Archive for February 27th, 2007

American Idol: Top 10 Boys

Roll tape! Kelly, Ruben, Fantasia, Carrie, and Taylor (soon to be replaced by Chris, no doubt). Ryan begins by congratulating Jennifer Hudson on her Oscar. Jeff Foxworthy (!)…(?) claps in the audience.

Conga line of men. Sanjaya and Blake are wearing stupid hats, Sligh does a fey little skip, and Chris Richardson still pisses me off for no reason.

Phil Stacey is dedicating his song to the Navy band back home. Aww. He sings “I Ain’t Missin’ You” and I think he sounds pretty good. I’ve really come around to liking his voice, although I don’t think I’d ever buy an album of his or anything. Randy and Paula love it, but Simon says he’s not jumping out of his chair. Likes him as a person, but not sold on the originality of the voice, he says. Phil smiles. He looks so nice when he smiles. He’s got kind of an odd look to him — he can go from quite strikingly handsome to vampirish with the flick of a camera angle. Kind of like one of Jerry’s girlfriends in an old Seinfeld episode.

Ryan would like to know what people were saying after last week’s performances. Sundance told him that the advice he received was “stop being so crappy.” Awww…poor Sundance.

Jared Cotter dedicates his performance to his mom and his dad. His mom apparently woke him out of bed and forced him to audition. Hey, Jared is McPhee Redux! I never saw that one coming. He sings “Let’s Get it On,” but he’s not as hot as Jenry Bejarano. Technically, this is a good performance, but it’s just a little bit too showboaty (and, frankly, not sexy enough) for a sensual song like this. He starts bringing it home a little bit towards the end, but it’s still waaaay too hammy for my tastes. Up in the rafters, Sundance is enjoying this just a little bit too much. Randy, predictably, loves the hamminess. Paula begins to (brace yourself) make a whole lot of sense by telling Jared that this isn’t the type of song you need to push, but she loses herself giggling at her inadvertent double entendre, because she is twelve, and also drunk. Simon agrees with me, in that he’s glad Jared made the effort, but thought it was more appropriate for the Love Boat than for Idol. Seacrest makes a comment about “Wow…the things we’ve all done to that song. Memories.” Ryan, I just don’t wanna know.

Dedicating this song to…his parents…is AJ Tabaldo. He sings “Feelin’ Good,” which nobody sings like Nina Simone, and while he’s not technically terrible vocally, I’m getting…well, let me put it this way: I have no idea which way AJ swings, and I frankly don’t care, but I’m just getting a complete drag queen revue from this performance. The sashaying, the hip-twirling, the finger-snapping…this is not to say it’s a bad performance, but it was just odd. The judges all really like it, though, even though Simon manages to subtly work in the fact that he’s getting that vibe from AJ. Oh well. Happiness all around, and I enjoyed AJ tonight, and I hope he sticks around.

We cut to Sanjaya Malakar, who I swear to God is the product of a genetic experiment that involved splicing the DNA of Donny Osmond, Leif Garrett, and Sendhil Ramamurthy (because yeah, the kid could be Sendhil-hot when he grows up). Sanjaya dedicates his song to his grandfather, which is a nice change of pace, and the baby-photo montage reveals that Sanjaya has always had beautiful flowing locks. He sings “Steppin’ Out,” his hat cocked at an oh-so-Mario Vazquez angle. Yawn. I’m sorry. This child is previous, and I really, really want to like him and see him as more than an adorable puppy, but this is just terribly boring. I think it’s a lazy performance, as if Sanjaya thinks that the crooner-type intonations don’t actually require him to hit the notes. Randy kind of sums up my thoughts exactly. “Bad high school talent show,” he calls it. Sanjaya smiles in a transparent attempt to not cry, which is terribly heartbreaking. Simon agrees with Randy, calling it a “ghastly lunch” where the parents ask the children to dress up and sing. Where does he get these metaphors? Is there a manual? Can he publish a book? I’d buy it. Sanjaya says he picked the song to celebrate the great classics of music and dedicate it to his grandfather. Simon looks completely dumbfounded by that. He also says that he knows he needs to step it up, though his voice is really, really gulpy at this point.

Chris Sligh has made the inexplicable decision to sing Ray LaMontagne’s “Trouble,” which Taylor Hicks popularized — and killed on — last year. This is gonna be interesting, to say the least. Sligh says that he loves his song pick and hopes America will love it too. He dedicates it to his wife Sarah, who is…wow, really hot. Go ‘head, Sligh! And he does “Trouble.” It’s closer to Ray’s original version than Taylor’s was, to the point where Chris is actually trying to imitate Ray’s unique tone. Anyway, he really doesn’t do much with the song, except tack a completely inappropriate glory note on the end that totally destroys the raw emotional impact of the song. Boo! Randy says he liked it, as did Paula, but she tells him to watch pitchiness and getting ahead of the music. Simon says the song proved that Sligh was a “very good singer.” Seacrest mentions that Taylor did it last year, and Sligh, ever the deft politician, calls his version “different,” which it was. And truth be told, it was a superior arrangement. But I still give Taylor the upper hand here for sheer rawness and emotion. Sligh is just a dude who sings to me right now, although thus far he’s definitely the best of the night.

Nick Pedro dedicates his song choice to his adorable girlfriend Caitlin. Awww. He’s gonna sing “Fever,” as done last year by Paris Bennett. Hmm. He’s got some wonky facial expressions going on, and I think this song is revealing just how weak Nick’s voice is. Either that or he’s deliberately trying to sound hoarse for effect. Simon is snapping along to it, though, which is kind of cute. He brings it home in the end, though, with a little raspiness, and it’s at that point that I figure out who he reminds me of vocally: Vic Fontaine. Sci fi geeks unite! Randy and Paula approve. Simon thought it was good, but that it was a bit lacking in the charisma (and wardrobe) department. Simon gives props to the drummer, though. Oh, looks like he’s running with “Vote For Pedro.” Shocker.

Bringing us some “Virtual Insanity” is Blake Lewis. The song is dedicated to his parents. Hey, there’s Blake with his hair flattened down, and totally not as cute. But I’m really beginning to warm up to him, so it’s all good. Personality-wise, anyway. I think the song’s a bit too high for him, and he’s speak-singing, which is my personal annoyance. He scats and beatboxes, and it’s excellent, as it always is, but again, I’d put him in the class of good-but-not-great vocalists. Aside from the beatboxing, he just sounds like…a guy singing. Randy and Paula love it (do they dislike anything?); Simon thinks that the first part of the song was pure imitation, the second was great, and the third part was a freefall of pitch problems. It’s always nice to be backed up by Simon. I disagreed with him a lot last season, particularly when it came to Taylor, but I think he’s pretty well spot-on this season. Cut back to Blake, doing an Ashlee-Simspon-style hoedown, calling his singing style a “vocal entendre,” and cutely beatboxing with Seacrest. Aww. I really do like the guy more and more each week, even if I’m not 100% sold on the singing.

Brandon Rogers’ song is dedicated to his grandmother. He turns in a ballady version of “Time After Time,” and…okay, I just love Brandon’s voice, but he always sounds like he’s blending in. I guess it’s just the background singer in him, or it could be the pleasant softness of his vocals. Randy doesn’t think the song did enough to show what Brandon has. Brandon responds that he was trying to put his heart into the song, and that he didn’t think it needed a whole lot of “extra.” And you know? I totally agree with that sentiment, but I think he might have gone a little too deep into the emotion. Simon calls Brandon’s emotive plea “rubbish,” and Paula vehemently disagrees. Hmm. Interesting little debate here. On the one hand, being a Taylor fan, I’m totally all for emotion and nuance trumping glory notes. On the other hand, you can bring emotion and nuance and all that jazz and still sound fantastic vocally. It’s not a zero-sum game between “emotion” and “glory noting.” There is a happy medium. Brandon calls out his father’s birthday; Simon announces that he likes puppies. Adorable.

Chris Richardson has also dedicated a song to his grandmother, who is apparently a sparkplug who “lives like she’s 20.” Does she work at Hooters? Sorry, I can’t resist. It’s so easy. And so disgusting. Richardson is singing “Geek in the Pink” by Jason Mraz, doing his stupid little dance that’s like a combination of Fantasia’s Bobo, Elliott’s Hobbit Hop (which Elliott sloughed off mid-season), and delirium tremens. He’s such a boy band reject and I just don’t get his appeal at all, and I don’t think he’s a particularly good singer, particularly because he sounds less like he’s singing and more like he’s blowing his nose. Inexplicably, Randy says it was hotter than the original. Ugh. Figures. He’s the only one in the competition I don’t like, which naturally, because karma has afforded me one victory, means that he’ll win. Well, good for Idol for shamelessly cashing in on the fame of existing artists and producing rote copycats, I guess. First Daughtry, who is more Nickelback than Nickelback is these days, now Chris Richardson, the incarnate Second Coming of Justin Timberlake. Yawn.

Wrapping up the episode in the pimp spot is Sundance Head. He dedicates the song to his son Levi. Pictures of Sundance, his baby, and his wife, who is also really adorable. Sundance gets all teary thinking about how he’s missing his child’s first smile. And he brings a little “Mustang Sally.” It starts off meh, but he hits some nice raw notes in there. Too bad the song’s so one-note, though. I do love when Sundance gets a little gruff, though. That’s where his voice needs to be. He pulls off a great scream, no doubt in tribute to his dad’s “Treat Her Right” wail, and all in all, I think the song really showed off Sundance’s talent, if it wasn’t a bit gimmicky. Simon says it was really good, which it was, but that he also thinks Sundance can do better, which he can. Sundance, whose hair looks a lot better tonight, talks about his son some more, and Seacrest directs him to the viewscreen, where a large picture of Levi — with a painted-on goatee — is being flashed. Hee.

Best of the night: Either Phil or Sundance.
Best performance of the night: Blake Lewis. Not sold on the vocals, but love the style.
Worst of the night: …sorry, Sanjaya. You’re a cute kid and all, but your time is up.
Weirdest of the night: AJ Tablado. A good performance, to be sure, but just so strange!

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On the horizon.

Not too many spoilers floating around out there, and much of what I’ve found is just speculation and conjecture at this point, so I wouldn’t exactly attach a lot of reliablity to them. But here’s what I’ve got so far:

Sundance Head: May be singing “Mustang Sally.” Eep. In my opinion, this is waaaay too gimmicky of a song for him, and he needs to return to the type of languid, bluesy songs that he navigated so well during his audition. On the other hand, you know VFTW is loving this.

Chris Sligh: “Trouble” by Ray LaMontagne. Heh. I still haven’t warmed up to Sligh and his strategery, but if this is true, then in the chess game that is American Idol, this is one baaad move. Taylor Hicks kicked ass on this song last year — even Simon Cowell called it an “excellent vocal” (before, of course, proceeding to dis Taylor’s strange leather jacket. I, personally, found the leather jacket strangely hot, if perhaps a size too small…). Even attempting to do this song is going to cause rumblings among Taylor’s fanbase, which I kind of thought Sligh was trying to court, what with his anti-Idol image and all. If he falls short of Taylor’s excellent version, he falls short. Or, God forbid, he’s better than Taylor, or different enough to render any comparisons moot, or the judges don’t care and just decide to use this as an excuse to rag on Taylor some more, he runs the risk of really alienating Taylor’s fans, which could spell trouble for him. After all, he didn’t do so hot on DialIdol last week.

G’mornin.

Recaps may be a bit slow this week…it’s paper-writing season, so unfortunately, form and style must take precedence over American Idol.

For now, check out this interview USA Today snagged with Roy Head. Apparently, Sundance isn’t the younger Head’s birthname after all; it’s a nickname that Daddy Roy gave him at birth, but legally, the kid’s name is Jason. A shame, really.


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What the kids are sayin’



"I hate them all. The judges, TPTB, the blatant manipulation, the songs, the contestants, everything. I'm a die-hard Cook fan, but for the love of god, at least try to look like you're enjoying yourself up there! Please? Syesha was awesome but she ruined it by being completely shameless and disgusting. Yes, being on American Idol is exactly like the civil rights movement, except for the part where you're fighting to make the world a better place."



"All I can say after the disgusting display tonight of favoritism towards the mediocrity that is David A. - good luck trying to market and make money off of that kid, American Idol. (Not to mention good luck dealing with his father.) All the teeny boppers may buy up his American Idol coronation single, but they will quickly forget about him before the album comes out. And I shudder to think of a David A. album - song after song of unrelenting sameness and heavy breathing. Why they are pimping him for the win is beyond me."



"This show was simply a hot buttered mess tonight. And Jason "needs to be arrested for what he did to I Shot the Sheriff. But I hope he stays. He amuses me. "