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.