Thursday, April 19, 2007

Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow

Let's not split hairs, Sanjaya Malakar's departure was long overdue (OK, we'll stop with the puns -- but they're so easy in his case). Only his clever attempts to morph into a different personality each week, accompanied by some help from and a horde of 10-year-old girls, kept his Idol dream alive. He never deserved to stay on that stage as long as he did. In fact, unless the judges were forced by the producers to include him in the 24 semi-finalists (which we think is largely possible) they made a huge mistake advancing him in the beginning.

So Sanjaya should be celebrating the fact that he far outstayed his talent. Much better singers -- Chris Sligh, Gina Glocksen, Stephanie Edwards, Sabrina Sloan -- left before they should have because of the phenomenon known as Sanjaya. His name is already more well-known than the eventual contest winner's will be. In fact, he could become a word in the next edition of Merriam-Webster:

Function: noun, transitive verb
1. A person, object or thing with limited capabilities that far exceeds its expected usefulness.

We were surprised by Sanjaya's tearfest during his journey film, reverting back to his early Idol days when his eyes would well with tears during his awful critiques. Recently, he had seemed so inured to the bad remarks, standing with that smirk on his face, we were convinced that he had begun to believe he was either really good or invulnerable to the judge's criticism and invincible. Even standing with LaKisha last night, one of them about to be axed, he seemed confident that it wasn't him. Guess it was a rude and unexpected awakening.

It must have been a hard, even ironic, moment for LaKisha. Once considered one of, if not the, frontrunner of the competition, she had taken Sanjaya under her wing after the derision began. And although it is believed that some of the other contestants had come to resent Sanjaya's staying power, LaKisha continued to be his support system and inside mentor. Now, not only was the former frontrunner's continuance on the series in peril, standing beside her was the contestant she had been propping up for weeks. One could only wonder what was going through her mind and whose name she was hoping was on the card in Seacrest's hand. Sanjaya's tears were exceeded only by her weeping, face buried into Melinda Doolittle's supportive shoulder.

At the very least we have to give the San Man his props for changing the lyrics of "Something to Talk About" as he sang his way off the show: "Let's give them something to talk about, other than hair hair, hair." You really can't kill snarky, can you?

So let's not mourn Sanjaya's departure from Idol. This season is so imbued with his spirit that he will live on. Now we can really start paying attention to the singing while he's making a ton of $$$.

Other highights of the results show: Simon Cowell explained that the rolling of his eyes look the camera caught just as Chris Richardson finished his Virginia Tech shoutout had nothing to do with that statement. His was, at the time, involved in a conversation with Paula Abdul about the to-and-fro he and Richardson had just had about Richardson singing through his nose.

Cowell said, and we believe, that he might not be the nicest person in the world, but he would never disrespect the families or the victims like that and felt it was necessary to set the record straight. In fact, during an interview on Ryan Seacreast's radio show yesterday, he said he was horrified when he saw a playback of the show.

As promised by executive producer Nigel Lythgoe in an interview yesterday, film was presented that proved Cowell's point. Separate camera shots simultaneously shown onscreen, complete with audio, validated that while Richardson was paying his respects to the people of his home state, Simon was talking to Paula about how he didn't understand Richardson's statement that "nasally is a form of singing." A cameraman's unfortunate timing panning to Simon's face just as Richardson completed his sympathy statement, making it look as if Simon's eyeroll was directed at that instead of the nasally discussion that the home audience did not witness.

Much ado about nothing? Not really. Cowell was crucified online yesterday for his insensitivity, even though he made a statement during Blake's critique (recorded here and many other places) offering the judges' best wishes and support to the families involved in the tragedy. Hopefully that ends the misunderstanding. What we should all get out of this after watching the separate discussion is how much the judges don't pay attention to what's happening onstage during the show. It's been documented in many blogs and articles that the three talk through most of the performances, claiming that they've seen the dress rehearsals, so they know what to expect. Whatever.

The real surprise last night was Blake Lewis' appearance in the Bottom 3. DialIdol predicted it, but we just assumed it was another one of their way-off predictions this season. Scary that it was true and that Lewis could depart before Chris Richardson. We were greatly relieved when Blake was the first one released to safety, envisioning another Haley-Phil-Gina disaster, where everyone was sure that Gina was the safe one and she wound up eliminated. Similarly, in our rational mind we knew it had to be either Sanjaya or LaKisha, but that ache in the pit of our stomach, kept whispering "it could be Blake, it could be Blake." Shut up stomach!

We're actually hoping that Phil Stacey will be the next choice for It might help him outlive Richardson. (Remember, the VFTW choices aren't always stinkers. Taylor Hicks was their final choice last season. And we didn't care what help we got as long as he beat Katharine McPhee.) Although DialIdol ranked Stacey an amazing No. 1 this week, we're nervous about his true longevitity. Not that we want him to win; but we'd love to see him outlast Richardson and Jones. The only three who deserve to be in the finals are Melinda Doolittle, Jordin Sparks and Blake Lewis (we still can't narrow it down to two in our head).

Also on the show:
  • Another Ryan Seacrest man-on-the-street clip, asking "regular people" their opinions of the show. At least this week they were able to remember the contestants' names.

  • The group performance of "I'm Alright." Generally, these are abysmal, but we have to admit the group sounded good this week, the harmony excellent.

  • The idiotic AI challenge, where the producers make mucho bucks on text-messaging.

  • A clip of the finalists telling us what music they are currently listening too. Funniest? Chris Richardson who likes Maroon 5 and Jason Mraz, but said his favorite CD was Peter Noone and Herman's Hermits.

  • Fergie (taped), sings "Big Girls Don't Cry." The ballad is a nice change up from her usual "I'm so sexy doncha wish you were me" songs.

  • The Ford commercial, featuring "I Ran."

  • In case we've (fat chance) forgotten, we sit through another promo of next week's IdolGivesBackPalooza, featuring, among others, Gwen Stefani, P!nk, Earth Wind and Fire, Il Divo, Rascal Flatts, Carrie Underwood and Kelly Clarkson. There will be a "duet with two of the biggest stars in history." Any guesses?

  • Before the elimination, it's the old 7 finalists are left ploy: Ryan divides them into two groups of three, declares Melinda safe, then tells her to join the group she thinks is safe as well. She refuses and sits on the floor. Ryan tells her to slide over to Phil, Jordin Sparks and Chris.

  • A shameless promo for "Shrek the Third" follows. The finalists go to Dreamsworks to screen the film, where they meet studio head Jeffrey Katezenberg and Antonio Banderas who voices Puss 'n Boots (they are also in the audience last night, along with Banderas' wife, actress Melanie Griffith, and their daughter).

  • Martina McBride sings "Anyway." She is later joined by her daughter onstage. The kid was a natural and stole the show.

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