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....