Sunday, October 5, 2008

My Take on "The Graysons"

Earlier this week, The CW rocked the comics world with news of a pilot in development called "The Graysons," which would "follow the world of Dick "DJ" Grayson before he takes on the iconic Robin identity and aligns himself with Batman." It seems the CW is taking a page from the successful "Smallville" series, now in its 8th season. Heck, it even has the same producers. Comic fans have strong opinions on "Smallville"; I'm not much of a fan, although I've followed the series throughout its run. Whether you like it or not, you can't argue with the show's mainstream success and appeal.

Newsarama's blog asked me to weigh in on the series. UPDATE: Here's some other takes in addition to my own. Looks like I'm the most long-winded of the bunch. That's what happend when you get me started! Here's my thoughts on the news....

DJ or Not DJ

First, let me just mention that Nightwing is my all-time favorite character. He's got one of the most unique and rich histories of any comic character. And he's one of the few to actually grow up in front of our eyes. Heck, he's one of the reasons why I created

So, "The Graysons." What's a long-time wingnut to think?

A lot of die-hard fans have objected to the idea of calling Dick Grayson "DJ." I am not one of them. I think DC should have taken advantage of one of their continuity reboots ("Crisis on Infinite Earths," "Zero Hour" or "Infinite Crisis," take your pick) to alter Dick's genetalia-icious namesake. His full name is Richard Grayson, after all. Post-reboot, if could have been easily altered to Rick Grayson (Rick is still a derivation of Richard and also rhymnes with "Dick") Let's face it, no one under the age of fifty would choose to be called "Dick." So, whatever, call him DJ, it's all good. It's also the least of my concerns.

Meet "The Graysons"

I think the show will find some challenges in how to meld the history of Dick Grayson and the DC characters into "The Graysons." "Smallville" had the advantage of Superman's entire legacy of family, friends and foes. I'm not sure how successfully "The Graysons" could meld in the Batman mythos, since many of those characters are specific to their interactions with Batman. And, especially, if Batman has not yet debuted in Gotham. Who knows what the producers are planning? Much like "Smallville", I'd expect "The Graysons" to take some liberties with the DCU characters and their timelines.

So, what do I hope for as a Dick Grayson (or, "DJ" Grayson) fan? First and foremost, I think they need to nail down the character of DJ himself. He's honest, loyal, smart, close to his family, intensively protective and dangerously curious. I think it's also important to figure out ways to propel the stories. If it were up to me, I'd have the pilot episode take place days after the mysterious "Batman" sightings in Gotham City. Intrigued by this urban myth, fourteen year old DJ would intensely follow this larger-than-life hero's adventures through newspaper and media. Inspired by this bold new hero, DJ would seek out trouble as Haley's Traveling Circus rode from town to town, often embroiling himself in situations that would call upon his acrobatic abilities and burgeoning detective skills.

The show would track DJ's progress, as he learns to become a hero. Tweaking the Robin/Batman timeline, the death of DJ's parents would have to occur on the very last episode, where we would witness the origin of Robin. Whether this happens after 3, 5 or 7 years would depend on the popularity of "The Graysons."

Haley's Circus

The circus backdrop lends itself to a cast of colorful and interesting characters. It's also a natural way for the show to introduce a variety of characters with strange abilities. Here's some suggestions for the main cast (you might recognize some, comic fans!):

John and Mary Grayson: From a long line of circus folks, John and Mary uphold the proud family tradition and regard Haley Circus as their home and its residents as their family. The Graysons don't own Haley's circus, but they do run it. A blend of old fashioned showmanship and new era extravaganza, Haley's Circus also becomes a haven for outsiders and those cursed with strange powers.

Grant "The Amazing Ravager" Wilson: Fans will know he is the son of Deathstroke, destined to die tragically as the first Ravager. But in this series, Grant is a troubled and tough marksman and therefore, knife thrower, for Haleys. Grant ran away from his family a year ago. He's best friends with DJ Grayson, but in many ways, the boys are polar opposites. With his severe anger issues, Grant would be the series "bad boy." As the series progressed, we'd see rising tensions and encounters with his father, the world-famous secret assassin. The Grant/DJ friendship could give the show the same vibe as the ill-fated Lex/Clark friendship. Plus, the show gets a fantatsic recurring villain in Deatshtroke!

"The Great Zatara" and his daughter, Zatanna: In the comics, Zatanna is a magic-wielding heroine. In this series, she has no powers, but she's got her own bag of tricks. Popular escape artist and magician Zatara is accompanied by his clever teenaged daughter and apprentice, Zatanna. Zatanna (Zee, for short) is close friends with DJ, and the willful teenaged girl helps him get out of tight spots with her escape-artist training and smoke-and-mirrors tricks. Zatanna would be intrigued by DJ's adventures and become his "side-kick," or a sort. And hell yes, she's got to wear the fishnets on stage.

Lilith "The Omen" Clay: Titans fans know her as Omen, the mysterious mind reader who long sought the truths behind her origins. For this series, Lilith would be a mentalist - "The Omen" - at Haley Circus, able to read minds and sometimes see the future. Lilith would also be on a quest to find her true parents and try to learn the source of her powers. Lilith is often scared of her powers and wonders whether they are a blessing or a curse. Withdrawn and troubled, Lilith is drawn to DJ's strength and confidence. Lilith provides some "super-power" vibe to the cast, but without overshadowing DJ. Her presense would also open up new story possibilities into the unexplained and supernatural. Her powers would also help DJ seek out crime from town to town.

For the first season, I'd create a season arc with two of Haley Circus' own residents: The bizarre brain-in-a-jar called "The Brain" and the talking genius gorilla, Mallah. The two masterminds would recruit fellow freaks (Houngan, Phobia, and others) and commit secrets crimes as the circus traveled from place to place. Seeing themselves as united in freakdom, Brain and Mallah would refer to their enclave as "The Brotherhood."

Bring On The DCU

It's a little harder figuring in Bat-characters, but I'd love to see a "team up" with a teenaged pre-Batgirl Barbara Gordon, an encounter with carnie-freak Croc, a run-in with a mysterious burgler known as the Catwoman. And, for sweeps, what's a circus without a clown? The circus would be the perfect backdrop for the Joker's version of "The Greatest Show On Earth," his own twisted circus extravaganza. It might be nice, in later seasons, for DJ Grayson to meet a precocious Tim Drake or a street urchin with an attitude named Jason Todd. Some other characters that might be useful in "The Graysons" may include Clayface, Lady Shiva, David Cain, Poison Ivy, Firefly, The Mad Hatter, and The Scarecrow.

Titans characters are a bit easier, since many of them are teens, and would fit well with a similarly aged DJ Grayson. Also, the Titans has its share of non-powered super guys, as well as teenagers that recieved accidental powers they have trouble dealing with. I can imagine tales that would involve archer Roy Harper (Speedy) in a possible recurring role as Grant's rival, carnie-kid Beast Boy, and perhaps the rest of the freakish Doom Patrol with him (especially is the show can establish a version of "The Brotherhood"). Some other Titans that could fit "The Graysons" universe could be Aqualad, Raven, Cyborg, Wally West, Magenta, Danny Chase, Flamebird, Thunder & Lightning and Pantha. And with Grant and Slade Wilson around, It would be great to see the rest of the Wilson clan (Joseph, Rose and Addie) eventually.

The show could also accomodate some of the Titans' most famous adversaries, like Brother Blood (a dangerous cult leader who lives off the energy of his followers), The H.I.V.E. (a vast criminal network), and even Cheshire and Vigilante as teenagers. With Lilith in the cast, I can also imagine her bad-seed illusion casting brother, Haze, as a recurring nemesis/frenemy. I would also take a page from the animated series and cast Gizmo as an annoying high-tech teen terror and Red X as a mysterious thief.

Then there's Nightwing's own rogue's gallery. Blockbuster might serve as a useful recurring nemesis with a vast crime network. It would also be natural for DJ Grayson to meet Double Dare, a pair of acrobatic thieves.

Some other DC characters could fit into "The Graysons," such as The Creeper or Deadman (who had circus origins himself).

Hey, CW, if you need a consulant, just give me a holler!

Seriously, though, if the show wants to please fans while striking its own path, it needs to be true to the character of Dick Grayson and his universe of characters. If the source material is treated with respect while creating an entertaining program, the show can have a successful run.

Bill Walko

What you y'all think?

What's your take on "The Graysons"?

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

CHUCK: Second Season Premiere

Maybe the best season opener so far for 2008. It really had all the things I like about the show, and served as a great "coda" for the series.

My favorite character, by far, is Casey. He had some awesome moments in this episode. I like his fondness for Chuck, and the fact its not overdone. I also love that we will never know if Casey would have actually followed his orders and killed Chuck. Also? Love Casey's apartment with its secret spy stuff.

The only thing I don't like about the show is the Buy More silliness (especially when it doesn't involve Chuck himself). The cage match battle wasn't really funny, and Morgan continues to grate. The inclusion of the Buy More staff in the opening credits has me fearful. I was hoping for LESS of that element, certainly not MORE.

But all the stuff with his sister and Captain Awesome> awesome. That stuff really works for the show. I love Chuck's relationship with his sister. It's 100x more interesting than Morgan. And I love his interplay with Awesome. I hope they live together for the rest of the season.

Oh, and Chuck's first date with Sarah was very cute.

HEROES: "One of Us, One of Them"

AICN is hateful for the sake of being hateful in its "Heroes, Shmeroes" smear, but many of the points Herc raises are valid (others? not so much). What is frustrating for me, as a viewer, is the almost deliberate-seeming sloppiness of HEROES. The show can't seem to keep its own characters, plots and continuity straight. Even from one episode to the next!

EW gives another fair review, echoing many of my own thoughts.....,,20228188,00.html

After watching tonight's ep, I have a few more "rants"

What is this show's obsession with the following plot: "here's a really bad thing that's going to happen; now watch our characters try to avoid it!"

First season had the prophetic paintings PLUS Hiro's glimpse into a nuked NYC.

Season two showed a glimpse at a future ravaged by a plague.

Now, season three shows us a glimpse into the... you guessed it... "Days of Future Copyright Infringement" PLUS ... now they are dredging up another dude who does prophetic paintings.

Methinks HEROES needs a new plot structure, especially for its season-long arcs!

Then we have the fun of the HEROES head scratchers: Why would Mama Petrelli let Sylar loose? Why would Sylar go along with a tenuous partnership and then return to possible imprisonment? Why would Peter accompany powered up villains to a bank robbery where he's out-numbered and out-gunned? Why would Claire's Two Moms not suspect she's going to run off the second she gets a chance? Why is Micah in a church/funeral home alone that's still exhibiting his mother's body? Why is Hiro an idiot?

And, although Sylar's arc looks intriguing, we've seen nothing in his behavior to suggest he wants redemption at all. He's been a cold blooded serial killer. It seems they are going to try to "blur" the lines of good and evil, with Peter as "bad" and Sylar as "good"... but I'm not quite buying it.

I admit I enjoyed moments of "Sylar as cop"... it was chuckle-worthy. But really, we've seen nothing in Sylar's past to indicate he's capable of that sort of ruse. Even when he was posing as "phony" telephone repairmen or whatever, Sylar couldn't shake his creepy-mojo.

Moreso, it seems like the HEROES crew is enamored with Zachary Quinto's ability to elevate what he's given in the script. I fear they are going to get too precious with this notion, as evidenced by (no doubt alternate-reality) Martha Sylert viewed in the previews.

And Hiro-Ando. This storyline just feels so forced. The rift in their friendship. Their new quest. It's a shame, because some of the dialogue was fun. And the notion of them chasing a villain backed by "oldtime serials soundtrack" was a little inspired. As usual, HEROES fails in its execution of what was a good idea "on paper." And, again, Hiro works best as earnest nerd. Emotionally retarded boy child? Not so much.

My final gripe... the way the show keeps using the word "villains" (cuz it's the name of the arc, silly!). "Claire, these people are villains." And Claire line about "tracking down these villains."

Really now, HEROES, do people talk like that? The show is self aware of comic books and Batman, Robin and the Hulk... yet it wants us to take it seriously when a character uses the word "villain" in an irony-free, turgid delivery.

Wouldn't one say super-powered criminals? whack-job lunatics? sadistically super-whammied (well, Chloe Sullivan would say something like that...)? When was the last time you heard someone say the word "villain" in normal conversation?

There are some good ideas in HEROES. Some potentially fascinating characters. Some undeniably fun moments. What is maddening is that, in there somewhere, is the potential for a great show... and instead, HEROES seems content with being a mild diversion.

HEROES: Third Season Premiere

I'm still watching, but..... yeah.....

There's an EW review that points out many of my own thoughts....,,20228188,00.html

Here's just one quote:
"All too often, the characters behave not as they should, but as the plot needs them to"

That just about says it all... why didnt Peter time dump a day before Nathan's speech and just try to talk him out of it? Why does HRG guy leave classified level5 files on the kitchen counter?

and Hiro with his destiny and quest (back to my nit that Hiro is sometimes borderline retarded)-- why not start some super-power research center? Why would Hiro want to start another quest after all the death, hurt and pain he's seen? Did he already forget about his dead waitress? Why would Hiro's father grant Hiro access to a file he didn't want him to see? (maybe you're saying, "Hiro's father knew Hiro wouldn't obey that"... well, if so, why not just be direct about it? Why leave it to chance that Hiro just might obey the warning?

EW says it better than I:

"''I don't want to be a sentinel. I want to be a hero,'' says Hiro Nakamura, a man who has endured much — the deaths of family members, the loss of his first true love, the precipice of Armageddon — and should know better. That's what experience does: It teaches us. Instead, with his late father's company at his beck and call, and the world at his fingertips, he's pouting like a bored rich kid with a dead DS. Our greatest heroes of fiction are that great because they never want to be heroes. They don't want glory; glory is forced upon them. They rise to a challenge, not recklessly wobble about looking for one. And when their quest is done, they'd be pleased as punch to return to a normal life. All they want is a normal life. There's a fine line between looking for a destiny and coming off like a petulant lad with ADD.

And, speaking of knowing better, if Hiro's dad didn't want what was in the safe to be molested, he never should've told Hiro about it. Or left the access button on his desk. Or made the combination Hiro's fingerprint. Or, more to the point, put the most important thing in the world in that safe. Kaito Nakamura was a smart cat who shouldn't have been prone to doing dumb things. (And why are fathers in this show incapable of keeping their goodies hidden? Kaito leaves his Ragnarok formula in the wall safe, and Noah Bennett leaves the files on the worst superpowered criminals in the a cardboard box in the kitchen. Gadzooks.)"

Why would Mohinder inject himself with a serum he knows could make him "Exploding Man" or "Dead Black Eyes Person"?

oh, and why is Nathan still all religious when Linderman shows up and says he cured him? Also, that politician says "I think I found our candidate" to Tracey (NuNikki), and then in ep2, NuNikki is trying to convince politician to partner with Nathan -- which was his idea-- continuity anyone?

And all these things happen - or don't happen - because Tim Kringe needs it to be that way for the plot to keep moving.

I do enjoy Peter, Elle and Mama Petrelli. And the actor that plays Sylar seems to be the only one that knows how to "play" with what he is given. I enjoyed his "I don't eat brains" line. Sylar, as a character. has reached a dead end-- but Zachary Quinto makes him playfully watchable at times.

Sylar is probably the best example of "changing personality to fit story purposes". He's an all-purpose badguy with inconsistent motives. Hell, his motives and drives have changed so many times, it's almost a joke that the character can't recall them sometimes.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Idol Recap :: Davids II Electric Boogaloo

It is upon us! The Season Finale (or, Finally!) of American Idol. Ryan tells us that there was a kagillion votes as the Davids stand, decked out in their Backstreet Boys Best.

Outliving their 15 minutes of fame are Mikalah Gordon (reporting from Kansas City) and Matt Rogers (reporting from Salt Lake City). Mikkalah was one of those middle-runners from a past season. She's like a younger Fran Dresher only more annoying. Yeah, I know. And fame-whore Matt Rogers (another middle-runner) is equally annoying. This duo makes Constantine look like James Lipton.

Then there's a musical dance number with this year's top 12. Odds are, in the next year, 1 of them will be arrested, 1 will star on Broadway, 1 will become a moderate-selling country artist and 1 will have nude photos surface. Have fun guessing their fates!

Davids Duet: "Hero". Followed by in-show commercial for "Love Guru"... it's Austin Powers jokes recycled in Hindu!

Sayesha/Seal Marvel Team-Up.

Jason Castro sings "Hallelujiah" and remembers all the words.

A Ford video montage. Really, they are barely trying anymore. Can we do something new with this sponsor? Cue the Davids acting shocked when Seacrest gives them Ford Hybrids. Because they've never watched this show before.

All-girls singing a Donna Summer medley. Most of 'em do fairly well,,, Ramiele continues to "not get it" and Amanda Overmeyer is composed of pure, unfiltered fail. Donna Summer sashays in and puts them all to shame.

Carly Smithson and Michael Johns sing "The Letter." They actually do a pretty good job with this and harmonize quite well. And its ascot-free! Thank you, Michael.

Jimmel Kimmel returns. He was the one entertaining things about "Idol Gives Back." I'm sure Robin Williams is sitting home in his 1980s comedy time warp waiting for the phone to ring.

The all-guys medley is a Bryan Adams extravaganza, featuring his less-estrogen infused playlist. Y'know, stuff before 1993. Then he lost his testicles and starting producing lite-love-song crap.

Glamazon Jordin Sparks hawks the Disney "American Idol" experience. Just when ratings are declining. Way to strike while the iron is cooling, Disney!

David Cook sings "Sharp Dressed Man" with ZZ Topp. 'Tis good.

Mikalah returns again. Is my karma that bad?

Brooke/Graham Nash Duet. Pleasant.

The Jonas Brothers. I guess non-threatening pre-pubescent boy bands never quite go out of style. The sorority mosh pit pretends to like them.

Next is the "clip show" segment from auditions week. They trot out that guy that sang "I Am Your Brother". This is why other countries hate us.

One Republic performs "Apologize." Good song. David Archuletta joins in. It all sounds good.

Attention-Succubus Matt Rogers returns. Doesn't this guy have a job?

Jordan Sparks emerges wearing a Bratz doll prom dress. It's another light-weight pop confection. Not a fan. The camera cuts to Blake Lewis, who is singing this song from the audience. Curious, if a little "Whatever Happened To Baby Jane"-ish.

Next, we get a segment from 1972 of Gladys Knight singing "Midnight Train To Georgia" with The Pips. But it's not The Pips, it's digitally-inserted Ben Stiller, Jack Black and Robert Downey Jr. I can't begin to imagine how this was brainstormed.

Carrie Underwood singing her mild brand of country music. Not by cup of Texas chili, but good for what it is. The ffwd button is my friend.

Guitar Hero has two amusing commercials parodying the famous scene from Risky Business." One has David Cook, and the second has David Archuletta. It looks like child labor laws require 'Lil Archie to wear boxers. I wonder if they allowed PapArchuletta on the shoot?

The Top 12 one last time, singing a George Michael Medley. Hot mess import George takes a break from sleeping at the wheel of his car to make a "surprise" appearance. Stripper David phone-mimes at George Michael and mouths "call me."

Before the judgement comes in, Simon says "I don't really care who wins, I think you've both done terrific." I believe the first half of that sentence, Simon.

And the winner is....

David Cook!

It's a bit of an upset, really. The judges applaud, and Simon looks surprised and sorta thrilled. Wow, I think, for the first time in the history of the show that the winner wasn't clear cut. Cook sings out "Time Of My Life", not the treacly song from "Dirty Dancing"... this is an entirely new treacly song.

There are tears and applause and fireworks. And somewhere in the audience, PapArchuletta is polishing his tire iron. Watch your back in the parking lot, Cook!

Well, that's it, Idolers. See you next year where we obsess about a bunch of people whose names we will forget 3 months later.

Walko, out (until 2009)!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Idol Recap :: Davids and Clive-iath

Last Wednesday, Sayesha was sent packing and The Show rubbed its maniacal hands together with glee. Ever since The Show kicked Carly to the curb, it's been angling for a David v David finale. Also, Wednesday, Fantasia had a ghetto fit live on stage.. stomping and braying and sweating, all at the same time. I think she called it singing. Look up "hot mess" in the dictionary, and there should be a picture of pink-haired sweat-tarded Fantasia. Simon had the same reaction I did. Sometimes I [heart] live television.

So, tonight, the evening starts with an embarrassing faux-fight intro with Cook and Archuletta as 'contenders'. They both look wildly embarrassed. Anyone with sense would. This kind of shit would be deemed too corny for "The Donny and Marie Show."

So who is "guiding" these contenders? Every one's favorite mummified music mogul, Clive Davis, and every one's favorite British glamourpuss, Andrew Lloyd Weber.

David Cook "Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For"
Mumm-Ra and Glamourpuss chose this one for David, and he avails himself quite nicely. It's wisely not a Bono-copycat performance, as Cook plays to his vocal strengths. He even parts the sea or sorority girls like a modern-day musical Moses. Thumbs up from the judges.

David Archuletta "Don't Let The Sun Go Down On Me"
David starts this one just sitting on the stairs, cuz he's soulful and thinks of homeless people. It's vocally good stuff, but it's another Arculett-a-bot performance. As the judges praise, David looks like he's going to faint like a Silent Movie Heroine any second. Simon declares round 1: Archuletta. Hey, no hot iron burns from PapArchuletta tonight!

Round 2 is the songwriter's choice round. Last year, the best song they found was the platitude-stuffed trifle, "This Is My Now." It makes a Hanna Montana song look like Zed Zeppelin by comparison.

David Cook "Dream Big" by Emily Shakleton
I'm glad David is slurring some of the words, because the ones I am hearing should carry a saccharine warning. This would totally rock if it was sung by "Jem in The Holograms" circa 1986. Jem would totally sing this to one of those her orphan girls. (Isn't it about time for Jem's glam-tastic return?) Cook does a good job with the song, in a radio-friendly lite-rock sorta way. If there's every a "Wedding Singer 2", this track should be on it!

David Archuletta "In This Moment" by Roger Gilmore
"In This Moment" is like the long-lost twin to "This Is My Now." 'nuff said. It's an Archuletta ballad. His arm is appropriately pleading, his eyes strategically closed. And sometimes, it looks like his food is disagreeing with him. It's vocally good, but visually, there's that auto-pilot Archulett-a-bot. Judges love (rinse and repeat). Simon declares round 2: Archuletta.

David Cook "The World I Know"
Originally by Collective Soul, David sings this one with his altera-rock growl. This could totally be one of those songs in the last scene on an episode of "Grey's Anatomy" when a lot of character shit is going down in slow motion. David does a good job with the song, owning it just enough yet keeping it recognizable. As the song ends, Cook is overcome with some emotion as some tears well up in his eyes. "Member that smug David Cook in the top 24? What a character arc!

David Archuletta "Imagine"
David reprises his winning "think of the homeless" rendition of "Imagine" from his top 24 performance. It's exactly what you'd imagine it to be. 'Lil Archie has somehow managed to musically channel a myriad of emotions he's never actually felt. The judges all but crown Archuletta right there. Simon declares it a knock-out.

Simon nicely hates on Cook, in comparison to Archuletta anyway, all night. I'm not sure why Simon is pushing for Archuletta, cuz Cook would make more radio-friendly songs. iTunes certainly agrees. Not sure what's up there. I guess maybe because Simon was bored most of the season, maybe he hasn't been paying attention. Listen, Cowell, only Paula is allowed blackouts.

So who's going home? The all great and powerful Show would say Cook, making 'Lil Archie the Idol Puppet. I'd rather see Cook win, but that looks doubtful.

Now, someone slap some formaldehyde on Clive Davis, or he won't keep for 2009.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Idol Recap :: Three Falling

While Jason Castro travels home to catch up on his TiVo Season Pass of "Weeds", Ryan takes us through the the three remaining contestants: the teenager, the actress, and the bartender. Some would say the puppet, the diva and the thief. This is American Idol, bitches.

This week, the remaining Idolers sing three songs each: one chosen by a judge, one chosen by themselves, and one chosen by the producers. In honor of the theme, I'm taking three aspirin before the show begins.

David Archuletta "And So It Goes"
Paula chooses for David to sing "And So It Goes" by Billy Joel. Gheppeto-esque PapaArchuletta watches his little puppet dance - from a safe distance in the audience. You see, PapaArch was banned from the American Idol rehearsals for his overbearing suggestions, which caused the show to shell out some extra cashola to Sean Kingston. "Ruin a young boy's psyche all you like, PapArch... but don't cost us money," soulless Show whispers.

The performance? It's technically good, if a little boring. Paula and Randy love, while Simon keeps it real by saying it was "very good" if "predictable."

Sayesha "If I Ain't Got You"
Randy chooses for Sayesha to sing "If I Ain't Got You" by Alicia Keys. It's all technically good, if perhaps a little Wedding Band-ish. The judges somewhat begrudgingly love. Sayesha says she feels comfortable enough to be herself now. Would that be a not-so grating, unprecocious non-child-star? Please?

David Cook "First Time Ever I Saw Your Face"
David Cook checks his fake text message from Simon Cowell while he's a guest on Fox4, telling him to sing "First Time I Ever Saw Your Face" by Roberta Flack. I bet Simon really sent him nude photos of Vanessa Hudgens.

Seacrest tries to back some lame gay joke about Simon's song choice for David, but no one's subscribing to "Seacrest Gay Innuendo Weekly" anymore. David actually goes a good job with the song, switching it up just enough and singing in key while he's doing it. The judges approve.

David Archuletta "With You"
David sings "With You" by Chris Brown. It's another one of David's strange up-with-people numbers that seem stolen from Elton John's drawer labeled "rejected Disney songs." David stiffly hops in place and points at the Alpha Delta Cappa Mosh Pit. In short, David is a Mousketeer trying to be Rick Spingfield. The judges pretend to love because they want that David-David finale.

Sayesha "Fever"
Sayesha no doubt picked Peggy Lee's "Fever" because the judges stuffed her in the sassy Broadway box a few weeks back. Sayesha vamps and sashays around a chair, but comes across as a declawed sex kitten. After mildly molesting the Cello player, Sayesha continues to sass up the stage hoping to earn the judges' favor. To be fair, it's a perfectly fine vocal performance, if a little tame and withdrawn with the real attitude needed to carry this off. Not the high school play faux attitude seen here.

The judges all hate her song choice. Sayesha looks genuinely disappointed, since she is sitting squarely in the very box the judges placed her in. But remember, it's gotta be a David-David finale, peeps.

David Cook "Dare You To Move"
David Cook chooses to sing Switchfoot's "Dare You To Move," and the audience pretends to know who Switchfoot is. Turns out to be a bad song choice. David fancies himself an angst-alt-rocker, but his voice ain't strong enough to sustain the low-register growl that is a prerequisite for such a career choice. The big-swell notes get him somewhere, in a Daughtry-lite kinda way. The judges give gun-to-head decent reviews, because they want that Davidx2 finale.

David Archuletta "Longer"
Archuletta sings "Longer" by Dan Fogelberg. Once again, he gives the Disney-bot technically good performance. David injects some wistful melancholy in the song. He's probably just thinking about homeless people, since that worked for him back in the "Top 24" days 100 years ago. The judges praise, because we all know what they want that David-duo finale.

Sayesha "Hit Me Up"
The producers pick a perky but forgettable romp of a song for Sayesha. She does a fine job with it, but its ultimately disposable. Here's where the judges and The Show try to secure their David-David finale by taking the nails in Sayesha's coffin and smouldering them shut....

Randy says it was " just ai'ght for me" (Dick!). Paula says she's not sure if it's "good enough to get into the finals" (Bitch!) Simon mentions that her best moment was last week (British!), so hit the bricks, baby! Worse yet, they kill on her song choice, which was the producer's choice. Should they even bother giving us Sayesha's digits?

David Cook "I Don't Want To Miss A Thing"
The song starts off a big rough, but a few lines in, David hits his stride. Of course, the 90-piece band and overly powerful back-up singers don't hurt none. It's the Ricky Minor Supergroup Featuring David Cook. If The Show hasn't hedged enough bets, here comes the flashing lights, insisting "This dude is a major rocker, bitches!" Shock of shocks, the judges, they likey!

So who's going home? The Show desperately wants Sayesha to sashay her sass back to off-Broadway, so they can bask in their David-David finale.

Who I am to argue? The Show has spoken.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Idol Recap :: Rock n' Roll Hall of Lame

Ryan tells me I "must vote" this week because the competition is "closer than ever." Ryan, get off my jock.

We get a 3 minute retrospective on the Rock n' Roll Hall of Fame. It's in Cleveland for no discernible reason. Ryan hints that one of the contestants may end up there. Replacing a large poster of John Lennon maybe, as the cobbled together graphics convey. The sound you just heard is my world shattering.

David Cook "Hungry Like The Wolf"
David tells us that he'll be singing "Hungry Like The Wolf", and I'm distracted by his multiple dog collars. (Is he adding a silver necklace weekly?) For my money, Duran Duran is one of the most underrated yet influential bands. Yes, really. The performance? It's a rather weak and strained cover of the original. The judges aren't crazy about it, but they don't hate on it either, because The Show and David Cook are sleeping together.

Sayesha "Proud Mary"
As Sayesha tells us she was nervous about this song, she third persons herself again and relates "Sayesha, just do it." To that, I say, "Bill, don't vomit." This is a good choice for Sayesha. The vocals are good, overall. The performance? At times, I'm expecting a stripper pole to emerge from the floor. Randy is in heat, Paula thinks Sayesha has become a woman, Simon thinks it was a bad Tina Turner impression, and Ryan is wondering why his pants suddenly got tighter.

Jason "I Shot The Sheriff"
Perpetually high Jason has confessed that he's "kind of ready to go home.” This song may help you in that, Jason. It's a lazy, listless performance. The Show also wants Jason gone, and the judges hate on the performance. Thankfully, Paula only judges one song at a time from Jason this week.

David Archuletta "Stand By Me"
David says that he's sung this song many times to his dog. I'm sure David's much-reported meanie stage daddy PapArchuletta was pacing in the kitchen saying "Too many "oooohs"". It's a good performance, but plagued with maybe one too many runs "ooooooh, Stand By Me, oooh-oooh-oooh...." The judges love it and Simon faint-praises it as the "best performance of the night." Ryan mentions that it always looks like David is about to pass out and David tells him that judges faces "scare me." Or, is he afraid a bad judging means he'll be beaten with one of PapArchuletta's cabbie hats?

David Cook "Baba O'Riley"
Most of America would probably call this one "Teenage Wasteland," cuz that's the refrain. This song is about 75% better than David's first performance. He changes the arrangement in spots and the vocals are better. The judges mostly love, because The Show wants a David-David finale.

Sayesha "A Change Is Gonna Come"
Sayesha mentions that this was sung during a pivotal time in history (the Civil Rights Movement). And now, Sayesha is going to sing it during a pivotal time in her life (Top 4 American Idoler). Because the hundred-year struggle for human rights is tantamount to a reality show karaoke contest. Perspective? You have no place here. The performance? It's vocally strong, but a little slow and sluggish. Randy hates (oddly). Paula loves and says "Welcome to your dream." Simon also loves.

It seems like Sayesha is having a real moment, as she is overwhelmed with tears. Ryan asks her about it, and Sayesha says how the song related to her Idol experience. Somehow, Sayesha has co-opted the emotional strife of the Civil Rights Movement. Ladies and gentlemen: I give you Sayesha Mercado, Tyra Banks heir apparent. Oh, Sayesha. I actually liked you for 17 seconds.

Jason "Mr. Tambourine Man"

Jason picks this song for its folk-rock vibe. It's another tossed-off performance between bong hits. He actually forgets some words and "covers" by saying "And the nn-uhh-uhh-uhh- following you..." Really now, Jason? The judges repeat-hate and Simon tells him to pack his bags. I guess Jason wasn't kidding... he really does want to nn-uhh-uhh home.

David Archuletta "Love Me Tender"
David('s father) thinks it'd be a good idea to sing a love song at this stage of the competition. As usual, it's a technically good vocal performance. But, also as usual, it has the depth of a "Gossip Girls" episode. L'il Archie might as well be one of those anamatronic Disney characters. The judges love, because The Show desperately wants a David-David finale.

So who's going? There's an outside chance professional bottom-3er Sayesha maay go... but my gut tells me it's time for Jason to pack up the roach clips.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Idol Recap :: A Diamond And The Rough

Ryan starts the show by reminding us that the glare of the spotlight has already taken its toll on some (Brooke!). He then recaps the "shocking" elimination of Carly (not Brooke!). Ryan's tree house says "No Brookes Allowed."

Tonight's celebrity mentor is the reanimated corpse of Neil Diamond. Yes, tonight's Idolers will be coached by a man whose presence was left in the 70s and 80s. Because The Show is always telling the Idolers how to be contemporary and revelant. Except when it's not. Do as we say, not as we do, says The Show. Please keep up, bitches.

The celebrity biovid talks about the legend(wait for it)ary Diamond. How he wrote "I'm A Believer" for the Monkees, starred in "The Jazz Singer" and caused a bunch of geriatrics to sprain their hips by swaying at his concerts. And anyone under the age of 30 leaves that recap thinking, "Hey, he wrote that song from "Shrek.""

Jason Castro "Forever In Blue Jeans"
Perpetually High Jason mixes up the lyrics for the whopping TWO songs he's performing tonight. How does he even manage to put on his socks everyday? (Does he own socks?) Anyways, this is sorta Neil Diamond by way of David Cassiday. A pleasant enough distraction, but fairly forgettable.

David Cook "I'm Alive"
Ryan takes up David's couch time to recount how when he was little he used sing Neil Diamond in his hairbrush and ride in the "wayback" seat of his mom's station wagon and listen to his mom playing Diamond. First, that was last week, Ryan. And second, Ryan Seacrest's mom was a Neil Diamond fan.... but stay relevant, kids! The Show does not want old fashioned music. Except now. You confuse and confound me, Show.

David rocks it up in his typical fashion. It's ok, if a little off-key in spots. There's a lot of flashing lights to confuse us. "This is legit rock," say the lights. "This is a fair to middling performance", says I.

Brooke "I'm A Believer"
Brooke is fairly brave to tackle "I'm A Believer", since it's the one song everyone in America will know. It doesn't get anywhere near as good as The Monkees... or even Smashmouth for that matter. It's OK in a sorta amusement park level way. Brooke, I'm afraid Marsha Brady would never ask you to sing at her high school dance.

Back from commercial, Ryan talks as he breezes through the front row... or sorority row, as we now know where the blond-bots originate. The uggos and fatties are Rosa Parking it 15 rows back.

David Archuletta "Sweet Caroline"
Ah, so David is the one to tackle "Sweet Caroline." This song only has relevance after 12 Jagermeister shots, so it'll be interesting to see David's interpretation. Maybe it's the fact that I've only had 6 Jager shots tonight (don't judge me), but this is... well, it's good vocally, I'll give it that. But because of the song choice, it comes across as very novelty act.

Sayesha "Hello Again"

The very weave-alicious Sayesha is sitting quietly at the edge of the stage. This will be soulful and introspective, peeps. Lots of camera cooing ensues. It's pretty pitch-perfect tho. Probably the best vocal of the night so far, if I must be honest.

There's some weird mad-dash super-password-rushy judging format tonight. Paula mistakenly thinks David Cook sang twice. Paula, you need to pay better attention between blackouts.

Jason Castro "September Morn"
You've seen Jason perform before? This is just like that, with different words. The judges harsh it up a bit, because they want Jason to either put up or shut up. Jason is probably getting the Sanjaya constitutes of voters... and that makes the judges nervous.

David Cook "All I Really Need Is You"
It starts off a little slow, but when the music swells up, David hits his stride. And in the end, he brings it home. Overall, a pretty nuanced performance. Paul says she feels like she is already looking at the next Idol. Simon mentions that it was brilliant and the song worked because he made it relevant. So, again, the point of Neil Diamond night is....?

So the worm has turned. It's official. Judges (and iTunes) say Cook is the dude. L'il Archuletta, The Show is breaking up with you now. You will be alone on prom night crying in the corsage you spent $35 on.

Brooke "I Am I Said"
Brooke, with her piano crutch, does better with this song. It's really quite lovely. Of course, this song suits her much better. The judges order Brooke to stay in her piano-singing box.

David Archuletta "Coming To America"
Hm, this has the same unfortunate up-with-people vibe as L'il Archie's previous "Angels." He nails the song ok vocally, but David never does much of anything different. He really hasn't progresses one iota since the show began. I sense PapArchuletta's greasy and devious hand in this song choice. Hey, if Kristy Lee Cook could be saved with a Red State Serenade... it should buy Little David some insurance.

Sayesha "Thank The Lord For The Nightime"
This song is a good choice for Sayesha. She's good at those soulful and sassy numbers. She's 43% less sassy than last week, which is a blessing. Last week's sass explosion was a bit much. It shocks me to say this, but Sayesha is the only one who is 2 for 2 tonight. This is one weird-ass season. Simon puts a hex on her, saying he thinks she may be going home. That's some dirty pool there, Cowell. Objectively, Brooke or Jason should be in greater danger than Sayesha.

So who's going home? Jason should be packing his bong, but I doubt he's going anywhere.

Brooke, I don't think America is a Believer. I think you'll be taking the last train to homesville.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Idol Recap :: Jesus Christ, where are the Superstars?

It's Andrew LLoyd Weber Night. This should be interesting. Ryan starts the show by mock-conducting with Ricky Minor. And then he aims the wand at Simon. And then at the Aryan Mosh Pit of Estrogen. Ryan, no more Red Bulls before the show.

Andrew LLoyd Weber looks and sounds vaguely like a James Bond villain. I think his eyebrows are starting to hypnotize me. His retrospective reminds the rednecks that he's the guy behind CATS, Jesus Christ Superstar, Phantom of The Opera, Evita, Joseph And the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. Jesus is mentioned, so they can follow along.

Sayesha "One Rock n Roll Too Many"
There's some supreme nonsense about Sayesha wondering to be theatrical or not. Like this chick needs to be more theatrical? Are you telling me we've been seeing a toned down version of Sayesha all this time? Isn't that like describing Dustin Diamond's portrayal of Skreech as subdued? Anyway, her performance is actually pretty good overall, vocally. It's the visual performance that's a bit... much. Sayesha vamps all over the stage, harnessing the sass of Florence from "The Jeffersons" and Winona from "Good Times." And that, my friends, is a lot of sass. I think it comes across as slightly community theater, but it is lively. The judges all like it and have found the box to trap -- er, put Sayesha into.

Jason Castro "Memory"
You knew someone would do it, but I woulda guessed one of the gals. Andrew LLoyd Weber never thought he'd see the day a dirty hippie pothead dude would be singing "Memory." He says it nicer than that because he's British. In an unintentional bit of hilarity, Jason says, "I didn't know a cat was singin' it." Yes, the musical is called "Cats", Jason. It's not an ironic title. Weber continues to explain the very simple concept behind the song, using small words, but I think Jason is thinking about how big his hands look right now. And then he needs some munchies. Seriously, I think this kid is perpetually high. Weber washes his hands to the whole thing by saying maybe Jason will be good despite his pot-addled mind.

The performance? Rather bad, in my opinion. It's very pleading and breathy, when it should be wistfully and melancholy. The judges all agree. Randy accurately describes it as a "train wreck" vocally. Is Jason dumb, indifferent or high? It's hard to tell.

We return from the commercial break and Ryan is once again deep within the Aryan Mosh Pit of Estrogen. Filed under "you can't make this shit up," it's been revealed that The Show actively recruits sorority girls to stock the audience, and then strategically place them where cameras will see them. Somehow, tonight, some uggos and oldies have crossed into it. Call border patrol! We have a breach!

Brooke "You Must Love Me"
I wonder what order Weber is seeing the contestants in, cuz he seems annoyed Brooke doesn't have a clue what the song means. They go through a therapy session and Brooke learns how to show her emotions. I think I saw this scene in "Ordinary People." Brooke fumbles at first. And even her new start is a little rough. She gets better in the middle and mostly recovers. Randy says it was rough. Paula subliminally tells Brooke to pack her bags. Simon didn't like it. The next 3 minutes are another therapy session with Brooke, as she looks on the verge of tears.

David Archuletta "Think Of Me"
Ryan brings up a bunch of pre-teen girls to uncomfortably grope David. He nervously obliges. Weber's big advice is to tell Lil' Archie to keep his eyes open, cuz he closes them while he sings. It's all technically good, and David keeps his eyes open. Randy and Paula gush, while Simon keeps it real and stops at "pleasant." Really, there's a lot of support behind Archuletta... but does he have the chops to be a pop star? Maybe on Tune Disney.

Carly "Jesus Christ Superstar"
Weber calls it and encourages Carly to sing "Jesus Christ Superstar" instead of "All I Ask Of You." You know what? This is my favorite performance of Carly's (even tho it may not be perfect vocally throughout). It's lively. Her voice is perfect for it. She belts it out in the right spots. Her outfit is appropriate to the song. Everything just came together. Carly needs to sing more songs with a little bit of attitude. The judges mostly agree.

David Cook "Music Of The Night"
Weber wants David to feel the emotion of the music and says that he David must imagine him as a sexy 17 year old girl. I think Weber is coming on to him. To David's credit, he doesn't just rock it up this week... he sings the song just as he would in a musical production. His voice went through a slight Madonna-Brit filter, but the song is mostly good. The judges all love it, because The Show and iTunes know that David Cook will actually sell records. And who else will this season?

So who's going home? I think Magneto will be calling Brooke's mutant piano ears back to the Brotherhood of Evil Musicians.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Idol Recap :: All That Glitters...

Darth Vadar is Luke's father. Bruce Willis was dead all the time. Soylent Green is people. The Planet of the Apes was earth all along. And Michael Johns is eliminated from Idol. Ryan Seacrest and The Show would have us believe all these shockers are of equal value. I say, our wannabe anthem rocker's days were numbered. Michael, kindly give "Bewitched's" Uncle Arthur his ascots back.

Mariah Carey is the guest host tonight. The Show mentions her #1 singles and five octave range - but fails to mention the gorgeous hot mess that is "Glitter." Me? I want to see Mariah wheel out an ice cream truck on the Idol stage like when she went bat-shit crazy live on MTV a few years back.

I fear I will not be a fan of the show tonight. I know little of Mariah Carey. Only that she sings breathy ballads and occasionally hits notes that cause dogs to run in circles. She is also going to be a fakey-nice diva tonight, who will pretend to be a down to earth girl next door. "Mariah from the Block," if you will. I am filled with an overwhelming "meh."

David Archuletta "Believe"

David is rocking some black leather pants from Ricky Martin's closet. From 1999. NAMBLA members rejoice. The rest of us feel the same queasiness that the hootchie-slut Bratz dolls induce. David actually double-diva-dips, since this is a Mariah-Whitney thing. He does a nice job and the judges are love-love-love.

Carly "Without You"
Carly boo-hoo misses Micahel Johns - or MJ - and he gets an entire personality in this couch minute. Who knew? Carly does a nice job with the song. It's technically good, but Carly fails to "sell" any of her songs. They just sorta sit there. Carly's husband - looking like a villain from "Batman Beyond" - applauds with absolute conviction.

Back from commercial, Ryan is nestled in the Aryan mosh pit of estrogen. This show....

Sayesha "Vanishing"
Sayesha is actually in her element here, and she does a nice job with it. She finally figured out that she should stop picking "big" songs that everyone knows.

Brooke "Hero"
It's Brooke-at-piano. We all know the drill. An honest heartfelt performance, if not the best vocally. Brooke can't compare to the Mariah-diva standard here, but she does so-so. She's wise to use the piano. It distracts. Simon gives a confusing hamburger analogy, which confounds everyone.

Kristy Lee Cook "Forever"
Is this really the name of the song? I dunno. They don't tell me. Mariah and Kristy share a moment as deep as two sorority girls on pledge night. BFFS forevah (until I sleep with your boyfriend and tell people you have crabs). The judges hate in a sorta serpentine backhanded compliment way. It's like I'm watching Marie "compliment" Debra on "Everybody Loves Raymond."

David Cook "Always Be My Baby"

Hm, I wonder where on the Internet David "legitimately" might have found this version of the song? I kid. Sort of. Overall, I like David. And on Mariah night, he's a breath of fresh air, since he's not doing a Mariah-lite ballady thing. I like the performance and the arrangement. Keeping it real, the vocals are only so-so... but it doesn't matter. The judges dumped Carly for David Cook weeks ago and it's love-love-love.

Jason Castro "I Don't Want To Cry"

This is actually a good week for Jason. He's a good singer, and this sounds like a different song with a guy singing it. But it's good.

So Simon was right. The guys did better that the girls tonight.

So who's going home? Kristy Lee, I think your Confederate Spell of Protection has been broken. Your punishment is to watch "Glitter" in its entirety. You will be the third person to do so.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Idol Recap :: An Uninspired Evening

It's "songs that inspired me" night. Or, "too tired to think of a legitimate theme" night. Potato, Pototoe...

Micahel Johns "Dream On"
On stage, Michael looks like Hugh Hefner on the way to the Renaissance Faire. Michael, what did I tell you about the ascots last week? This song should be all about distressed jeans, graphic tees and Jesus arms. Please raid the closet labelled "season five." Since Michael has not carved out a specific niche, I suspect he is gravitating toward some "foreigner that done made it in America" vibe.

The song itself is too big for Micahel. His reach (and he does literally reach...) exceeds his grasp. He does a serviceable job, but he can't hit those big "money" notes. In a vote-grab, Michael spouts some nonsense about "making it America." In Idolese, that translates as "Red States, commence dialing." Paula - in a moment of unintentional clarity - calls it when she says, "you sound as good as you look." Ascots are the devil's fashion accessory, Michael.

Sayesha "I Believe"
Sayesha sings a song that is originally from Fantasia. Last week, Sayesha disturbed The Force when she dared sing Whitney, and this week she decides to sing a song from a past Idol, which is usually frowned upon in these parts. Suddenly, I'm picturing Sayesha stepping on cracks and walking under ladders. She technically does a good job with the song, but the judges were looking for a "Sophie's Choice" level emotional journey. Faint praise ensues.

Jason "Somewhere Over The Rainbow"
Jason sings the more recent cover of this song, not the big Judy Garland number. It's actually a great choice for Jason, totally within his style. He does a very nice job with it, but to my ears, it's more or less a copycat performance of the cover. Jason gets rewarded for staying in his pre-defined Idol Box, though, and the judges love on it.

OK, there's a Go Phone commercial where Meatloaf is faux-arguing with his son to the tune of "Paradise By The Dashboard Light" - a song where a guy is trying to pressure a girl to have sex. Creepy-creeps. I am dialing Chris Hanson right now.

Kristy Lee Cook "Anyway"

A few weeks ago, Kristy weaved her Confederate Spell of Protection when she sang "God Bless The USA." Singing "Anyway," Kristy does a nice job laying down her musical wallpaper. The judges, including Simon (!), like it. Simon, disrupt the circle poured in salt to break this sinister spell!

David Cook "Innocent"
I'm not familiar with this song, but it sounds vaguely like it's from the same artist that did David Archuletta's "You're The Voice." It's full of eye-rolling platitudes that might have seemed deep in 6th grade. It aspires to reach the depth of White Lion's "When The Children Cry." 'Nuff said. Also, there's something off about this performance that's mumbly and too low tempo. And, I'm distracted by David's Captain EO jacket. The judges rightfully call it out as a below-par David Cook performance.

Carly "The Show Must Go On"
Carly tells us once again how she's been "bumped and knocked" in the road of life. What exactly happened in this girl's life? I'm imagining Carly seeing the starving kids on "Idol Gives Back" and wondering if they even know what it's like to sing in bars and remain unsigned for two years. Oh, the tragedy that is Carly.

She does a nice job with this song... but also, this is Freddie Mercury, peeps. Hard to take this on. The Show continues its awkward, uncomfortable break-up with Carly -- and the judges hate on it. Carly, there's a box of CDs and t-shirts on the lawn for you now. It's getting uncomfortable for all of us.

David Archuletta "Angels"
David assures us he chose his inspirational song this week (subtext: not PapArchuletta). The song is actually not a great choice for David, but the piano vibe helps him from looking like a glee club kid on solo night. Vocally, I think David's voice is too low for this song. In the audience, PapArchuletta thunderously applauds in one of his cabby hats. Randy and Simon love. Simon is the only one not drinking the Kool-Aid... but who are we kidding? The kid's going nowhere!

Brooke "You've Got A Friend"
With wardrobe on loan from "Rowan and Martin's Laugh In", Brooke sings the Carol King version of "You've Got a Friend." Maybe she should have sang "Thank You For Being a Friend" from the Golden Girls and grabbed all the gay votes. Brooke does a nice job with the song, but doesn't bring anything new to it. Randy and Paula mildly like it. Simon calls it "pleasant, like a walk in the park..." and suddenly Brooke looks like she ate some bad eggs. Not what she wanted to hear, I suppose, but a fair and accurate assessment nonetheless.

Tomorrow is "Idol Gives Back", from the fine people who brought you such slapdash logos as "Duncan Hines" and "Birds Eye Frozen Apple Pie." Ribbons convey both tasty desserts and devastating poverty, if I must tell you. The whole extravaganza is slightly shorter than the "Lord Of The Rings" Trilogy. And you wonder why Ellen sat this one out?

So who is going home? I'm guessing it's back to the Boar's Nest for Kristy Lee.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Idol Recap: Welcome To Dollywood!

Ryan Seacrest starts the show with an April Fool's joke, threatening a "Moment of Truth" episode starring Simon Cowell. Har-Har. I'd rather see an episode with the show's producers -- I have some questions for them.

Tonight's guest is Dolly Parton. Cue retrospective: big hits, big rack, the end. And she was in 9 to 5, which was a great movie that spawned a bad TV show with Rita Moreno. And also she plays her acyclic fingernails like a makeshift musical instrument. Who needs a tambourine when there's Lee Press-On Nails to be had? The South is a strange place.

Brooke "Jolene"

Dolly mentions Brooke's honesty as a performer, and yup, that's Brooke. She does a nice job with the song while a happy looking bald mustachioed man bangs the drum. He looks like a diner owner and it's distracting. Why am I hungry for disco fries now? Anyways, the performance is a Brooke Special.... I love her to pieces, but the girl isn't going to get any better. She's destined to last a few more weeks and then we will all bid a tearful farewell. We'll all by very sad, and a year from now we'll have trouble remembering her name, cuz that's how we all roll with this show.

David Cook "Little Sparrow"
Listen up, kids, The Show is about to tell us something. Ryan Seacrest asks David how he gets the inspiration for his songs, allowing him to "come clean" about those arrangements to "Billie Jean" (inspired by Chris Cornell) and "Eleanor Rigby" (inspired by Seattle band, Doxology). In case you've been under a pop culture rock, Cook has come under scrutiny for "stealing" the arrangements and then being lauded as an "original." I mean, have people watched the show before? This is the 7th season, peeps. And we've seen this sort of thing before with Chris Daughtry ("I Walk Alone"), David Archuletta ("Imagine") and others. Do you really think these people are constructing original arrangements like that in a week's time? Anyway, David tells he's doing his OWN arrangement this week. All this folderol is to prove that David is a Serious Artiste.

I have no idea what he's changed in this song, cuz I am completely unfamiliar with the original. It all sounds good -- hard rocking in the right places and softer in others. This actually reminds me of a Chris Cornell vocal, as far as what he does with the song. And it doesn't sounds at all country, so I like it muchly. The judges bring the love because David Cook is their new steady boyfriend.

Ramiele "Do I Ever Cross Your Mind"
Our cute yet clueless Ramiele bonds with Dolly Patron over height. That's about as deep as it gets. The song? It's all so-so-ish, as you might expect from Ramiele, the girl that just don't get it. Me and the judges are running out of things to say about this girl. Fourteen and a half minutes and ticking...

Jason "Travelin' Through"
Seacrest shows Jason multiple gushy-fan postcards from the same girl. I suspect they are really from Ryan. Jason steps up his game this week. It's evolved from "Coffeehouse Hippie" to a "CD that you see at the counter of Starbucks that costs $15.95." Why are they $15.95 and does anyone buy them? It's Jason-level good. His days are pseudo-numbered, but he doesn't seem to much care.

Carly "Here You Come Again"
This is a good song choice for Carly and she does a good job with it. It's her best performance is weeks. Randy likes, Paula loves, Simon blanches. Simon even is suddenly Joan and Melissa Rivers fused together with Kojo and snarks on her wardrobe. Why is he such a meagbitch? Because he can be. (<-- "Heathers" reference!) If she sang this three weeks ago, they'd be employing the Kelly Clarkson subliminal messaging. "That sounded like when Kelly Clarkson cleared her throat in week four!" Carly, dear, how do I put this delicately? The Show is breaking up with you.

David Archuletta "Smoky Mountain Memories"

Dolly is so touched by David's voice that she fears her mascara may run, which may cause a chain reaction in which her face will melt. The Golden Child does a nice job with the song. The judges love, and react as if David's magic music has ended world hunger and solved the oil crisis. Perspective? You will find none here.

Kristy Lee Cook "Coat Of Many Colors"
This should be Kristy's night to shine. Remember the sacrilegious "Eight Days a Week" country hoedown? I think that song might have killed the Fifth Beatle. Well, that kind of asinine behavior is welcome this week. None of Dolly's songs focus on God and America, so Kristy has no convenient "get out of jail free" card.

Kristy actually does a nice job with this song, giving it the appropriate country twang as needed. It still sounds like anything you might hear in a roadside bar somewhere in the South. I'm reminded of the Simpsons' Lurlene Lumpkin. Randy and Paula mildly love, while Simon calls it "pleasant but forgettable." Kristy, if you do have a pipeline to God, it's time to call in some favors....

Sayesha "I Will Always Love You"
A song originally by Dolly, and possibly more famously covered by Whitney. Yes, Sayesha dares sing a Whitney, which is the American Idol equivalent of saying "Bloody Mary" three times in a mirror at midnight. It's also a bit of a cheat... a way to NOT do a "country song" on Dolly night. Sayesha does a nice job with the song, but why do so many of her two minute songs feel like 200 minutes? Watching a Sayesha performance, I always feel like I'm waiting in line at the bank. The judges banish Sayesha from the Garden of Idol for daring to evoke The Whitney.

Michael John "Its All Wrong, But Its Alright"

Michael John admits to going to a Dolly concert in 1986, when half the contestants were not yet born. I am slightly amused by Michael singing his heart out in practice, and hitting some Peter Brady level voice-changing clinkers. Or, clunkers, as Alice would say. Keep Michael? Dump Michael? Let's find out...

First, Michael has an ascot.Michael, you are neither Fred from "Scooby Doo" nor Charles Nelson Reilly. No ascots, please and thank you. The performance is actually one of Michael's better ones. He actually doesn't hit any bum notes. He gets a bit shouty, but I think the song is a bit shouty as well. Keep Michael. This week, at least.

Who's going home on Wednesday?
Sayesha, you have angered The Whitney and now you must pay the price....

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Idol Recap: Someone Left The (Birthday) Cake Out In The Rain

It's American Idol and Paula looks like she stumbled out of the "Very Special Prom Episode" of Dynasty. Just sayin.'

This week the contestants sing songs from the year they were born. You can also subtitle this episode "Make Us All Feel Old" week. Or, alternately, "80s Week".

Ramiele "Alone"
Ramiele wistfully recalls her childhood where she would walk up and bite people. When she discovered music, she stopped the biting .. so now we are watching Ramiele on "American Idol" instead of "America's Most Wanted." I'm underwhelmed by this, as it gets shouty toward the middle. Ramiele - the little girl with the big voice - is talented. But the poor clueless thing still can't figure this show out. The judges grade on the curve mostly cuz her voice was going on her this week. Simon says to her, "after what you sang last week, which was appalling, and you survived... you'll get through again this week on that performance, no questions about it." Ramiele - proving her cluelessness - takes this as a a compliment (!) Those of us in touch with reality see that Simon just called a Sanjaya on her.

Jason "Fragile"

Is Jason an awkward interviewee or is he perpetually high? I say a little from column A and a little from column B. Jason does a good job singing Sting, but his performances have this tossed-off sameness to them. Jason at a coffee house singing? Sure. Jason as a major recording artist? Not so much. The biggest praise Randy can muster is "it was nice." That sounds about right.

Sayesha "If I Am Your Woman"

Sayesha was born in Bridgeport, CT just like me! Yeah, still not a big fan. She then does her creepy baby cry thing. Yikes. Sayesha confesses to be incredibly deep - having a serious adult/mature side, and then a goofy side. Oh the levels of this girl! Can we see the unprecocious non-annoying side? You got one of those, 'esha? The song is technically good. Randy and Paula love it to pieces and Simon calls her on the "limits" of her voice range. Very telling here, you see Sayesha have this look on her face - trying to smile but beneath the veneer, it's like, Sayesha is saying "the f---?" Picture Susan Lucci clapping at the Emmys for 16 years, and there you go.

Chickezee "If Only For One Night"
Chickezee decides to sing a ballad, despite the poor reception last time. This is a return to the lite R&B box he was originally intended for. Dance, puppet! It's a technically good performance, but its a little like musical wallpaper. I am moved to shrug. The judges hate on it, and this Chickezee story arc has done a strange thing - I feel bad for the guy. I initially didn't care for him either way, but he sorta grew on me.

Brooke "Every Breath You Take"
Brooke recalls being a freaky musical genius that inuitively knew how to play the piano by ear, like someone Professor Charles Xavier might have located with Cerebro. Brooke does a good job with the song. I like that she has her own style, even though she isn't the best vocalist in this competition. There's a few bum notes, but I enjoy Brooke's performances. They are real and honest, just like Brooke herself.

Michael "We Will Rock You" and "We Are The Champions"

Michael was born in 1978. If this was Logan's Run, he'd be dead soon. Since it's American Idol, it just means he's extremely old. No, you aren't watching a hockey game - Michael dips back into Queen with two "Jock Rock" classics. Personally, I think the vocals are amateurish and Michael gets by on the "Rock Star" vibe he is aiming to perpetuate. I mean, this is originally by Freddie Mercury, peeps. The judges love on him, but they seem to judging his performance rather than his vocals. And God knows what Paula was judging, if you follow.

Carly "Total Eclipse Of The Heart"
She was named after Carly Simon while her mother was on the was to give birth. Strange trivia! Carly sings "Total Eclipse," which is the perfect song for her to sing. This is a little weird tho-- it's not as good as I'd imagined Carly would sing this. She doesnt do anything different with it, and some notes falter. The judges keep it kinda real, which is a bit shocking, because I thought "the show" was pushing for her - and especially after she bottom-three'ed last week.

David Archuleta "You're The Voice"
David reflects on his youth. David's mom talks about the fam while Daddy Archuleta holds the gun to her back. "Happy Words, Lupe," he whispers. David's clip is slightly shorter than "Roots", as if you didn't know "the show" wants you to love him. I don't recognize the song, but it has a vague "Up With People" vibe to it. It's like something Elton John would sing in a NuDisney toon. It has some vaguish message about togetherness and inspiration. It's ok-ish, but somehow generic. David's vocals are good. Simon calls it as a Theme Park performance, and says he doesn't think it's something David would have picked on his own. I think Simon just through the gauntlet down at Daddy Archuleta's cloven hoof.

Kristy Lee Cook "God Bless The USA"
Kristy talks about how she annoyed her family by singing when she was young. Now, she annoys America while singing when she is older. After subletting in the bottom-three every week, Kristy pulls the ultimate Red-State vote-grab and sings "God Bless The USA." It has stuff about God. It praises America. Hell, if she threw in a line denouncing gay marriage she'd sweep those Red States, easy as you please. Like all of Kristy's performances, it's ok-ish. The judges love on it, like Kristy was a war vet fireman in 911. Simon calls it the "most clever song choice in years." wink, wink.

David Cook "Billie Jean"
David Cook thinks he had a large skull as a child. And, yeah, he looks like that alien that gave Captain Kirk some tranya. Once again, David Cook reinvents a song we know and love. It's almost unrecognizable.... but you know what? This works. This is good. This is "Hello"-level good. It's original and the arrangement is hot. And the vocals are good, too. The judges rightfully love it.

Guess what Carly? You are yesterday's news. It's now about positioning a David v. David finale.

So who goes home? Despite a good performance, I think we might see Sayesha cry like a baby, for reals.

Walko, out!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Idol Recap: Sgt Pepper's Pitchy Hearts Club Band

Say goodbye to Stripper David, who was voted off last week. There goes my arsenal of stripper jokes, planned to be doled out weekly. I'll have to wait til the next stripping Idol. I will always remember David singing "Can't Buy Me Love" in the ridiculous Brady Bunch-esque Idol Beatles jam on vote-off night. And now, the patrons of Dick's Caberet will once again be able to "buy love" from David.

Anyway, it's Beatles week this week... an ever-so-slight variation on last week's Lennon/McCarthy week. Ryan tells all the (specifically chosen, no doubt) pretty young white girls in the "Mosh Pit" that they will learn the story of the Beatles. People that don't know who the Beatles are... they are dead to me.

Amanda Overmeyer "Back In The USSR"
Amanda plays the dutiful Idol puppet by saying everything the judges want to hear. She will now give every song a bluesy-rocker kick. Kick, assult... what the difference right? Then she says something about putting black eyeliner on the song. You know, just as Lennon would have wanted. Only not really. Amanda does she usual growl-shout thing randomly hitting some notes by sheer law of averages. She's bound to hit a few, right? The lights flash as if to whisper. "See? This bitch rawks hard." The judges turn on her, now growing tired of her faux-rock schick. They are about seven weeks behind me.

Kristy Lee Cook "You've Got To Hide Your Love Away"

Kristy tells us about her Hello Kitty photo book or somesuch nonsense, before describing "You've Got To Hde Your Love Away," as if the song was written by the Pharaohs in the days of yore. She never heard this song before, which shames her generation in ways I'd rather not think about. With that in mind, so many of these Idolers fail to embrace the quiet melodies in Lennon/McCartny's songs. This isn't about belting things out, Kristy, dear. Paula is right (!) to tell them to just stick to the melodies. Yet they tell them to stick to the melodies and then switch it up. Kristy's mentions being "new" to the Beatles and any remaining sympathy just flies out of my soul.

David Archuleta "Long And Winding Road"

David has a lot of nervous laughter talking about his forgotten lyrics. And now I picture StageDaddy Archuleta with a shotgun offscreen making sure lil' Davy gets. the. damn. words. right. Little Wind-Up David does a nice job by - get this - simply singing the melodies!

Michael Johns "A Day In The Life"
He respects the Beatles and knows the song (he claims). Vocally it's the so-so extravanotsomuch we expect from Michael. His songs seem like Broadway-lite versions of the originals. Like, watching a commercial of that Billy Joel "Movin' Out" musical. You know the songs, that shit just don't sound quite right. To bottom line the whole thing, Micahel is just a limited vocalist. Paula lists some excuses for Micahel because she wants to Corey Clark him.

Brooke White "Here Comes The Sun"
This is a good song for Brooke. She too, gets the idea of singing the simple melody. She seems a little uncomfortable on stage tonight, tho. She knows she didn't do so well tonight. But how can you not love Brooke?

David Cook "Day Tripper"
You know what? I am starting to look forward to David Cook's performances in the same way I was for Chris Daughtry's. He does a good job with this one. His arrangements are always a little better than his vocals, tho. This is overall good stuff tho.

Carly Smithson "Black Bird"
The show gives us the Kelly Clarkson subliminal messaging again, just in case you aren't getting (vote for her) it. Vocally, this is very good. Intrinsically? A bit boring. When Simon hates on her song choice (wrong of him), but then Carly pulls a swerve and dredges up her woe-is-me beaten-down travails. She's the Job of the music industry, this one.

Jason Castro "Michelle"
Jason mentions how no one mentioned how he hit the wrong note when he sang "Halleluhiah". Oh they will mention it when the time is right and they want to phase you out of the competition. Trust me, Jason. Sir Dredsalot sings "Michelle," but his he's having trouble with the French. They only French he knows is "where can we score some pot here?" Jason backlash: week one. Randy mentions that it seemed subdued. Randy, Jason has been taking hits of "subdued" forr quite awhile now. Just noticing? Even Paula throws some hate on.

Sayesha "Yesterday"
This chick is talking about herself in the third person about how "Sayesha Mercado was in the bottom three", but believes that helped her build character. She was too perfect before that, you see. Feh, there's something anamatronic about this girl. Vocally, it's good. But I don't like the dirge-like arrangement. It's like I'm in traffic behind someone driving 20 MPR. I got places to be, Sayesha, and this show is only (?) two hours.

Chickezee "I've Just Seen A Face"
Chickezee whistfully recalls those halycon days of one week ago, where Ryan Seacrest momentarily was possessed by all members of Three 6 Mafia. Chickezee is a strange Idol rarity... I like him more every week instead of less. He's at least doing some different things. He's definitely more confident. And he's successful more times than I'd imagine. It's got a slight bluegrass vibe on this song that sorta doesn't offend me, even tho I think maybe it should. I didn't like all of this, but I liked enough of it.

Ramiele "I Should Have Known Better"
They are running out of time now because Sayesha I think bended time with a 2.5 minute song that took 4 hours in my mind. Every week my little inside voice says "please do better Ramiele." But I've come to a conclusion: this girl just don't get it. She can sing but she just can't grasp the nature of this show - has she ever seen this show? This is again, mediocre and doesn't show off her voice. Ramiele, you really need to start figuring this shit out or you're gone.

So who's going home on Wednesday?
I'm guessing Amanda is going to crawl back into her crypt.

Idol Recap: Maybe They Should Have "Let It Be"

We're back. Top 12. New Stage. New Opening. "Most Talented Group Ever"TM (unrtil next year). And Ryan is wearing his big boy suit. This is American Idol.

Tonight, the Idol 12 will have access to the Lennon/McCarthy songbook. I look forward to seeing them (::cough::deficate on) pay homage to their great works. As Randy said, Lennon and McCarthy put it down. In my mind, there are few musicians that can even come close to equalling the success of Lenon/McCarthy - on multiple levels. So these bitches better pay some respect.

Sayesha "Got To Get You Into My Life":
There's something about her that is faintly rehearsed every time she talks. Like, this girl is on stage (in her own mind) 24/7. It's an OK performance, but rather forgettable. Much like Sayesha.

Chickezie "She's A Woman":
I initially hated on Chickezie at first. He seemed another generic R&B Idoler. He's grown on me a bit, but he's also the token R&B guy, no matter how you slice it. Chickezie sings "She's a Woman." The song is unrecognizable, but the judges are right - he rocked it out. Then Ryan ghetto-hazes him on stage... is there a flask hidden in his OshKosh B'Gosh suit?

Ramiele "In My Life":

I'm actually a big fan of Ramiele - she's got a great voce and if she progresses, she'll do well in this competition. She dedicates the song to her "fallen" (voted off) Idol comrades. Y'know, they ones she bawled over like they were prisoners of war. Ramiele sings "In My Life," which is one of my favorite Beatles songs. She sings it fairly simply It's a'ight. The judges are right tho - she's holding back and getting predictable. If she doesn't start bringing it, she'll be out.

Jason "If I Fell":
Backstage, he referred to this season as "The David Archuletta Show." I love the muck simmering under this show's squeaky-clean surface. I like Jason well enough - he seems like a nice enough guy and he's a bit of a throwback singer-songwriter dude. Jason sings "If I Fell." This week is definitely in Jason's wheelhouse, as they say. I imagine Jason and his family singing the Beatles songs sitting in a circle, all with dirty bare feet. Definitely dirty bare feet. As I would expect, he simply sings the song. Simon has a good take on it as "a student on his bedroom at midnight" (after a few bong hits). Simon didn't mention the bong hits.

There's some weird tomfoolery over Simon/Ryan about the "student at midnight" where Cowell cautions (threatens?) Seacrest to tread lightly. Just what goes on in Seacrest's personal life exactly? It you connect 7 seasons of Simon's clues, winks and innuendos, maybe you can figure it out. It's like a poor man's "Lost."

Carly "Come Together":
I sorta like Carly. She has a good voice. But she always seems to lay on some hardship layer to everything she says. Almost deported. Sick. It's always something with this one. This week, she works SEVEN DAYS a week, people! And she has to room with Amanda Vampireyer. The Guinness pint is alwasy half empty, eh? Carly sings "Come Together" quite well, altho a bit shouty in spots. She has the benefit of singing this many times at her bar, which does give her a distinct advantage. Judges = love.

David Cook "Eleanor Rigby":
David Cook has grown on me over the last few weeks. He's a good singer and he knoes when to switch it up. For my money, his version of "Hello" was the best performance of this season. (I'd give points to David Archuletta's "Imagine", but that was a copy of another cover). I do like the way Cook also seems mildly bored participating in the show. Hee. I think he's one of the top guys tho. He rocks "Eleanor Rigby." He "makes it his own" in a fairly good way, but I think the song looses some of its simple pathos. It's sorta like he forgot what the lyrics are saying. He's gunning for that NuDaughty spot, and he just about takes it. He's not quite as good as Chris Daughtry, but he's one of the most interesting performers in the show. My caution: You can't just "rock up" every song every week.

Brooke "Let It Be":

The imtermitably nice one. Brooke is one of my favorites in the gals side. She's got that real-deal songwriter-songstress vibe. Plus, she seems so freaking genuine. She's 24 years old, and actually listens to the Beatles. Points! Brooke sings "Let It Be," one of my lesser-favorite Beatles songs, probably due to overplay (cuz it really is a beautiful song). Brooke does a wonderful job with it. She's got this throaty voice thing that comes up, giving it her own distinctive sound. "Heartfelt"-- Randy is right. That's Brooke... heartfelt.

David Hernandez "I Saw Her Standing There":

David used to be a male stripper for the mostly-male clientele at Dick's Caberet - giving fully nude lap dances. There's a lot of easy jokes around this, and I will only be using half of them. Seriously, it's hard to forget that now when he (ahem) performs. That aside, David is a very good singer, but he seems more Broadway than Pop Star to me. And on 80s night, he should have sung either Jermaine Stewart's "We Don't Have To Take Our Clothes Off" or Adam Ant's "Strip." Ok, thats two. David mentions being a student and working at a Pizza Bistro, none of which involve full-nude lap dances. That we know of.

So anyway, David sings "I Saw Her Standing There." It's one of the Beatles earlier songs, before they matured and experimented with more interesting melodies. On a difficulty meter, I'd give this one a 2 out of 10 because, c'mon, Tiffany even did a cover of it... the gender-bending "I Saw Him Standing There." Which, come to think of it, David should have sang. David does a nice job with it, but it's hard to do this song and not come across as a bit kareoke. I actually think David could have done better with song choice. He could have done a good "Helter Skelter" and rocked out a bit - or done a simple version of "Til There Was You." The judges are right.

Amanda "You Cant Do That":

Amanda answers the age-old question: What if the Hot Topic checkout girl got caught in a transporter accident with Lily Munster? I wanted to like Amanda, with her throwback 60s girrrl power growl. But let's face it, she sounds like Janis Joplin after the stroke on her sixth whiskey-soda. Amanda promises (threatens?) to put her "Amanda Spin" on it. I'm sure Lennon is spinning in his grave right now, dear. It's sorta typical Amanda. There's some good notes in this growl-slur-cuisinart. As far as the Amanda-meter goes, it's one of her better performances. The judges must be drinking Amanda's whiskey, cuz they seem to enjoy her brand of "singing."

Micahel Johns "Across The Universe":
We will compare him to Michael Hutchance because he bears a passing resemblance. Some girl should get plastic surgery to look like Whitney Houston so she can sail to the finals. There's something a little Fakey McInsincere about this guy. The judges like him. Paula loves thinks he is the whole package.. or, said something about his package. I think. Allegedly. "Across the Universe" is a beautiful song. Michael gets a little shouty on the song's ass. This is a simple, quiet melody. Quiet time, Michael. And he's doing the closed-eye-hand-reach thing he's become so very fond of. It's OK-ish.

Kristy "8 Days A Week":
She sings "Amazing Grace" well. She sang it as her default like 50 times. Or maybe just two. Kristy is an OK singer, but nothing too memorable. But watch out! She's got "hot girl" plus "Red States" appeal. Taylor Hicks won on half that equation. Kristy does a "country version" of "8 Days a Week." Not a fan of this at all. I feel like I should hear a warbled recording saying "this ride is about to start...." Didn't "Hurray For Everything" perform this version at Six Flags?

David Archuletta "We Can Work It Out":
I love him like the little brother I never had. He's just so sincere and endearing and also, btw, talented. But unaware of his own talent. He's like a little monchichi. He does ok, but it's a little pitchy and nervous and hesitant. The judges keep it real and lay into David a bit. He's dying inside a bit and I just want to buy him a Peanut Butter Parfaitat to make him feel better. He is totally going to cry in his animal crackers and milk tonight.