Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Do You Know Where You're Going To?

Well, except for a few contestants, our fervent wish would be ... home!

Question: When did "American Idol" become a show about who's the least worst singer instead of who's the best singer?
Question: When did the best part of "American Idol" become the gay banter between Ryan and Simon?
Question: How could four (four!) finalists forget the words to their chosen songs?
Question: How much more bad singing can we take before we ditch this blog and hang a "Gone Fishin' " sign on its opening page?
Question: Who do we blame?

We can only answer the last question. And the answer to that is Simon Cowell, Randy Jackson and Paula Abdul.

It's almost ridiculously funny to watch these three bitch and moan about all the lousy performances each week, when they were the ones responsible for putting those contestants on the big stage. And it's not because America keeps voting for Sanjaya and eliminated Sabrina Sloan. You, judges, picked Sanjaya. You, judges, decided he was one of the best 24 singers the United States had to offer. How could you have picked someone such as him instead of others such as Jimmy McNeal (or Jimbo, as Simon called him) from San Antonio, who was loaded with charisma, an engaging smile and a good voice? Or Jenry Bejarano, the 16-year-old who tried out in New York with "I'd Give Anything to Fall in Love"? America did not pick the Top 24. We're just left picking up after your mess.

And what a mess last night was. For those of you, like us, who thought the guys would up their games now that they had to compete directly against the girls ... well we were all wrong. With the exception of LaKisha, Melinda and Jordin, the girls actually lowered their games and made it a more level playing field. Except for the above-mentioned three, everyone was at best mediocre and at worst unlistenable.

But the biggest lesson we learned was to have more respect for Diana Ross. Not only did she actually listen well to the contestants, but her critiques were spot on. She didn't just pat them all on the back and tell them they were wonderful. And, as we learned with Elton John week in Season 3, very few people can sing Diana Ross songs well, so we apologize for taking her gift for granted in the past.

One of the best , or at least funniest (if you don't count the performances) parts of the evening was when Ryan asked Melinda, post performance, what the hardest part of the competition was for her and she said the dress and high heels.

Ryan: "Simon, any advice on the heels?"
Simon: "You would know, Ryan."
Ryan: "Stay out of my closet."
Simon: "Come out."
Ryan: "This is about the Top 12, okay, not your wishes."

Cute, guys, get a room. But when runs a story one day about how the two of you have been lovers all along since the show started, is anyone really going to be surprised?

The evening started off poorly with Brandon Rogers, whose report cards in school probably read: "Has potential. Needs to try harder/needs to improve." Somewhere in there we think Rogers has a pleasing voice he keeps bottled up. What will it take for him to free it? His version of "You Can't Hurry Love" was no better than someone in a karoake bar, until he forgot the words. Yikes! Not only forgot the words but was unable to fake it, standing there like a deer in the headlights for a couple of seconds until the chorus came around and he was able to start singing again. What a disappointing mess. Randy told him he had reverted back to a background singer and we couldn't disagree, while Paula said, "You know Brandon, we don’t need to tell you what you did wrong," although we didn't agree with her, "there are many things that you do right." Simon simple said, "That was a complete letdown actually, Brandon." Maybe enough for him to go home tonight.

We were relieved that Melinda Doolittle was up next, feeling assured it was going to be another great performance. And it was certainly fine, but we weren't crazy about the song choice: "Home" from "The Wiz." We weren't familiar with the song and, frankly, didn't love it. It lacked the energy that we're now accustomed to feeling every time Melinda takes the stage. As usual, vocally she was great, there was just no "wow," or even "yo," factor. Randy said he didn't think it was his favorite performance of Melinda's, but it was hot, while Paula, through sobs, told Melinda that she feels so much joy watching her perform. Simon told her she made a boring song fantastic and that she reminded him of a young Gladys Knight.

We were already beginning to get bored with the show only two singers in, when up stepped Chris Sligh, who, apparently, decided to try to beat Brandon in line for a ticket home. We love Chris' voice, but he tries so hard to change things up each time he sings, that instead of just giving a great performance he actually mucks things, as well as his chances, up. His new arrangement of "Endless Love" sounded so much like Coldplay's "Clocks," that he should be sued for sampling without permission. And it just didn't work. Again, the vocals on their own were fine, but he turned the song into something nearly unrecognizable. This was not making a song your own. This was just making a new song stealing by Coldplay's music and "Endless Love's" lyrics. And he deservedly got slammed. Randy said the melody was changing everywhere and overall it was a mess. Paula hit the nail on the head with, "Sometimes I worry that you're trying ultra hard to be ultra hip and cool, and sometimes you can just let the melody play, listen to the lyrics, sing the song, because you have a really nice voice." Simon told Chris that he turned a beautiful song into a complete and utter drone, and we had to agree with all three. We like Chris, but creatively he's been a disaster. The style moguls also had Chris take his glasses off, but Simon advised him to put them back on next week. We can't decide.

Gina Glocksen sang "Love Child," and it was no better than OK. She screamed it, it was pitchy and, well, boring (except when she forgot the words -- then it was annoying). Do we really have eight more performances to go? It's like looking at your watch every five minutes during a bad movie. Somehow, we're losing faith again in Gina. Maybe she doesn't really have to goods to be in the finals. There's really nothing more to say. Randy said it wasn't his favorite Gina performance, calling it pitchy in spots and boring, while Paula said she felt Gina was much better than she performed. Simon said, "It wasn't terrible, it wasn't fantastic." That's right, it was just who cares?

And then there was Michael Jackson-morph Sanjaya Malakar, who has become a total joke, yet according to DialIdol is once again safe. You know, if the "American Idol" is going to be determined by the preteen girls of America, why don't they just change the airtime to 11 a.m. Saturday morning. No matter how bad anyone else was last night, Sanjaya still stuck out like a sore thumb, he's so inferior to the rest. Not to mention his new body wave. Is a nose job next? Really, he should have just sung "I'm Coming Out" instead of "Ain't No Mountain High Enough." His off-pitch voice barely got beyond a whisper all the way through, reminding us of a Hugh Grant line from "Music and Lyrics": "Just a little bit louder, 'cause this song is intended for humans, OK?" Randy was laughing and didn't know what to say, then delivered the ultimate insult, telling Sanjaya, "Thank God for the background singers, it was almost unlistenable." Paula avoided the subject by telling him how sweet he was (ugh!), but when Simon said, "When you hear a wail in Beverly Hills, that is where Diana Ross is watching the show," Sanjaya (as well as the audience) thought Simon said "whale" instead of "wail" and didn't get it. Ryan had to 'splain it to Curly Top. It was pathetic.

Haley Scarnato was the next contestant to go into meltdown, but she waited until Simon complimented her after Randy and Paula criticized her. She chose "Missing You," and as Diana Ross said, Haley's got a recording studio voice not a live performance voice (er, this was not a compliment). The song was too soft and not emotional enough, which it really needs to be to have any impact. Plus she forgot the words, which Randy and Paula both pointed out, adding that the song also was pitchy. But just when you think Simon is going to jump all over her, he tells Haley that it wasn't so bad. As she begins to sob, he says, "To give you credit, Haley," pausing and smiling to make sure she realizes that this week he remembered her name, "I think we will remember you now. I think you had real presence up there." He then went on to talk about how she looked like a star but her nerves got the better of her, adding that there were moments in the song when he actually liked her voice. Now, this all sounded like backpedaling to us because he was so cruel to her last week, and the performance didn't merit much, if any, praise. But Haley clung to it, telling Ryan how much it meant to get a compliment from the judges, but then admitting that she felt like a schmuck for forgetting the words, adding that it was her worst performance. Weird thing is, Paula then told her half the time the audience doesn't realize you forgot the words, so don't let them see it. Huh? Then why did you and Randy point it out to them, Paula? If Haley had only injected all the emotion she showed after her critique into her performance, it would have been a much richer experience for everyone.

Nosferatu, er, Phil Stacey, was up next and he chose "I'm Gonna Make You Love Me." Not earth-shattering, the performance was, almost had to be, better than his LeAnn Rimes fiasco last week. In fact, we found it quite pleasant, especially considering the night's previous male performances. Randy thought the vocals were hot and Paula agreed that Phil had strong vocals but would have preferred the song more uptempo. Simon disagreed with that, but told Phil that he had a tendency to shout and needed to learn to control that. He added, "It wasn't outstanding, it wasn't awful, I think it was somewhere in the middle," which was true, but with so many bad performances preceding it, it actually stood out.

Thank god for LaKisha Jones. If there was one standout performance for the evening, it once again belonged to her. Looking lovely (wearing a long, simple gown on the advice of Ross), LaKisha delivered a flawless version of "God Bless the Child," a song she had, amazingly, never sung before. Not only were we captivated, so were the judges. Randy called it an unbelievable vocal and a perfect song choice, and Paula told her she was a beautiful performer and a beautiful girl, and that her heart comes through when she sings. Needless to say, Simon raved about LaKisha, who has been a favorite of his since her audition. He said that you either have it, or you don't, and she has it, adding "The quality difference between you and Melinda compared to the other singers we've heard so far, you two are in a different league."

We disagreed with the judges on Blake Lewis, who decided to give his own updated, electronic vibe to "You Keep Me Hangin' On," a song that has been recorded innumerable times. While not perfect, it was certainly an interesting arrangement and definitely held our attention. We weren't a big fan of Blake's at the beginning, but have found him more and more interesting to listen to as the week's have progressed. So we were really surprised by the judges critiques. Randy said that classic songs don't need their arrangements changed and that Blake actually sings better than that. Paula said she understood Jackson's point but added that there was a big difference between Chris Sligh's new arrangement and Blake's, saying she thought Blake could have a hit with this song again. Simon just said, "I didn’t get that. I didn't get it at all," which is sad, because Blake was much better than Haley, who he complimented.

We really want to like Stephanie Edwards because she's got a great voice and she looks so good, but, man, she turns everything -- and we mean everything -- into that R&B Beyonce vibe, and we don't like it. It's all stop and go and kills the melody. We had high hopes that it would end with Diana Ross week, but she even ruined "Love Hangover," doing a long, overdrawn stop-and-go opening and never getting to the fun disco part. It was an annoying tease. And, bingo! Stephanie was the fourth performer of the evening to forget the lyrics. Randy thought it was a good, but not her best vocal and said it was interesting night with so many forgetting the words. He also said he was waiting for the uptempo part, which never came. Paula agreed, asking Stephanie if there was any reason she didn't do that part, and Stephanie's excuse was that it made the song too long (but that's what good arrangements are for, Stephanie). Paula then urged Stephanie to strive for better (if she's even around next week, which we doubt). Simon told her what she sang was an intro, and that it didn’t close particularly well.

Chris Richardson sang "The Boss," and he wasn't. His voice sounded pitchy and even more lightweight than usual, but he'll be around, unfortunately, for a long time. We don't get him at all, but, apparently, all the pre-teen girls do. Maybe he and Sanjaya can team up for lousy duos. He tried to make up for the weak vocals by bouncing around the stage and out on the catwalk, but it all looked so premeditated and unnatural. Randy thought is was half and half, half good, half bad, but Paula said, "You did a great job," adding that he nailed the blend of contemporary and classic (were we listening to the same person?). Each week we want to thank Simon when he says exactly what we are feeling, in this case, "I thought it was dreadful." He also said that if you listened to it in isolation on the radio, you would turn the channel.

In the pimp spot was the evening's surprise. Was Jordin Sparks really good enough to earn it? Well, yes! She wasn't Melinda and LaKisha calibre, but other than those two, she was better than anyone else that night. She gave a delightful and heart-rending rendition of "If We Hold On Together." It sounded like it could have come out of a Disney movie, and, indeed, though not Disney, it was in the Steven Spielberg-George Lucas 1988 animation "The Land Before Time." Jordin sang it really nicely and it was the feel-good moment of the evening. Add to that her infectious personality, and as Simon said, she put herself in line for a shot at the finals. Randy told Jordin, "Tonight with that, you just made it a three girl race," with Paula adding "You drew me in right away." And although he thought is was "gooey," Simon also said it was a very, very good vocal.

Our Top 3 in descending order: LaKisha Jones, Melinda Doolittle, Jordin Sparks

Our Bottom 3 in descending order: Sanjaya Malakar, Chris Richardson, Stephanie Edwards

Our Middle, in descending order: Blake Lewis, Phil Stacey, Chris Sligh, Gina Glocksen, Brandon Rogers, Haley Scarnato

Bottom 3: Chris Sligh, Stephanie Edwards, Haley Scarnato
Voted off: Stephanie Edwards

e-mail Idol Addict
© 2007

No comments: