Friday, February 24, 2006

American Idol - Here Comes the Clown With The Broom

American Idol is hugely entertaining. It tugs at the heartstrings, it makes us laugh, it makes us cry, and it makes us dance on the couch and jump up and cheer when our favorites have a great performance. But as much fun as it is, it is also cruel. Cruelty makes good TV, as they say - we all enjoy what those wacky Germans call Schandenfreude, we all take pleasure in seeing the pain of others. Last night's show was all about Schandenfreude.

First off, the Seacrest tells us that over 40 million votes came in over the past two days. Damn, people. He then goes to talk to the judges, and tonight there are 4 judges: Randy, Paula, Simon, and Paula’s cleavage. Simon and Paula get into it a bit when Paula panders to the contestants by telling them all how great they are, and Simon snaps back with “They’re not all great.” Later, Simon states that he is fairly positive about who will be going home because “we have trained the audience to be music critics.” See? This guy isn’t just a big meanie – he’s also right most of the time.

Next we have all 24 contestants singing the Eagles “Take It Easy.” Some sound great, some sound like their vocal cords are under serious distress. Taylor looks totally out of place as the lone guy with real talent trapped in a high school show choir. Ladies and gentlemen! The North Kansas City Harmonaires – starring Taylor Hicks! Bumbum BUM badabumBUM! And then they all come out singing “Everyday” and the ghost of Kirby Shaw descends from the heavens and crowns Taylor king of the entertainment industry. Okay, that isn’t REALLY what happens. That’s what happens in my head, though, as I fast-forward through commercials (thanks, TiVo!).

After the break, we get recap of both performance shows. My favorite is when I get to hear Taylor sing again. I’m going to savor every moment of him singing in this competition, because soon I’ll have to pay for his songs on iTunes and I always get more enjoyment out of free stuff than stuff I have to pay for. Now it’s time for one of the girls to go home, and let the Schandenfreudefest begin. Brenna’s apparently lost her hair relaxer, because she’s got this afro thing going on. She also makes some comment about being a duck. If it walks like a bitch, and talks like a bitch, it must be a duck. The Seacrest makes the back row of girls stand, and they are all safe. The front row gets a long drawn out rundown of all their songs, and half of that group is safe. Kinnik, Becky and Brenna are told to step forward. And “Brenna…. You….. Will find out with the rest of us………………….. After the break.” Damn you, Seacrest! DAMN YOOOOOOOUUUU!

And… we’re back. The Seacrest continues his slow torture of these three girls by pulling out their fingernails on live TV. Kinnik is told she’s safe. And Becky O’Donohue– is goin’ home. Here comes the most cruel part of the entire American Idol process. This girl has just been dissed in front of millions and millions of people. She’s the first person sent home, she’s a big o’ loser. So what do they make the loser do? She has to perform the song that we all hated so much we sent her home for her performance of it. So there is Schandenfreude all around – we, the audience get to take pleasure in the pain of Miss Becky, and the producers get to take pleasure in the pain of the audience as we are forced to listen to Miss Becky a-fucking-gain. Fuck you, American Idol.

Lather, rinse, and repeat this process three more times, alternating guy, girl, guy. Who get’s the boot?

Buh bye, Bobby Bennett. He sang Barry Manilow for his Gram (Gram? Who the fuck calls their grandma Gram? He should just call her Memaw, but I guess that isn’t an option because Brenna’s head would explode if she heard that because that’s HER special word! WAH! HISS!) Anyway, Bobby’s gone and we’ll see him soon in the Shawnee Mission Playhouse production of Guys and Dolls playing the role of Nathan Detroit.

See you later, Stevie Scott. The beanpole that is out to prove that it isn’t over until the skinny chick sings just didn’t make the cut. Apparently, part of what makes Josh Groban so popular is the fact that a hot guy is singing romantic pop-opera. Hot guy. Not beanpole. Sorry Stevie.

Probably should have shaved, Patrick Hall. You fail at life. No, not really. I am actually surprised that Patrick is going home so soon, but what can I say about it because I don’t vote anyway. Patrick’s final performance proves that he can actually sing and makes several people at home wonder why they voted for Sway and not Patrick. So those people really do fail at life.

No more American Idol until next week. Who knows if I will keep these updates up? Check back and see! My prediction is that as long as Taylor is in the competition, I’ll keep recapping.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

American Idol - The Guys Strike Back!

First up – the recap: praises especially for Paris and Lisa… YAY!

If the starting intro order is any indication, I’m going to have to wait to hear Taylor Hicks until the last. This makes me sad. But happiness is just around the corner, as someone must have taken Paula’s barrette away because her mane is again flowing freely across her liver-spotted shoulders.

Patrick HallCome To My Window (Melissa Etheridge)
So this guy is kind of attractive without the goatee. Unfortunately, he chose the lazy route and didn’t shave his whole face today. What is the first thing we notice about Patrick (other than his facial hair)? He’s singing a lesbian anthem, okay? The bad news: Melissa Etheridge sounds more like a man on that song than Patrick does. The good news: Vocally, it wasn’t horrible. That’s about the best I can say for him. Creepy moment number one comes when they show “Patrick’s friends” in the audience and one of them looks like the infamous plastic surgery experiment gone wrong, the Tiger Lady. Paula starts her pandering early tonight by telling Patrick about all the “star quality” he’s got. Looks like we’re in for a long night of Paula’s retarded comments.

David RadfordCrazy Little Thing Called Love (Queen)
The baby-faced crooner tries to stick to his niche by performing a version of this song as if he were the spawn of Elvis and Michael Feinstein. He didn’t look very comfortable up there – his movements were uncomfortable, his vocals were uncomfortable, and I was uncomfortable for him. It was a weird performance, overall. Simon and Randy go so far as to call his performance a joke, but they weren’t mean about it. I feel sort of bad for David by the end of his comments – he looks genuinely upset, but he DID get some good advice. I just don’t know if he can carry a Harry Connick Jr. tribute act all the way through the competition. Creepy moment number two for this evening comes when Paula calls the girls “Paula’s Poodle Pound” and Ayla proceeds to do her best poodle imitation. I think she got so excited she peed herself.

Bucky CovingtonSimple Man (Lynyrd Skynyrd)
I think Bucky has at least 50 teeth in his mouth, and that’s where his mush-mouth sound comes from. I also think he swallowed a couple of them before his performance, which is where his gravely voice comes from. Bucky looks homeless, like his hair hasn’t been washed since he took out the dreadlocks. I’m going to call Bucky another disappointment. So far the guys are 0 for 3, as far as I’m concerned. The Seacrest complements (?) Bucky by telling him he’s such a real, genuine, unaffected guy. I guess that is Seacrest for “dirty country bar singer.”

Will MakarI Want You Back (Jackson 5)
Who does this guy remind me of? Oh yeah! This guy is totally Peter Brady! I can already hear Paula asking this guy to help her wash her car after the show. In Paula’s world, “wash the car” means “chow my poontang.” Oh, so Paula calls him Bobby Brady – she like them younger, I see. I agree with Simon that Will’s performance was average. I’d even go so far as to say it was a bit boring. He’s young and a heartthrob though, so the Teen Beat set will eat him up.

Jose “Sway” Penala
Reasons (Earth, Wind and Fire)
The falsetto took some getting used to. I still don’t think I’m used to it. The more I hear it, the more I realize I will never get used to it because it’s pretty weird. I was hoping Sway would wow me with soul rather than turn me off with Aaron Neville. I don’t like Aaron Neville, and it’s not just because of the mole and tattoos (on his FACE). However, it was a very bold choice of song, and it showed Sway’s potential for great versatility. Simon calls Sway “pimpy,” and I think that’s because of Sway’s Panama Jack hat. What 80s closet did he dig that out of? For the fifth time tonight, I wonder where the male talent is hiding, and how these guys made it this far.

Chris DaughtryWanted Dead or Alive (Jon Bon Jovi)
Like Mandisa last night, Chris is literally on fire thanks to a flamey backdrop. I’m liking Chris, because he sounds like the lead singer of Stained, and kind of looks like him, and Stained hasn’t had a good song since that anthem to psychotherapy from a few years ago. So far, Chris has given the best performance of the night. Let’s hear it for 20-something bald dudes everywhere!

Kevin CovaisOne Last Cry (Brian McKnight)
This guy looks exactly like my senior class president. I think that guy is an accountant or something, so maybe when this guy gets booted (which he inevitably will, because let’s face it – teenage girls can NOT masturbate to this kid) he’ll have a promising future in the financial industry. Kevin’s got a really nice voice, but there is a slight lisp in there that interferes with his tone. It’s not overbearing, but it shows his immaturity. Personality wise, he’s just as sweet as can be and about as genuine as it gets. We’ll get to enjoy him for a few more weeks and we’ll all be sad when he goes, but it won’t be a surprise when it happens.

Gedeon McKinneyShout (The Isley Brothers)
Oh my god – it’s David Allan Grier with a ‘fro. What the hell was this kid thinking when he chose this song? Don’t get me wrong – the vocals were actually good. He was on pitch, he was technically superb. But the performance was like, huh? I don’t know what turned me off about him, but there was a hint of SNL in there. I think Simon got the same vibe from Gedeon that I did. That’s all I have to say about that.

Elliot YaminIf You Really Love Me (Stevie Wonder)
Is that a cassette tape masquerading as a belt buckle? Word up. Elliot looks a little like Gollum, only taller, and fully clothed. Truth is, this boy can sing. Slap some veneers on those chompers, grow out the hair, and he’ll be the total package. His performance was very good – he worked the audience, he looked comfortable, and he made it look easy. Simon called Elliot “potentially the best male vocalist we have ever had.” Holy shit – that’s a big deal. He better bring it next week, or Simon’s gonna tear him a new one.

Bobby BennettCopacabana (Barry Manilow)
He’s funny, he’s fun, he’s singing for his grandma. How cute is that? But what’s with the growling? Was that really necessary, Bobby? Bobby is a big ball of personality, kind of like the wild host of a wilder party. I’d like to see Bobby actually sing something, rather than all-out entertain – as he stands now, he would rock the house in the Coconut Room at the Palm Tree Hotel in Reno. I gotta give it to the Seacrest for standing up for Bobby and asking Simon to give the kid some real, legitimate constructive criticism. Simon must be in an especially cranky mood, because he refuses to even admit he liked the kid once upon a time.

Ace YoungFather Figure (George Michael)
He’s got the looks, that’s for sure. And he picked one of my favorite songs, so that’s two points in his favor. And hot damn, if he doesn’t sound just like George Michael. Ladies and gentlemen, we have a potential winner. Ace looked like he was really feeling that song, and when he looked into the camera at the end of his performance, he looked right into the souls of melting girls across the nation. Even the judges loved Ace – even Simon. Without the benefit of a flaming backdrop, this boy burned up the stage.

Taylor HicksLevon (Elton John)
Even before he takes the stage, I am nervous and excited and nervous again. Taylor is quirky, a little strange, an odd duck. But he is immensely talented, genuinely grateful to be in the competition, and knows who he is and why he’s good. He starts the song and I’m immediately sucked in – Taylor is sensitive at first, and then he starts belting out this soulful, powerful ridiculously good performance that has twinges of gospel and of course Ray. Everything I feared about Taylor’s performance style – that maybe he would freak out in front of an audience – was for naught. Listen to me people: Taylor is the best thing to happen to American Idol ever. Let this man stay. Let this man win.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

American Idol, or How I Learned to Stop Bitching and Love the Simon.

So after watching the top 12 girls perform last night, I have my favorites, which incidentally, have been my favorites all along. No surprises, really. Here's a recap for those of you who care about my opinion.

So Ryan "I'll keep you my dirty little" Seacrest starts by jumping Simon's crumpets about Simon's "criticism" this year. I guess to the Seacrest, blunt honesty=criticism. Personally, I think Simon’s opinions are usually right on target vocal-wise. I question his judgment when it comes to his personality choices (Brenna? Brenna?), but even Einstein fucked up late in his career. The difference is Einstein had humility. But I digress. Randy "believes in the boys" this year and ironically and for totally different reasons, so does the Seacrest. Paula’s hair is the real story for the first 3 minutes of the show. She apparently found a barrette in her vanity and decided to put it to use by pulling her mane up and back off her face. This was a bad decision for two reasons. First, the pulled-back hair formed a pouf on top that bordered on conehead. Second, without the distraction of wisps in her face, the fact that she has aged considerably since the “Cold Hearted Snake” years is all too evident.

Mandisa Never (Heart)
Oh my flames. Mandisa is literally on fire. So maybe she should have rethought her choice of outfit – Fredrick’s of Hollywood by way of Lane Bryant isn’t really prime-time couture. Her performance was terrific, though. Simon was impressed, as he should be. She better go all the way to the finals or someone’s gonna get squished.

Kellie PicklerHow Far (Martina McBride)
Gotta love the Pickler. That accent is hilarious, especially when talking about her incarcerated father. Mentioning you are singing a love song to said incarcerated father is a bit creepy though. Kellie wore an old car wash chamois with belt buckle purchased at an Indian casino pinned right in the center to hold the chamois together. Vocally, she was OK. Not spectacular. But she is likable, and adorable, and I’d rather see her advance than some of the others.

Becky O’DonohueBecause the Night (10,000 Maniacs)
I think this girl is nuts, which is scary, because she has an identical twin who is also likely nuts. I think Becky is trying to fuck me with her face through the TV and I’m disturbed. Her voice isn’t bad, it just isn’t great, and her facial expressions are uncomfortably… big. Her last note sounded more like Pat Benetar than Natalie Merchant, and not in a good way. Becky’s sleeveless shirt is made from her Grandma’s old dresser scarf.

Ayla BrownReflection (Christina Aguilera)
Little Miss Perfect makes it to the Top 24. Next to the Seacrest, she’s a total Amazon. A robotic, empty Amazon. I don’t want her to win American Idol – she’s rich, she’s talented, she’s athletic – she don’t need this. But her vocal was good. It made her “feel so complete” – huh? Anyway, I see her and she just gets under my skin. Jealous much? Hell yes – but come on – there are more talented people in this competition and there are certainly more people who would benefit from winning this competition. Bottom line is I don’t care if she sounds like Aretha Fucking Franklin (which she doesn’t, but stick with me here) don’t vote for her. Let her play basketball and go to Debutante parties, okay?

Paris BennettMidnight Train to Georgia (Gladys Knight)
Oh yeah. Here we go. This girl is incredible – she looks great, she sings great, she’s got personality by the truckload, she’s a helluva performer. Even that 70s blue-jean pantsuit and Bakelite necklace she borrowed from her great aunt couldn’t stop this girl from rocking the stage – she looked hot! The best part of Paris is that she sings like a powerhouse, but when she talks she sounds like the littlest mouse in The Secret of Nimh. How cool is that? Paris is one of my favorites – I could have watched an hour of her by herself.

Stevie ScottTo Where You Are (Josh Groban)
First of all, Stevie should have chosen a Stevie Wonder song just because I think that would have been cool. She wants to “be the girl version” of Josh Groban, and her vocals are okay, but they aren’t spectacular. There was a power missing behind her sustained notes that should have been present in an opera-trained voice. Overall, the performance was lukewarm at best. Stevie was very disappointing, as some excellent pop singers have been classically trained. Why couldn’t she have gone all out Mariah Carey for us? Stevie wore the 15th sleeveless shirt and jeans combination of the night. Paula didn’t even try to prop Stevie up by telling her she looked beautiful, which is just sad news for this girl.

Brenna GethersYou Are the Sunshine of My Life (Stevie Wonder)
What an obnoxious child this is. I think she believes she’s some sort of “do-me” feminist, but in reality she’s just a brat. Besides doing this strange “ooh” orgasm face when trying to punctuate notes, her stage movements are kind of icky – squatting, bouncing – they make me uncomfortable. Her vocals weren’t bad, but I think Randy and Simon did her a disservice by telling her to be herself, because the “real” Brenna is just awful. Anyone who votes for her hoping she makes good TV should have their dialing fingers amputated. As for attire, Brenna wore an off-the-rack ensemble from the softer side of Sears.

Heather CoxWhen You Tell Me That You Love Me (Vonzell Solomon)
If looks got you thorough this competition, Heather would be a shoe-in. She’s cute, sexy, and has a great combination of youth and maturity. But looks aren’t everything in this competition, and vocally, Heather was bland as unsalted white rice. What a disappointment. Simon nailed it when he said she should have used the excuse of laryngitis, because if this is her at her best, it just isn’t good enough. But what did she wear, you ask? I don’t remember. Bor-ing. Heather’s performance did bring about the most uncomfortable moment of the night, however. After the obligatory brow-beating by Simon, Paula chimes in with, “But she looks so beautiful.” Way to pad the ego, Paula. Is that what you need to get through the day? People telling you how beautiful you are? Well sorry Ms. Abdul – you look like you have ass-hair tonight.

Melissa McGhee - When the Lights Go Down (Faith Hill)
Maybe it was her eye makeup, maybe it was the Baja thing she borrowed from Bo, but Melissa looked like a pothead during this performance. She over-sang the song, but the embellishments she did to the extended notes were pretty good. Flat, but good. I think she could make it another week. Not finals material, but not bad, either. I look forward to hearing her sing something else.

Lisa TuckerI Am Changing (Jennifer Holiday)
Lisa is a 16 year-old bundle of talent. Her performance was sultry, like a seasoned jazz performer. She worked the audience and got them into a song that most had probably never heard before. This girl channeled Diana Ross with her hair, wardrobe (a black v-neck disco dress), mannerisms and vocals. Can you say finalist? We had another weird moment from Paula, who called Lisa “a precious little gift.” What a pandering fool Paula is. Can we replace her with a tuna sandwich or something?

Kinnik SkyGet Here (Oleta Adams)
A denim prom dress? What is with all the damn denim tonight? That said, Kinnik did her song justice. A little Toni Braxton, a little Oleta. I didn’t like that she used most of her performance time for the big finish of the song, but she did a very nice job. However, there were better performances tonight and Kinnik just can’t compare to them. Once again, Paula tells a contestant she looks “stunning” – I am starting to think that Paula doesn’t even listen to the performers - she just sees them. She’s probably got an earpiece in and someone is constantly reassuring her how gorgeous she looks at any given moment. What a crap job that must be.

Katherine McPhee - Since I Fell for You (Barbara Streisand)
Great performance. The vocals were great, her showmanship was spot-on, and I loved that she wore jeans (see? Denim isn’t always bad). It was as if she just rolled out of bed and decided she had to sing in front of America today. Katherine looks genuinely grateful to be on that stage. She’s got the cuteness factor, but the fact that she chose Streisand and totally owned that song is a testament to her talent. Paula looked jealous, which is another point in Katherine’s favor.

In summary, my favorites from this night were:

No surprises there. I can’t wait to see how the guys fare tonight. Taylor Hicks is gonna be awesome. I’m not saying if he’s gonna be awesomely good, or awesomely bad, but whatever he does it’s gonna be awesome.