Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Open Letter To DirecTV

Beware: DirecTV holds its customers to contracts even when equipment fails. DirecTV has horrible customer service and has failed to stand by the verbal contacts created by its associates. 

Below is my harrowing experience in an open letter to the company.

Dear DirecTV,

For eight years I was a satisfied DirecTV customer.

That all changed, after a very frustrating call with your customer service department in February of 2012.

After several months of recurring technical issues, I called to cancel my services. I was informed that I was bound to a cancel fee of over $300, for a replacement DVR box ordered in April of 2011 that carried a two year contract. I understand the way your contracts work, but the only reason I WAS canceling service was due to YOUR inability to fix my recurring technical issues.

This goes back to September, when several of my channels starting dropping out. The picture and sound would become incomprehensible, similar to what you would see during severe weather storms. But it was only on several channels, and the drop outs were intermittent. After trying to rectify the problem with service calls, DirecTV sent a service tech.

The service tech checked the satellite settings, replaced the hub in the basement and checked the wiring on the individual boxes. After he was done, the "problem" channels all seemed to be working, and I thought the issue had been rectified.

A few weeks later, the same issue started up again, with a slightly different set of channels. DirecTV created a case file and sent out a second tech, an "expert tech," as they called him. That service tech checked the satellite settings, wiring, and replaced one of the DVR boxes in case that was the problem. Again, all seemed well when he was done. I asked him if there was any possibility a tree had grown larger or something was partially obstructing the satellite, and he said that couldn't be the problem, as there was nothing physically blocking the dish.

A few weeks later -- you guessed it -- the problem started yet again. In the course of over 3 months, several phone calls and service calls failed to rectify the problem, and no one at DirecTV could ascertain exactly what was causing the problem. The fact it was intermittent made it more difficult to diagnose.

With that, I investigated AT&T U-Verse and decided to give them a trial run. The signal seemed satisfactory, so that's when I called to canel. And that's when I was informed I was still bound by the early cancellation fee.

I reasoned that I have not had a consistent user experience in months, and it was only the failure of your service and equipment that prompted my cancellation. Had everything worked satisfactorily... or been fixed.... I would still be a customer in good standing. But that was not the case. I understand the techs did what they could, but it still resulted in sub-standard service for months.... while I was still paying over a hundred dollars a month for partial TV service. It was reasonable to me, that a "good faith" company would waive the cancellation fee in this instance.

The first customer service rep told me this was not possible. I asked to speak to her supervisor, as I found this unacceptable given my situation. After several minutes, the supervisor also told me it was not possible to waive the fee. She then quoted me from a phone service call I made in October, after weeks of recurring bad reception, as "refusing service." This, because I stated on the call, "I just want my TV to work." And, I'm sure I said that, out of frustration. But I told the supervisor, "I obviously didn't actively call DirecTV to resolve an issue and then refuse service." This was quite galling, and rather ridiculous.

I then asked her to explain the subsequent failed attempts to fix the problem. The two service techs who still failed to rectify the problem. She had no response. I asked her why I should be beholden to a two-year contract based on an equipment purchase.... when your own equipment and service didn't work. It failed me. For months. She still insisted I was bound by the contract.

I then stated that I had been a customer in good standing for 8 years, and had never had an issue with DirecTV. I even regarded the tech calls as good-faith efforts, although they ultimately failed to resolve the problem. I told her this is an important moment, because she needed to decide what impression she wanted to leave with me as far as DirecTV goes as a company. I told her if she waived the fee, I would be open to returning to DirectTV at a later date. But if she didn't, that she would lose me as a customer forever.

Her response? "My job is more important to me."

I told her I found this whole experience beyond outrageous, and with that, I heard what sounded like a snicker on the other end of the phone. When I asked her plainly, "are you laughing right now?" She paused, then replied, "I was coughing. I have a cold, sir." Your customer service rep's attitude had a lot to be desired.

After an e-mail to DirecTv, I spoke with one of your specialists (Mark R ID U5924), who agreed to waive the cancellation fee an noted "I see you made several efforts to rectify the issue over a number of months." He also suggested I had the option of putting my account on hold, if I wanted to keep the option open to resume service. I clarified with the rep, "Either way though, my cancellation fee is waived, correct?" He assured me it was.

Six months later, I called to cancel service, and to my utter dismay, I was told that the cancellation fee was not noted, and I was still beholden to it. It was not waived, as I had been previously assured. Shocked at this, I asked the rep to listen to the recorded call or contact the specialist I spoke with. She said she could not do either, and I would need a court order (!) for DirecTV to release the call, which I found appalling. Another customer service fail in so many ways.

I accessed my previous information and attempted to call Mark R, but the grievance code was no longer active. I spoke with yet ANOTHER specialist, who suggested I e-mail DirecTV.

I e-mailed DirecTV and closed with, "Someone needs to listen to that call and honor the word of your associate. It would also restore my faith in your company and leave the option open for future business."

After two days, I received this message: "Regarding the phone call in which you opted to place your services in suspension, please note, calls are recorded at random for quality assurance purposes only.  Should this recording even exist, it would be available for internal use only.  I sincerely apologize for any previous miscommunication.  Please note, while we are unable to waive your programming agreement, please know that we will do everything possible to assist you with your technical issues."


I tried several times to resolve the technical issue. DirecTV's own techs couldn't resolve it.  I don't believe I should have to pay a cancellation fee when your equipment and service has failed me since September of 2011. Especially when you consider that I had been paying FULL PRICE for MONTHS what had been PARTIAL SERVICE.

If the fee is not waived, I'm afraid you'll lost a customer for life. Additionally, this story will be sent to http://consumerist.com/ as well as other consumer advocacy sites.

I anxiously await your reply.


UPDATE: DirecTV replies, "Regarding the phone call in which you opted to place your services in suspension, please note, calls are recorded at random for quality assurance purposes only.  Should this recording even exist, it would be available for internal use only.  I sincerely apologize for any previous miscommunication.  Please note, while we are unable to waive your programming agreement, please know that we will do everything possible to assist you with your technical issues. "

They maintain the cancelation fee of $360.00.

Their limp suggestion was to send out more tech experts. Too late, DirecTV. After rounds of horrible customer service, botched attempts to correct the issue and shady business practices, I am NOT going to be restarting service to give you more money and only get partial service.

DirecTV is a dishonest company that doesn't care about its customers. Pass it on.

Friday, July 6, 2012

"[Not So] Amazing Spider-Man" Movie Review


So I went into AMAZING SPIDER-MAN with hopes it would be a solid reboot, Certainly, the casting is fine. And the movie definitely has a modern-Hollywood flair. It also treats the subject matter seriously, so no issues there.

But about halfway through the movie I had this feeling of inertia. That I was watching a soulless movie that was not so much telling a story, as checking off plot points. It lacked panache, energy, urgency. For the second half of the movie, I became pre-occupied with where this venture derailed. And I ended up with a lot of thoughts on the matter.

THE ORIGIN: Spider-Man's comic book origin, for my money, is just about the most perfect origin in all of comic-dom (Batman comes second). It goes beyond the how and actually get to the why. Look at Flash, Green Lantern,  Daredevil, Fantastic Four, Hulk... and a host of others... and their origins are really just one Incredible Event (belted by gamma rays, bathed in electrified chemicals, etc...) With Spider-Man, it's not just that he was bit by a radioactive spider, it's everything that followed in that sequence of events -- from his misplaced sense of pride to the terrible lesson he learns about power and responsibility. It's super-powered but it's also deeply human.

It's also the way this plays out, which Sam Raimi realized was pretty much perfect as is. Here, the origin gets a wane retelling that neuters its most dramatic moments. There's no initial freaked-out joy when Peter realizes his powers... instead, it's a manic subway freak out. There's no path of great pride the wrestling match gave us... instead, he confronts Flash in a very un-Peter-like moment. There's no painfully dramatic warehouse realization that the criminal he let go at the height of his hubris was the man who killed his uncle.... Instead, Peter gets into a snit with Uncle Ben, then a snit with a convenience store worker, and only realizes through a police sketch who killed Ben. Every step of this revised origin is neutered, failing to adequately show Peter's path of "Fuck y'all" self-righteous indignation. All the dramatic moments squandered for smaller ones that have 1/10th the emotional wallop.

Spidey's origin is a pop culture Greek tragedy. It's a super-powered parable. And when done right, that last moment needs to inform his entire existence as Spider-Man. In the course of this movie, he NEVER finds the killer, and that's his main quest as Spidey. So, he still isn't Spidey because "it's the right thing" and "with great power comes great responsibility." No, he's just a guy looking for revenge. And that's a major fumble to me.

Also, would it have killed them to say the words "with great power comes great responsibility"?

I understand the producers probably wanted the origin to play different from a movie still fairly fresh in audience minds. They should had either 1. Done an origin montage sequence at the start of the movie like in INCREDIBLE HULK or 2. opened with Ben's funeral and just given us enough snippets/nightmares/flashbacks to fill in a bit as we go.

PETER PARKER: On the surface, it may seem that they got Peter Parker "right." But this Peter was "wrong" to me in some key ways. First, he comes across more as a loner than a geeky social pariah. Very much an 80s-era John Cusack. In his second scene, he's standing up to Flash Thompson in a way that doesn't make sense knowing what comes next in his character arc as Spider-Man. Plus, he's clearly not the lowest on the high school food chain, something else that felt "wrong." And, we don't et a sense of Peter really being shunned by anyone other than Flash. We don't even know where Gwen lies on this social spectrum.... it was all very ill-defined and lacks that instant character identification of Peter as a geek pariah.

It was also bothering me the amount of times Peter was using his powers openly at school. Won't someone connect these dots later? The Peter that teases Flash Thompson with the basketball also didn't feel "true" to me. In the Raimi version, Pete's retaliation against Flash is very "in the moment." Here, Peter is pre-meditated in his actions. I guess you can see that as his "pride" moment, a substitution of the wrestling ring incident... but I didn't get the feeling Peter was there yet with embracing his powers. He comes across as too aggressive. Likewise, the dinner scene with Captain Stacy; He not only tips his hand to his dual identity, he's openly argumentitive with the father of the object of his affections... which again, seemed non-Peter like and even a bit hostile.

Looking at a LOT of the "character arcs", a lot of them don't really track from point A to point B in a logical fashion.

GWEN: Other than what little Emma Stone can add to the character, we get little sense of who she is. She's the smartest girl in school, and clearly gorgeous. As mentioned, where is she on the social strata? Is it weird for her to be interested in Peter, or is she way out of his league? We never get a sense of their relationship, or what obstacles may threaten it. And even when they get together, it's almost perfunctory. I blame the director a bit here; I believe the identity revealing web-spinning rooftop kiss was imagined as something romantic and heroic, but it came across as a fast stolen moment. I was expecting a Superman: The Movie type night-time flight when Peter took Gwen web-slinging, but the scene was cut fairly quick. We never ever got a sense of who Gwen is, how she sees the world, her father or Peter. She more or less performs her role as "the girlfriend."

FLASH: Even more problematic. I didn't "get" his arc at all. He's a bully, until Peter humiliates him utterly and then Pete's uncle dies. And then Flash is a reformed bully and later even says "You're coming along Parker!" wh-at? It felt like there was a missing scene or two here. And while I appreciate Flash as more than a jerk-bully, this certainly needed more.

FORKLIFT GUY: Did I miss something? He's like "we have to help Spider-Man!!" So-- the city is gridlocked and is being evacuated.... and somehow, this guy makes it across town within MINUTES during this pandimonium (which isn't possible in NORMAL NY traffic. And... what does he think he's going to do anyway? Why would he think Spidey was gonna fall? This made ZERO sense except to dumb America who didn't think about this sequence for more than 2 minutes. Also, I might be wrong-- but doesn't this all occur during/after they established Gwen is waiting 8 minutes for the antidote? How is all this occuring in this time window?

LIZARD: I know a lot of people had issues with his story, or how the character was presented. The truth is, if EVERYTHING else worked (The origin, Peter/Gwen, the tone, the dialogue), this would have been serviceable. 

I guess I felt the Lizard was as generic as the script. By the time the movie got around to him in the second half, I was already disengaging. In a rewrite, he could have been made more tragic. He wasn't the least tragic until the very end, where we saw more in hindsight that the injection caused much of his delusions.
I was really annoyed when Lizard kept doffing his lab coat. That image of a Lizard-Man in a lab coat is horror-movie-awesome... why change it?

PETER'S PROMISE: Peter makes a dramatic deathbed promise to Captain Stacy. Then he ducks the guy's funeral. And it's like, dude, you could have gone to the funeral. He hurts Gwen big time, which was unnecessary and even cruel in her hour of need. And then, all of two days later, we get the hint that "promises are hard to keep" or whatever he says in class, a knowing nod that he won't be staying away from Gwen for long. Wha-? A deathbed promise that lasted less than a week? Again, sort un-Peter like. This sort of thing should TORTURE him. The movie should have ended with them apart... again, Raimi got this aspect of the Spider-Man mythos.

and lastly, THE JACK BAUER PRINCIPLE: Spidey is shot, and unable to stand--- until he puts webbing on his leg to stop the bleeding--- and then he rallies and he's all better? what? Again, this script needed another pass or three.

I get the feeling that the producers were moved by Nolan's Batman and some of those sensibilities crept in -- the driven crime fighter and byzantine conspiracy. Like, they thought "this is the future of super-hero movies.... !" And, no. It feels like an ill fit for Spidey. And if you trace back some issues, a lot might be attributed to this.

I did enjoy Dennis Leary as Captain Stacy. And Sally Field as a spry Aunt May. Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone are fine. But the script let them down. There's no sparkle, no playful dialogue, no cute upside-down kisses, no big moments or either triumph or tragedy. The rare attempts at levity were either lame or tame (Gwen's period talk with Daddy, for example.... Spidey's really unfunny banter for another).  

In short, you don't walk away from this movie with an indelible impression of any specific scene or moment. It's all rather paint-by-numbers Spider-Man and he deserves better. He deserves to be Amazing.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Idol Recap :: Hee Haw Ho Hum

Somehow, after an exciting multi-cultural, multi-faceted start to this season, we end up with a finale that's something akin to Hee-Haw for tweens. It's dueling country-whitebread young'uns Scotty and Lauren in the finale. The closest I've come to watching anything remotely Country Music related was the time Loretta Lynn visited Hazzard County and sang, "Y'all Come". And since the judges can barely be bothered to judge this week, this will be a much-abridged recappery.

Scotty McCreery: Montgomery Gentry’s “Gone”
Scotty McCreery: George Strait’s “Check Yes or No”
Scotty McCreery: “I Love You This Big”

Scotty still sings country like a 1970s K-Tel record, and makes weird googly-eyes at us.

Lauren Alaina: Carrie Underwood’s “Flat on the Floor”
Lauren Alaina: Pam Tillis’ “Maybe It Was Memphis”
Lauren Alaina: “Like My Mother Does”

Lauren emerges as a Lil' Carrie Underwood tonight – she still sings pretty and has an unnerving penchant for sequins.

And, Randy tells us they are "both in it to win it." As opposed to, I dunno, just showing up and shrugging.

So who's gonna slay this red-state showdown? I'd say it's Scotty's to lose. Baby, shut them doors and turn them lights down low….

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Idol Recap :: Destiny Mild

In last week's last page shocker, James Durbin was eliminated. That's what Show gets when it tries to manipulate votes by overly hating on Haley, tipping the cosmic vote balance off James' favor.

Tonight, round 1 is contestant's choice, round 2 is ProducerJimmy's call, and round 3 is up to the Judges. Also, Beyonce is guest mentoring, and she looks just like Lily Hollister.

Scotty McCreery: Lonestar’s “Amazed”

Scotty saunters around the stage without a care on him, tossing the song off all nonchalant-like. It all builds to the last note, which is more mid-range than Scooty's usually bullfrog low register. The Judges liked it despite Randy noting some "pitchy problems."

Back from commercial, Ryan is amid the mosh pit of estrogen…. And of note, are two heavy-set blonds. No doubt some legal advice after Show (allegedly) booted the girls with big booties. See? Fat bottom girls do make their rockin' world go round. Which is about as believable as Puck crushing on Lauren Zizes.

Lauren Alaina: Faith Hill’s “Wild One”

Lauren's narrative this season is "beating back her nerves." And, enough already. If I were Lauren, I'd be more concerned with my outfit, from the Goldie-Hawn-on-a-bender collection. Her performance is OK enough, if a lil' boring.

Haley Reinhart: Led Zeppelin’s “What Is and What Should Never Be”

Haley gives the classic LedZep tune a sorta sultry hungover vibe, and I mean that in a good way. And after 10 long seasons, we finally witness an Idoler tripping on stage. THANK YOU, Live TV! Coincidently, mentor Beyonce also hilariously fell on stage. When the cosmic stars align, they have a strange sense of humor. Randy calls it one of her best performances ever. Stephen notes, "It's not how many times you fall, it's how many times you get back up." And if that isn't the perfect metaphor for Haley's Idol journey, I don't know what is.

The Judges all name Haley as the winner of round 1, with Stephen noting that "she got her freak on." This causes consternation for Ryan, who tells us "my freak is out back, I'll use it later." Ryan is still waiting to grow hair in his special places.

Scotty McCreery: Thompson Square’s “Are You Gonna Kiss Me or Not”

Scotty singing Country. Need I explain anymore?

Lauren Alaina: The Band Perry’s “If I Die Young”

The stage hand is trying to cover up Lauren's panty hose run by applying "a little shimmer." To which Ryan replies, "I know all about that." We know you know, Ryan. Believe us… We know you know. As for the song… Lauren sings it pretty. That is all. The Judges would have us believe there is "magic" and "magesty" and "honesty" in this. Urm, ok.

Haley Reinhart: Fleetwood Mac’s “Rhiannon”

Haley channels some Stevie Nicks with the help of a flowy skirt and wind machines. Looking very much a witchy woman, she does the Fleetwood Mac song proud.

Judges divided on who took round 2: Stephen sez Lauren, while the other two morons chant, "Scotty, Scotty, Scotty." And Ryan is offstage chanting "Scotty The Body, Scotty The Body..." And still, no one is biting.

Scotty McCreery: Kenny Rogers’ “She Believes in Me”

Scotty rocks the serious stool, which is his best look. He actually gives the song a nice, somber quality. And no weird eyes. One of his better performances.

Lauren Alaina: Lee Ann Womack’s “I Hope You Dance”

Lauren looks like she either raided Tonya Harding's closet, or she's about to film Blades Of Glory II: Electric Boogaloo. But whatevs. She sings pretty again.

Haley Reinhart: Alanis Morissette’s “You Oughta Know”

Once again, Show minces the lyrics so the scandalous whore of the song dares to "go out with you to a theater." Because sluts love cineplexes, presumably. It's probably Haley's weakest performance of the night; It's a bit shaky in the beginning and manages to be a'ight around the edges.

So who's gong home? I'm guessing Haley will be the single lady out.

Idol Recap :: "All I Hear Is Radio Gaga"

Two round this week: “Songs That Inspire You” and then the “Leiber & Stoller Songbook” round. Also, guest-mentored by Lady Gaga. This show is nothing if not random.

James Durbin: Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’”
For inspiration, James sings the GLEErific “Don’t Stop Believin’”. As if he needed to sway Randy any further, he's also wearing a Journey t-shirt. The performance is actually by-the-numbers and even flat in spots. The Judges love it anyway.

Haley Reinhart: Michael Jackson’s “Earth Song”
Haley breathily sings "Earth Song," but I feel the airy tune could be a bad song choice. Despite the cloud-walking back-up singers from The Matrix, it's rather "meh", until Haley brings out her trademark grrrowl. The Judges hate on it, because they don't want Haley in the finals. Randy accuses her of "screaming it," and Haley rightfully defends herself. And then Stephen calls Randy on his douchebaggery, and says, "don't listen to him." We stop listening to him four seasons ago, Tyler.

Scotty McCreery: Alan Jackson’s “Where Were You (When the World Stopped Turning)”
Ryan interviews "Scotty the Body." Note to Ryan: You are the only one who calls him that. Scotty rocks the "serious stool" for “Where Were You (When the World Stopped Turning)”, returning to his K-Tel Country roots. And in case he's in any jeopardy, Scotty plays the Jesus-America card. The Judges thought it was "beautiful" and that Scotty is "ready for superstardom." I am ready for my barf bag.

Lauren Alaina: Martina McBride’s “Anyway”
Lauren's “Anyway” is like a red velvet cupcake, It's pretty and smooth, but lacking in substance. Great vocals though, as The Judges agree.

I love when Ryan asks Randy "who won round one?" and he answers, "I think it's a tie between Scotty, James and Lauren," leaving Haley sitting there like the nerd girl from and 80s movie that no one asked to prom. With that, Haley laughs a small laugh, that translates into, "Randy Jackson is a Giant Penis." I laugh with you, Haley.

Lady Gaga enters, speaking seriously about the "kids". And I can't take her seriously while she's dressed by like Cruella de Vil's crackhead sister.

Haley Reinhart: Shirley Bassey’s “I (Who Have Nothing)”
Lady Gaga wants Haley to add some boiled rabbit to her performance stew – a little dramatic craziness. Haley definitely brings some passion and energy to this one. The Judges like this a lot more, and actually give Haley some props.

Scotty McCreery: The Coasters’ “Young Blood”
Lady Gaga wants Scotty to make love to the microphone. Gaga, (if I may call you "Gaga"), I think he's been going steady with that instrument all season. The performance is another Scotty novelty act. With the weird eyes, head snapping and faux-attitude. It's sort of a tossed-off performance, all in all. The Judges loved "the humor." If that what they see as humor, I'm guessing they were the ones who watched 8 excrutiating seasons of "According To Jim"?

Lauren Alaina: Elvis Presley’s “Trouble”
Lauren is afraid to sing the lyric, "because I'm evil." She's afraid America will think she's evil. In related news, Lauren is an idiot. Lauren's "Trouble" is a lively, fun performance, overall. The Judges seemed to have liked the fun side of Lauren.

James Durbin: The Clovers’ “Love Potion No. 9″
James gives the hypnotic “Love Potion No. 9″ a rather unnecessary hair-metal makeover. This is something Winger might have considered circa 1989, until clearer heads prevailed. It's indulgent, silly and screechy. Of course, The Judges love it.

So who's going home? I'd say the votes won't go gaga for Haley.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Idol Recap :: Past and Present Tense

It's "Now & Then" Night. With a contemporary song, then a song from the 60s. And Sheryl Crow is the guest mentor, in case you cared. Meanwhile, The Voice continues to bark at Idol's aging heels.

Steven Tyler Fashion Look of the Week:
Lady In Red

James Durbin’s “Closer to the Edge”
James Durbin’s “Without You”

For his first song, "Closer to the Edge," James rocks the stage like a Billy Idol impersonator, only lacking the subtly of songs like "Rock The Cradle of Love." There's flashing lights and screeching, like we are at the James Durbin reunion tour, where gassy has-beens try to retrieve lost glory. It's uneven and off-key in spots. But if even yearned to see James' underarm hair, here it is. The judges love it anyway.

Next, James sings the Idol fav, "Without You," and breaks down thinking about his family while singing. Camera gives us the close-up of his tearing up eyes. More Show audience manipulation? Probably. The Judges praise the "emotional perfect" nature of the song. Because we don't judge the the actual singing? In a display of audacious transparency, Randy declares the competition is "his to lose." Yeah, Randy, we know.

Jacob Lusk’s “No Air”
Jacob Lusk’s “Love Hurts”

Jacob has raided the Dalton Academy closets again, no doubt searching in vain for Blaine Anderson. Jacob sings "No Air" like Kermit the Frog's sassy gay cousin. It's rather terrible and even the back-up singers look uncomfortable. The judges mildly hate on it, as Randy doesn't seem him as a Chris Brown or Jordan Sparks. But merge them both together, and Jacob falls in that genetic ballpark, yes?

Next, it's "Love Hurts." ProducerJimmy is still trying to get Jacob to turn down the Joan Collins. Sheryl Crow shows him how to sing the song gently and tenderly, which he will summarily ignore in about 45 seconds. Despite the giant harp on the stage that says "turn down the drama, bitch," Jacob is squatting, screeching and wailing. The gentle yearning of this song is completely lost, as the song ends with a wail that sounded something like "waaaaaaaah."

Lauren Alaina’s “Flat on the Floor”
Lauren Alaina’s “Unchained Melody”

Lauren can wear sassy western-inspired outfits and strut around in 3 inches like Tuesday, but she still ain't no Carrie Underwood. After singing "Flat on the Floor", according to the judges, Lauren is "in it" and "rising to the top" and…. Um, do the judges comments mean a flipping thing anymore?

Lauren later sings "Unchained Melody" with the technical proficiency of a beauty pageant contestant. It's very pretty, and very boring.

Scotty McCreery’s “Gone”
Scotty McCreery’s “Always on My Mind”

Ryan still insists on calling him "Scotty the Body." Restraining orders much? Anyhoo, Show has created a Howdy-Doody-meets-Eminem monster with this one… strutting around stage, the rap self-hug, and the eyebrows a'blazin' while singing "Gone." The Judges are all bout this, with Randy chanting his "in it to win it" mantra once again. Which, is beyond meaningless at this point, make us nostalgic for a old-fashioned "you killed it, dawg."

ProducerJimmy gives Scotty mindbending advice which translates into "stay in your box but don't be boring." Scotty sings "Always On My Mind" on the serious stool. It's slowed down and real, yo. And Scotty is much easier to take when he's stationary and not making weird faces. Scotty actually made two good song choices to show his range, and he's almost guaranteed in the finale at this point. And in case he isn't, let's give his adorable grandmother the microphone to say, "He's my Scotty."

Haley Reinhart’s “You and I”
Haley Reinhart’s “The House of the Rising Sun”

Haley wanted to get Lady Gaga's blessing to sing her song unreleased song, "You and I." It's a good thing her name isn't Weird Al, because she'd be totally denied. And then not. Haley's got long pants, supporting my theory of "the better she gets, he more clothes she wears." Haley has really become the little Kris Allen who could this season, surviving lukewarm reviews and support while improving each and every week. So it makes it all the most disappointing that the Judges kinda hate on it. And, all because they want that James-Scotty finale, so the Haley sabotage must begin this week.

For her second song, Haley sings "House of the Rising Sun" will a soulful, raspy, bluesy edge. It's something you might see at The House of Blues. Starts slow on the smoky stool, and then gets all sexy, and then we hit some power notes. Ka-blam. It's easily the most interesting and creative performance of the night. Randy declares it "the best performance of the night" and the other judges co-sign this.

So who's going home? I'm guessing Jacob is heading back to Dalton Academy.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Idol Recap :: It's Good To Be King

In the last seven days, The Voice has swiveled its way into America's hearts (watch out, Idol!). Meanwhile, Jlo is leaving her AMERICAN IDOL future up to God. Hey God, nevermind about Japan. JLo needs career guidance. And oh, Stefano and his swag exited stage left.

This week, it's the songs of Carole King, "one of the most revered singer-songwriters in pop music history." Word.

Steven Tyler Fashion Look of the Week:
Judy Jetson's Prom Date

Our guest co-mentor tonight is Babyface. You remember Babyface, right?

He unleashed David Silver's pathetic white-boy rap on fictional Beverly Hills, allowing him to play keyboard. Hyped up on fame, David "got his silver on" in the back of a limo with some skank -- only to be found in his post-coital sweat puddle by virgin girlfriend Donna Martin. (Who, attended her own graduation due to the unforgettable chant heard 'round 1993.) An the lesson is: Stop watching Beverly Hills 90210 reruns.

Jacob Lusk "Oh No, Not My Baby"
Jacob is dressed like gay Jimmy Olsen car salesman. His performance is less weepy, and much more sassy this week. I, for one, am glad to see Jacob not on the verge of musical drama tears. The Judges found some notes sharp, but they liked the energy and the shaking of the tail feather.

Lauren Alaina “Where You Lead”
At her practice session, Lauren meets Miley Cyrus, who she regards as a big star. So, we know Lauren's a tool. Lauren pulls up random teenage boy to sing to, like a low rent Dancing In The Dark video. The Judges like the "more confident" Lauren, especially since Show engineered it.

Observation: Why does Randy's sweater look like Riverdale High merged with Hogwarts?

Casey Abrams and Haley Reinhart: “I Feel the Earth Move”
Because Show wants to hurt me, we also have duets tonight. Here's real life couple Casey and Haley. I hear serial-killer-eyes Casey is shopping for Haley's human flesh suit. Awww. Their interplay is actually kinda fun, with Haley edging out Casey in the vocals department.

Scotty McCreery: “You’ve Got a Friend”
Scotty starts out on the solemn stairs, in a slowed down version of the song. The billowing smoke whispers, "Take him seriously, bitches." It's his least-countrified performance to date, aided and abetted by a very nice arrangement from the band. I'm not a Scotty fan, but this is actually pretty good, I'm loathe to admit. The Judges like the "tender moment."

James Durbin: “Will You Love Me Tomorrow”
Everyone is starting dark, solemn and slow tonight. That's code for "serious artist" on this show. It's actually a nice, stripped down performance, with no flaming pianos or smoke machines. And no screeching. Honestly, if James was like this every week, I might be a fan. The Judges found it "magical" and "incredible." With Randy announcing "this guy might win the whole thing!" Yes, Randy, apparently you were awake at this week's producers meeting.

Lauren Alaina and Scotty McCreery: “Up on the Roof”
Another song with solemn-slow dark start. Next time I sing karaoke, I'm totally gonna rock that. It's kind of a sweet, small performance. Good, but nothing earth-shattering.

Casey Abrams: “Hi-De-Ho That Old Sweet Roll”
Casey has a janunty hat. Surely that means he's a quirky-cool hipster, yes? His performance is a sort of jazz-bluesy episode of Kids Incorporacted. It's somewhat entertaining, but not sure it does much to show off Casey's vocals. The Judges still liked the uniqueness that is Casey.

Haley Reinhart: “Beautiful”
Haley definitely gets the "most improved" award this season, getting more dependable each passing week. And has her talent increases, her hemlines get longer. Coincidence? I think not. Anyhoo, this is a solid performance.

Jacob Lusk and James Durbin: “I’m Into Something Good”
This pair starts on the solemn stairs, but Jacob is tapping oh-so-peppy. James is sporting his best Warblers jacket, as the two of them pretty effortlessly nail this song.

So who's going home? I'm guessing Jacob has shaken his last tail feather.