Thursday, March 5, 2009

American Idol Season 8
Wild Card Show Results

And here are the final 4 finalists. That's right, at the last minute (or so Simon Cowell said) they decided this year to have a Top 13 for the first time in the history of the show. Added tonight were:

Jasmine Murray
Megan Corkrey
Matt Giraud
Anoop Desai

Season 8 has officially become the worst year yet for "American Idol." The results of the Wild Card round were so obviously set up in advance, it was hard not to laugh out loud at the judges supposedly spontaneous comments. Instead of their critiques being accurate appraisals of the performances, they sounded like validations for decisions that had been made by the producers judges who knows how many days (weeks? months?) ago.

To begin with, everyone we knew said the three finalist seats would automatically go to Jasmine, Megan and Anoop. The producers judges had made it obvious in their remarks to these three after their group performances how much they liked them -- whether or not they sang well. And last night, the trio were far from the best singers. Ricky Braddy easily outsang Anoop, while like her or hate her (we tend to the latter), Tatiana Del Toro had the best female vocal of the evening. Yet the judges had to find ways to trash these interlopers, since they weren't preordained to go through. From Tatiana, they just wanted a final chance to get some drama. It was actually quite cruel, even for "Idol." They used and abused a mentally unstable person. Perhaps they were hoping another one of Paula's slavish devotees would commit suicide, this time right in front of her, on national TV. Now, wouldn't that have grabbed headlines?

As it was, they had to settle for the headline shocker of a Top 13. But how much of a shocker was it really? There have buzzes about that happening since January, when Fox reality chief Mike Darnell told TV Week in an exclusive interview, "There's a big surprise coming when we get to the Top 12, but I can't reveal it right now. It is something that will be talked about and is something I think that has some element of controversy surrounding it."

And, " ... it’s a long season and you want to keep as many surprises for the audience, for the press, for everybody, as you go along. Some controversies will pop out [Joanna Pacitti?]. But this is something that we sort of felt like, here’s one set of things we’re doing, we’re going to wait and give you the other set when we get to the final 12."

In the Jan. 18 interview, Darnell also said, "I think I have in my mind a Top 7 or 8."

Hmmm. It's almost as if "Idol" is proving what many of us have known believed for the longest time: that the show is entirely rigged and has nothing to do with "reality."

But Darnell, who strikes us as a burnt-out, inarticulate '80s drugger leaning hard on the Grecian Formula in this clip, got it wrong when he said, "It's not going to change what you think of American Idol [ha!] and we don't want to do that. This show is, you know, a phenomenon. It's American, it's apple pie. We're not changing the core of the show." Wrong! As cynical as we've always been about the "reality" of the show, it took this season to really turn us against it. We doubt anything they do for the finalist weeks can make us like it again.

Perhaps Entertainment Weekly's clever Michael Slezak said it best in this little ditty he wrote, sung to "Give Me One Reason." Kudos to you, Michael:

Give me one reason to stay tuned, and I'll watch the Wild Card show/
Give me one reason to stay tuned; quick, before my head explodes/
Yeah, since you screwed Felicia Barton/
You've got to make me change my mind

Kara, I got your number, you're a soulless corporate shill/
You gave props to Jasmine Murray, even though her voice is shrill/
Take your package artists, /
Back to where you came from,/
You are no Paula

Give me one reason to stay tuned, 'cause tonight's show really blew/
Give me one reason to stay tuned, Ju'Not Joyner where are you?/
Said I can't go on without Idol/
You've got to make me change my mind

I don't want no Tatiana, with her tears and crying fits/
I don't want no Tatiana, she's a mediocre ditz/
I just want some Mishavonna — how I love her voice to bits

Oh handsome Ricky Braddy, come and give us what we need/
And that redhead Jesse Langseth, well, she's a'ight I concede/
But if Matt Giraud sings Coldplay once again/
I suspect my ears will bleed

Give me one reason to stay tuned, 'cause this show has gone to poop/
Give me one reason to stay tuned, okay I'll tune in for Anoop/
I miss singers playing instruments/
You've got to make me change my mind

Here is the recap of Thursday's performances. All the numbers were preceded by a clip of each contestant paying obeisance and being obsequious to the judges for giving them another chance. It was all quite disgusting.

We knew Jesse Langseth was doomed when we saw she was up first. Although there is still something we like about her voice and open honesty, we were less than mesmerized by her performance of Rufus and Chaka Khan's "Tell Me Something Good." Yes, she raised the heat in the room with her facial expressions, body movements and mini (she has a wowsa pair of legs), but this just wasn't a great competition song. Instead of showing her range, which she talked about in her clip, for us it had the opposite effect. Randy Jackson calls it an interesting song choice, but isn't sure she sang it that well; Kara DioGuardi says Jesse had some notes that were not on key, but likes her "swagger" (there's that word again. Gee, maybe Jesse didn't "dirty it up" enough like Alexis Grace learned to do for the judges, sigh) and, pointing to the video screen, tells her she's not like the little girls in those "packages" (there's that word again, too), more like Sasha Fierce (what analogy would Kara have used if Beyoncé hadn't come up with this one?); Paula Abdul is impressed with her tenacity and determination and tells Jesse she has a lot of soul, but then declares "I can already tell it's going to be a hard night," which is a euphemism for, "Gee, I really didn't expect to like you so much, because you're not gonna get picked"; Simon reiterates that putting her into the Wild Card round was totally last minute (is that meant to be a compliment?), says he's glad they did, tells her she has a good voice, but then raps her with the song and performance were indulgent. It was all about you. Paula and Kara "fight" back saying it should be about her, it's a sexy song. Simon answers, "No tonight it's us, believe it or not, because we are the ones who are going to be voting you in." Ha! Liar!

Watch video of Jesse Langseth singing "Tell Me Something Good"

Matt Giraud says in his clip he wants to return to the bluesy sound that the judges originally liked him for. Dressed in Justin Timberlake style, he does a really nice job with the Jackson 5's "Who's Loving You." It was soooo much better than his Coldplay fiasco. Kara tells him he can riff amazingly, that it was a little bit over the top at points, but it was a great vocal; Paula tells him this was in the right zone, that the song was a perfect pick and that he did an amazing job and that there's no doubt that America is loving you right now (a euphemism for "It's in the bag, Matt. You made it."); Simon tells him he was a billion times better than last week and it was a great choice of song, but that he hates what Matt's wearing. What's worse for Simon, is that he saw "bits of Taylor Hicks coming through," and we all know how Simon despises Taylor. The audience boos; Randy puts the lock on it by saying, "You made everyone ... scared that you're going to maybe [maybe, ha!] enter this competition and give them a run for the money. That's how to sing. That's what I want."

Watch video of Matt Giraud singing "Who's Loving You"

Megan Corkrey proves once again that she's a very pretty girl who looks like Elaine Benes from "Seinfeld" when she tries to dance. She also proves that though she has a nice tone to her voice, she's not a very good singer. She unwisely chooses KT Tunstall's "Black Horse and the Cherry Tree," a song that Katharine McPhee just killed when she sang it. It only proved how weak Megan was in comparison. The producers judges have to be creative now, to convince us why they've already chosen her for the Top 12 when she just proved she doesn't belong there. Paula starts by telling her she looks beautiful, which as everybody knows is Paula's euphemism for "Your singing sucked." She also says, "You picked a song that fits your personality, so you picked the right song." It became laughable when she got to "And your real name's Joy, and you have a lot of joy up there," ending with "Overall, I think you picked the right song." Abdul never once mentions her singing. Ha! Simon, with a really robotic Muppet-like expression on his face says, "I've always liked you, and I still like you. I think you're terrific." Maybe we're watching too much "Lie to Me," but on terrific, his right eye blinked weirdly, indicating to us at least, that this was a bald-face lie. He then said, "What I like about you is that you are current, and sometimes this show can get a little karaoke. And I don't get that from you." As Randy would say, "Whaaaaaaat?" That's all you get from Megan. He adds, "It wasn't the best vocal we're ever going to hear, but it doesn't matter. It was terrific." This from the judge who always reminds everyone else that this is a singing competition, not a quirky or cute or nice competition. Randy agrees it wasn't the best vocal he ever heard, but it was the right song choice [not if she can't sing it, dude]; Kara locks it in with, "I think we need you because you give some variety to what's already up there [could she be any clearer that Megan's already been selected?] and I think America needs that choice. You're somebody different. ... And I hope you stay." They all mention she's quirky, but not one judge comments positively on the vocals. What a sham!

Watch video of Megan Corkrey singing "Black Horse and the Cherry Tree"

Von Smith was like a deer in the headlights on Elton John's "Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word." There were problems with the low register in the beginning, but it got much much better in the middle and soared by the end. But, of course, he was doomed before he started. Simon tells him the song didn't start well and that Von is beginning to become "a bit boring," too serious, too earnest; Randy agrees with Simon, but talks about the beautiful tone of Von's voice when he hit the middle notes, though he wasn't crazy about the song choice; Kara says the song got more than serious, it got BWAHAHAHA "dark." She then says Von has great vocal ability, that he has what it takes, but that he "hasn't dialed in yet." [whereas Megan could dial for the rest of her life and only get a busy signal] At this point, Von knows he's doomed and looks like he's going to cry any second. We felt really badly for him because it was all a lie, all a fix and had nothing to do with him. Paula tries to temper the negativity by telling him that when he focuses too much on the technical side of the song he doesn't let his real essence show, and when he does let it out "you soar, and take us all with you." She also tells him,"You have to count on the fact that you're a brilliant singer [but the producers don't want you]. You really are."

Watch video of Von Smith singing "Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word"

Jasmine Murray, a bright light at her audition but a disaster during the semifinals picks Christina Aguilera's "Reflection." Not only will Aguilera not lose sleep over this rendition, neither will Jordin Sparks (watch Jordin here) or Ayla Brown (here). Was it better than her last performance? Yup. Was it really good? No. Was it way too big for her voice? Absolutely. It had some moments, but just that. Nothing more. Randy tells her this was a big improvement, but that the song was too big for her and there were flat and sharp moments, but also some great bright spots. His biggest compliment was no compliment, "It was way better than the last time you sang." Kara says, "Actually, I didn't even know that you had that big of a voice [that's 'cause she doesn't]. "And now [now? now?] I'm starting to think she has a really big voice." Ha, Paula starts with, "You look lovely tonight and you picked a beautiful song." She continues, "There were some notes that fell off a little bit, but overall I felt you did a wonderful job." Lyin' Simon begins by telling Paula she's not giving Jasmine enough credit, starting a fake spat between the two. He then says, "That was pretty special compared to what we heard before." Yeah, well, mud is pretty special compared with turds. He then says, "It was a very, very brave song choice," but it sounded a little at times like a young girl trying to sound a little more grown up. And then came the tell: To a chorus of "yesses" from the other judges, Lyin' Simon says, "And I think you just put yourself back in the running."

Watch video of Jasmine Murray singing "Reflection"

Ricky Braddy did what he does best: He came, he sang, he conquered. Then he got shat on. Was Stevie Wonder's "Superstition" a surprising song choice, as all the judges kept reiterating? Yes? But did he pull it off? Unquestionably. That should only prove how talented he is, that he could pull off a song you'd never expect him to be able to. Plus, much to "Idol's" chagrin, he's an obvious crowd pleaser: There was a tremendous amount of shreiking and screaming before he even sang. Kara makes the stupidest statement ever, especially considering they're going to eliminate him in a few minutes: "Well, Ricky, you can sing your butt off. We knew that." She adds, tonight was about getting out there and showing us your personality. And you did that. Good job. [Er, yeah, so?] Paula agrees, saying, "I loved the way you loosened up ... You nailed it! You nailed it! And you had fun!" Simon and Randy, obviously elsewhere during the performance, didn't see it that way ['cause they weren't moving Ricky forward]. Simon tells Ricky he sounds good, but that when you're brought back at this stage of the competition you've absolutely have to say to us "You've got to put me into the competition because I'm a great vocalist, a great performer [HA! Like Megan and Jasmine just didn't?] He then calls Ricky's song and vocal karaoke, lightweight and clumsy. And the overt clue that Ricky was doomed in advance: "So I don't think you really made the impression you could have made there." Randy tells Ricky he thinks he really has a voice and can really blow, but the song wasn't quite the one for him. [Yeah, Randy, you just told Jasmine the same thing, and she's going through and without the vocal talent Ricky has.] Then he pulls a Simon and calls Ricky's song choice self-indulgent, a term Randy would never use. Sheesh.

Watch video of Ricky Braddy singing "Superstition"

Next up is what the producers hope will be the flaming burnout named Tatiana Del Toro. For whatever bizarre reason she had in her lil' puddinhead, Tatiana decides to sing Whitney Houston's "Saving All My Love for You" again. But this time, she blew the hell out of the song and sang it better than last time. Plus, she actually looked really nice. But she might as well have been wearing a target for the slings and arrows aimed in her direction. To begin with, when the camera panned to the judges' table while Tatiana was singing, it was clear they weren't even listening to her. In fact, Simon was playing his little torment games with Paula. When Tatiana stopped singing and they turned on the judges' mikes, the first thing we heard was Paula loudly saying to Simon, "Oh my god, stop that!" Paula starts the critiques, but Tatiana is talking more than Paula is, telling Abdul how much she loves her. Abdul is like the patron saint of the demented -- they all come seeking her out. But then, we guess it takes one to know one. Heh. Paula says she's not a fan of people who repeat songs, and that it started a little shaky, but then when Tatiana got into her "frikking" power voice, the judges all started looking and said, "Man, she can sing." Simon says, so what happens if you make it to the next round? You'll just sing the same song again? He then torments her over and over about why she's singing the same song and why she didn't pick another song. (Of course, 'cause the fix is in, five minutes later he doesn't ask Anoop the same questions after Anoop repeats his song.) Randy lies and says it started off really rough, adding there were some good moments and some not so good moments [as opposed to, hmmm, who? Megan? Who had only bad moments but will get chosen anyway?] Kara jumps in with, "It's like 'The Adventures of Tatiana,' I don't know what this is. Like today this is a new personality. Like who's this one? ... But at least she's not crying and holding her heart." Simon chimes in "She will, she will." [Enough already! We get it -- the real reason she's here is for the histrionics]. And, in fact, she does, when they tell her she hasn't made it.

Watch video of Tatiana Del Toro singing "Saving All My Love for You"

Last up is Anoop Desai, who may be the most popular contestant to not, yet, make the Top 12 13. He, like Tatiana, decides to sing a song he's done before: Bobby Brown's "My Perogative." And ya' know what? It's wasn't that great the first time, nor was it any better the second time. But who cares? What does that matter? It's all a game anyway. Simon tells Anoop he's like an enthusiastic dog (that's a compliment, right?), then says, "Again, not the best singer we're going to hear, but people like you. That's important." But Simon, as you've drummed into our heads, time and again, it's not a liking competition, it's a singing competition. Next came the evening's biggest tell of all: "I think one of the biggest jobs we have tonight is that we've got to 'cast' this next stage, you know, so we're not just going to put the good boring singers through, we've got to put some mediocre singers personality through, as well." Randy acknowledges that it's a song Anoop sang before, but lies and says it's better this time. "So I'm OK with people repeating songs, but you just got to slay it. And you slayed it." Not. Kara says, "This is the best you ever did it," adding that she wanted to get up and dance. Paula calls him a showman and tells him that he's "whipping out moves that are a little nasty there." She adds, "The truth is the producers everyone loved that performance." She does warn him "you need to be really careful in picking your songs" (Paula, do you know something we don't yet know? Like he'll be picking more songs? Ha!) and "For this one time I'm glad you went back and picked this song." Yeah, right.

Watch video of Anoop Desai singing "My Prerogative"

After that, the judges eliminated or put through the contestants.

Watch video of Wild Card judges' choices: Jasmine Murray, Ricky Braddy, Megan Corkrey, Tatiana Del Toro

Watch video of Wild Card judges' choices: Jesse Langseth, Von Smith, Matt Giraud, Anoop Desai

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© 2009


Anonymous said...

I love reading your blog! In all honesty, much more entertaining than the show this season.

Thank you =D

coffee said...

I predict that either Allison Iraheta or Danny Gokey will win the whole shebang