Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Idol Recap :: Allenized

8:01: The two-hour extrava-meh begins with Ryan introducing us to the two finalists, Kris Allen and Adam Lampert. They just returned from 1999, where they apparently raided the closets of the Backstreet Boys.

8:03: Judges introductions: Randy looks like he just auditioned for the role of "Shoe Shine guy #2" in "Newsies"; Kara is sporting her power-diva earrings; Paula is looking more and more like a Bratz doll; And Simon still hasn't figured out the purpose of buttons on shirts.

8:07: Fame-succubus Micalah Gordon is in Conway, Arkansas (Kris' hometown). Stay away, Angelina Jolie, lest Micalah lock you in her basement and feed on you for months!

8:08: Carly Smithson is in San Diego (Adam's hometown). She's representin' cuz she's also from San Diego.

8:08: Top 13 sing Pink's "So What". Look! There's what's-his-name and blond girl - and Spanish guy! They are all dressed in white, with slight variations. If this was an episode of the "Twilight Zone", you'd think it was heaven until (twist!) -- it's revealed as hell! It's more or less a hot mess with everyone cavorting about having their own mini-concert. Except poor Scott has no idea where to look, so he chooses "vaguely upward". The "Brady Six" style choreography is mostly ignored. They look like the cast of the new FOX show, Shovin' Buddies (video here).

8:14: David Cook sings his new song, "Permanent", a tribute to his brother (who just died of cancer).

8:19: The ridiculous "Golden Idol Awards". Look! It's all those horrible guys from auditions you already forgot about! And Normund Gentle (who you just almost forgot about).

8:26: Lil Rounds and Queen Latifah. "They are black. They are women. They sing. Let's pair them together," thinks Show.

8:33: Anoop and Alexis Grace with the awesome Jason Mraz. Soon joined by the rest of the Idols. Maaaaaan, why didn't they pair Kris Allen with Mr. A to Z?

8:36: Kris Allen's story. You only need a few highlight words: Humble. Dark Horse. Creative. Likable.

8:37: Kris Allen and Keith Urban sing "Kiss A Girl." The song is written from the POV of a twelve year old, but the guys sing it well. They have some good energy together.

8:44: Girl Power Sing-a-Long, "Glamorous Life". Megan Joy sings off tune. The girls sway in emotional unison like Stepford Idols. Fergie joins them for some "Big Girls Don't Cry," that damn infectious song (not that I've ever left it on the radio... much). Then it's the whole Black Eyed Peas. Related Trivia: Fergie used to star in the Idol-esque music show, Kids Incorporated, not that I ever watched it.... much.

8:51: More "Golden Idol Awards". Bikini Girl. Alexis Cohen 2.0. Random blond girl. Bikini Girl wins - and accepts the award donned in a bikini - with some new fun bags as well. Then she sings and Judge Kara joins her (disproving Bikini Girl's criticism of Kara earlier in the season). The they sway and hug - and Kara rips her dress open to reveal a bikini! "It's all for charity," they tell us. This, undoubtedly, is what Susan B. Anthony fought for right after that whole suffrage thing.

9:00: Allison and Cyndi Lauper sing "Time After Time" (one of the best pop songs, like, ever, so respect!) It's actually a bad vocal fit for Allison's low growl, but Cyndi is awesome. They manage to harmonize nicely so all is forgiven. PS with a bit of "wow, this song is that old": This song was released 6 years before Allison was born.

9:04: Kris' parents being adorable and gracious.

9:05: Adam's family, nervous.

9:05: Danny Gokey singing "Hello." It's ok but it doesn't hold a candle to David Cook's version which I love muchly. Then Lionel Ritchie enters and sings a duet with Danny Gokey of an unknown and utterly horrible song. Then Lionel and Danny sing "All Night Long." (a nod to the duration of this results show, perhaps?) Danny does his bad white-boy dance. One gets the feeling than Danny is operating under the delusion that he can dance. Self-awareness is your friend, Gokey.

9:15: Adam Lampert story. The Show tells us he was born in a manger and died for our sins. No, wait, that's Jesus Christ. After this season, you understand their confusion. You only need a few highlight words: Unique. Star. Incredible.

9:16: Adam sings "Beth" looking like a the evil mirror universe version of David Bowie from "Labyrinth." Then Adam introduces Kiss and joins them for a medley of songs. In the context of Kiss, and singing with them, it all works. Even Adam's occasional shriek. Then Kiss almost break a hip smashing a guitar.

9:26: Carlos Santana sings with Matt Giraud. Soon, all the Guy Idols join in. Then the girl Idols. They are all wearing black and red, like they practice the Santeria.

9:29: Kris and Adam in a final Ford music video. It's a "clip show" with all the music videos past. Kris and Adam are harmonizing well. Then there's the obligatory "the finalists get a Ford" segment, where they pretend to a) be surprised and B) want a Ford.

9:31: Steve Martin in a bizarre music segment with Megan Joy and Michael Sarver. Hello, fast-forward button! I'm glad you could join me this evening.

9:37: Guy's Sing-a-Long to "Do Ya Think I'm Sexy". Rather toothless, all things said and done. Rod Stewart joins them - looking, singing, and swaying old.

9:44: Last "Golden Idol Award" Bad female singers from auditions we already forgot about. And Tatiana, who we all want to forget about.

9:52: Kris and Adam singing "We Are The Champions". Then... what's left of Queen (?) joins them. They sound good and look like they are having fun. Didja know Adam and Kris were roommates at Idol house? They both seem like nice guys and it's cool to see them supporting each other and having a good time up there moments before the final results.

10:00: Seacrest was right. We are running into overtime. Simon has some nice words to say, "I don't normally mean this, but I thought you were both brilliant [...], incredibly nice people and [...] the future is all yours."

The results: The winner of American Idol 2009 is... Kris Allen.

Yes, Kris Allen.

That sound you just heard was the space-time continuum collapsing upon itself. Kris looks absolutely shocked. Speechless. (like the judges, I'm sure). Adam looks happy for him. Cut to Kris' family crying. Cut back to Kris Allen in a complete state of shock, and manages "Are you freakin' serious?" and "Adam deserves this. I don't even know what to feel right now. This is crazy."

Crazy indeed. Awesome crazy.

10:03: EVERYONE is giving Kris a standing ovation except Simon, who is sulking. "wah!" Douche.

10:05: Kris wonders if it was better to lose when he once again is forced to sing "No Boundaries." He sings it better than last night, I think. The other idols join him. Confetti rains.

Wow, a pretty crazy season overall. Who ever thought Kris Allen would take it all? Adam Lampert will undoubtedly get a record deal as well (and that's great for his fans, too), but... well, wow. Kris has been the Little Engine That Could all season long. Good for him.

Until next year, Idolers....

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Idol Recap :: Two Boys, Three Songs, No Boundaries

Last week, justice was served by a diminutive frosted-tipped reality tv show host. Yes, for everyone who thought at least one American Idol finalist would be adorned in a flashy pair of Lens Crafters... well, nope. That's right, peeps, Kris Allen made it to the finals while America put the "Go" in Gokey. (Insert "suck it" yell here) I still can't decide if Gokey is mostly churchy and just a little bit douchey, or mostly douchely and just a little bit churchy. Perhaps I'm splitting hairs?

My first "spoiler alert" moment on the Wednesday results show, though, was in watching the hometown package reels. Gokey's was surprisingly light on the whole "dead wife" tragedy, except for Gokes' one comment about the "triumph from tragedy" story that was his. Instead, Gokes hung out with his best friend that The Show kicked to the curb earlier in the season. About as heart-string pulling as a "Bosom Buddies" TV reunion show. Meanwhile, Kris Allen gets tender momentTM hug with his pops that lasted 100 years and a two days (sidebar: "awww."). This caused his mother to get emotional and for Kris to whisper "Don't cry momma..." Your can't script that, folks. That shit is butter.

So I sez to myself, "Hmmmm", I betcha Kris mighta pulled this off. And soonish, it was bye-bye Gokes.

But now back to the cold, cruel reality. The Show has already made a pact with the devil to ensure Adam's victory (Call Dr. Saperstein for the tannis root, Rosemary...) . I can't recall the last time a contestant was pimped so hard. And, although there's five great ways to pimp a contestant, I do believe The Show has discovered at least a dozen more this season.

Adam "Mad World"
Adam's life retrospective: he screamed as a baby (and apparently never stopped?) Adam is reprising "Mad World", the Gary Jules/Michael Andrews version popularized by the Donnie Darko . It's a copy of a cover song, but "shhh", we don't take the lord Adam's name in vein. There's smoke and blue lights, like a Broadway musical of Jack The Ripper. Sort of "Glam-tom of the Opera." It's one of Adam's better performances, because there's no screeching and screaming. It might actually be better than his first performance of this song.

The judges love it to death, with Simon calling it "a little Phantom Of The Opera." (hee) To that, Randy yells this very important (?) distinction, "No! No! Twilight!" Because singing teenage vampires would skew higher than disfigured emoting introverts, one presumes?

Kris "Ain't No Sunshine"
Kris gives his mom "singing coupons" so she can listen to him sing whenever she wants. The Allens are so getting their own show on ABC Family at some point. They make the Waltons look like a den of crack whores. Kris is singing "Ain't No Sunshine," which was the exact moment in this season where everyone starting taking note of him. Excepts the judges, on account of their supreme asshatery (I would totally lose at Scrabble). Much like Adam, I think this performance is possibly even better than the first time out. Simon applauds with a face that says, "ma, do I have to?"

The judges toss around words like "best performances ever" and "you have a way of creating an intimate bond with everyone in the audience" and "unique way of Allenizing [...] every song you sing." Simon even admits he wasn't sure if America got it right last week but he "takes it all back after that performance." Soooo, where was all this Kris love all season long? Supreme Asshatery.

Adam "Change Is Gonna Come"
Simon Fuller's choice for Adam. It's a bluesy kind of song by Sam Cooke, which is something Adam would probably never choose for himself. If you can't cut yourself to it, it's a' no good, see? As for the performance: In the part where it's controlled, it's good. Really nice, as a matter of fact. But towards the end, Adam can't help but anally rape the song with some shriek-singing. Change is not only gonna come, it's going to bleed rectally.

Judges are passing the crack pipe and throwing out stuff like "best performance of the season" and "best I've ever heard you sing" and "with every fiber of my being I know you are going to be iconic." Did the meaning of the word "iconic" change when I wasn't looking? Also: Maybe I need to make an appointment with the ear and throat doctor, cuz I ain't hearing what they's hearing.

Kris "What's Going On"
Simon Fuller's choice for Kris. Kris gives it a quiet acoustic vibe. It's Kris Allen: Unplugged. It starts off a little low on energy, then completely comes live. It's original, it's cool, and it's contemporary. It's an all around a great performance, totally downloadable.

Randy liked it mostly. Kara liked it, and, is it just me, or is she judging like a sassy black neighbor from a 70s sit-com tonight? It's all head weaving and finger pointing, child. Mmm-hmm. Paula liked it. Simon thought it was "too laid back" and just seemed like "three guys sitting in a room strumming a guitar." And, why is that bad exactly? Does everything have to be a glamstravaganza?

Adam "No Boundaries"
The treacly triumph-victory song, written by Kara. There's talk of "climbing mountains" and "just when you almost gave up on your dreams." There's probably also some "running" involved, as often is the case in these songs. And liberal use of the word "heart." Am I listening to White Lion circa 1989? Anyhoo, it's typical Adam. The guys can sing, no doubt, but there's the theatrics of his sing acting, his trembling bottom lip and his screeching. He only makes it to mid-screech at least. But he gets the pimp rocker lights.

Randy declares it "a'ight". Kara thanks Adam for singing her song that she wrote with Wilona, Jackeé and Florence. Mmm-hmmm. Paula is a "fan forever" (stalker alert!). Simon refuses to judge the song (hee) and calls Adam "one of the best and most original contestants" and believes they've "found a worldwide star." Please tell me which world you are refering to, please and thank you. Interesting that only Randy judged the actual performance.

Kris "No Boundaries"
We get to hear Kara's song again. Maybe Kris should have gone first after all. Kris does an ok job with it, but it's not his type of song since it's one of those pre-packaged pop ballads. It's made for belters, not crooners. There's some nice moments, but the performance isn't something that will blow you (or the judges) away. Adam's voice has the definite edge with this song. Conspiracy theorists: do we need to discuss anymore?

The judges know the song's pitch was too high for Kris. The judges, though, do have a lot of nice things to say about Kris, and all agree he deserves his spot in the final two. But... They all "congratulate" Kris as if he's already lost.

Kris mentions that he and Adam agreed they "weren't competing, they just came out to give a good show tonight." They really seem to be pals, and that's cool.

Seacrest cautions everyone to program their dvrs to go over, just in case, cuz two full hours might not be enough time for the second half of the season finale. Dear Show: "Citizen Kane" was under two hours. Just some cultural perspective to chew on.

So who's gonna win? Well, the judges, The Show, and Katy Perry's Elvis jacket say Adam Lampert, and who am I to anger the gods (and the King's raiment)?

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Idol Recap :: Three Dawg Night

Last week, it was down to Allison and Gokey. By all rights, Gokey's primal goat bleating noise that passed for a note from "Dream On" should have earned him a ticket home. Instead, Allison was sent packing, as Gokey smiled ever-so-smarmily. Gokey shoulda gone, we know it, he knows it, and Joel McHale knows it. What more do we need?

Also, Paula Abdul "treated" us to her "live" performance of her new song, “I’m Just Here for the Music.” It's the lesbian cousin to her last comeback attempt, "Dance Like It's No Tomorrow." As a matter of fact, if you played these songs back to back, I'd dare you to tell me which is which. Anyhoo, The Show gave us a retrospective of Paula's career, and nothing shows artistry like som' bitch dancing with a cartoon cat. And Paula's "live" performance? A lip sync of her over-produced new song. But she was dancing to her own choreography, I'll give her that.

And look for the new remix coming soon: "I’m Just Here for the Music and the Painkillers... now wait, just the music. Sorry, Ladies Home Journal.” Paula never told Ladies Home Journal she was addicted to pain killers at all, silly. That was just the meds talking.

Meanwhile, Seacrest was probably clutching last week's damaged American Idol logo and whispering "my precious." And stage manager Debbie Williams, who needed more than 50 stitches? Still no mention of her. But the logo has made a full recovery and thanks everyone for the cards and flowers.

OK, so tonight is the final 3. Judges pick a song for each. Each Idol picks a song for themselves. And The Show lines up producers for Adam's first album. I mean, c'mon. Adam is emblazoned on the cover the latest Entertainment Weekly. Simon picked him to win on this week's Oprah. It's sorta like when Oprah backed Barack Obama for presidency; The decision has been made and our votes are "cute" formalities, at best.

Danny Gokey "Dance Little Sister"
Danny's hometown visit get very little play. The song is Paula's selection. Not familiar with the song, but the whole thing is a lot of "meh." Gokes is exactly the same as the day he walked through Idol's doors. He's a good singer, but not a great artist or performer. It's another karaoke-like showing from da Gokes. It looks like something you might see walking into some random blues bar anywhere in the United States. The judges like it anyway, cuz they've wanted a Danny-Adam finale for the past 100 years.

Kris Allen "Apologize"
Kris gets more play than Gokey in his hometown (maybe because people like him?) Kara and Randy chose this song for Kris. They also call him out as the "dark horse" of the competition, but that's only because every week he fails to get props while Gokey slides by on karaoke crapola. You created this dark horse, asshats. Kris has been thrown under the bus so much, he can probably apply for a job as a Greyhound mechanic and claim experience.

It's probably not a good song choice for Kris, who has "popped" when reinventing old songs and giving them new spins. With such a modern song choice, he can't really reinterpret - and yet, those original vocals are very tough to mimic. The result? It's OK, but it never soars. So? Some conspiracy theorists (video recap here!) may suggest that the song choice was sabotage. I would be one of them. The don't like it alot, shocker! Kris takes it all in with a look that says, "Color me unsurprised..."

Adam Lampert "One"
Simon's pick. Simon also manages to name drop U2's Bono as saying he would "love" to have Adam sing this song. Just in case Adam needed more thumbs-up. Next up on Idol: Jesus uses his second coming to text his vote for Adam.

The song starts off really nice and low key, and I really think I might like it. But it's just a big tease. Adam the Rock God rises and screeches through the rest of the song. Yeah, yeah, I know Adam is talented. I can agree to that. But the shrill theatrics? I'm just not a fan. The judges though? Love and kisses.

Danny Gokey "You Are So Beautiful"
Danny chose a good one for his vocal range... a Joe Cocker joint. He's switched up the arrangement a bit. There's violins and band members on stage. You know this will be a sincereTM performance. The mosh pit visually cosigns this notion by gently swaying their arms in unison. It's a desperate attempt at a "moment". Like the Bo Bice acapella bravura performance. Or Fantasia splayed all over the floor singing "Summertime." But this? This is not a true moment. It's a manufactured attempt at one. It's actually the first and only time Danny has shown an ounce of originality. The result? It's OK, but nowhere near as breakthrough as he probably thinks.

The judges all lie and use words like "stunning" and "breathless" and "master class" and applaud him for doing his own things to it. Um, like Kris Allen has been doing every week for the past 6 weeks, bitches?

Kris Allen "Heartless"
Kris chose "Heartless" by Kanye West. And he gives it a total Jason Mraz makeover with the sing-phrasing and riffing, rather than rapping. It's totally reinvented. It's what Kris does best, and this blows away what Gokey just gave us. Also, "Heartless"? Kris' subliminal message to the judges? Conspiracy theorists: discuss.

The judges though? Actually love and give props and love. Randy even thinks Kris has a chance at the finals; And Simon had written Kris off with "Apologize" but now claims this performance has him back in the running. Conspiracy theorists: are now confused.

Adam Lampert "Cryin'"
Adam chose Aersomsmith's "Cryin'". He get the rocker lights, "is if he even needs them," harumphs The Show. Of all of Adam's performances, this is one of the better ones for me. Steven Tyler's voice is probably a close cousin to Adam's voice, so this works. There's one part where the back-up singer is almost singing a duet with Adam, so that throws me off a bit. But overall, it's Adam doing what he does well. The judges all love, and Simon urges us not to be complacent.... because if everyone voted for the second-placers, that could cause an upset and knock Adam out completely! And the world would also probably spin out of its axis... and Jesus already used up his second coming to text his vote. Man, we'd be screwed.

Everyone knows this is Adam's to lose, but I give him credit for being gracious, and even complimenting Gokey and Kris. He does seem like a fairly genuine guy.

So who's going home? If you ask The Show, they'd be happy to pack Kris' bags for him.

Sadly and regrettably, I'm going to guess that Kris is heading back to Arkansas.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

STAR TREK review

Just saw, STAR TREK last night. Overall, I enjoyed it alot. The franchise was in deep need of new life, and this movie does that. It's fun, action-packed, thrilling, breezy and full of feisty exuberance... something missing in the franchise since, well ... It's got a dangerous, puckish charm that we haven't seen since STAR TREK: THE ORIGINAL SERIES. As enjoyable as the new 90s Trek series were at times, they did become mired in politics, diplomacy and pedantic morality.

The cast is superb all around. Zachary Quinto (the best thing about HEROES, and they know it, as Sylar by all rights should have been killed 2 seasons ago) is perfect as Spock. There are moments, in his better-written scenes, where it's quintessential Spock. Pitch-perfect. Karl Urban as McCoy and Simon Pegg as Scotty are standouts, evoking the originals without descending into any sort of parody. And Chris Pine take a few minutes of getting used to, but by the end of the movie, he's become a respectable Kirk.

There's also plenty of cool bits for the old fans to enjoy. A lot of character callbacks from the old show. Leonord Nimoy is used to great effect. And there's a plot point that honors the entire Trek history in a way I didn't expect. Continuity-crazed fans will like it.

It's not as elegant a "reboot" as CASINO ROYALE was for the Bond franchise, however. That reimagining was a little more mature than Trek gets here. There's still some busy Hollywood-isms scribbled in the corners (like young Kirk joy riding to the Beastie Boys' "Sabotage", which stands the test of time musically, we are to assume). And as a surprise gonzo-box-office surprise, it doesn't quite reach the high entertainment factor of last year's delightful "Iron Man", a deeper, more rousing and funnier action movie.

But minor quibbles aside (some plot mechanics and ever-so-slight Hollywood excess), The STAR TREK movie mostly soars. I give it a B+/A-.

Didja see it yet?
If so, scroll down for some MAJOR SPOILER observations and criticisms...












Ok, last warning...




The first scene was awesome. Bam! Right into the action. Bam! We witness the birth of Kirk. It's action-packed, emotional and everything you need an opening scene to be.

Then, I started to worry. We have young-punk Kirk joy riding to the Beastie Boys (some say it's an in-joke to how Shatner pronounces "sabotage", but that's kinda bending over backwards for a joke maybe 35 people get, no?). Quick read: Kirk bucks authority! Later, in a rote bar scene, Kirk hit on Uhura, clashes with Starfleet officers in a bar fight, and it's restless farm Iowa farm boy vs. authority figures! Quick read: Kirk likes ladies and needs somewhere productive to channel his restless rage. OK for character-defining, but a bit too 90210 in execution. And Pike swoops in to talk Kirk into enlisting in Starfleet in an all-too-brief exchange that leads Kirk to do just that.

First, those story "short cuts" (joy riding youth, townie in bar fights bucking authority) are such tired cliches. In a fresh franchise relaunch, I was hoping for something deeper and more mature. It could have been salvaged in his exchange with Pike, which could have been built with father-figure inferences. Also, Pike could have challenged Kirk in a more impactful way, instead of just telling him things he had to have thought about on his own, right? No matter, it goes us from point A to point B?

Equally "lazy" was the Spock childhood scene with the Vulcan bullies. It didn't ring true to me, as the Vulcan kids were chiding Spock for being the product of an emotional Earth mother. Yet, they betray their Vulcan ways by showing emotion by taunting him, openly displaying their dislike and disdain. It could have worked just fine if Spock was merely alienated. Plus, the old show had a lot of fun with Vulcan speech patterns roundaboutly conveying emotion without copping to the fact they were. This was communicated much better in the council scene with Zachary Quinto. Much better.

The good news? Those three scenes were probably the only hiccups in the movie. Once Kirk gets to Star Fleet, we see the "origins" of the Kirk we know. He's brash, bold, and making it with a green alien chick. Also, we get to actually see Kirk subvert the Kobioshi Maru, the very famous test he "cheated" to win, as referenced in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. It also becomes the origin of his yin-yang relationship with Spock.

Small quibble: We see why McCoy is called "Bones" upon meeting Kirk, when McCoy claims that "the ex-wife took everything. All I was left with is these bones." Now, that seems like a rather serpentine origin to his nickname. Didn't they used to call doctors, "ol' sawbones"? I thought it was, y'know, that simple.

There's another hiccup as McCoy sneaks Kirk into the Enterprise after injecting him with a virus, in need of emergency medical care. Kirk has an allergic reaction, and his hands swell up to Popeye-size, in a silly chase that didn't need the high-jinx comedy of his enlarged hands. It was as if the Farley Brothers came in and directed that one scene. It's the type of scene fans forgive now, in the larger context of the revamp, but will wince at later.

Things kick into high gear as the Romulan Nero abducts Pike, leaving the Enterprise in Spock's hands. There's some great character moments of Spock and Uhura (in a very non-canon relationship), as well as Sulu. After an attack, all our newbies are made into acting officers for the mission, which ratchets up the stakes. Nero's plan involves time travel, tragedy and Spock -- and leads to the stunning and unexpected destruction of planet Vulcan.

Kirk, after challenging Spock's cautious approach, is exiled from the Enterprise, and (rather conveniently) is jettisoned to a planet where time-tossed future-Spock (Nimoy) has been banished, as well as Scotty. Almost ridiculously convenient, but don't think too hard cuz the plot continues to move and there's never too much non-action time to consider such quibbles. (There's a lot of "little" things like that, where I hope the movie holds up well upon repeat viewings.). Spock's explanation of Nero's attack has fairly major "easter egg" for longtime Trek fans. See, future-Spock is from the Trek timeline we know and mostly-love. Now, that timeline has been changed by Nero. So, see, even in this movie reboot, the old Trek series "still happened". "Crisis on Infinite Federation of Planets" if you will. Nifty and nice "present" to longtime fans.

Realizing he has to ignite a fire under Spock, and prove him unworthy of command, Kirk goes back to the Enterprise, and pushes all his buttons. This causes Spock to go ballistic and wail on Kirk something fierce. Here's where I thought a subtler approach could have worked better. All it needed was for Spock to throw a single punch. The build-up, the tension, the release of a single punch... and then the utter silence of a stunned crew. And Spock's disgraced look, realizing he lost control. Less is sometimes more, methinks.

With Kirk now in charge, they launch a rescue mission for Pike, in a rollicking finale that channels "exactly what they would have done" on the old show. Of course, they are successful.

I do think Eric Bana, a fine actor, was a bit wasted in his role as Nero. Bitter at losing his family, Nero blamed Spock and the Federation for setting that in motion. Then, he and future-Spock were time-tossed to the past. His revenge? Wiping out every planet in the federation. Problem? Nero isn't shown to be a madman. His plan is a little... crazy, no? All those innocent lives, for a purported failure of the Federation? He hates the Federation for the loss of his family, yet he's killing millions of innocent families himself? I dunno, I wished they gave us more on how Nero saw things. There were just a few little things like that in the movie... a little extra here and there would have gone a long way.

The ending sets everything right, and all the characters are in the proper "place" as we know them in STAR TREK: THE ORIGINAL SERIES. (There's also a great scene with the Spocks. )

All in all, despite some quibbles, it's a fun, fresh, frisky restart to the franchise. Lots of potential. Good enough to live awhile longer... and hopefully prosper.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Idol Recap :: Slashdance

Last week, The Show bade farewell to Matt Giraud, who will forever be footnoted as the first contestant to be awarded "the Judge's SaveTM". Which got him exactly two extra weeks on a reality singing show. A year from now, we will fondly remember him as, "Who!?!"

We were also reminded of the blight on humanity known as Taylor Hicks, whose performances are "drunk uncle at a wedding" level bad. I thought after everyone not buying his records and being dropped from his label, Hicks might have the good sense to fade into obscurity. Take. The. Hint. This, the same week Constantine Maroulis has been nominated for a Tony Award. Me am hating this Bizarro world. Me want to to laugh myself to sleep.

Apparently, in protest, the American Idol set reacted: the logo tower on the audience’s left, which had partially collapsed, also caused glass shattering. Suddenly, the American Idol set is my new BFF. Don't anger set, Taylor Hicks. You wouldn't like set when it's angry.

And also, Show doesn't mention that stage manager Debbie Williams fell from the top of a flight of stairs, dangled from a railing, and dropped to the floor. Because, OM-capital-G, The logo fell! Priorities much?

Usually at this time of year, the four finalists would sing two songs apiece. But because Show can't get its shit together, we are getting four solos and two duets. Meanwhile, a team of NASA scientists are trying to discover how adding a fourth judge has caused a tear in the space-TiVo continuum.

Seascrest introduces all the judges and contestants. And there's so much black leather, you'd think they were filming an episode of HEROES set in a future... where everyone is evil and plots make no sense. And then Hiro squints hard and still, nothing makes sense. It's really because it's "Rock Week." Then, the judges make devil horn signs with their hands because, I guess, it's Rock Week. Or, they're asshats. Or, perhaps both.

Slash is the mentor this week. Slash, from Guns N Roses. If you're under 25 years old, look them up on Wiki. The Idolers bob their heads up and down as Slash plays. Gokey adds a sneer, cuz that means he's bad ass, right? Calm down, Gokey, Slash is just here to plug his new solo album.

Adam Lampert “Whole Lotta Love"
Good song choice for Adam, I suppose. Adam takes the stage looking like a Gay Elvis or a Butch-Leather KD Lang. I'm not quite sure which, honestly. There's a lot of guylining and it looks like a jewelry chest threw up on his neck. The singing? It's Adam so everyone will love it, but I find it too shrill and theatrical. The judges all love it to death.

Also, this week Kara looks like a lesbian biker chick that will cut a bitch.

Allison Iraheta “Crybaby”
Janis Joplin is a perfect choice for Allison. It's not bad, but it's a little shouty and in comparison to the great Janis, you can see Allison's voice isn't as strong. There's some body-in-place hopping and arm fisting, because bitch is serious. Randy and Kara don't like, but Paula and Simon mostly do.

Kris Allen and Danny Gokey “Renegade”
Already covered in a memorable performance by Chris Daughtry in season five. It's an awkward performance because the song isn't suited to be a duet. It also looks like they didn't have time to rehearse enough (Seacrest already noted they didn't have enough time for dress rehearsal). There's the ceremonial "picking up of the mike stand", as Idolers do when "rawking out." The judges don't know how to react. They try to like, except Simon, who decides to go bitchcakes and say "I don't know what to say [...] Danny was better." A completely unwarranted dick move. Kris looks like someone just stepped on his puppy.

Kris Allen "Come Together"
Tough week for Kris, who is not an anthem-style rocker. He's more a Year One Jason Mraz. He chooses a Beatles song, which is probably a good move, because Kris is more about melody than power. He manages to put his own little mark on it as well during the bridge. The judges hate on it. Now, Kris looks like a stepped-on puppy. Looks like The Show decided it wants that Gokey-Glambert finale after all. Or do they? (see below)

Danny Gokey “Dream On”
Slash warns us "it can go either way" with Danny singing this song. He warns us that Gokes needs to hit that high note that everyone was expecting. Slash himself seems wary of those chances. Hmm, the arrangement is switched up a bit and I'm not sure that's a good thing. Gokey has the rasp to his voice that's not the same as Aerosmith's Steven Tyler. As in, Tyler's is controlled. Danny? It's like the old lady in church with the 3-pack-a-day habit is singing "Dream On". Then, the high note: It's scratchy, wild, uncontrolled, and I think a Wildebeest is going to enter stage left and hump Gokey's leg.

The judges try to find things to like, but they scramble. Let me help, "This sucked." Randy gives him "an A+ for a valiant effort" .... and maybe a Hello Kitty sticker, too, Randy? Kara thinks Gokey swaggered too much but "commends [him] for taking chances"... but not Kris? Paula polls the audience to ask "how many of you are Danny Gokey fans?" which is the Idol-equivalent of "These are not the droids you are looking for." Simon reality checks Gokey's last note as "something out of a horror movie" and says "it didn't work", but adds "I still think you're going to be safe tonight."

And then, Gokey is all smug at the slight criticisms. If I owned a cheap TV, I would turn it on, and throw my shoe at it thusly. In what universe was Danny's song deserving of less criticism than Kris'? Unless that's Simon's way are making voters complacent and not vote for Danny? And, actually rally support for Kris? Idol conspiracy theorists: discuss.

Allison Iraheta and Adam Lampert “Slow Ride”
Allison is looking like Wednesday Addams turned hooker, while Adam is sporting a Beetlejuice biker ensemble. The scream-sing at each other and bob heads while sneering like Mo-Fos. This is slow ride by way or ecstasy and black leather. They definitely have more energy and sync than Kris-Danny. But, really, weren't the cards stacked against them? Allison and Adam as the "known rawkers" and all? Perhaps The Show wants an Allison-Adam finale now? Idol conspiracy theorists: discuss.

The episode ends, and we get song-recaps, including Gokey's God-awful Wildebeest mating call. Has The Show just dumped Gokes on live TV?

So who is going home? This is a tough one. I fear for Kris, but he may get sympathy votes.
Allison did well enough, but whenever she's done OK, she's bottom-three-ed.
And although Simon declared Gokey safe, that could work against him. Plus? Wildebeest-sex.

Ok, I'm gonna go out on a limb and guess that Gokey is going to rock out.

At least, I hope so.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Idol Recap :: They Sung It Up and Spit It Out

Last week, The Idol producers reanimated the corpses of several disco-era singers, as we watch them shake-shake-shake.... well, barely shake at all, truth be told. And, it was "Waterloo" for Lil and Anoop.

This week, it's "Rat Pack" night. Or, Vegas show tunes night, if you prefer. There's a "mystery mentor" tonight, as the remaining Idols faux-pretend to sing "Georgia on My Mind" as Jamie Foxx enters. Le gasp! Jamie Foxx played Ray Charles in the movie "Ray" in which he won an oscar! What a ca-razay coincidence! The Idolers feign surprise in a sort of "Saved By The Bell" level of realism. Oh Show, you fool no one!

Also, Paula's flower dress looks like it was made in an Adult Education Origami Class.

Kris Allen “The Way You Look Tonight”
Kris is first up. If I were a character on "Smallville", I might say, "Kris Allen is totally pulling a David Cook this season." The Show initially paid little attention to him, but quietly, week by week, it's starting to become apparent that his solid performances aren't flukes. In fact, he just might unseat Gokey from one of those Coca-Cola chairs. Bloggers and entertainment mags are taking note! Also, according to reality blurred, "finalists’ popularity on iTunes has been exposed, apparently accidentally, and it has revealed (unsurprisingly) that Adam Lambert leads downloads, but (surprisingly) Kris Allen is a solid second. Danny Gokey, the presumed front-runner, has never been higher than third." Take that, Gokey! Maybe you should spend less time picking out glasses and more time on song arrangement.

The Show starts going steady with Kris this week, after flirting with him last week in another Coca-Cola seat moment. Seacrest says, "week after week, (Kris) continues to win over America." Jamie Foxx (completely uncoached, I'm sure) explains that Kris is "already and artist" and is his "number one" and is all over his jock about making a record with him. Pssst, Foxx, use Andrew Llyod Webber's line about imagining you as a gorgeous 17 year old girl from The Chorus Line... As Kris exits, Jamie Fox stands there and says, "Kris. GO-LLY!" What happens next, only Foxx and a bottle of Vaseline know for sure.

So, after much fanfare, Kris sings, and it's all good stuff. It's understated, but appropriately so. He understands the lyrics and he's communicating them in song(always a plus with me). It's a solid performance, although Kris has had bigger "moments" on the show that went largely unrecognized, as the judges were still gobsmacked by The Goke. The judges? Randy: "best performance to date." Kara: "you are truly a dark horse" Paula: "quiet confidence [..] near impeccable." Simon: Reality checks it a bit and calls it "safe." It's probably The Show making sure Kris still gets sympathy votes. Kris really needs to make it to the final two.

Allison Iraheta “Someone To Watch Over Me”
Jamie Foxx tries to inject a sense of meaning into Allison's performance by having her imagine her family while singing. He must have seen Allison's vapidly aggressive rendition of "Hot Stuff". Allison, looking like a goth French hooker, sings the song well. It's all technically fine and good, but there's a listless quality to it. I dunno, I've never connected with Allison as the judges have. The judges all love, love, love. Will this save Allison, the perennial bottom three-er? Simon thinks no, it may not.

Matt Giraud “My Funny Valentine”
Was there any doubt that Matt would wear a jaunty Timerlake hat this week? Of course not! Jamie Foxx wants Matt to change the key of the song, probably where Matt intended to falsetto the crap out of it. And then slip it a roofie and falsetto it some more. Matt's runs are sometimes worse than eating Taco Bell drunk after midnight. Props to Matt to not hiding behind a piano, and just singing. It's an ok performance, but I think Matt's songs always play a bit uneven. It's too low in some spots, and in another key in other spots. The judges reactions are mixed.

Danny Gokey “Come Rain Or Come Shine”
Jamie Foxx gets all up in Gokey's grill like director Michael Mann, (or so he claims). Did Jamie hit on all the remaining Idols? After the show, Seacrest asked Kris and Danny to show him where Jamie touched them by use of dolls. Gokey's performance is one of his better performances. I think this theme week has actually benefited him the most, as his bluesy rasp lends something to the song. There's an aggressive swagger to his performance. If Gokey had a brain in his head, he would have played to his bluesy strength all season long. Kara is correct in saying that it was "the most creative he's ever been". For once, the judges good marks are deserved. Bleh. Gokey needs to falter soon, so the judges can sell him out.

Adam Lampert “Feeling Good”

Adam threatens us with a "rock edge" to this song. Adam is "freaking out because Jamie Foxx is like three feet from his face." It's a good thing you didn't get Michael Manned by him. Of course, Glambert gets bathed in lights and glowing stairs that whisper, "Haven't you bitches been listening all season? OK, we just want to make sure you continue to vote for Adam."

It's mostly good and controlled, if a bit "Moulin Rogue" meets Brian Setzer. At the end, Adam hits a crazy note as the camera spins around him with lights shining on him like a celestial god of music. I do have to hand it to Adam this week, this is a good performance, with the appropriate amount of theatrics. And, it's screech-free! Do I even have to mention that the judges all love it?

So who's going home?

Luck's no lady tonight. I think Allison is gone.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Idol Recap :: Mamma Mia, Here We Blow Again

Last week, Matt received the lowest number of votes, and then “sang for his life.” (melodramatic much, Seacrest?) But yon judges took pity on the lowly Timerfake, and Matt was honored with the very first “judges save.” The heavens opened, and a starry light shined unto him, as he basked in the praise and glow of his partners in song.

The miracle was broken by the prophesy of Cowell, who bellowed: "I wouldn't be so quick to congratulate him. Two people are going home [next week] now. Second piece of bad news? Next week is disco week." And lightning crackled as Simon disappeared in a cloud of sulfur and brimstone.

Yep, the results show went down just like that, only a tad more dramatic. When calmer heads prevail, you realize that the judges only had one more week to use their save. “Why not add some drama?”, The Show shrugged. ‘Cuz if Lil or Anoop were on the hot seat next week, the dramatic judges save would not be invoked.

This week is disco week, which should be a blessing to some (Lil?), and a curse to others (Anoop?). Well, no mentor this week, kids, even though there are a killligion to choose from and — omgweareintoLil’ssongrightnow. Guess someone would get fired if the show went overtime again, hm?

Lil Rounds “I’m Every Woman”
Have you ever been to a wedding where the band played this song? And Aunt Betsy made her “raise the roof” hands on the dance floor? Well then, you’ve seen Lil’s version. There’s nothing particularly wrong with it, but it’s not all that memorable. Except for Lil’s killer “Jackie Brown joins the X-Men” outfit. The judges all hate as Simon declares it her “final night”. This week, Lil looks like she will cut a bitch.

Kris Allen “She Works Hard For The Money”
This song is completely and utterly reinvented. To the extent that, it’s just about unrecognizable. It’s not a bad thing at all, as Kris puts an original Santana-ish acoustic spin on it. Once again, Kris is doing what they say they want every week: original arrangements that are sung well. The judges like and finally, FINALLY Kris gets some props on this show. This is the week where The Show finally decides to support Kris. Paula makes some strange comment about “men usually not shopping in the women’s department” as far as song choice, which derails some of the conversation. Also, Paula, ask Adam where he buys his medium-size shirts and guyliner, just sayin.’

Danny Gokey “September”

Somehow, it’s utterly predictable that Gokey chose “September.” It seems he’s stuck in an endless loop of overplayed up-tempo crowd-pleasers. He’s given some Idolettes on stage that distract from his bad white-guy dancing. Objectively, this is “of equal value” to Lil’s performances, as far as I’m concerned. It’s not bad, but it’s still wedding singer level or bar band esque. The judges praise/distract with talk of “sexy voice,” “pitch” and other grasping-at-truisms. Because if you didn’t know, The Show wants Danny in the finals.

Allison Iraheta “Hot Stuff”

Remember those Saturday Morning Action cartoons made for boys where there was, like, ONE female character just for balance? On G.I Joe, it was Scarlet. The Superfriends had Wonder Woman. Even Jonny Quest later added Jessie. Well, American Idol is determined to keep Allison as their token girl character since changing the locks on Lil two weeks ago.

It starts out with “quiet sittin’ on stairs” sing. That means, bitch is about to kick it up, y’all. Then it gets raspy and attitudinal. What’s lacking is the meaning behind the song, which is a desperate (and scratching-at-the-door horny) woman yearning for... Let’s call it “good lovin.’” Cuz this is a PG-13 recap. Allison sings it like my 5-year old niece sings Fergie’s “Big Girls Don’t Cry”: The words are technically in the right place, but the emotion and feeling is not remotely comprehended. Vocally, it’s fine; A slightly different take on the song, but nothing extraordinary. Hot Stuff? Mild Stuff, sez I. The judges, to no surprise, they like. Just watch them go all “grrr” on her when she scrapes to the final four.

Adam Lampert “If I Can’t Have You”

Adam gets chair time, because, why? Are the next six weeks a mere formality at this point? The song itself is sung well, I must say, for the most part. The arrangement, however, is utterly indulgent and overly theatrical in its staged melancholy. “Hot One” “Inspiring” “Brilliant” “Original” Surprising? Not in the least. Adam is praised for doing something different each and every week. Because his serious-sad version of “If I Can’t Have You” is vastly different from his serious-sad version of “Mad World” two weeks ago. Except, it’s not.

Matt Giraud “Stayin’ Alive”
Hoo-boy. A deadly song choice. I just don’t know if there’s a way to cover this song that doesn’t come across as cheesy or also-ran. It’s vocally good in spots, but a bit manic, clumsy and uneven. The judges support Matt, except Simon who lays a truth smackdown.

Anoop Desai “Dim All The Lights”
Anoop! seems to have lost his fratboy “sings on a dare” vibe and tapped into his inner Usher. It starts off all slow and soulful, and then the song kicks in. Hmm, this approach seems to be the theme of the night. When it all kicks in, it doesn’t quite all work. It remains a few registers below where the song needs to live. The judges like it, but Simon once again reality checks and says “it was mediocre at best.” He overly hates, to the point of, where's the bucket of pig's blood, Cowell?

So which two are going home?

I think it’s Lil’s last round, for shizzle.
And Matt... I’m afraid you aren’t stayin’ alive.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Idol Recap :: Reservoir Dawgs

Last week, Scott said goodbye, to the surprise of no one, as the judges extra-pretended to deliberate... on account of Scott’s inspiration-factor. Does anyone not realize that the judges could not, would not, decide such a thing on the spot like this?

Tonight’s theme: Songs of the Cinema
Tonight’s mentor: The uber-talented and uber-creepy Quentin Tarentino

Why Quentin? Apparently, “his passion for music gives his movies their distinct twist.” I will say, Tarentino does compile some memorable soundtracks. The Show reminds us that Tarentino was also a guest judge back in season three, back when they had 4 judges and still managed to do the show within an hour and not cause everyone’s DVRs to explode. For some reason, Tarentino is sporting a hair-don’t that looks like “Hitler Does LA.” Or, “George McFly in Rehab.” Take your pick.

Simon tells us that only 2 judges will judge each song, because if the show ran over, Tarentino would send Michael Manson to the director’s home to de-ear him while playing “Stuck In The Middle” by Steeler’s Wheels. And wouldn’t he deserve it for going 8 minutes into “Fringe?” Howabout, I dunno, just pre-planning the show properly, as has been done in seasons past with 4-judges? I know, I speak madness.

Allison Iraheta “Don’t Want To Miss A Thing” from Armageddon
See, I thought Allison shoulda sung “Invincible” by Pat Benetar, from the much-awesome “Legend of Billie Jean.” But instead, she sings the overwrought song “Don’t Want To Miss A Thing” from the overwrought movie “Armageddon”. I almost don’t have to watch the performance, because it’s pretty much exactly what you’d imagine, and perhaps a touch less. Allison doesn’t have a “pure” voice, so her huskiness doesn’t terribly support those big notes. All the judges faux-praise, because they desperately want to keep a girl in the competition, and have completely broken up with Lil Rounds.

Anoop Desai "Everything I Do” from Robin Hood
Remember the 1991 "Robin Hood" that gave us Kevin Costner's fake British accent for 15 minutes and then forgot? Or, more memorably, when Bryan Adam’s treacly “Everything I Do” invaded the radio incessantly for months, and easy-listening stations for years even? Well, this song is on my “destroy the master tapes” list, but Anoop done picked it. Tarentino wants Anoop to pimp slap the song, as he air-punches for effect. If this man wasn't a genius director, someone would have killed him by now, I'm convinced. And also, these Tarentino-mentor moments look incredibly staged. Anoop does pretty good, and Kara hones in on Anoop's success formula: pop songs + a little soul. If he can keep that formula, he may actually survive, oh, three more whole weeks even.

Adam Lampert "Bord To Be Wild" from Easy Rider
From Easy Rider. And also, like 1,873 other movies when we need to convey quick bad-assery. Tarentino, completely Show-coached, reveals, "If this is a competition looking for rock stars, he is the real deal." If Adam is the "real deal", then Miley Cirus is a musical genius. The Show gives us everything you'd expect at this point: the flashing rocker lights that whisper, "Adams rawks in a completely non-poseur way that you secretly love." Adam deigns to touch the mosh-pit blondies. He struts and succumbs to his restless leg syndrome (that's an actual thing now, btw). Also? The black nail polish, a rock-poseur's BFF, is back. It's completely over-cooked with screeching and over-runs. Simon forgoes the crack pipe this week by saying, "It was like the ROCKY HORROR MUSICAL in parts." (And I think, "Hey, Adam could have done a legit "Sweet Tranvestite," actually). And also, isn't every Adam song? The brainwashed audience is apoplectic.

Matt Giraud “Have You Ever Loved A Woman" from Don Juan DeMarco
Bryan Adams was to the early 90s as Kenny Logins was to the 80s. Both somehow became lucrative go-to soundtrack bitches. Here's another Bryan Adams piece, which makes sense when you compute the ages of the contestants. Daughtry also did a great performance of this one back in season five. Matt's performance is somewhat capable, with a few small rough spots. Randy and Kara call Matt on his over-runs, which so many Idolers are guilty of. Also, why does Randy's sweater look like the Sara's and Jackie's walls on "Too Close For Comfort"?

Danny Gokey "Endless Love" from Endless Love

It's Danny Jesse Raphael, sans glasses this week with a button-down shirt. Is he trying to look like Kris Allen's older brother now? Tarentino coaches Danny to use his hands this week as he sings. I think, "hopefully not as manically as Tarentino hand-talks." Dude will take out your eye, peeps. There's a ginormous harp on stage, so you know this will be a ProductionTM. It's good and spots, and terribly shouty in others. What to make of the "technically good but creatively stagnant" Gokey? The Show itself has been all bi-polar about Gokey, as they continue to back him, then almost regret it.

Kris Allen "Falling Slowly" from Once
Tarentino tells us that the song is close to Kris' heart, but we don't get the why of that. Maybe this is part of downplaying the whole wife thing as Simon suggested weeks back? Kris may suffer votes by picking a more obscure song, but he does a great job with it. He almost has "a moment", but falls ever so short. If he solemn-guitared this bitch and brought a ginormous harp on stage, he might have made a moment. For the record, Kris is the Idol I'm backing this season, as he's shown he can sing, takes some chances and is willing to go for some less obvious choices. Idiot Randy hates on this (why?) and resorts to the fall-back "pitchy." Kara thought it "was one of his best moments." Word, Kara.

Lil Rounds "The Rose" from The Rose
The Show has all but kicked Lil to the curb, even supporting Allison as "the girl's only hope" earlier this very week. My favorite version of this song was actually by Peter Griffin, but Lil does an OK job. It's still wedding singer, copycat, cruise singer (take your pick) level performance. Simon breaks up with her and claims "you aren't the artist we met 7 or 8 weeks ago" and "he's getting frustrated" and also, he wants his favorite T-shirt back along with his CDs you borrowed. Lil snaps back, and tries to defend her slight R&B rendition as an artistic choice; She's not altogether wrong, but The Show already moved on and is dating Allison.

Somehow, the show almost goes overtime again. How'd that happen?

As for who's going home, that's a tough one this week. Anoop has been bottom-3ing but had a good week, Lil is on the ropes but is an early fave, and Matt is a musical ping-pong per week but got chair-time this week.

I'm gonna guess this is Lil's last round.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Idol Recap :: Birthday Blues

Ryan reminds us that tonight’s theme is an “Idol favorite:” Songs from the year the contestants were born. The Show shares baby photos of the judges. They had to colorize Simon’s cuz Simon is old as ass as far as this show goes.

Danny Gokey "Stand By Me” from 1980
And already, the cheating begins. Cover songs from the year they were born. And from the eldest contestant no less! I can forgive cover songs when we eventually reach the crap-pop-fest of the 90s, but not in the 80s. The song has been Michael McDonaldized, all slow and with the Gokey rasp. Then it moves into an untempo “please welcome the bride and groom” vibe. With scatting. Honestly, I’m not a fan of this, as the soul and simplicity of the original “Stand By Me” is lost in the jazzy wedding singer arrangement. The arrangement is way cheesy, altho the vocals are OK. The judges all lie with fake-praise words like “unique” and “creative liberties” because The Show still likes Danny that much. Pass the crack pipe, y’all.

Kris Allen "All She Wants To Do Is Dance” from 1985
Kris gets couch time, because The Show may want to actually back him mid-season a la David Cook (but don’t hold them to that). Kris mentions taking the day off and doing “the cheesiest thing ever” by riding the ferris wheel. Ever, Kris? Let me remind you what show you are on, and we shall rank cheese-factor accordingly. Kris performs from the mosh pit, which seems all the rage this season. The song arrangement is switched up, and it’s OK, but it’s not altogether an improvement. It also doesn’t quite showcase Kris’ vocals. It’s a bit of a mish-mosh. Shockingly, Randy has the best insight by pointing out that the music overshadowed the vocals.

Lil Rounds "What’s Love Got To Do With It” from 1984
Lil is named after the first 3 letters of her grandmother, Lily. Dem black folks have the most fascinating baby name stories. Tina Turner is one of the lesser Diva dieties, but Diva (with capital) nonetheless. Lil’s version is a toothless, tame version of the sassy, strutting Tina. Once again, it’s vocally OK, but there’s no personality under the surface. Lil should have chosen a much lesser known song and owned it. Lil seems like a great person but girlfriend just ain’t getting it. The judges are underwhelmed, with Simon citing her performance as a “second or third rate Tina.” Lil Rounds? More like ‘Lil Tina.

Anoop Desai "True Colors” from 1986
Annop apologizes for his uncharacteristic “excuse me?” reaction to Kara last week. In Idol-speak, this is tantamount to a NSFW Sopranos-level obsenity-spew. Everyone over the age of 12 merely shrugged. It’s hard to separate this song from Cyndi Lauper’s awesome and unique bravura version. There are brief moments in the second half where it captures a contemporary R&B vibe, and it’s alllmost interesting. The vocals? Very good. Anoop! Done good this evening.

Scott MacIntyre "The Search Is Over” from 1985

Originally sung by the human dog-whistle known as Peter Cetera, Scott has a tough comparison ahead of him. He’s out from behind the piano, which I give him guts-points for, but the vocals? Not powerful enough, and some bad notes abound. Ultimately, it’s a bad choice for Scott, far beyond his reach. Scott gets one half-second rock-star moment as he releases the guita lick and the lights flash behind him. It’s fleeting, and Scott’s days are surely numbered. “We are done with your inspiration, blindy!” declares Show.

Allison Iraheta “I Can’t Make You Love Me” from 1992

First, a small exclamation point moment for Allison being born in 1992. “!” The performance is OK. Like Lil’s, it’s more or less a copycat performance, not reaching the grandeur of the original. The judges like her a lot, and cite her lack of “likeability” as being her “issue.” This, my friends and viewers, is a blatant attempt of The Show to keep Allison in the competition, as this season is woefully guy-heavy.

Matt Giraud “Part Time Lovers” from 1985
I like my Stevie Wonder, but peeps, I ain’t never liked this song. Matt gives it a jazzy arrangement. It’s OK, but it’s a little low register for a Stevie joint. Overall, I give Matt props for originality and pulling off an arrangement that works. The judges do a drive-by pressed-for-time judging but overall, they like. Also? How dare anyone trample into Our Lord And Savior Adam Lampert’s time?

Adam Lampert "Mad World” from 1983
Or, more accurately, from 2003. Adam sings the Gary Jules/Michael Andrews version popularized by the Donnie Darko soundtrack. Since my DVR cut out, I had to find it online. Bathed in blue pimp lights, The Show’s most favorite Idol emotes and broods in a COPYCAT performance of the 2003 version. It's vocally sound, but once again, there's been dozens of Idol performances on par with this. But what happens?

This, this, gets him a standing-effing-ovation from Simon Cowell. That thud you just heard was the fall of my respect for the show's most honest judge. Shameful. Voting is just a formality at this point. I can't recall a time when The Show pushed any contestant as hard as they are pushing Adam. Because we haven't had a great goth-poseur alt-singer since the giddy days of WDRE in its heyday? I hope America is ready for the Robert Smith tribute album.

So who’s going home? Scott, more than the search is over, my friend.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Idol Recap :: iTune In, iTune Out

Tonite's theme: The Idolers can sing any song "as long as it's a popular download on iTunes". That is fairly broad, huh? At least there's no excuse for NOT being contemporary tonight. You know, like most weeks, when the Idolers sing songs from the fossilized remains of a "musical legend" and then get criticized for not sounding "contemporary" for singing a 30 year old song. Idol, you fickle bitch.

Except, only 2 out of 9 Idolers choose songs from the past 5 years. Yeah, I know.

No mentor this week, so the Idolers visit Ryan Seacrest's daytime haunt. No, not under the bridge -- or next to a Pot of Gold (perhaps I need to lay off THE SOUP), but his radio studio, where he hosts "America's Top 40." Remember Casey Kasem's long distance dedications? Whenever I'm in bad mood, I just listen to the classic dedication to the dog named Snuggles. It's a situation we can all understand whether we have kids, or pets, or neither.

Anoop Desai "Hold" by Usher
At least, I think that's the name of the song, as The Show refuses to introduce it properly. And if you think I'm intimately familiar with Usher's body of work.. you are mistaken. Anoop wants to do something different and "sing a song I would relate to if I was watching the show." The entirety of "Jacob's Ladder" was less confusing than that sentence. Anoop, if there is one thing you shouldn't attempt on this show, it's the bending of minds like that. This is an odd mix, Anoop making porn faces and swaggering with a bit of attitude. I don't think was the right song for him. Anoop might have had a "moment" by picking a contemporary ballad. I agree with Kara on this one, that it looked like a "frat boy on a dare." Anoop seems unfazed by judges comments and stands by his choice because he wants to be an R&B artist. Self-awareness is your friend, Anoop.

Megan Joy "Turn Your Lights Down Low" by Bob Marley
Remakes aside, Bob Marley? THIS is not a contemporary choice. Megan insists this is one of her favorite songs. "Then why you gotta do me like that?" says song. Every week, in vain, I root for Megan to turn it around.If you aren't LOOKING at Megan, and just LISTENING, you'll discover she sounds like Ethel Merman on a bender. There are moments where it's not bad, but I think once again, Megan picked the wrong song. Amy Winehouse, Megan? Oh, Megan, everyone likes the idea of you... it's your performances that don't match up to that.

Danny Gokey "What Hurts The Most" by Rascal Flatts
Let's see what pair of glasses Danny Jesse Raphael is wearing this week... did he settle on a pair? Danny is starting to flatline as the "Hootie And The Blowfish" of the season. Y'know, at first they sound great and unique... and then after a lotta airplay, you start to wonder why you liked them so much. It's a technically good performance, but I think The Show is beginning to wonder if Danny has the artistic chops to create music. The judges love, which shows they still have some faith in him.

Allison Iraheta "Don't Speak" by No Doubt
Really? A song that's 14 years old qualifies as a "top iTunes download"? OK, Show. Allison rocks the stage looking like one of Sydney Bristow's alter egos going undercover... at the prom in some undefined Eurotrash country (aren't they all on that show?). Girl needs a less extreme colorist. It's ok, but Allison is becoming one note. The judges mildly like. Kinda. What everyone seems to be dancing around is this: Allison is starting to become gimmicky.

Scott MacIntyre "Just The Way You Are" by Billy Joel
Scott says he loves Billy Joel for his music, his song-writing, and his performances. Not to be rude, Scott, but... performances? I'm not sure you're a qualified judge there, with all the blindness and what not. Also, again, this is a top download? A song from 1977 with two download bars? (yes, Show, I checked. Suck it.). It's a good performance, and a good song choice for Scott. And good choice to strip down the song arrangement. It's good, but unfortunately, I'm not sure if the nation is still enthralled with the walking "inspirational story" that is Scott. Not his fault, but a reality.

Matt Giraud "You Found Me" by The Fray
Wow, something actually current. Which may be good move for Matt. After (unjustly) bottom three-ing last week, he needs something memorable. The first few notes are a little off. It's a bit of a frentic performance. There are moments that are good, but the sum of the parts does not equal Matt's "moment." Much less so. Matt probably should have chosen Timberlake, Robin Thicke or Maroon 5 (Matt could probably out-sing Adam Levine, truth be told). The judges don't like, and they are sadly correct. Matt responds, "I just want to show them that R&B isn't the only thing I can do." A lovely sentiment, Matt, but fighting out of the box The Show has placed you in -- that can only end in tears.

Lil Rounds "I Surrender" by Celine Dion
Lil wants to pick a good song, after being criticized for making bad songs choices. I think she's done it this week. She picked a difficult song, evoked a diva, and delivered. The judges find it boring, and want Lil to sound less old fashioned. Because it was ok when other contestants sang 30 years old songs. Lil doesn't get enough credit for, y'know, actually SINGING WELL. But there's an adorable moment with her kids in the audience that will earn her a few votes.

Adam Lampert "Play That Funky Music" by Wild Cherry
From 19-effing-76. Adam promises (threatens?) to give it a contemporary spin to sound like "something that could exist in a current pop record." By "something", Adam means wailing. By "current", Adam means "kinda creepy". Adam is 45% less poseur goth rocker this week. I'm guessing the boy has internet access - and has read recaps. Like mine. It's OK but a little bit of a novelty act. Like, Adam is channeling Normund Gentle this week. It's got some entertainment value, I will give him that. It's a fine performance. But Jesus Christmas, what exactly are the judges hearing in that studio? It's not what I'm hearing on my couch. They gush, praise and rhapsodize. Um, what now?

Kris Allen "Ain't No Sunshine"
Kris is looking to take an old song and give it a new spin. And that he does. I've said before Kris is a dark horse in this competition, and this performance proves it. For my money, it's the best performance of the night. Ladies and gentlemen, Kris Allen is the new Danny Gokey. If he keeps this up, he could very well sail up to the finals.

So who's leaving us tomorrow?

I think Matt's frentic performance will mean he's going iHome.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Idol Recap :: Okee-Dokee, Smokey

It's Motown Night. With Barry Gordon and Smokey Robinson's wax statue. The Idols get a tour of Motown studios and Smokey Robinson looks over them, with the penetrating stare of his fake alien eyes. And I'm thinking of that old K-Tel records commercial where that girl on the street says, "Smokey? He's the greatest!!" (anyone?)

Matt Giraud "Let's Get It On"
Matt starts a slower tempo at the piano, and then kicks it up with a soulful ballad-y thang. Probably a good move for Matt to get out from behind the piano, and with this song, he's in his element. Matt has the potential to be a dark horse in this competition, but I doubt the judges will let him get too far. The judges like.

Kris Allen "How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You)"
This is quite good. I think Kris changed it up just enough. And he's got good vocal control with his slight growl-sing moments. Kara sort summed it up with "you did everything right."

Scott MacIntyre "You Can't Hurry Love"
Scott is still behind the piano - because, c'mon, truly - do we really want the poor guy singing sightless mid-stage? It's an OK performance, but I don't think it's ultimately a good song choice for Scott; His range is just below what we're all used to hearing in this oft-heard song. It amounts to a poor cover song they might use in a movie too cheap to spring for Diana Ross. The back-up singers provide some visual... something, but they aren't in harmony with Scott at times. The judges didn't like it much, and I can't say I blame them. Simon sums it up: "It felt cheap."

Megan Joy "For Once In My LIfe"
Smokey uses words like "original" and "different" to describe Megan. He appears to dig her "jazzy cabaret" vibe, but I can't tell how sincere he is about her, for reals. Me? I like the idea of Meagn, but somehow the performances she gives leave me cold. I think she may have a big moment in her, but she is scrambling around blind trying to find it. She sounds a bit strained with this one. Kara is right, she should have sung "My Guy" or something like that. She needs to strut and show attitude with her singing. The judges don't like at all.

Anoop Desai "Ooh Ohh, Baby Baby"
It's good. Technically good anyway. A little dull. Anoop has lost some of his ANOOP!ness. Simon says: "It was a great vocal, but you looked like you were half asleep." Yup, that's about it.

Michael Sarver "Aint Too Proud To Beg"
Michael wants to "Church it up". Yes, Michael, go for the Jesus votes. I think this one is a little over-cooked. Michael is smiling and holding onto notes at random. And way too many runs. I think Michael also missed Smokey's note about the song: It's about a man pleading for the very last time for his lover not to leave. It's not a Happy-Time-Chili-Cookoff Musicale. The judges - they do not like. They hammer him, actually. Michael, only Jesus can save you now, so you better hope he takes the wheel.

Lil Rounds "Heatwave"
Lil admits to getting emotional at the history of Motown. I tell ya, Lil is a class act. Ryan introduces her from the alterna-mosh pit, where someone let some uggos and fatties in. Security! Anyway, Lil is rockin' the whole Motown look; She looks like one of the Pips. The vocals are solid because, well, it's Lil. Kara and Randy have some good points, and there were spots that could have been better. I think Simon may be right - this week could have been "her moment" - and it wasn't.

Adam Lampert "Tracks Of My Tears"
Adam is sporting a Ricky Valens look this week. No wallets with chains. No guyliner. No black nail polish. It's a slow, somber interpretation of the song, if it was sung by the Bee Gees. He gets a standing ovation. A. Standing. Ovation. I feel like Stewie Griffen when he was so bemused his head slowly tilted sideways and was stuck that way. I think everyone needs to calm down. What goes on here?!? Randy gives some bullshit about "knowing from day one..." which, if I recall, they gave him the oft-times dead-man-walking label of "Broadway Singer." Wow, The Show really wants this guy in the finale for some bizarre reason. If he wins, you will see the tracks of my tears.

Danny Gokey "Get Ready"
Good song for Danny. It's totally "in his pocket," as Paula might say before the meds kick in. Danny does a nice job with it, but I'm getting the feeling that Danny has flatlined. I don't think there's much originality in there, ultimately. Another observation: Gokey is such a white-boy dancer. Simon even calls it "clumsy" and "amateurish." Idol Gods, if you have abandoned Danny is favor of Adam, I weep for our future.

Allison Iraheta "Poppa Was A Rolling Stone"
Allison does a nice job with this one, although it may be a tad overstylized. Good song choice on her part, though. A good showcase of her vocals. The judges love, as The Show valiantly tries to save Allison from "bottom threeing" this week.

So who's going home this week? I think Michael Sarver is returning to the oil rig from whence he came.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Idol Recap :: A Musical Travis-ty

Grand Olde Opry Night. I'm not even a little bit country. So, I'm hearing lots of blather and looking at Randy Travis.

Michael Sarver "Aint Goin' Down Til The Sun Comes Up"
This should be Michael's night: The Red State jamboree. He gets all the wordplay down. To me, it sounds like Jason Mraz by way of Alabama. It's OK, but vocally, this does nothing. It's like, The Show has abandoned Sarver at this point, after pushing him down our throats for weeks. He doesn't get any stylistic makeover, or family camera pans, or oil rig mentions this week. Michael does his best to play the "country" card, but Simon ain't havin' it, y'all.

Allison Iraheta "Blame It On Your Heart"
Hey, I actually recognize this song. I think Allison has changed the melody a bit too much, stripping it of its country flair. At least she doesn't do her cartoonish Quick Draw McGraw choreography that she flirted with at rehearsals. The judges mostly love

Kris Allen "To Make It Through My Love"
This is actually really good. The song suits Kris really well, and reminds us that he's a good vocalist. This may be Kris' "Show Moment". The judges agree.

Lil Rounds " Independence Day"

According to an anonymous backstager, Lil Rounds is one of the final four: "The New York Daily News reports that one Idol staff member is blabbing and claiming the judges, along with a team of producers, have already decided who will make the final four. According to the mole, Danny Gokey, Lil Rounds, Adam Lambert and Alexis Grace will be the last four singers standing. Asked if the info was mere speculation, the source replied, “those ARE the people.”"

As Cordelia Chase might say, "I register no surprise." Those are the ones the show has been pushing since the season began. I do think she is operating fom old intel, as Alexis has been abandoned for the newer, shinier, of-equal-value Allison.

Anyhoo...This is actually a little rough in spots. I don't think this country joint is Lil's thang. She kind of works it toward the end. The judges are feelin' what I'm feelin', and I'm amused that Simon is calling Lil "Little", as if Lil is a shortened name for Little. You know, like 'Lil Devil? I'm sure it's because he's from British. (<< reference from two seasons ago)

Adam Lampert "Ring Of Fire"

Adam is looking like he shopped in the "Club Boys On Crystal Meth" section of Target. Adam is still pretending to rawk, pretend-wincing at this week's theme, as if he never starred in some version of "Oklahoma" or perhaps "Seven Grooms For Seven Brothers." Randy Travis says what the non-Kool Aid drinking Idolers are thinking, "I don't even know what to say about this boy." Travis also doesn't favor Adam black nailpolish, fearin' it's city-lovin' ho-mo-sex-ual overtones. The rest of us just think it has an air of douchiness.

Adam slips the camera lens some spanish fly and rapes it with his eyes. That poor camera lens still has the night shivers from Constantine Maroulis' season four facially forced love making. Vocally, it's ok in spots, but it's way over the top. It's like Zoolander by way of Robert Smith with a side of Dr. Frankenfurter. The judges all dance around the truth, because Adam is engineered to be in the final four. Simon at least calls it "rubbish," tearing the space-time continuum that The Show lives in. Randy claims that it's "what it would be if Nine Inch Nails did Country." Perhaps, if Nine Inch Nails were replaced with douchey rocker wannabes, Randy.

Scott MacIntyre "Wild Angels"
Randy Travis doesn't initially like Scott's song choice (Martina McBride), so it's a good thing the guy is blind, because you can see it on his face. What we get is what Scott does: Piano! Inspiration! Musical bridges and high notes! The judges sorta tell Scott to take more chances. Because the fifteen minutes on Scott's Inspiration Clock are ticking....

Alexis Grace "Jolene"
Sound familiar? Brooke White sang this one last year. This one is ok, but Alexis has some small issues with the pitch changes during the song. But, she gets some points for getting the emotion of the song across. Kara is right, though, she should have picked something with some edge, like "Before He Cheats." Sorry, Alexis! The Show is now backing Allison as "the rocker girl" this season.

Danny Gokey "Jesus Take The Wheel"
Danny is Peter Brady-ing his whole Randy Travis rehearsal. Full of clinkers and clunkers. Now, clad in a Captain Eo jacket, Danny sings the song better than rehearsals anyway. It starts off a bit rough, and he eventually gets there, but it's actually all a little boring. Three-fourths of the way through, there's some magic, though. Some riffing and vocal styling and that will carry him. Kara and Randy actually keep it real and call him on the first half of the song.

Anoop Desai "You Are Always On My Mind"
This week, Anoop reminds us that he can actually sing, and he's more than a novelty act. He wisely changes the arrangement a bit, so he doesn't get compared to Willie Nelson. It's a "moment" for Anoop. Judges are lovin'! Anoop Dog is back!

Megan Joy "I Go Walking After Midnight"
Megan gives it a slight winky-sultry lounge singer vibe. A lounge singer with extreme diction. There are moments when it's interesting and different, but there's some bad notes. The sum of of its parts doesn't quite add up. It's a bit of a schitzo performance. Ah, then it's revealed she has the flu, and was in the hospital, which gives her a little pass this week.

Matt Giraud "So Small"
Otherwise known as "oh yeah, THAT guy. I forgot he was in the competition." Matt brings his soulful approach to the song. The judges all love, and remind us that Matt can .. y'know... sing. They were too busy pushing Michael Sarver, Lil Rounds, Danny Gokey and Alexis Grace that they sorta, y'know, ignored one of the guys who can sing well.

So who's going home tomorrow?
I think Jesus is taking the wheel and driving Alexis home.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Idol Recap :: PYT, Pitchy Young Things

Time once again for my weekly recapery. And it seems like only yesterday that Michael Johns attempted a failed ascot revival while Kristy Lee Cook Texas-raped "Eight Days A Week."

It's the top 13 (!) this season on AMERICAN IDOL, as Seacrest gleefully reminds us. Remember back on Wild Card Night, when the judges pre-picked those contestants and then pretended they decided who would go on based on actual performances? And then claimed that they decided "just now" to make it a top 13 instead of a top 12, even though a "Suprise Twist" was leaked on the radio hours and hours before broadcast? And how AMERICAN IDOL treats us like silly bitches, for investing in the show in the first place? Ah, memories.

The judges emerge from backstage like so much FAMILY FEUD. Tonight's theme is Michael Jackson, and we are treated to clips of Jackson's career, back when he was still black.

Onto tonight's performances.....

Lil Rounds "The Way You Make Me Feel"
Lil's one of the best this season. Imagine a classier and less grating Fantasia. No, less grating. (waits) Still less. Yeah, there you go. Good job on this, a little bluesy. The judges like.

Scott MacIntyre "Keep The Faith"

Otherwise known as "the blind guy." I don't know this song, and I almost can't quite imagine Jackson singing it - but the Anglo-Estrogen mosh pit sways in hypnotic thrall. It's good, albeit "safe". Kara talks about Scott's "hopeful message" and Paula goes on about how "magical" he is.... which isn't quite fair. The other contestants can't help not being blind, right?

Danny Gokey "PYT"
Otherwise known as "guy with the dead wife." I'm a big fan of Danny, and I predict he'll be in it 'til the end. Don't know if this is the best song choice for him; I woulda chose something a little quieter and soulful. Doesn't matter - judges love.

Michael Sarver "You're Not Alone"

Otherwise known as "oil rig guy." This guy got so much screen time and there were probably subliminal "you love micahel sarver" messages placed in between frames. The Show has knighted him as Red State CroonerTM this season. He's got a good voice, but I've never been too overly about his performances. Even Simon jokes, "I just wish we knew what you did for a living." The judges continue with a "we love Michael" fillabuster. In case you STILL don't want to vote for Michael, here's a close-up of his adorable moppet daughter with a "Vote 4 My Daddy" t-shirt. Is your heart made of STONE, man? ("Vote for Michael or we will kill puppies. Love, The Show")

Jasmine Murray "I'll Be There"
Uh-oh, Jasmine immediately draws comparison to Mariah Carey by way of Michael Jackson. It's a little sharp in spots. The judges are leary with compliments.

Kris Allen "Remember The Time"
Kris is this season's "teen idol"ish character, but the 23 year old is already married (!) Oh, Arkansas! I don't think this guitar is doing him any favors. Vocally, he sounds good, but he's gonna need some more stage presense. Meanwhile, Simon is pawing at Paula - who is looking like Glitter and Gold Jem tonight, by the by.

Allison Iraheta "Give It To Me"
Allison is all faux-rocker this week. Good performance overall, with a little edge and rasp. Allison insists she not that dark and she isn't there "cutting herself and stuff" and Paula, in a brief moment of clarity, frentically mimes for Allison to zip it. Self-mutilation references are a no-no on IDOL, but soul-crushing is splendidly endorsed!

Anoop Desai "Beat It"
Otherwise known as "Anoop!" I like Anoop, and how can you not? I'm not sure this was a good song choice, after last week's"My Perogative." He could start to seem like a novelty act FAST. As Simon says, "lightweight" and "karaoke." Wrong song choice, judges agree.

Jorge Nunez "Never Can Say Goodbye"
Otherwise known as "The Emotional Spanish Dreamer." It's fine, but somewhat forgettable. The judges slaughter. Dreams are meant to be crushed, my Puerto Rican friend. What's Spanish for "one ticket home, please"?

Megan Joy "Rockin' Robin"
Otherwise known as "this year's Brooke White". Wow, she's 23 and divorced with a child? Oh, Utah! I always thought this song sounded like something Potsie Webber would sing at Al's Drive-In. Megan does a bouncy, aggressive version of the song. I'm not sure if it's corny - or if she took a corny thing and made it post-modern ironic. Are we still being post-modern? The judges don't like.

Adam Lambert "Black And White"
First known as "Broadway Goth", then "Faux-Goth Rocker." Either way, his fingernails are black. Adam "rawks", rather than "rocks," and don't pretend you don't know what I mean. Adam tries to Arena Rock the song within an inch of its life, and the flashing lights whisper "Adam rawks!". The song is on the floor, bleeding and begging for mercy. Paula's medication kicks in and she rambles about "stage" "fashion" and "total package." The judges have orgasms. Woah, I'm not so sold so early.

Sidebar: This new Osbournes Show look cornier than "The Brady Bunch Variety Hour", while somehow remaining typical crass FOX trash. What would Black Sabbath fans say if they had a time machine in 1985 and saw this?

Matt Giraud "Human Nature"
Otherwise known as "that guy they want you to compare to Justin Timberlake." This is a good song choice for Matt. The judges are still in post-coital Adam Lambert spooning mode, so they mildly like.

Alexis Grace "Dirty Diana"
Otherwise known as "single mom, when convenient." This song starts a little "eh", but by the second bridge it gets better. Alexis looks all "hooker with a heart of gold", aggressively strutting the stage in her f-me pumps. The Show refuses to give her hypnotic flashing "rawker" lights. Those are only for Adam, dear. Alexis walked the street corner, but the judges are like, "Money's on the dresser." They only mildly like.

So which TWO are going home?

I'm afraid it's "adiós" to poor Jorge, and "You Won't Be There" for Jasmine.