Monday, April 06, 2009

… reacts to American Idol Top 9

One of my bestest friends in the whole wide world, Vivian “Shiver Me Timbers” Dubois, informed me this weekend that my greatest failure in life, besides being single and broke and kind of a boring person in general, is that I’m soooo slow with the turnaround on my American Idol recaps. Well, at least that is something I can fix.

But not this week.

As you can see… this post is going up on the vigil of the next episode of American Idol, about four days after anybody cared. My goal for next week is to have a recap up, oh, I don’t know… by the weekend? Don’t hold your breath.

If you will recall (who can possibly, though, because it was, like, two weeks ago), Michael Sarver was cut loose from the competition after a lackluster performance during Motown week. It was totally his time, because while we may have loved his rough neck, we did not enjoy his rough performance. *crickets*

I must be tired.

This week features songs plucked from the iTunes Top 100, which should mean that our Idols will be singing current hits. NOT SO, as the episode revealed…

First to perform is Anoop. He’s chosen Caught Up by Usher, which was a hit five years ago. I suppose five-year-old hits are “current” in the American Idol universe. All it does for me is make me feel old. I think I still have Old Navy polo shirts from when this was a hit and that’s… kind of embarrassing, actually. Anyway, it’s not great. He’s pitchy throughout, the dancing is unconvincing, and every time he goes up high in his range he makes the stink face.

I think he thinks that face is sexy. It’s not. I can appreciate what Anoop is trying to do here, which is recapture the snarl and attitude of My Prerogative, but there was something appealing about the irony of that song-choice, whereas this performance seems desperate. Randy actually cut close to the issue with Anoop (I know, shock) when he commented on the dubious direction Anoop is headed with his song choices. Word, Randy. The other judges say a bunch of other stuff (Kara had a great soundbyte about how it seemed like Anoop was dared to sing that song by a bunch of blitzed-out frat boys), but the real discussion focuses on who Anoop wants to be as a performer. He says that he chose Usher because he wants to be an R&B artist. That’s admirable, I suppose, but he has to consider the possibility that he doesn’t quite fit the image of an R&B star. I’m not saying it could never happen for him, but seriously… he ain’t Usher and never will be. (P.S. What was up with those chains around the shoulders of his blazer? I mean… that doesn’t even make sense. If you want to wear an epaulet, be my guest, but please… go all the way.)

As Megan Joy takes the stage, I must again reflect on how I feel about her. I still like her. I still celebrate her for the potential of her style and voice. And yet, she continues to deliver disappointing performances. They haven’t been terrible, as the judges would like us to think, but they have failed to meet my expectations. Tonight, she has chosen to sing Turn Your Lights Down Low, which is a song I haven’t heard, because when it was covered by Lauryn Hill in 1999, I was submerged in Freshman Music Theory. I don’t even remember seeing daylight back then, much less hearing obscure covers of Bob Marley songs on the radio. Now FOR ME, there were some nice moments in this performance… I’m still very much invested in the unique vocal style she has, but I have to agree with the judges when they say the song choice didn’t do her any favors. Randy nails it again (he’s on fire tonight) when he says that just because one loves a song, doesn’t mean one should perform it. Someone give Randy a cookie. Simon, meanwhile, is just mean – to the tune of “boring, monotonous, and indulgent.” In Simon’s world, indulgence is the greatest sin, because it’s a complete disregard for the audience. I don’t know if I would have gone that far, but he got the boring and monotonous parts right.

I’m afraid that the nation has abandoned me, you guys. Everywhere I turn, people are starting to warm up to Danny Gokey. Even the ones who were firmly on my side while he pimped his dead wife have become sucked into his gross, youth-pastory ickiness. RESIST, people… RESIST! Tonight, my inner torment takes the shape of Gokey singing What Hurts the Most, by Rascal Flatts. Apparently, Gokey is under the impression that everyone likes Rascal Flatts. I debunk that idea with my very existence. So the song is certainly right up Gokey’s alley, what with the spewing of uncontainable emotion and the figurative vomiting of his heart… and I almost buy it. But he screams the entire song. I’m sorry, he does. There is even spit. He is so aggressive with his emotions – it’s like he will beat me to a pulp with his voice until I FEEL. Is he so insincere that the only way to convey raw emotion is to SCREAM AT ME!? Clearly, Danny Gokey can do nothing right for me, which is how it’s probably going to stay unless he is actually able to come to my house and scream a song into my ear, forcing me into the same brainwashed state as the rest of America. The judges, on the other hand, are infatuated. It’s fine, I get it, I get it… but seriously, Simon, how was that performance NOT indulgent?

What’s Allison been up to, besides rolling around in a pool of pink glitter and fug? She’s been re-inventing No Doubt’s greatest single, Don’t Speak (and if you’re keeping track, that song came out in 1996). To start, it’s just Allison and her guitar, strumming the opening strains of the first verse. There are moments when she rushes the beat and loses all sense of rhythm, but thankfully, the band joins in before it gets too out of hand. This was not a great performance, which is really sad because I think I like what she tried to do. It was all a great idea that got lost in sloppy execution. The judges don’t get around to saying any of that because they’re all distracted by the hideous outfit. It is certainly hideous, like MOST hideous, but I feel like I have to agree with Kara in her controversial interview (the one that pissed Simon and Paula off) when she said that the other judges like to critique the clothes, while she likes to critique the performances. In this case, and I think Kara tried to say this, the “rock” image Allison was going for with the clothes actually took away from the “rock” performance she could have had. The ROCK is in you, Allison. Be the ROCK.

When Ryan Seacrest calls Scott MacIntyre the Piano Man before his performance, I got myself all jazzed up to hear one of my all time favorite songs EVER, but… turns out he’s singing Just the Way You Are. It’s not Piano Man, but it will do in a pinch. Scott’s performance is behind the piano (I think he’s settled on staying there for good, no matter what Paula thinks), and while I continue to be impressed by his playing, he just gets boringer and boringer every week. We’re talking tedious. Having said that, I thought his vocal improved from last week. The hair, however, got worse. How do we keep going backwards with the hair? Since he can’t see it, there has to be someone in his circle (a family member, a well-wisher, a pet) with seriously flawed style.

Matt Giraud, a recent member of the Bottom 3 Brigade, is set to stage a comeback with tonight’s performance. He expects to do so with a song by The Fray, the world’s best-at-boring band. I’m not sure why he is so eager to revisit the piano rock genre (remember Vida La Vida and how that turned out?), but at least his song choice, You Found Me, is actually current. It’s a first for the night. He’s humping a keyboard down in the moshpit, which is totally cool, but all that energy around him seems to throw him off. I can hear his nerves, especially in his vibrato – it’s shaky just like it was in the Coldplay song. However, I appreciate the growl in his voice at certain parts and his falsetto near the end is on point as usual. After the song, the judges get to play their favorite game: how do we solve a problem like Matt Giraud. Usually, I find these pin the genre on the contestant discussions to be rather insulting, but I think with Matt Giraud it’s warranted, because seriously… who IS he? Is he a pop singer? Is he an R&B singer? Is he the next Chris Martin or the next Justin Timberlake? I think he could be either, but he needs to pick and SOON because he has weaknesses in both styles and continuing this never-ending search for his identity will only get him more and more lost. It’s like, stop and ask for directions before you hit the point of no return. Some good news: I thought Matt looked very cute tonight. I don't know what he did differently, but it's working.

Speaking of problems: Lil Rounds. The problem is I can’t remember her. When the girls in the typing pool and I meet around the water cooler every Wednesday morning, the one contestant we always forget to discuss is Lil Rounds. That’s a shame! I don’t think she’s boring, really, but she isn’t doing anything to stand out. She needs an Idol moment and STAT. Tonight, she’s going to attempt I Surrender by Celine Dion, and I’m excited because I think this song could be her best shot at an Idol Moment since she invoked The Blige back in Week 1. And darn it if it isn’t kind of blah… again. I don’t get it. I’m hoping the judges can help shed some light on all of this but they get distracted by Lil’s gorgeous little girls (well played, Lil… well played). Meanwhile, I’m distracted by the back of Lil’s dress. I don’t want to be mean, but girlfriend, where are your Spanx? They smooth and shape.

The wild applause that greets Adam Lambert’s pre-package is stunned into silence with the announcement that he will be singing Play That Funky Music, White Boy. I’m confused, too. He has decided to stick with last week’s hair, which I like because it means we can see both sides of his face, but he’s dressed like the lost member of the Osmonds, you know, the one who we never see because he’s a homo? What I like about Adam is he can convey energy without launching himself around the stage like he’s just been tazzed (*cough* Gokey). What I don’t like about Adam is his strange need to overuse his banshee scream. I know he has it and I’m happy to hear it when it’s appropriate, but it can get a little… predictable. What I LOVE about Adam is his graciousness – he used his time on stage to thank the band! Such class, such grace… Danny Gokey would never do that. Oh, and Kara? Studio Fifty-what?

Who called Vanessa Williams? We just saved the best for last! Kris Allen is last to take the stage with his re-imagining of Ain’t No Sunshine. I’m not familiar with this song (I know… it’s a travesty) so I’m not really sure how much he changed things around. All I know is: I loved every frikkin’ minute. This guy is so incredibly talented. He sings, he plays the guitar, he has keyboard chops (he’s HAWT!)… is there anything he can’t do? And the arrangement was absolutely inspired – it had good dynamics, it built well into the climax, and the staging with the strings was a brilliant touch. Loved it loved it loved it. Yes Kara… That. Is. Artistry.


Before the results show I prayed.

“Dear God – make Megan Joy a bird, so she can fly far; far, far away from here.”

Ask and receive, my friends. After last night’s egg-bath from the judges and that strange feeling she just didn’t care anymore, the voters sent Megan Joy back to the cornfields to caw to her heart’s content. I thought Simon was unnecessarily brutal, but I’m starting to think the “judges save” exists exactly for that reason – it gives Simon even more time to be a douche. As brutal as he was, I can’t say Megan handled herself with much poise either, but maybe it IS better to just say the hell with it and act like a jackass. It’s probably much more fun.

Speaking of jackass… Lady Gaga. I love that bitch, but that performance of hers was just… it was… I don’t… ??

P.S. Getting kicked off American Idol can’t be all that bad if it includes a bear hug from you-know-who!


Mmmm... sexy face...

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