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 "adiĆ³s" to poor Jorge, and "You Won't Be There" for Jasmine.