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.