. I really don’t get it is about this girl. Well, I get that she’s cute, and her dancing is atrocious in a clueless kind of way, which I suppose is endearing, and she has moments when her voice is titillating and awesome, but I definitely don’t get why Simon likes her so much. I’m not sure the judges are listening, really, because all of their devotion seems to come from her look and her dancing and her attitude (all of which are cute and fun, true), but WHAT ABOUT THE SINGING!? This performance wasn’t bad, but there are better singers in this competition, especially among those left behind from the preliminary rounds, so basically I’m interested in knowing what game the judges are playing right about now.

Confession time: I kind of like Von Smith. I think he is an exceptionally powerful singer with an exceptionally powerful instrument. But there’s something about him that makes him hard to watch and listen to. On this particular night, I was distracted by his hairstyle – it was windblown times 1,000, except the wind was blowing not just in his face, but also from each side, forcing his hair into a configuration not unlike an elf’s pointy hat. And then there were some of the high notes that sounded painful. A good singer should be able to sing high and loud without making faces that remind me of someone passing kidney stones.

Jasmine Murray is back and has apparently confused American Idol with a high-school beauty pageant because she is going to sing Reflections. This song has become such a cliché, hasn’t it? Granted, it’s a much better choice than her previous one, but it couldn’t be more boring. I think I know what the judges see in her: pretty, young, and infinitely likeable. But do all of those things trump talent? Her performance of the song is actually kind of terrible – pitchy, oversung, and waaaay up her nose, it’s almost like the song is too hard for her. To review, she chose a sappy ballad that every other singer can do and sang it badly, and yet, the judges think she hit it out of the park. Uh, what?

Ricky Braddy, in his jeans so tight,
Came out to sing Superstition tonight.
He sang it with soul and he sang it so well
Such a shame that the judges don’t think he will sell.

Tatiana Del Toro is terrifying, but not for the reason you think. She is the ultimate paradox: an amazing contender with the potential to win the damn show, stuck with the personality of a lunatic. Out of the four female performances tonight, hers was the most masterful, the most professional, the most… everything really, and yet… the idea of her making it to the Top 12 is something verging on apocalyptic. Personally, I don’t think I could stand to see her one more time – her ramblings and her faux-emotional-breakdowns and her undermedicatedness freaks me out so much – but it seems like a disservice to the competition to put her out of her misery because the truth is: she’s incredible when she is singing. If the judges do the right thing and choose the best singer, it’s Tatiana by a full body-length, but I almost hope they don’t because I’m afraid the sheer volume of her crazy will find a way to transport itself through the airwaves and contaminate an entire generation of viewers into thinking that it’s OK to be a complete nut-job as long as you have the talent to back it up. The life lesson here is that in order to be a success at anything you have to be talented AND somewhat relatable, because even the most talented whackos have trouble getting ahead because people can’t stand to be around them. Sometimes being yourself is the absolute wrong thing to do, and that’s the hardest lesson of all.

Anoop Desai will be the death of me. I don’t think I would like a performance like this in any other context, but I can’t say anything bad about Anoop. The vocals were good, the song choice was ironic, the dancing was endearingly bad… put all of it together and my pupils turn to hearts and my stomach feels queasy and I may even play with my hair a little bit, because I am in love.

It’s all up to the judges now… results after the jump…

Ok – here’s the deal. This is a show. It’s not really a talent competition as much as it is a ratings bonanza. It is silly and naïve for people out there to think that the judges are going to make their decisions based on talent or ability. Simon and Co. are going to choose the three singers who are most likely to build a sustainable audience and perhaps sell records if they happen to win. They are also going to choose the three singers who provide the best balance to the 9 singers already chosen. For all of these reasons, I predict the judges will choose Jasmine, Anoop, and Tatiana. Here’s why: The Top 12 needs more girls, and the entire universe needs Anoop.

Jasmine is in. No surprise there. I’m disappointed because I think she sucks, but I’ll admit she helps to round out the Top 12. I don’t think she has a chance in hell of making it far, unless she just blows me away at some point, but really… she’s cannon fodder.

Ricky Braddy is dismissed. I expected that, though, because it’s been clear from week 1 that the only judge who likes him is Paula, and no one ever listens to her (usually for good reason, but this time: BOO to everyone but Paula).

Next it’s Megan versus Tatiana. I actually fell out of my chair when Megan got the spot, because Tatiana probably deserves it more, but then Tatiana started up with her shenanigans again and I thought… yeah, I probably won’t miss her too much.

So now we have two more girls in the Top 12, which means the last one has to be a guy, so upside down smile for Jesse, who got royally screwed.

Von Smith gets the boot. I thought he had a chance and I’m sure the producers thought he did too, but something about him just wasn’t clicking.

Now it’s Matt G. versus Anoop and I feel badly for Matt because OF COURSE Anoop is going to make it. But then… my world is shattered and Matt G. is given the final stool in the Top 12. Ya’ll, I’m not kidding, I almost started to cry. But then Simon rescued me and told Anoop that they’ve decided to have a Top 13, which is just like I imagine heaven will be, because in my mind, heaven is acres and acres of Anoop.

No comments: