Another week, another three hours resulting in three more finalists making it to the top 12. Things were done a bit differently this time – performance night was moved to Wednesday due to the Presidential address, which puts off my schedule as well! Also, the overall format changed to include less interaction with the families of the singers – rather than sitting in the ‘red room’ (red because of the Coca Cola stuff plastered everywhere), they sat in the audience and glared at Simon whenever he said anything bad about their son or daughter or wife or friend. Which was often. Because this … is American Idol!
Before I list off the contestants, let me just say – performance night was dreadful. Yes, even in the context of the drudgery I reported on last week. Last week all four of us stayed up until 10PM watching, which put the kids well past their normal bedtime. This week my wife was struggling to maintain focus by 8:30 and as the clock chimes struck 9PM the kids started heading up to bed before we said anything. I have often joked about the narcoleptic effects of watching the show Numb3rs … but this show definitely gave it a run for its’ money. Well, except for about two minutes, anyway.
I have read others saying this week was better than last, but I wasn’t feeling it – I want things either full of talent or full of nuttiness. Last week has some really good stuff, some really terrible stuff and Tatiana. This week? Well, just read on and see.
Just to reiterate – the format is structured so that we get about 18 minutes of singing spread over to hours. Since I already mentioned that the Big Comfy Couch segments with the parents have been axed, what does that mean? More attempts by Ryan to talk to the singers before and after, more tedious dreck from the judges, and more commercials.
Jasmine Murray – “Love Song” by Sara Bareilles.
I know that the judges have been pushing her and she got plenty of screen time – but I never had any use for her. After tonight, I needn’t worry – she was terrible. Started out badly off-key and never improved. She seems a nice young girl, so perhaps it is sad … but not really because of the way the producers foist these kids on us to the point we hate them. Having three judges trip over themselves for five minutes trying to praise her while gently telling her she was awful was dreadful … Simon cut to the chase, then said he was only saying what the others had said but more directly … causing the rest to backpedal.
Matt Giraud – “Viva La Vida” by Coldplay.
I am somewhat familiar with this song, unlike many, so it takes me no time to realize this is a terrible performance. The falsetto was painful, and another generic ‘who is he and why is he here’ performer bites the dust. Again, five minutes of blather from the judges.
Jeanine Vailes – “This Love” by Maroon 5.
When I heard the song title I thought ‘by WHO’? And sure enough, it is the very familiar Maroon 5 song being completely butchered. My older son said “I don’t think I’ll ever be able to listen to that song again … she ruined it for me.” After giving a terrible performance, she proceeded to start to whine and beg and plead and WAY overstay her welcome as if the judges would suddenly say ‘on second thought, you were good’? Please go away … NOW!
Nick / Nourmand – “And I Am Not Going” by Jennifer Hudson
Well … a version of it, anyway. Certainly HIS version. Funny thing – he is the best singer so far, and his performance was amazingly over the top. The judges trashed him, naturally … but in my heart I am pulling for him to make it far enough to cause some serious night-sweats for the producers! He was also responsible for perhaps the best spontaneous moment in Idol history as he walked by Neil Patrick Harris and said ‘Doogie’!
Allison Irahata – “Alone” by Heart.
Oh wait – this IS supposed to be a singing competition! I was expecting a hilariously bad version of the song similar to Amanda from last year, but this kid can sing very well. The funny thing was that she looked like Joaquin Phoenix on Letterman recently when Ryan was talking to her, then she really belted it out while singing … and immediately went back to having no personality afterward. She is – thus far – the obvious choice for ‘woman of the night’.
Kris Allen – Sings “Man in the Mirror” By some alleged child molester.
Started out absolutely terrible, but got somewhat better … but not enough to salvage the terrible choice, mediocre singing, and awful performance. But his good looks are highlighted – as the judges did with Jeanine’s legs – and Simon thought he might get a decent ‘chick vote’.
Megan Joy Corkrey – “Put Your Record On” by Corinne Bailey Rae
Apparently the judges want her to get the 3rd spot of the night, as they gloss over the exact same flaws they have been blasting others for all night. Of course, she is still the third best performer so far, but the judges are manic: a few bad notes? No Problem! Spastic movements? Your own new signature dance? Terrible timing? Flowing gracefully. This is one of those moments where you see behind the curtain and realize that although it is the fans voting based on what they see, the judges have considerable power over the process as their opinions can make folks second-guess themselves. If she makes it through, it is because of the judges, not her performance.
Matt Bratzke – “If You Can Only See” by Tonic
Matt has a problem – the whole show has pitted him against Michael Sarver, and Michael already made it through. So while Matt sang better than Sarver, chose a better song for himself, and was no more spastic than Sarver … the judges had to make sure only one ‘big beefy working class guy’ made it through. Which is odd, since they’re selling the ‘last chance for single mom’ angle six ways to Sunday!
Jessie Langseth – “Betty Davis Eyes” by Kim Carnes
Some songs are iconic without necessarily being at the pinnacle of vocal quality. Sounds obvious, doesn’t it? The fact that this song is nearly as well remembered for being featured on one of Eddie Murphy’s best loved skits as part of an album by Buckwheat should tell you something. But not Jessie, who comes out, does badly, then mouths off to the judges in a way that is neither sympathetic nor funny.
Kai Kalama – “What Becomes of a Broken Heart” by Jimmy Ruffin
Jimmy Ruffin is as old as some of the ‘relevant’ tutors they trot out, and this song was a hit before Neil Diamond was popular for his own songs. Add to that a very flat vopcal delivery … but perhaps worst was the fact he stood there like Andy Kaufman on Saturday Night Live doing his ‘Might Mouse’ bit the entire time. Simon said he could be a backup singer. Yeah … but only in a studio.
Mishavonne Henson – “Drops of Jupiter” by Train
She gave the second best female vocal performance of the night – which is surprising since the song choice was terrible! However, the producers had already decided they wanted to push Megan, so the judges downplay the positives and highlight the song choice. Again, another ‘pay no attention to the man behind the curtain’ moment – my wife was asleep by now, but woke up for the recap and thought she was excellent, then I told her what the judges said.
Adam Lambert – “Satisfaction” By The Rolling Stones
I almost wish that Nick / Normound had done the Devo version of this song. This is a song that is immediately identified with a bunch of guys past retirement ago, and also with a movie that is from over 30 years ago about a war that ended 35 years ago. Calling it ‘relevant’ is a joke and shows that the judges had put Adam in the ‘glory spot’ at the end of the night – just as they did Danny Gokay – to make sure they could glorify him and make sure he made it through. Was he the best male vocalist of the night? Yes! But I hate feeling like I’m being ‘played’. And having Randy call him current based on a comparison to Steven Tyler – someone else in his 60′s whose main fortune was made while Nixon was still in office – is just hysterical … or sad.
My predictions based on the performances?
- Top Male – Adam Lambert
- Top Female – Allison Irahata
- Other Finalist – Megan Joy Corkrey
- Who I *WANT* for the Other Finalist – Normound Gentle!
I will leave these untouched and continue after the results show.
My general commentary.
- The judges were back ‘on track’ tonight … Randy’s vocabulary was back into the single digits, Paula was talking about singing phone books and generally being incoherent, Simon was either being honest or pretending to be honest while manipulating votes, and Kara …
- Kara is not just heavy on the double-entendre, she is the only one who speaks in complete sentences about things related to how a pop singer might fare in teh music biz. When she talks about ‘package artist’, she is clear that looks and personality are every bit as important as singing talent – we all KNOW this, but teh rest of the judges play around as if it is all about the singing.
- Because the song choices were every bit as terrible this week, I’ll simlpy reiterate: I don’t generally study the Billboard Hot 100, but find it hard to believe that THOSE were the best and most representative songs they could come up with. I mean, every season has a Billboard night, these are popular songs from all eras, they had to be looking the charts over to see what songs they might like to sing. It is pretty sorry indeed – I have complained about the producers foisting these old fogey artists like Dolly Parton and Neil Diamond on the kids, but this was their own choice …
Once again we are ready to see which three of the twelve dismal finalists make the top twelve, and as before I’ll just talk about the show a bit. Again, with an hour to fill out (well, about 40 minutes after commercials) and only a few minutes of actual content there was sure to be loads of filler. Here is how it went:
- We started off with yet another tedious look at ‘how they got here’. Again … these are just silly fluff pieces of kids jumping up and down with their Golden Tickets.
- Then the banter with the judges … I was already thinking something Kara said later “don’t they EVER shut up”? Only she was referring to Simon, I was thinking about all of them!
- This week’s group sing was less out-of-tune than last week, but no less boring and uninspiring. Again I say that community theater could do better staging numbers on short notice than these ‘cream of the crop’ singers.
- Unlike last week, the first person they brought down immediately got placed into the top 12. No surprise, either. However, Ryan had also brought two others down who were basically left to realize they had lost and to go sit down.
- This was followed – after several commercials, naturally – by a rerun of a sentimental montage set to Satchmo singing ‘What a wonderful world’. Is this supposed to remind us that a nearly 70 year old trumpeter can sing rings around anyone who has ever appeared on this show?
- Then some more eliminations, followed by a pair-up that focused on the ‘other top vote getter’ slot. Was I right? Find out … after the break!
- Apparently there is a trend of trotting out last year’s finalists to sing in these top 36 result shows. Tonight we get Brooke White. Don’t get me wrong – we liked Brooke quite a bit, she was very nice and seemed like a genuine person. However, her voice wasn’t remarkable and we could never picture her making music we wouldn’t describe as ‘ineffectual’. Apparently we were right – she smiled nicely and sang a completely forgettable song and then was gone.
- Then some more eliminations, bringing us down to the final two … so who would get the ‘top male’ slot?
Again the structure was similar to last week – Ryan would call folks down and talk about their performance, then the singer and judges would all chat for a moment before they would get summarily dismissed more often than not (75% of the time, as I mentioned before). Last week I said that the hour went by without feeling nearly as excruciating as the two-hour performance show … this week, despite the performance show being dismal, the results show was worse. Dull, boring, dreadfully tiresome and dull … makes you want to take up Chartered Accountancy!
The first person named to the Top 12 was Allison Irahata, who we hadn’t heard much about until she belted out the song last night. She was clearly the best female vocalist and deserved her slot.
The two people competing for a spot mid-show were Megan Joy Corkrey and Kris Allen. Once again we were surprised that Kris got the slot after the way they were pushing Megan.
The final pair was Adam Lambert and Nick / Normound … are we really surpised they pulled the ‘wacko versus the producer’s pet’ again? While I doubt anyone watching had any question about the outcome – heck even Nick was pretty much congratulating Adam – I have to say I was still hoping for the biggest shocker ever on the show as Nick was sent on … but alas, it wsan’t meant to be. Adam is the sixth person into the top twelve, and since the judges choose who appears in the Wild Card round we can be sure that we’ll never see Nick on an Idol stage again.
Next week is busy – after the three hour Tuesday & Wednesday schedule, next Thursday we get the Wild Card show!