Tuesday, March 03, 2009

American Idol 8: "Show Us Who You Are, Not What You've Got."

The post title up there pretty much says it all about tonight - and about this season so far, in general, actually. The show that the judges are constantly defending as a "singing competition," to those (like me) who figured out long ago that it isn't, just keep saying dumb shit to prove us right, causing themselves to have to defend the show all the more. Hmm, maybe it's all a huge plot to keep their sound bites a' flowin'.

Before I get into who the contestants are or aren't and what they may or may not have, I have to mention what Simon's got: a hairstyle that looks like it was created with a box cutter. His noggin just gets worse with every passing week. I can't believe I was ever hot for this guy once upon a (Michael Johnsless) time.

Ryan points out that the judges have been hard on the contestants regarding song choice, and asks Simon why he doesn't just pick the songs for them. Lord Cowell jokingly suggests that they should have a "Simon Cowell Week," but that twinkle in his eye implies that it wasn't completely a joke. It wouldn't surprise me at all. Gee, I hope it's true. There's nothing that would thrill me more than an entire evening of Leona Lewis and Il Divo songs.

The contestants head up the stairs to the waiting area and - hey! Blind Guy brought his cute blonde guide with him! Huzzah!

First one up tonight is Von Smith, which means we'll probably never see him again unless it's in the Wild Card round. Seriously, the first person out never makes it through, especially in the preliminary rounds. Von talks about his previous performances on the show and says that he doesn't want to be "the guy who shouts" at America, so he's decided to dial it back a bit. He sings "You're All I Need To Get By" by Marvin Gaye (and Tammy something-or-other) reasonably well, but I'm just not digging it that much. He seems to hit most of the right notes, but there's something very lounge lizardy about the performance. And then there's his crazy mouth, which threatens to engulf the whole audience every time he opens it up (and oh, how I wish it would). Someone backstage clicks a few buttons on the Randy Jackson soundboard which add up to a critique of, "dude...very hot...dawg...welcome to Idol, baby!" Kara and Paula applaud Von's showmanship and comfort on the stage. Simon gives Von a figurative pat on the head, then backhands him with an insult about how "appalling" he looks. My critique? It just wasn't gay enough for me. I was counting on Von to diva it up, but now I have to rely on Nathaniel Marshall, who I'm not sure can do anything but cry.

On to Taylor Vaifanua, who I hope gets cut because her name is almost as annoying to say and spell as Ramiele Malubay's. Taylor is from Utah, so I immediately assume that she's a Mormon. But she's wearing leather leggings. Are Mormons allowed to wear such things? Hmm. Maybe she's not one. Oh, but her performance of Alicia Keys' "If I Ain't Got You" is super-dull, so she probably is a Mormon, after all. I don't know if Kara is trying to steal Paula's thunder or what, but she gets more and more nonsensical with every show. During her critique, she says that it's obvious that Taylor has a voice, but she wants to know what it's like to go shopping with her. That would've helped her enjoy the song more. Okay. Well, Kara, I bet shopping with Taylor is a pain in the ass because the girl is a tree. I bet if you went shopping with her, most of your time would be spent hanging out in the fitting room, repeatedly answering "yes" when she comes out and asks, "Are these pants too short?"

Damn Kara, made me go off on a tangent. Anywayyyy...

Paula brings the discussion back on track (those words sure do look crazy grouped together like that) by reminding Taylor that she already sang this song in Hollywood Week, and says that they were all hoping she would bring something fresh. Simon simply says that Taylor isn't memorable. Apparently, Randy isn't either because he gets cut off by the Idol music before getting to do his critique. He's like one of the Oscar winners for Sound Mixing or something - no one really wants to hear what he has to say. He pleads his case to Ryan, who lets him speak, and Randy just proves that he should get cut off every time by basically saying the same stuff as Kara, minus the girly shopping talk.

After the break, Ryan tells us about Idol's new "design your own Coke cup" contest. I hastily put together my first design, which may not be the best, but at least it tells you who I am. Actually, it's meant to tell you who Paula is. I'm hoping that, even if I don't win, I'll still be cool like a Project Runway designer and asked by Paula to create a special cup for her for the AI finale.

Alex Wagner Trugman, this year's token nerd, says that he's started hitting the gym in an effort to look less dorky. He wants to "fill out a shirt like Simon." Interesting. I didn't know gyms had machines that could enhance and enlarge your nipples. Seacrest takes a keen interest in Alex's fitness regimen, and even offers to "spot" him. I'll bet he says that to all the boys. Alex then takes the stage to sing Elton's "I Guess That's Why They Call It The Blues," and I can only compare his performance to a drunk college kid in a karaoke bar. Actually, it's a lot like that scene from Can't Hardly Wait, where William gets all trashed at the party and starts singing "Paradise City." Except Alex doesn't crowd surf or get molested by a bunch of horny chicks at the end. If one or either of those things would have happened, I would have enjoyed this performance a lot more. Paula says she had fun watching Alex, but Simon said everything, including his growling (yes, there was growling), was horrible. Then he made some hamster comparison that I didn't totally catch because my roommate was trying to tell me about something that he thought was awesome. (I couldn't decide if I should pay attention to him or the TV, which caused me to pretty much space out on both.) Kara told Alex, "You're you." She's starting to make even Randy sound smart, who basically just said, "Crazy, buck wild, but the vocals - duuuuude."

Ryan tells us that Arianna Afsar is the first person to ever sing an ABBA song on the show. That's kind of hard to believe, but I bet she won't be the last. In fact, I'm hoping for an Adam Lambert version of "Lay All Your Love on Me" some time this season. Unfortunately, Arianna turns the cheesetastically earnest ballad, "The Winner Takes It All," into some horrible Mariah Carey-esque dirge. I'm annoyed from the start when she can't even rhyme "me" with "history," singing the latter as "historaaaaaay," and it only gets worse from there. Croaking through the horrible arrangement, she tries to hit every note in her range one after the other, whether they fit or not, and it is an EPIC fail. Even her parents look disgusted. Still, Simon gets booed by the tone-deaf audience when he calls it "absolutely terrible." The Dawg barks, "You're 17, man. Wasn't the right song, baby." Kara tells Arianna that she needs to "be younger." Paula agrees that the song was too old-fashioned.

Ju'Not Joyner is up next to sing "Hey There Delilah," because hearing it 200 times during Hollywood Week wasn't nearly enough. He tries to make it into a slow soul jam and, while it's not horrible, it doesn't make me wanna get my freak on or nothin'. Randy and Kara love his spin on the song, and Paula tries to figure out how to praise Ju'Not for singing the same song as he did during Hollywood Week when she chided Taylor for the same thing. So, she just talks it out and, though she might think that she's keeping all of her jumbled thoughts in her head, she's actually saying them out loud. After Paula mentions Taylor, Simon can't resist dissing her with a little "Oops - I forgot who she was again" routine. Then he tells Ju'Not that his performance was better than he expected, albeit a little "safe."

Kristen McNamara, who might be the only person in the competition with a bigger mouth than Von Smith, is up now, singing Tracy Chapman's "Give Me One Reason," in very corny fashion. It's no surprise to learn that she's a karaoke host, because she definitely thinks it's karaoke night. She does have a decent voice, but this particular performance is just a white mall chick shitting on a bluesy song. Kara and Paula both agree that Kristen can sing, but this wasn't a good song choice. Randy and Simon start in with the usual - "Who are you? What kind of artist do you want to be?" Kristen's response, after Kara tells her that she should be singing Kelly Clarkson-ish stuff, is that she would really like to make a Kelly Clarkson/Leona Lewis type of record. Mmm hmm. I don't think that's what she told the people from Nashville Star, and it's not the kind of record she's already made. This girl really does have an identity crisis. She'll be any kind of artist you want her to be! Maybe if the music biz doesn't work out, she could get a part on Dollhouse. FRIDAYS ON FOX!

Nathaniel Marshall, nearly crumbling under the weight of his 500 headbands, takes the stage to sing another Idol first - Meat Loaf's "I'd Do Anything For Love (But I Won't Do That)." Although it's uncertain what "that" is in Mr. Loaf's version, I think we can correctly assume that, in Nate's case, that = vagina.

Now, a lot of you know that I loves me some Jim Steinman. And here is Nathaniel, a gay man who's been known to be quite the drama queen in the past, with a supremely theatrical and dramatic song in his hands, so it should be fabulous, right?? Well, it's really not. It's not bad, but I can only imagine what Adam could've done with this. By the way, for those of you ladies who are holding out hope that Adam is straight, have a gander at this. If you are over the age of 60 or suffer from homophobia, please don't click that link. I take no responsibility for any mental or physical anguish suffered by viewing this evidence.

So, back to Nate. He has a decent voice, but he doesn't really bring across the drama of this song. He sort of acts like he's on American Bandstand or, as Cowell aptly suggests, a fitness video. Simon hates the "Olivia Newton John headbands" (whoa, that's MY Idol you're talking about there, buddy) and generally thinks the performance was hideous, but he does allow that Nate is memorable and fun. Randy sticks with the theme of the night by saying that he can't figure out what kind of artist Nathaniel would be. Kara says that Nathaniel needs to pick a more serious song to be taken seriously. Good Lord, she's an imbecile. Paula just says that she loved Nate in Hollywood Week and grins like an idiot. For no reason at all, Ryan heads into the audience to chat with Nathaniel's grandmother, and then brings Nate over to the judges' table to irritate Simon and sit on Pauler's lap. His "critique" lasts nearly twice as long as the actual performance. Are they trying to keep this guy in? He doesn't seem like one they'd really have a vested interest in, so I'm confused by all the attention.

What's really interesting is that, throughout the night, the other judges have been amazed by Paula's ability to remember every song that each contestant sang during Hollywood Week. Either they're amazed that one of their own actually bothers to do her job, or they're just impressed that Paula has any brain cells left, let alone ones that work so well. Maybe it's a little of both.

Tonight is the first time most of us have seen Felicia Barton, the girl who was brought in as Joanna (Super Plant) Pacitti's replacement. She sings the second Alicia Keys song of the night, "No One," and, although her pronunciation is a bit strange and the really big notes are slightly off, she has a good voice. She's got a lot working for her - a pretty face, the underdog/2nd-string factor, an adorable kid, and a semi-fugly husband, which proves that she's not a superficial bitch. Oh, and talent too. Almost forgot about that. All of the judges agree that Felicia is gorgeous and they're glad they brought her back.

I wonder if Scott (The Blind Guy) MacIntyre had any idea that he kind of looks like Bruce Hornsby when he decided to sing "Mandolin Rain" tonight. I guess it's not surprising that a curly-haired piano playing guy would do a Hornsby song, but it is odd that there is no piano to be found. I guess instruments aren't allowed in the preliminary rounds, because I don't remember seeing anyone with one.

Scott isn't bad, but the intense pimpage he gets from the judges is a bit much. Look, I appreciate that the guy is blind. That must suck. I nearly kill myself every morning walking from my bedroom to the bathroom without my contacts or glasses, so I can imagine what that would be like times 10. But that doesn't mean Scott can do no wrong. And it doesn't make him a great singer. He's average. But the judges pour it on really thick, talking about Scott's "passion" and "heart" and "charm" and blah and blah and blah. Simon seals Scott's fate as one of the Top 3 by proclaiming, "I will be amazed if you don't sail through to the next round." Kara pretty much says that vocals aren't important because Scott "moves mountains" when he sings. What? Come on, now. This is ridiculous. The judges routinely belittle the mentally challenged during the auditions, but now they suddenly have a problem giving a fair and honest critique to a guy just because he's legally blind?

Kendall Beard follows Scott with her version of "This One's For the Girls," making all the girls wish they were legally deaf. Remember when Kristy Lee Cook covered "Anyway" last year, and it was actually pretty good? When KLC can do Martina McBride better than you, you might as well pack it in. There is no way Kendall's making Top 3; I don't care how cute her dress is. Kara compliments Kendall on her personality, but says that there were "some flat notes" (like all of them), while Simon admits that he couldn't wait for the song to be over about halfway through. (He's twice as tolerant as I am.) Still, he agrees with Randy when the Dawg gives Kendall props for "showing us who she is." Of course. That's the important thing. Everything's great because at least we know what kind of album Kendall would make. A bad one.

Jorgay Nunez trots out the Idol standard, "Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me," a choice that generates way too many jokes to choose from so, please, feel free to make your own. Even though Jorgay looks a little like a date rapist, he doesn't rape the song too badly. He's a very good singer, but I probably am not enjoying this as much as I would had it not been such an overplayed song in the Idol universe. Paula is proud that Jorgay followed the judges' advice to get rid of his accent (it's still there), while Simon tries to make Jorgay's head explode by telling him that he should sing with the accent. Randy says nothing of consequence, and Kara plays Ms. Obvious again by telling Jorgay, "You're a singer. That's your gig." (Oh, Kara, you sound so cool when you use industry terms like "gig." You twit.) Jorgay does nothing to dispel the myth that Latinos are passionate and emotional by breaking into tears. Paula acts like she has a new pet and is all like, "Oooh, Jorgay, talk!! Say something with your accent! Say Spanish stuff! Taco! Burrito!! Mas tequila! Pssst. No, really. Mas tequila, por favor. If you...ehh...vaya...out to my car...el adentro...uhhh...me glove compartmento."

The pimp spot belongs to Lil Rounds, thereby guaranteeing her the top spot in the Top 3. It's Idol law. I knew right off the bat that she would sing a Mary J. Blige song, and she proved me right by taking on "Be Without You." Although I want to dislike her because of all the obvious pimpage, I can't because she has a really good voice and great stage presence. But, as if the judges weren't pimping her enough, she self-pimps by changing the lyrics at the end to, "Call this show if you just can't be without me, baby." I haven't decided yet whether I think that's amusing or annoying. The judges, of course, find nothing annoying about Lil, as they fire off words like "brilliant" and "powerhouse," while Randy utters the typically disjointed response, "YO, one of the best, you kept your swagger on, you were like, 'yeeeeeeah.' WHAT?" I love that he asks, "What?" at the end of all of his sentences now because it saves us all the trouble. Even more ridiculous than Randy is Kara, who tries to do the "sista head shake" during her critique. Paula says that she has a "sneaking suspicion" (translation: "producer's assurance") that they're going to being seeing more of Lil for "many more li'l rounds." So let it be written. So let it be done.

Well, it's pretty obvious that the top girl tonight is Lil, and the top guy is Scott. As for the third person to head to the Top 12, that's a little trickier. It will either be Felicia or Jorgay. I'm thinking that, since the Top 3 in the last two rounds were 2 guys/1 girl, this round will be the opposite. And I'm sure Jorgay will be called back for the Wild Card round, so my prediction for Top 3 is Lil, Scott, and Felicia.

Find more Idol news and recaps at SirLinksalot.


Dave said...

Jorge may have gone into the please-remove-it-from-the-Idol-songbook section of the catalog, but at least he didn't sing "Against All Odds". If he had, I think I may have tried to jump through the TV to strangle him.

Candy's daily Dandy said...

I think they were all terrible last night. The only two with any "chops" are Lil and Jorge.
Seriously, Jorge reduced himself to boredom with his song. And Lil was good but supremely predictable.
Lets get this show on the road and get into the "real" competition.

Dale said...

I agree on the blind guy, they way overpraised him and as horrible as it might sound, I don't want to have to see his eyes week after week, it creeps me out.

They really did a number on the Tracy Chapman blonde girl too, I thought she did a really good job considering the smell from some of the other contestants.

I love that you hate Kara. I vote to keep her on!

The Imaginary Reviewer said...

As someone who never watches this show (and only gets his information on it from your blog), I have to say that I want Felicia to win. Just on the basis that in the photo she looks like Martika, and Martika was one of the best singers EVER. (I'm not joking)

words words words said...

This is your best recap of the season. Hilarious!

Are they even pretending that people are singing in random order anymore? I hope not.

I think the three that DESERVE to go are Lil, Felicia and Von. Von stood out from the pack of mediocrity by picking a true classic that suits him and not screwing up. It's amazing how many of these kids pick songs that not only don't suit them, but are simply terrible in any context. Jorge and Kristin may be better singers than Von, but they didn't make the same impact. And if going shopping with someone counts, Kristin is OUT.

If the blind guy gets through, I'm gonna raise hell. He wasn't even in the top half tonight, but they're completely Gokey-izing him. At least as a fallback he's got the look to play Jesus in Blind Godspell.

CDP said...

I'm so behind, I haven't watched at all since "group week". The "that=vagina" was priceless.

Ian said...

Alex Wagner-Trugman owned the night!

SkylersDad said...

I am not watching Idol this season because I can just get more entertainment from your recaps here.


If you design it, they will come...

Fancy Schmancy said...

Your recap is more entertaining than the long 2 hours were last night! They overpraised singers that sucked, complained about the ones that were good, and just generally gave up any pretense that this is a singing competition. I love when Simon declared "this is not a democracy" and Kara came back a little while later with "America does vote them in, you know". Yeah, right, what a load of crap!

Can't believe you forgot to the mention part where the blind guy told Ryan to high five him, and put his hand up as a "stationary target". Best line of the night!

Kristi Mantoni said...

Kara was annoying last night and Paula made sense. What is this strange new world? I'm not sure I like it.

Your cup design is perfect!! I hope you win!

LiLu said...

I heard about 30 seconds of Kendall before clicking. Ugh.

red said...

Go-go comments:

I was bummed Alex fracked the pooch. I like him.

I like Ju'Not and wouldn't mind seeing him make it through (especially so this doesn't become the whitest season of Idol ever).

I'm annoyed they don't being the truthiness to Scott, too. I mean, c'mon!

And when I realized Lil was going last, I said out loud to no one, "They're not even pretending to not be biased anymore, are they?"

That's all.

jolie said...

I agree on lil and felicia on the basis of their singing. I think you're right about scott including the fact that he was not the best performer among the guys last night. in fact, von really surprised me - I was ready not to be impressed! - but he handled it. all that being said, though, I'd like to see ju'not get the guy slot.

lil, ju'not, felicia with high five dude a WC along with kendall.

does anyone know if wild card is another round of 12? or are the judges just picking three?

Tony Alva said...

I really thought the competition was going to be robust this year, but I don't know now. There are a couple of strong front runners, but a great deal of the rest of the pack have really come up short in these first prelim heats. I'm also not big on the format this year with these three big elimination groups. I sort of feel like we should be getting on with it already.

What do you think?

Anonymous said...

LMAO at your last sentence of Jorgay's paragraph. I peed a little.

I used to also have the hots for Simon, and if he did something better with his hair, I'd still consider him at closing time. And I don't even drink, so that's saying something kinda.

Bond said...

Lil, Ju'not and either Felicia or Scott...either way one of the last two comes back for the Wildcard

I have two Memphis Girls to root for!

words words words said...

Wow, I really must have not heard the same performance from Ju'not that everyone else did. Out of the twelve, I have him no better than sixth.

Anonymous said...

Scott the blind guy is duller than coldplay and the fray combined. and to make it worse he's mediocre at best with singing.

pistols at dawn said...

Jorgay should be a real name, since it's what I've called all my straight friends for at least a decade now. Yes, I'm incredibly mature.


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