Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Idol Recap :: Satisfaction Not A Guarantee

America, this is your Top Twelve. Did someone change the definition of the word "top" when I wasn't looking? Because I still see the likes of Aaron Kelly, Katie Stevens, Paige Mills and Tim Urban. Meanwhile, the quirky and interesting Lilly Scott was criminally eliminated, along with talented but awkward Alex Lambert (who was getting better every week). Alas, those bananas will not ripen on this stage (don't ask, it was an Ellen joke. And when I say "Ellen" and "joke," I do feel like I need to put the word "joke" in quotes).

I fear with all these sad singers, we're in for a boring season (despite Ryan
Seacrest's assertions of every season being comprised of the "most talented group ever"). Instead of season five's sublime mix of Chris Daughtry, Elliot Yamin, Katherine McPhee, Madisa, Paris Bennett and Bucky Covington - we get a strange melange of like-quality Idolers such as Matt Rogers, NikkiMcKibbin, John Stevens, Dian DeGarmo, Haley Scarnato and Kristy Lee Cook. Who, you say? Exactly. The musical equivalents of Zima, the Edsel, and Cop Rock. Only less successful.

Part of it stems from a crop of contestants now reared on American Idol. whose first season launched many moons ago, when Brian Dunkleman walked the stage and Justin still texted Kelly (They would now Skype, if Justin could afford such luxuries on a Taco Bell salary). As such, contestants seem to think good singing means ridiculous runs that last 'til Thursday (Hi,Jermaine Sellers). Or that a hipster hat or a tussled hairstyle can imbue you with the musical talents of a Justin Timberlake or Carole King (Hello, Katelyn Epperly). Or "making a song your own" consists of removing all its energy and melody (Hey, Todrick Hall's unrecognizable Bobby Brown-like “Since U Been Gone”). Or that "being a throwback" is great until the Judges decide it's not (Sorry,poor Tyler Grady). Dear Idol, what have you wrought?

In other Idol season shockers, this will be Simon's last season. We've also welcomed the nice but painfully unfunny Ellen as the
NuPaula. Meanwhile, Kara has caught something from Paula's toilet seat, creeping on Casey James while blubbering over Big Mike. But some things remain comfortably the same: Randy is still useless. Dawg.

The show begins with a Family Feud inspired opening, introducing the judges. Then the contestants emerge all shiny and new for Top 12 TV. In the immortal words of Richard Dawson, "Let's play the Feud!"

In tonight's two-hour (!) musical massacre, we're treated (?) to songs from the Rolling Stones catalog. Because nothing says "contemporary" better than a bunch of drugged-up preening mummies. Tonight, expect less "
Satisfaction" (the Rolling Stones famous rock ballad) and more "Satisfaction" (Justine Bateman's tepid teen opus to girl rockers). Click on that second link. I dare you.

Michael Lynche "Miss You"
"Big Mike" is one of the season's favorites, according to the Judges. I see the appeal, only relative to the rest of these sorry sisters. It's like being the thinnest kid at Fat Camp. Or having the best teeth in all of England.

Michael's background reel reveals family ties and inappropriate use of scarves. Big Mike gives the song a sorta R&B swagger. It's OK, but the performance is a little cheesy. Like, Big Mike may sing at your wedding in a Vegas chapel. The judges like it enough, although Simon thought it was "kind of corny." And yeah, I can't disagree.

Didi Benami "Play With Fire"
Didi Benami is one of those inconsistent Idol contestants. It's sometimes good, and sometimes not so good. Her rendition of "Play With Fire" falls somewhere in the middle. It's a little sharp in spots. Plus, she keeps saying Fi-YUR instead of fire. The judges all like it, even Simon. They call it "dark." Didi says that's due to living in L.A. And watching the entire American Idol season nine on an endless loop.

Casey James "It's All Over Now"
Casey James is the guitar
strummer that Kara almost Corey Clarked, before her clearer head prevailed. Now she just creeps on him from afar. Casey was raised by the waitress mom from "True Blood", by all appearances. More family smooshies.

Casey goes full-tilt country blues with this one. It's pretty good, I suppose. Ellen says, "For most women, their hearts are going to start racing just looking at you. But then for people like me... [pause]" And the judges all laugh uproariously because if she said the word "ho-mo-sexual" on this show, the universe would apparently collapse upon itself. Tee-Hee. The judges like, but Simon think "it needs to be more than that." And, I've been saying that about this whole season so far.

Lacey Brown "Ruby Tuesday"
One of this season's
Red Shirts, Lacey is not long for this show. In Lacey's clip reel her life changed when she heard someone say, "If you remain shy, you will miss your destiny." Did "Lost"'s Jacob touch her too? Hey Lacey, tell us the meaning of the four-toed statue!

Lacey's version of "Ruby Tuesday" is mildly OK in spots, partly playing to her little girl vocals. Randy thought it was so-so, Ellen gives stage direction, Kara had issues with the notes and Simon thinks she's in danger of doing the same thing every week. Lacey, those weird alien space flowers are preparing their poisonous pollen as we speak.

Andrew Garcia "Gimme Shelter"
Poor Andrew Garcia peaked early - all Leif Garrett like - with
his surprisingly fresh spin on Paula Abdul's "Straight Up." The Judges (and viewers) loved it. Since then, that song has hung over each of his subsequent performances like a spectre-bitch. Nothing has measured up. Neither his wrong-headed remake of Christina Aguilera's "Genie In A Bottle", nor his strangely-stripped-down (and for Andrew, ironically-named) "Sugar We're Going Down." I picture Andrew holed up in his room - Norma Desmond style - repeatedly watching his old "Straight Up" performance, as he bitterly recalls that faded glory. Someone stop him before he sings an A cappella version of Miley Cyrus' "Party In The USA."

Clip reel reveals Andrew and his parents' gang-banger past. And when Andrew's dad saw him playing with keys, he thought his son would grow up to be a custodian. That's thinking small. I mean, McDonald's managers have lots of keys, too. Andrew's version of "Gimme Shelter" is OK, but lacks the power of Mick Jagger's original version. Randy didn't like it much. Kara has a good point about it lacking "passion." Simon thought it was OK, and gives Andrew a pass for all the mixed criticism he's received.

Katie Stevens "Wild Horses"
This, instead of Lilly Scott. The kitten, instead of the tiger. Katie's clip reel. She lives in
Middlebury Connecticut where she claims "there's not a lot to do" and she is absolutely, totally, beyond "1000% right", as my father would say, damning all mathmatical correctness. Footage of Katie and her brother singing at a wedding. And Randy not there to say, "It was a little pitchy,dawg." Cuz he woulda been right.

Katie sings the song technically fine. She hits a glory note at the end that may keep her in the running. It's actually a good song for her. The judges mostly like, even Simon.

Tim Urban "Under My Thumb"
It's like American Idol's version of Justin
Bieber - but with less talent. I will pause as that dark thought swirls around in your head. The joke will be on me when Tim Urban sings the first note of "We Are The World" version 3.0 in the year 2035. And that future will be worse than the entirety of "Terminator: Salvation."

We get a UB-40 version of "Under My Thumb" by Tim. It's a weird choice, and it mighta been sold by a Jason Mraz. But owning a version like this -- it's a little out of Tim's league. The judges didn't like it, but they applauded Tim's try at originality. Simon sums it up, "It just didn't work." Tim, only your "Tiger Beat" looks will save you now.

Siobhan Magnus "Paint It Black"
Magnus - despite possessing a name that sound like she should be battling the X-Men - tends to surprise. Especially in this lackluster season.

Siobhan gives a classic, solid, early-season Idol performance. It starts slow. It builds. She hits a crazy note (and doesn't quite hit it but "shhh"). Ends somber. The camera swings around with 360 spin. The rocker lights flash and blink as if to say, "this rocks, bitches." The judges like. Kara is hyp-no-tized by the rocker lights into thinking it was Adam Lambert level. Simon thinks it's the best of the night. I tend to agree. But this season, it's not saying much.

Lee Dewyze: “Beast of Burden”
Lee has the potential to be a dark horse in this competition. He's definitely got the commercially-viable voice. It's just everything else he's lacking. Like, confidence, consistency and stage presence.

Lee gives us a cool-guitar slowed down version of "Beast of Burden." Of all the performances, I think it's the most contemporary and relevant song interpretation. It's like something Rob Thomas or even Rascal Flatts might do with the song. His vocals need a little fine tuning, but the overall gestalt of the thing works. Lee might actually be the guy to back this season. The judges like it, but Simon thinks Lee needs "a moment" and asserts Lee is a great singer. I think he'll get that moment at some point.

Paige Miles: “Honky Tonk Women”
Paige Mills somehow escaped criminal charges from last week's brutal massacre of Michael Jackson's "Smile". Investigations are ongoing. The good news, this week, is that Paige proves she can actually sing. She gives the song a bit of a bluesy edge, with a touch of smoke in her voice. Overall, it works. The judges mostly like (especially since Paige has laryngitis).

Aaron Kelly: “Angie”
Or, as I like to call him, David Archuleta 2.0. Aaron essentially took the Alex Lambert chair, which is a shame because Alex had more overall potential. Aaron sings the boring "Angie" well enough, as the Swaybots wave their arms in uniform approval. It was a good song choice for Aaron, and the judges all like it.

Crystal Bowersox: “You Can’t Always Get What You Want”

Crystal is the clear
frontrunner in this (very) little race. And while technically good, I can't shake the feeling that we've seen and heard many wannabes in her same league. She's like one of those very, very good singers you see in a blues club. She's also showed up all "fully baked", which can sometimes be the kiss of death on this show. Case in point: The bespeckled Danny Gokey, who flatlined while he got overconfident. And kids, the lesson is: Don't be a douche like Danny Gokey.

Crystal takes the stage confidently, with guitar in hand. It all sounds good and right. Crystal knows exactly how to work the song, changing it up when needed and riffing with conviction. As Ellen mentions, "it's effortless." And Simon mentions she's the "clear favorite", although "Siobhan did her one better," Simon sniffs.

Crystal is wearing a Lily Scott memorial feather earring in her hair, and I have to love her a little for that. Also, I think Simon may be backing Crystal, but unleashing a little psychological warfare. After, you know, last season's entire pimping of Adam Lambert resulted in a massive upset.

So who's going home?

Katie and Tim are two of the weakest, but the tweens kept them in this far. I'm gonna guess that Paige won't have much to "Smile" about.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Love it Bill. You always make me laugh. i remember when you would do Melrose recaps--when they would peak thru the blinds. I like Lee, Siobhan, big Mike and blond girl with guitar. Can't think of her name. Paige or Tim must go. Or Katie.