Tuesday, May 20, 2008

American Idol 7: The Hokey Pokia at The Nokia

Jason Yeager gets us ready to rumble by announcing that tonight is the "fight of the century." Wow, he got old since getting voted off the show! Oh, hold up, that's Michael Buffer. Sorry, I always get them confused. Can you blame me? Come on, they have to be at least third cousins or something.

The Debasement of the Davids begins when they're spotlighted in separate "corners" of the stage, wearing different colored boxing robes. Do not adjust your TV sets. You are not watching ESPN. This is, in fact, American Idol on FOX. But, wow, this is corny.

You know how you see those special programs on ESPN that try to paint various sports as more important than the air that we breathe? And how they always make you a little squirmy because, I mean, they're just talking about games? Well, it's even more uncomfortable to watch when the same approach is taken with a singing contest. Lots of quick, hip edits and graphics are used for the "backstage" portions of the show and Jim Lampley periodically shows up to disperse little nuggets of athletic wisdom.

Lampley's manly metaphors are often offset with quick cuts to Andrew Lloyd Webber standing backstage acting like Rip Taylor without the confetti basket. Then Andrew props up Clive Davis so he can croak, "You've really got talent, kid," to either of the Davids. He doesn't care which one. He thinks he's talking to Simon and Garfunkel, anyway.

Oh, snap! With all this nonsense, I almost forgot there was a singing contest going on. Let's see if the Davids can somehow make this night worth watching.

Round 1 - Clive Davis' pick

Cookie kicks things off with U2's "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For." I hate this song because the title ends with a preposition. I guess "I Still Haven't Found That For Which I've Been Looking" just didn't roll off the tongue quite as well. Actually, I really don't care about word placement here, but it really is one of the few (pre-Pop) U2 songs that I truly dislike. I don't know if it's just because it was so overplayed or if it's because it's dull and plodding. Maybe both. At any rate, I'm surprised to find myself really digging Cook's version. I might be so bold as to say that it's even better than the real thing. He is really proving his genuineness right now, because most performers would have a hard time avoiding the urge to do a Bono impression. Although Randy says that David didn't do "everything he could have done" (I guess he would've preferred a Bono impression), he still thinks the performance is hot. Paula gushes about Cookie's voice, and Simon reaches into his old bag of 50-cent words and pulls out "phenomenal."

Little Lord Archuleroy tries his best to fill the shoes of Sir Elton John...and Dame George Michael...and Unspecified Clay Aiken by singing "Don't Let The Sun Go Down on Me." He sort of just walks around in their shoes like a little kid trying on his Daddy's hunting boots, but it's a valiant effort. He sounds fine, but I'm not loving all the syllables he's shoving into every verse and I really hate the vocal histrionics at the end. However, the judges act like Archie controls the sun by slobbering over him accordingly. Randy breaks out his favorite phrase from this season by calling the number "molten hot." Paula has chills. (Maybe because she's wearing nothing?) Simon says that this performance is David's best so far and awards him Round 1. David wheezes and blushes and goshes and nearly passes out.

Round 2 - Original Songs

Not The Davids' original songs, silly! Although I'm sure the Little Lord probably has a bunch of potential hits scribbled in his Care Bears notebook ("Oh Gosh," "Kittens Are Swell," "Daddy Dearest"), each contestant gets to choose a song from the Top 10 entries in the songwriting competition. This is a welcome tweak to this year's Finale, saving us all from sitting through two different spins on the same sappy mid-tempo ballad.

Cookie's choice is called "Dream Big," which sounds just about right. A song about dreaming? On Idol?? Who'da thunk it? But wait. This actually...isn't...bad. I can't believe I'm saying this. Okay, so the lyrics about dreams and faith and reaching for the stars are typical AI cheese, but David Cook is actually rising above them and turning in a very good performance. The way he's doing it makes it almost sound like a lost Bon Jovi song or something. Randy doesn't like the song but thinks Cook "sang his face off." Paula actually says something sensible and nearly poetic, and I really should've written it down, but the hell with it. I could rewind to catch it again, but I've already moved on to Simon. He goes back to the boxing metaphors by calling the performance "a lightweight" and complaining that it didn't feel like "a winning moment." Like this. Inside his heaven. Well, whatever. Cookie makes me proud and that's all that matters.

Speaking of "moments," Little Lord Archuleroy's next song is called "In This Moment." Good Lord. I feel like every one of these songwriters picks their song title by using the official American Idol magnetic poetry kit. They might even write the whole damn gosh-darn song that way. Even though these lyrics are pure crap that make Archie just sound like he's patting himself on the back for being so golly-gee-whiz wonderful, he's singing it really well. In fact, for the first time in a long time, I actually enjoy his performance. If this was the first time I'd ever heard him sing, I would think he was terrific. But that's the problem, isn't it? This isn't the first time I've heard him sing, and this certainly isn't the first time I've heard him sing a song just like this. He's just a broken record to me. But the judges are having a moment, and they're drooling all over Davey again. Randy is not crazy about this song either, but lets fly the "you could sing the phone book" analogy. (Talk about a broken record.) Paula says David is "pure magic." Simon loves the "fantastically self-centered song" and awards Round 2 to Archie also. David clutches at his chest, cries invisible tears and shakes uncontrollably.

Round 3 - Contestants' pick

For his final performance, David Cook chooses to sing Collective Soul's "The World I Know." I really like Collective Soul and think that they've always been highly underrated, but this is kind of a dull song. It's pretty, but still dull. I'm not sure why Cookie would want to go out on such a mellow note. Even though it's my least favorite of his three numbers, I'm still enjoying it and think that David's voice has been in great shape all night. Cookie begins to openly weep when the song is through, but manages to reign it in before it gets out of control. Normally, I don't like when the contestants cry because it usually comes off as fake (hi, Syesha) but I believe that Cookie is showing honest emotions here. He's had a lot to deal with during the course of this show. Randy thinks it's cool that Cook has shown "all of his sides" tonight and Paula agrees, adding that he always brings originality and integrity to his performances. Simon tells David that he's one of the nicest, most sincere contestants he's ever known, but that he picked the wrong song to go out on. Then he actually suggests that he should have done a retread of "Billie Jean" or "Hello." Oh, give me a break. Cookie was wise to pick something new. I hate when contestants cop out at the Finale by singing something they've already done.

So...can you imagine what Archie is singing? That's right! "Imagine!" Something that he's already done!!! I didn't like his version of this song the first time around and I still don't like it. Here's my four-word critique: squinty, licky, boring, predictable. The judges can't hold themselves to four words. They can barely contain their critiques to forty. Randy exclaims that the Little Lord is the best singer and "exactly what this show is about." (AI = squinty, licky, boring, predictable. Good to know.) Paula is stunned speechless. Good. Thank Gosh for small favors. Simon goes back to the boxing jargon again and declares that this match just ended in a knock-out. Archie blinks furiously and sways dizzily while desperately trying to nail a "humble" expression which morphs into something more like "constipated." A little puddle of urine suddenly appears near his right foot as he repeatedly mouths something that looks like, "Please...you must vote for me...my Dad will blow up the building if I don't win."

To close out the show, Ruben Studdard is trotted out to sing this year's Idol kiss of death song, "Celebrate Me Home." Look, Davids! If you win, one day, you could be just like Ruben Studdard! Run!!

So, who is the next American Idol?? Well, I thought I had this all figured out, but tonight threw me off. I originally thought that Archuleta was the chosen one. Then, over the last few weeks I started to think that the show really wanted Cook to win because they think it will give them more credibility to have a "rocker" win. But now, with the excessive pimping of Archie...I just don't know. I'm so confused! Was Simon trying using reverse psychology by being harder on Cookie so that more people would worry about him and vote? Or does he honestly think Archie deserves to win and tried to be as obvious as possible to guide the sheep who always vote his way? What is going on??

Archuleta is more malleable and in need of guidance. He's a one-trick pony. He needs to win the show much more than Cook. Cookie doesn't need Simon or Nigel or Clive's advice. He knows what he's doing. If anything, the Idol crown might actually work against him.

So, who should win? David Cook. Who needs to win? David Archuleta. Who will win? Uhhh...GOSH! This is hard! Based on the judges' comments tonight, I think I have to revert back to my original prediction that Little Lord Archuleroy takes it all. But the real winner will be Michael Johns, who will go on to sell more records (and fuel more fevered dreams) than either of these guys!


BeckEye said...

By the way, in case anyone is confused...I didn't FINISH this post until 3 am. But I'm keeping the time stamp as last night just so I don't have to change every instance of the word "tonight" to "last night." Screw that.

gifted typist said...

The dedication.

The boxing cliche is so tired and overdone. Yawn.

Cookie was more genuine and showed more depth and maturity than Bubbblegum Archie.
he should have gone for an ending that enabled his inner-rocker. Imagine was sentimental and obvious. Maybe that will work for Archie but Cookie should win

Bluez said...

It was definitely an Archie Fest last night. I was so pissed Cook didn't get better song choices and now I'm certain its a fixed show. WTF does Clive Davis know about music anymore, and his U2 choice for Cookie sealed his fate. But now I'm calm and think he's better off, if Cook wins, he may end up in the same boat as poor Ruben and whats his name with the gray hair.

Falwless said...

Hahahaha - A little puddle of urine suddenly appears near his right foot as he repeatedly mouths something that looks like, "Please...you must vote for me...my Dad will blow up the building if I don't win."

So, I was really, really impressed by Cook's first performance and then when little Davey sang next and Simon called that round for Archie boy, I just started fuming and stopped caring. I do not know what people see in him. I just do not know. I am at a loss.

In other news, I'm a little sad it's all ending tonight. Anyone? Anyone?

jolie said...

when the judges - esp simon - gave round 1 to LLA, I figured the fix is in. then amazement - rounds 2 & 3 are archie's, too?! so that was kinda disappointing! and that freaked me out - who knew I'd be drawn in to the drama on this stupid show! are these the four stages of AI dementia?

CDP said...

The Clive Davis joke cracked me up, but then your titles for Archuleta's original songs just about killed me. What are we going to do all summer without these recaps?

Red said...

Sorry, doll, but I don't think MJ will sell many records either. If he wanted to be an actor, however, I can totally see that working for him.

SkylersDad said...

What on earth is Simon doing? I am with you, I don't know if he is trying a reverse phyc thing or what.

Little David has a very pure voice, you have to give him that, but it all ends there.

My litmus test is this - who would I lay down my hard earned cash to go see in concert?

Hands down Cook, there is no contest.

Anonymous said...

You're freakin' hilarious...really. Do you write anywhere else? Books? Magazines? You should. I used to send out sad little AI recaps to my friends, but now I send them the link here.

Cleo said...

Kudos to you, BeckEye, for having the patience and fortitude to continue writing these recaps. I have given up, partly because I opted to go to a baseball game last Tuesday instead of sitting at home watching this dreck, and partly because... Well... It is such dreck. This is the first season since I started watching this show that I will be glad instead of sad when it is over.

I did watch last night. I think I'm the only person who actually liked the boxing theme, and one of the few who liked David C. better than David A. In the first and second rounds, anyway. I think they both stunk up the third round by adding unnecessary vocal flourishes to songs that are absolutely lovely in their original simplicity. It's too bad crazy Mike Tyson wasn't there to pummel them after such sacrilege. Not THAT would've been entertainment!

GingerSnaps said...

Another fabulous post, BeckEye. Then I got down to that picture and had to breathe into a paper bag...

Squee! ;)

Angell said...

I was disgusted at the judges worshipping so obviously at the alter of Archuleta. He's a good singer but BORING as watching paint dry. Hell, I'd rather watch Kristie Lee attempt another countrified version of a Beatles song than sit through another Archi-fied ballad. The kid can't do an upbeat song to save his life. Maybe with a little seasoning...

Anyway, Cookie should take it. But I doubt he will.

Thanks for the killer recaps again this year. Hopefully next season will be better.

Tony Alva said...

"Little Lord probably has a bunch of potential hits scribbled in his Care Bears notebook ("Oh Gosh," "Kittens Are Swell," "Daddy Dearest")..." Good stuff, very funny. I've enjoyed your AI rundown this whole season.

Here's my take: Clive Davies is a piece of shit. A scumbag who somehow manages to hang around and nobody seems to want to ask the fucktard to leave. Based on this reality, I'm sure David Cook would be happy to avoid having to be contractually subservient to him by winning this joke of a contest.

The dreadlocked Jason Castro most definitely figured this fact out, and obvious to at least me, scuttled his appearances on purpose a few weeks ago to ensure he had no chance of being contractually bound to Simon Fuller/Cowell when it came to making records. He’ll have to endure the embarrassing waste of fucking energy that is the AI Tour, but then he’ll be free to have a chance at building real career on his own. I hope he invested all the Ford commercial dough wisely. It’s a long way to the top if you want to rock and roll a wise man once said.

Cowell’s comments: Simon Cowell doesn’t listen to rock. As a matter of fact, he hates rock music. Simon is a great judge of talent within his musical comfort zone, has good ears, and an obvious knack for the “biz”, but that’s it. The dude has amassed a shit ton of cash making novelty pop records and it’s not surprising at all that he prefers LLA over Cook. Simon has probably advised Cook off the air/record that winning would fuck his career but good and he’s better off without the stifling confines of an AI record deal. I believe Simon to be that kind of guy. Sure, he’s smug and British (doesn’t that go hand in hand), but I’d take any advice he’d give me if I was looking to make my way in the entertainment world.

I had the opportunity to talk to an industry insider not too long ago who worked with Chris Daughtry and she told me that Daughtry was ecstatic if not relieved about losing AI. He already had a huge enough ego to know what he wanted to do after he fulfilled his AI concert commitment. He didn’t turn his back on AI and Fuller, but he alone now decides what the relationship will be. David Cook should read Daughtry’s playbook if the bald man of corporate rock in fact wrote one. It’s EXACTLY what he’ll want to follow if he wants to have a real sustained career playing music vs being a flash in the pan.

LLA on the other hand is a perfect fit for AI, Fuller, Cowell, Clive Davies, etc… He’s a piece of pop gold that can be used and abused for all he’s worth without complaint before he grows a beard and discovers that all the money went to publishers, Davies, Fuller, his dad, et al and the Porsche he’s driving is actually owned by the record company. “LLA your keys please. Sorry, but we have no use for you anymore. I think Leif Garret is looking for a roommate if you’re interested. Now go away”.

Who’ll win tonight? As much as I hate to admit it, my brother Mathdude got it right from the beginning. It’s LLA by a landslide. I’m embarrassed to have this much to say on this sorry excuse for a show, but I’m old and have nothing else to do on Tuesday night.

Chancelucky said...

Ijust figured the boxing theme had to do with the way the judges try to put everyone in their box.
One of the interesting things the last couple years is there's a feeling that winning Idol has lost its value. It seems that those who finish say in the top 6 get most of the benefit without having to win the show.

Mathdude said...

DC's chance of winning is nil. He would be the overwhelming favorite among people over 12 years old. He has way more talent than LLA, but the tweeny-boppers vote and they will annoint LLA king tonight - bet the house, bet the kids, bet your soul.

Great job as usual. I'm going to miss your recaps. It's a mystery how you have an 8.6 rating and I have a 9.8.

fran said...

I'm with Cleo...this is the first time I'll be more glad than sad when a season is over. Worst. Season. Ever. I also kind of liked the boxing thing. It was amusing to see LLA try to act like he could beat someone up.

God, Simon was pimping LLA hard. I really think it's true that he doesn't like rock music, especially after he called LLA's choice "more appropriate for this show." All the judges were disgraceful last night in their own way. I LOVED Paula's declaration that DC was "standing in his truth", which frankly sounds like a possible title for an AI winner's song.

I suspected all along that it was going to be a landslide for LLA, and watching the show reinforced that. However, DialIdol is predicting that Cook will handily defeat LLA, and they're almost never wrong. It would be worth watching the whole season to see Pop Archuleta's face the moment Cook is declared the winner. It would ruin Cook's career, but hey, this is entertainment for US. Hehehe.

Beth said...

Not really interested ... but I LOVE your headline! Dalton Ross needs to hire you.

Dale said...

Highlarious and spot on Beckeye. I'm halfway through the yawning of the finale as we speak.

bloody awful poetry said...

I thought you were JOKING about the boxing analogy. I didn't think they'd actually sink THAT low.
I have to go lie down now.

Franki said...

All I have to say is I have enormous crush on Robert Downey Jr. Has there EVER been a cuter Pip?

Gawd. You'd think I was 14, except if I were 14 I would think Robert Downey Jr. was old.

I'm just immature.

Travis said...

The judges sure ended up looking foolish with those comments.

LoraLoo said...

Ok, I didn't watch this season at all. But I was flipping channels and caught George Michael's performance. All I can say is, WTF? He sounded pretty off-key to me? And I am actually a fan...


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